On today’s episode of #MyHouseLikeThis we’re at the home of Joanne Hardcastle who you may be familiar with from her blog and Instagram account @hardcastletowers.
Joanne’s colourful and quirky style is sure to turn heads, not to mention her entertaining Insta-stories that have no doubt entertained many of us interiors obsessed ‘grammers from time to time. It was Joanne’s August entry for our photo tag competition with the theme of “Curiosities” that won the hearts of our followers and earned her the spot of her own featured on our blog plus her very own AHLT Home Candle. You’ll always recognise her unique approach to interiors and her iconic pink Smeg fridge is an absolute limelight stealer in her home.
So let’s get right into it and learn more about Joanne, her home and her inspiration…
AHLT : Welcome Joanne! For those who may not be familiar could you tell us a little about yourself and your home?
Joanne : I’m Joanne and I’ve lived here with my husband, and three daughters for over eighteen years. I’m a foster career and my family keep me pretty busy. Our house is an Edwardian end terraced house set out over four floors. It was a disgustingly dirty student house when we bought it, our friends and family thought we were mad moving in, especially with a baby.
AHLT: Wow, what was that like did you have a lot to do at the time?
Joanne: We lived with graffiti-strewn walls for years and only used part of the house eventually moving onto the attic floor as our family grew. It is still very much a work in progress because we’re very slow at getting things done, for example the basement floor is still untouched but we’re also still undecided on whether or not it needs transforming into a more usable space!
AHLT: Sounds like you have a lot of space to deal with, which is ideal when you have such amazing little bits and pieces of personality that thrive within your home. It's no secret you have a very unique style when it comes to dressing your home, for those who are unfamiliar how would you describe it in just three words?
Joanne: I would say my style : quirky, eclectic, evolving.
AHLT: We couldn't agree more, and what, given that your house and style have many facets, would you say is your favourite item or piece of furniture at Hardcastle Towers?
Joanne: My favourite purchase has got to be the purple chaise longue. About eighteen years ago there was a beautiful furniture shop in our town in an old mill called Skopos. It eventually closed down to make way for a shopping village and on its last weekend, I saw my beloved chaise. I offered them £700 cash for it, which was way below the price tag, but they snapped my hand off and even delivered it! It had to live in my Father-In-Law’s garage for months as we had no room for it in our old house. Whilst it’s very faded and well loved it takes pride of place in our living room!
AHLT: There is nothing better than a bargain piece and it looks like it has stood the test of time! Let's take it one step back and before you fill your home with your lovely pieces how do you go about planning your renovations?
Joanne: Well, I always have a clear vision of what I want and have to hunt to find the things I’ve visualised, it usually has a starting point or object and I go from there. I can spot a colour anywhere and decide that that’s it and things kind of evolve from that. For example, my back door was inspired by the blue doors in Brittany and the green in my living room was matched to a plate I found in a junk shop. It also really depends on the space, for example when we first moved here we had such a small kitchen yet I love to cook and spend time most of my time there. I’d always wanted an extension but because of the layout of the backyard, we thought it was impossible. Luckily for me and my renovation planning, I’m a great thinker and I seem to have my best ideas whilst out running and one day it came to me. We thought of a way to fit a relatively small extension on and had it built about four years ago. The whole décor was based around my need to own a pink Smeg fridge which was heavily influenced by one of my first Insta crushes @passionforbaking. The builder dreaded me coming back from a run saying ‘I’ve had another idea…’ because I kept moving things around!
AHLT: That sounds very familiar, but you have to make it fit what you want!
Joanne: It was the same in our bathroom, I wanted to replace the original bath with one very similar, as we’d had it re-enamelled but it just kept chipping. I then fell in love with the tiles when I saw them in @thefrugality’s bedroom renovation. So again, the room evolved around those. Finally I would add that I’m such a good shopper, I’ll have all my finishing touches lined up before the project has even started! We first moved to the dark side of decorating about eight years ago when I found a beautiful grey and red sofa in the clearance department at @redbrickmill. I matched the grey of our walls in the dining room to it and we’ve never looked back.
AHLT: It seems like you've achieved an incredible amount with your renovation, have you made any mistakes or had any mishaps along the way at all?
Joanne: To be honest I can’t think of any as our renovation has been such a slow process. I’m the impulsive one with the ideas but I don’t do any of the decorating! My husband thinks I’m slapdash and shoddy, he’s the exact opposite and takes weeks to complete a job, and even longer to get around to doing it. I’ve usually been thinking about how the room will look for years and had to convince him it’ll work so I’m always happy with the result by the time it’s finished. That said, a couple of years ago I went to wipe a dirty mark off the white wall in the hallway. I made such a mess! And ended up having the wash all the walls, a number of times! It’s still streaked and needs redecorating but it’s way, way down the list. I’m fancying black on the lincrusta on the bottom half of the walls and white again above it. I’ve distracted from the mess by creating a gallery wall over the top of it for now and I’ve learnt to be patient. But that only lasts for a while....though I’m very good at ‘reminding’ that things need to be done and if reminding doesn’t work I’m very good at having a big strop to get things moving along.
AHLT: I'm quite positive many of our readers will relate to that, even when doing a renovation themselves it can sometimes be a war with yourself and ultimately time that can be against you. With so much space in your home, which would you say is your favourite?
Joanne: My favourite space is my living room because it’s super cosy and peaceful. I’ve two young people with special needs at home so finding a quiet place to sit and have five minutes peace is really important for me. There’s a gorgeous view of trees from my favourite spot and it’s full of plants, soft blankets and fluffy cushions. It smells delicious too because I always have a candle burning if I’m in there. I enjoy its tranquillity during the day, but in the evening it’s where we snuggle up to watch TV together as a family. I’ve never allowed the children to play in there and they don’t eat in there either. I like it to be a special place for us all to relax and be together.
AHLT: It sounds like a perfect haven! So given that we've established your style, your planning methodology and the fact you're very lucky in the way of any sort of makeover mischiefs are you hungry for your next decor or DIY project? What would you do next?
Joanne: Oooo I have a long list, but my bedroom is right at the top of it! It’s not been decorated for years and has really old yellow pine furniture. I know exactly what it’s going to look like and how I want to utilise the space. I’ve no storage with having bedrooms up in the attic space so there is nowhere to keep suitcases, winter coats and things like that. I thought I didn’t like fitted wardrobes but have found inspiration on Instagram. (@thefrugality, @thisstylerocks and @skylightswift all have fab ones) I’ve convinced my husband he likes them too! I’m torn with the bed; I love my Victorian pine one so I may paint that or might end up with a new iron framed one. I’m going to have piles of cushions and throws in navy and blush pink. The armchair will be reupholstered in turquoise velvet. The walls will be a really dark greeny turquoise and the wardrobes blue-black. I’m having @jackdmarsh’s pink feather lamps, and of course lots and lots of plants and a faux zebra skin rug. We’re currently saving up and hope to make a start in the new year. The backyard is due a revamp too as we’ve not much space and think the time has come to sell the playhouse and use the money to put a covered seating area there...plus I seriously need to up my planter game next year!
AHLT: That definitely sounds like a long list and we can't wait to see what changes you make to the room. the choices you have already, even in the ideation phase sound incredibly visual and very you. You mentioned a few sources already, but where do you get your inspiration from and what influences your style?
Joanne: I’ve always loved design, fashion and interiors. I’d call myself a magpie in that I take inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. My best friend when I was growing up lived in an amazing old Victorian house full of interesting things, it was like nothing I’d ever seen in eighties suburbia, so I guess that was my first prickle of inspiration and it has stayed with me. When we bought our first house I used to wonder around Habitat in my lunch hour just lusting after their displays and whilst I like a good interiors mag I have never had a favourite, or one I bought on a regular basis. When I first came onto Instagram I was into lifestyle accounts first of all so @erica_davies will always be my first love for all things fashion and interiors; I blame her for my plant problem, but also thank her for instilling confidence in me to just wear what I love, and decorate my home in such a bold way. I love @thefrugality, when she bought her house it was in a very similar state to ours so I’ve loved watching the transformation. I am worried that she still has no kitchen though! My gateway interiors account was @leannes_life_xx I saw her bathroom on my feed one day and fell in love with it and through her, I found so many other accounts which inspire me. I always thought I had a unique style so to see other people’s houses decorated like mine was amazing, I felt like I’d found my people.
AHLT: We can definitely see those references in your own personal style and we love the sentiment that you've found your people. The thriving community of interiors obsessives on Instagram is a wonderful bunch and aside from sharing ideas its a great way to look back, especially if your style is one that you'd describe as evolving as you can see that happen in the evolution of your own feed. So, now here's a hard one for you. If money was no object and you could change one thing about Hardcastle Towers what would it be?
Joanne: If I could change one thing I’d have had a bigger kitchen extension built with a downstairs bathroom. There are four girls living in this house and the queue for the bathroom is ridiculous so that's an easy one for me!
AHLT: And as we reach the end of our chat today what advice would you give to others looking to tackle a renovation?
Joanne: My advice is don’t expect everything to happen at once, things take time and it’s better that way because your home will evolve along with you and have a more organic feel. You will run out of money and energy! Have a break, get on with life and come back to your house later on when you’ve saved up again and you feel refreshed. I think if a job needs doing do it properly and always get exactly what you want but then I’m a spendthrift with a terrible shopping habit so I would say that wouldn’t I?
AHLT: We can totally relate! Thank you so much Joanne for your time and congratulations again on winning our #MyHouseLikeThis photo tag series on instragram! We hope you enjoy your AHLT Home Candle!
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