“I feel like a lot of things conspired for us to have this house, like it was meant to be,” Tiffany Grant-Riley says of her historical red brick home, in Chatham, Medway -– an area in the south of England, renowned for its rich history – with a Norman castle, dockyards, and a cathedral in Rochester. “Medway is awesome. You can’t move for connections to Charles Dickens, who grew up in this area and based many of the locations in his novels on local places and characters,” Tiff tells us.
Having previously lost a house midway through the buying process – meaning three years of consequential renting – it felt like an act of fate when Tiff and web-developer and musician husband, Rob, discovered this property. “We were really heartbroken,” she tells us. “Then this house came up on an email. I had this very strong feeling that it was meant for us. We saw it that evening and that was it. We fell in love.”
With plenty of its original features intact and an unusual, winding layout, it’s easy to see why the couple fell so hard and fast for the property. The slender hallway, through which you enter, peeps straight through to the kitchen at the back of the house, with the staircase just ahead. To your left is an unused door to the living room, blocked by a sofa which guards the other side (the family prefer to access it via the dining room). It’s unusual little details like this that give the house warmth and a lived-in, unpretentious feel.
An interior stylist, photographer and blogger by trade, it’s unsurprising that Tiff’s home exudes elegance. Her blog, Curate and Display, focuses mostly on minimal interiors and she often collaborates with brands on projects in her home. “Having such a multi-faceted job allows me to combine my skills as a stylist, photographer and writer and bring them all together,” she says. With her home an intrinsic part of her work, she has gathered quite a social following, keen to see the journey of her home renovation. “If I’m shooting products for a client then the house becomes a live-in location depending on the subject I’m working on.”
The kitchen is one of Tiff’s favourite rooms, mostly due to its lightness, created simply by stripping and whitewashing the floors, and painting the units and walls. “Everything we did to this kitchen was done using what was already there,” she describes. “The only thing we replaced were the taps. The room gets a small window of light during the day so aside from wanting to boost the sunlight, the aim was to embrace its moodiness too.” The blue is Hick’s Blue from Little Greene Paint – Tiff used it on the existing units and on the back wall, as well as having custom plywood doorknobs made in the same colour by Chocolate Creative.
“I love seeing the kitchen down the hallway when I come through the front door, with the tiled arch above the cooker, which would’ve housed the old iron range. I’m in this room a lot, cooking meals and making coffee first thing at the little coffee corner I carved out of dead worktop space. The black wire unit gives what was an unused area a sense of purpose. We do a lot of singing and dancing in here and I absolutely love it.
Inspired by various stays in design hotels over the years, their bedroom is warm, cocooning and relaxing to spend time in. “We deliberately haven’t filled it with furniture,” says Tiff. The floor is grey engineered oak from Havwood’s, laid on top of the original boards which felt too cold. The colour of the walls is nuanced, changing according to the light throughout the day. “It took some time to find the right shade of beige in here as it’s a north-east facing room, but we both settled on Larksong by Valspar and have painted all the walls and woodwork in the same colour, which gives it a contemporary feel.” Tiff applied finishing touches with black metal handles from Dowsing & Reynolds to update the wardrobe and Rob tiled the hearth plate under the original fireplace with Claybrook Studio glass tiles.
“I’m still so fascinated by this house,” says Tiff. “By the stories of the people who came before and imagining what we might go on to do with it. I genuinely don’t want to be anywhere else – it has the ability to make me feel so completely content.”
This is an edited version of this feature which first appeared in Volume 10 of our print magazine. While print copies are sold out, you can still purchase this edition in digital format for more interior inspiration and stories from small business owners.