It’s really not hard to spot Gemma Medden’s house among the cluster of cottages in her quiet village on the outskirts of Yarm.
Inside a bold glass and oak porch a huge modern chandelier sparkles with twinkly lights by night and dazzles with the sunshine’s rays in the morning.
It makes an entrance in the truest sense – and has given a new lease of life and contemporary edge to the cottage that’s home to Gemma, husband Gareth, Darcey, ten, Beau, five and dog Maisie.
A bold renovation creates a home of two halves. That light and airy entrance hall leads to a sunny family room.
Then head to the back of the house to find a snug, dark and deeply stylish kitchen, dining area and lounge with more than a pop of eclectic glamour. The style in here is open plan but Gemma has carefully zoned the space to create distinctive living areas.
Steps lead down from the kitchen area to what feels like a sunken living space with opulent sofas, velvet accessories and hide rugs. A bi-fold door overlooks the garden then out to open countryside beyond.
But the living area has a den-like appeal thanks to its deep-coloured walls, painted in the famously sludgy, earthy colours of designer Abigal Aherne. This room’s shade is called Bedford Brown, and the colour acts as a dramatic backdrop to Gemma’s gathering of ‘finds’. So you spy a bronze torso sporting a lampshade in one corner and a flamingo peeping from the kitchen.
Florals burst from vases everywhere, tassels tumble from frames and furnishings and mirrors and quirky prints hint at a home with humour.
Drama continues in wallcoverings with a panelled-effect paper in the sitting area and clever use of lighting everywhere – so there are soft reflections of light in every direction. Twinkling star lanterns, bare filament bulbs and shadows cast on walls from the detail of intricate lampshades.
Gemma’s passion for interiors and her success in the renovation of the cottage led her to start her own interiors blog called luxeinthecottage.
She is about to spread that passion with the launch of a new online store called luxology (www.luxeology.co.uk). This will be a marketplace for accessories, lighting, art and treasures she finds.
“I don’t like to conform when it comes to the home”, she says.
“My approach is, if you like it, do it. I like finding things to upcycle and customise. I like seeking things out in salvage yards. And I love spray paint!”
The dining area of Gemma’s home is one of the areas where this approach definitely comes in to play. It’s a cosy area painted in Abigail Aherne’s Mercer Green, a shade with a definite appeal.
A side table is an upcycled treasure. The 50s-style piece was stripped down then painted dramatic black and gold giving a nod to another era – especially alongside a kitsch cocktail trolley abundant with decanters, glasses and bottles.
“A lot of the things in the house have a story of their own to tell”, says Gemma.
“The whole process was extensive – we moved out for six months while the downstairs was changed – one day we came back and there were no inside walls at all.
“Now I love that it is such a big light space – the porch has changed it entirely.”
With her new online store she hopes to source products to inspire others. Quirky prints from an artist in the Netherlands, her favourite metallic palm-tree style lamps, zebra bath mats… and who knows what else!