With their first baby on the way, Elise and Michael Dodds felt it was time to leave their small rented flat in north London and buy a more affordable property further north, closer to their families. “Although we met in London, our families only lived a mile apart in the North East, so it was the perfect time to come back,” says Elise. They bought a new off-plan house in Whitley Bay. “We loved the old Tynemouth terraces nearby, but they weren’t as practical with a young family,” she says. “They lacked parking and we didn’t think we had time to do a renovation. It was so much easier.
The couple had daughter Elodie and, a year later, son Huxley before starting the renovation (opens in a new tab) work on the house. Once the kids started walking, Elise and Michael’s priorities were to turn the garage into a playroom and landscape the garden with raised beds and lots of grasses to draw the eye away from the walls. and the fence. Two years later, the hallway-like utility room was demolished to create a larger dining room with four-metre-wide folding doors replacing the double patio doors. “We had spent all that money on the garden, but we couldn’t really see it,” says Elise.
However, with family life taking over, decorating was on the back burner. “We always felt like it was a temporary home, so it stayed in its basic white state for almost five years,” admits Elise. “One day I said to Michael, ‘I can’t live with this like this anymore.’ It wasn’t joyful to come home because it didn’t feel comfortable or reflect our personalities.
After reading a tip from Mad About the House author Kate Watson-Smyth on taking inspiration from your clothes, Elise opened her wardrobe to reveal a range of pinks, greens, yellows , blues and many prints. “It was full of color, but not my house. I was determined to add personality to our home and break the stereotype of the new white box.
The owners Elise Dodds (@makemynewbuildpretty (opens in a new tab)), who works in HR, her husband, Michael, a management consultant, and their children, Elodie and Huxley
The property A new four bedroom detached property in Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear
Project cost £36,600
To compensate for the loss of the laundry room during the initial renovation, the couple installed floor-to-ceiling kitchen cabinets in the dining room to conceal a washing machine and dryer as well as additional storage. At the same time, the glossy white kitchen got a makeover. “It was criminal to release something that had only been released for five years,” says Elise. “So we replaced the doors of the base units, added an island and changed the handles, the lighting, the sink, the tap and the worktops.”
New matte navy base cabinets with gold handles added depth to the kitchen, while the existing high gloss wall cabinets remained in place and blended into the wall. “We probably would have just painted the existing doors if they hadn’t been shiny,” says Elise.
“Neon was on my Pinterest board for four or five years,” says Elise. “It was a hell of a splurge and I felt like I was buying a piece of art. We healed ourselves when we cut the electricity, and that meant we could hide the wires in the wall. He will accompany us from house to house because I can’t imagine not living by the sea now.
“It wasn’t until we created this space that we were able to bring all of our impressions down from the loft and create a gallery wall,” says Elise. “I particularly like the photo of the Rendez-Vous Cafe on the Whitley Bay seafront, which means a lot – I used to go there with my mum and dad. The photo of the opening hours is makes it a framed tea towel.
“It’s a great little place to have friends over for a drink and has been a lifesaver in lockdown,” says Elise. “We turned the shed so the door faces the lawn to create more space.”
The living room
The living room was one of the last rooms to be transformed. “There was too much furniture, including a huge gray sofa that made the room feel small. I replaced it with a neater yellow velvet design; at that moment i felt there was a thread running around the house and i knew what colors would work.
“I loved Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue,” says Elise. “Because it’s not a massive piece, I painted the lower two-thirds and it felt more comfortable right away.” I’ve always wanted a yellow sofa and this one looks so much better, stands out against the dark blue walls and blends with other pops of yellow throughout the house. The coffee table was purchased when I was living in New York.
“I saw this Ikea piece of furniture decorated in different ways on Instagram and it looks different in everyone’s home,” says Elise. “I took my time to fill it with things that mean a lot to me.”
Elise managed to set up a desk on the landing when the two worked from home during lockdown. ‘I used the colors of the striped wallpaper to match the yellow and pink of the striped wallpaper. The photography came from New York where I lived for two years.
Formerly a child’s room with gray stars, Eloise’s room has been modernized as she ages. ‘She really wanted rainbows so when I saw this wallpaper on @eli_at_home (opens in a new tab)on her Instagram account, it was perfect,” says Elise. “I painted the scalloped edge using a flat plate to cut out a cardboard template.”
When the couple moved in, the rooms, including the bathrooms, had basic amenities from the developer’s limited options. The family bathroom was white and soulless, so Elise set out to transform it by adding color, while keeping the layout the same.
Elise breathed new life into the space with new tiles and a shower. “This was supposed to be a fun and bright bathroom for the kids, but I fell in love with those green and pink tiles, so it didn’t quite end that way!” she says.
Elise and Michael’s room
During confinement, the couple started by painting the walls of their bedroom green. “It was much warmer,” Elise said. Before long, she was experimenting with wallpaper and adding neon lights. “I painted two opposite walls first, but after decorating the rest of the house, I came back and did the whole room,” says Elise. “The rustic shelf above looks much better on the green than the previous white one, and I can change the display.”
Now Elise is happy to have taken her time with the transformation and would like a new project in the next few years. “You have to live in the house for a while, otherwise you make a mistake by buying too quickly,” she says. “I have loved making the most of what we have and adding unique touches that reflect us as a family and where we live. While we love it now, we haven’t lost our passion for the properties period, so it’s about waiting for a house that we can turn into our forever home.