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Home visit: how to design a happy home

In this industrial-style home, a family has learned how to make the space grow with them – not just in size, but emotionally too. Step inside and discover the ideas that make this feel-good space.
 
Katty and Marky show how to get the most out of a minimalist, open-plan, family space.
Two children sit at a light wooden table with breakfast and toys, in front of a red brick wall.

Stay open

When Katty and Marky bought their house it was made up of small rooms. “The kitchen was a tiny box of a room, it made you feel separate,” says Katty. Then sons Lucas (4) and Milo (2) came along. “A kitchen extension created a sense of openness.” Placing a table and bench off the end of the island unit gave the family a breakfast bar that doubles as craft station and home office.
 

“The kitchen is our family room, it’s where we live. It isn’t perfect, but we’re not precious because it’s a room we want to be hardwearing – a survival room!”

Marky

A dining area with table and chairs, plants and a bike hanging on the wall.

Make family time special

Dining rooms may not be on trend but Katty and Marky have made a point of having a separate dining space. “I had a romantic idea of eating in here with the kids and that’s what we do once a week – we call it a Foxy Dinner Party. The boys set the table, we stick on a record and it’s just nice family time. Lucas is at the age where he’s starting to create memories; I hope this will be one of them.”
 
Pictures and ornaments displayed on three picture ledges, next to a large plant.

Make it easy to change

“I’ve gone from putting stuff everywhere to grouping it in organised collections,” says Katty of her pared-back approach to creating displays. “I usually keep it nice and clean. Today’s mix is quite eclectic – I wanted to try a mix of magazines and trinkets. Often, I just have magazines or album covers.” Picture ledges are the perfect way to showcase an ever-changing display. No need for nails.
 

“We used to have a lot of stuff, but I’ve become someone who needs order to feel relaxed. The kids were the catalyst. I’ve had to find the line between ‘good sentimental’ and hoarding, so we only have the things we absolutely love!”

Katty
 
Katty arranging ornaments above a fireplace in a living room with dark walls and a brown leather sofa.

Work together

“Our home has grown with us. We’ve had a few decorating disasters along the way,” says Marky. “We’ve learned the value of a moodboard. You pull all your ideas for the room together in one place, and you can both look and see if there’s anything that doesn’t work,” says Katty.
 
Two children standing on a window seat with large cushions and storage underneath.

Create cosy nooks

When space is limited, make it work harder by creating rooms within rooms – spots where you can do your own thing in a shared space. Marky built a window seat for the boys. A bench with baskets underneath would create the same nook. Then use textiles to cosy it up. “I wanted somewhere the boys could cuddle up with a book. They sit there like doggies waiting for Marky to come home after work.”
 
A gallery wall of pictures in different frames above a black metal storage cabinet with wooden top.

Hide and display

Curated minimalism describes Katty and Marky’s approach. “We don’t want pictures on every wall so we made a gallery in the hallway, which grows organically.” Hiding the stuff of everyday life gives the art wall a chance to shine. “The hall is a high-traffic space, you want things to be organised and easy for the kids. The TV cabinet we use is great to store shoes – we each have our own box.”
 
A living room with wooden wall, large plant and brown leather sofa.

Don’t save it ‘for best’

“We waited a long time to get the living room right. As we sorted out the rest of the house, this room was the one we hid behind closed doors. We finally tackled it last year when I signed up for a four-week Instagram challenge. It was the first time Marky and I worked on a room together properly, that’s why I really love it. I call this our ‘turn off room’, where we switch off and relax.”
 

“None of our rooms are ‘good rooms’ – there are no restrictions on the boys. I don’t want to be precious about anything. This is a home to live in.”

Katty
A bedroom with patterned wallpaper, bedding in shades of blue and a gold mirror reflecting a clothes rail.
A portrait of Katty’s family.

“Family-centred, fun and creative – that’s our home! We step inside, take a breath and know we can be ourselves. Our home is security and comfort that transcends how it looks.”

Katty
A floorplan of Katty’s home in a renovated Victorian house

Journey to a family home

“A regular red-brick terrace,” is how Katty and Marky describe their 100-year-old house. The home has grown with them – two bedrooms became three, and the small kitchen grew into a family-sized kitchen/living space with the addition of a double-height extension three years ago. “When we moved in, this place was falling to pieces. To get to this stage has been quite a journey,” says Marky.
 
We love to see our customers get creative with our products. Go for it! But please note that altering or modifying IKEA products so they can no longer be re-sold or used for their original purpose, means the IKEA commercial guarantees and your right to return the products will be lost.
 

Made by

Interior designer: Katie Phillips
Photographer: Benjamin Edwards
Follow Katty @denoffoxes