Sandra Baker, The Idle Hands
Today’s Home Tour is by a lovely friend mine, who happens to live in the next-door village. Also, a fellow North-Easterner, and definitely a girl after my own heart when it comes to decorating, welcome to the home of Sandra Baker of @the_idle_hands.
We both have Victorian Houses, we both have a love of wallpaper, and "trinkets" and dark and moody colour schemes, so if you are here because you follow me for my decor, then this is a house you will love to.
Go enjoy the tour.
Hello! I’m Sandra, I’m originally from the North East, but now I live in in Burley-in-Wharfedale, a little village in West Yorkshire, with my husband Chris and my daughters Kitty and Polly.
By day I’m an in-house solicitor for a large healthcare provider (don’t nod off, we won’t be dwelling on that!), by night I’m pattern-loving, paintbrush-wielding interiors addict! Thinking back, I’ve been obsessed with my surroundings, ever since I was a teen. Admittedly, it was more a gallery wall of Robert Smith from The Cure (holla fellow teenage goths!), with patchouli scented joss sticks providing the home fragrance, but it sowed the seeds for what was to come.
After we had our youngest daughter in 2012, we were bursting at the seams in our old house, so we went on the hunt for something a bit bigger. As soon as I saw the photo of the exterior of the house on the estate agent’s website, I was a smitten kitten. I think I even shed a tear when we first viewed it (playing it cool isn’t my strong point).
It’s a big old Victorian beauty, and I still can’t believe I’m grown up enough to live in it! We moved in in late 2012. The structure of the house was ok, but the decor was - shall we say - not to my taste. Pastels. Blue carpet. Curtains with questionable images of Egyptian figures on them. Doing up the whole house at once was financially out of the question, so we decided to take it one room at a time, and I was determined to have each room exactly how I wanted it, without compromising, and I was prepared to wait until we could afford to do that. I mean, I had the occasional hormonal weep about the Egyptian curtains and the blue carpet, but displayed the patience of a saint the rest of the time (ahem).
Every room needed rewiring, new plumbing, redecorating from scratch, the works. Aside from my eldest daughter’s room, which we did pretty quickly, the first big project was the living room. I was all over the Abigail Ahern Downpipe revolution, I modelled the entire scheme of the room on her home, right down to the ornate plaster fireplace. This was all well and good back then - interiors Instagram was but a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye, and anyone visiting the house just thought I’d come up with an exciting and original scheme. Now interiors Instagram is a thing, the source of my inspiration is obvious and I’m busted.
However, I loved the boldness of the dark walls, and that set the tone for the rest of the decor. I’ve ended up taking lots of cues from Victorian decor - bold, patterned wallpaper, strong colours, and little groupings of trinkets. I didn’t want it to look like a museum, though - I love modern artwork against a traditional patterned paper, or a neon sign against a dark background.
The best thing we’ve done so far is add an en-suite into our bedroom, and I managed to cram a roll top tub into it, alongside a freestanding shower. That yellow tub and I are VERY well acquainted.
My other favourite area isn’t an actual room, but the hallway/stairs/landing. This was our most recent project and I paired the wallpaper of my dreams - House of Hackney Artemis in Blush - with Anaglypta in an early Victorian design, painted in F&B Railings, to mimic traditional Lincrusta. This combo genuinely makes me happy every day (and given the investment in that paper, it will need to continue to do so until I’m drawing my pension).
I’m hoping the best is yet to come with the house. Five years in and It’s time to start knocking walls down. We’re hoping to move the kitchen into a room we currently use as a playroom (it’s completely ignored by the children, as all lovingly created playrooms generally are), to create a big open-plan kitchen diner with doors out on to the garden. I am currently moodboarding like a maniac....
The Girl with The Green Sofa