DIY expert, interior design fanatic and all-around lovely person, Greg aka @manwithahammer chats to us about his amazing home renovation project.
We are thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with Greg and learn about his ultra-magnificent renovation project. With a shared love for all things design, maximalist patterns and stand-out decor, Greg talks to us about his interior influences, creative process and more. On top of this, not only do we chat about renovation and decoration, but we take a peek into the dazzling rooms that have been carefully curated so far. So, if you want to know more about how Greg's outstanding Georgian home that is simply bursting with character and charm throughout, read below to discover more...
1. Let’s start at the very beginning, tell us about yourself and where your love for interiors and renovating started?
Well, I think it always must have been there – certainly interested in buildings, architecture and their history… but it wasn’t until getting my first place, which was the one before Admirals, a 4 storey Victorian townhouse, that needed a lot of love as it had been knocked into flats and used as a dentist, that the renovator within was unleashed! It also quickly became apparent I was really interested in the decoration and interiors too, mainly as I didn’t see the point in spending all that time renovating just to slap some magnolia on the walls!
2. Talk us through your most recent project. You have bought a spectacular new house, where are you at with the renovation?
Ah yes it’s an ex-Naval Georgian lump in Devon that had seen better days. Until 1995, since 1804, it had been the home of the senior officer in charge of running the Royal Naval Hospital Stonehouse. Spread across five floors with an awful lot of work to do… and, maybe 2/5ths, if I’m lucky… it’s a very big place… 30 rooms, and with only one pair of hands, and doing pretty much everything myself nothing happens quickly. Then there’s the exteriors and large walled garden to tackle!
3. You have many rooms to restore in your new home, how do you plan the design for each one?
Well, I definitely tackle them one at a time, and will work out how it all ties together later (fortunately it always seems to)… I start with the room itself, the size, height, scale… any original features, aspect and light etc. and then after that it’s function… and I almost always plan the layout and how the room is used, before I think about the decoration. After that, it’s just a case of finding a starting point… usually the paint colour, or wallpaper if I’m using it.
4. Your new home is full of history and quirky details, how have you worked your interiors to suit the space?
Ah it’s so full of history, one of my favourite things about it! It’s actually the place ‘Up sh*t creek without a paddle’ comes from! I’ve definitely taken the age and decorative era of the house in mind when decorating, but at the same time don’t want it to look like a museum. A lot of the fabrics and wallpaper patterns have prints and designs from the era, though modernised slightly in terms of colour. I also use a lot of antique pieces too which fit the house well. It was always important to me to respect, preserve and where necessary, restore the period features and these always feed into my schemes.
5. When decorating or shopping, what influences your own personal style for your new home?
Ah, well – as above, the age and era of the house is my starting point. With 30 rooms to renovate and decorate, I also steer clear of anything too heavily trend-led, as it’s not like I have the time, budget or inclination to constantly redecorate so I hope I’m choosing designs that are relatively timeless, and will be easy for me to live with but fingers crossed not bland or boring.
6. What piece of art, artefact, furniture or feature in your new home has a special significance to you and why?
I absolutely love the pieces above the bath from Diane Hill Designs. She’s a massively talented chinoiserie artist and these were a limited edition run (now sold out). It actually sparked a love of chinoiserie in me generally that has gone on to develop more significantly.
7. For someone who is thinking of starting a home renovation project, what top tip would you give to them?
Do it! Haha, well – think about it seriously first… it’s hard… you’ll be cold, dusty, tired.. everything will ache and you’ll realise you’ve callouses on top of callouses and that there are muscles you didn’t even know exist that hurt… all your clothes will be covered in paint… and you’ll be poor.. but – it remains the most rewarding, satisfying thing I’ve ever done! Instagram is also fantastic… the renovating and interiors community on there is fantastic – so supportive and lovely, and if you’re ever in a low place they’re brilliant at picking you up and it always helps to know you’re not the only one!
8. Which room have you loved transforming the most so far and why?
Oh gosh haha, I’m not allowed to have favourites! But, I almost always say the one I’ve most recently finished.. which in this case is the blue bathroom with the parquet floor. It also has the dubious honour of being one of the most challenging as there was some serious remedial work needed but I’m absolutely thrilled with the outcome!
9. What rooms are next for this exciting project and what do you plan to do?
Well, I’m currently working on the beautiful, oval entrance hall. One of the most unusual rooms in the house, it’s completely oval with 6 doors leading off, which are perfectly curved to fit the walls… I’ve already spent 3 months painstakingly stripping the woodwork in there and am slowly getting to the point where I can start making it beautiful again. I’m using a spectacular chinoiserie based on a hand painted 18th century Chinese wallpaper from Zardi & Zardi, that will wrap around the whole room without a repeat, the pattern running from top to bottom. The room will also serve as the occasional formal dining room and with the shape of it, and the wallpaper I rather hope (after a wine or three) you feel like you’re sitting in an enchanting, mythical forest!
10. Finally, name three new Rockett St George products that you love!
Well, having worked with the incredible Anna Hayman on the party room here, anything by her has to come top of the list – she’s an absolute wizard when it comes to pattern and it an absolute sweetheart to boot! I also love the cane sun lounger… the image of it makes me want to park myself there with a mint julep. You’ve some beautiful vintage inspired wall lamps that are very similar to some old French ones I bought – only I needed to spend a few nights rewiring mine so these look far more sensible! Finally, I do love the work of Rebecca Sophie Leigh. It stops me in my tracks anytime I see it – just beautiful!
- I am happiest when… Freshly showered, cracking a beer after a hard but successful day of graft on the house!
- My favourite podcast is… The Adam Buxton Podcast
- My dream holiday would be… Well, I absolutely love India, especially the South – but have only ever been able to spend a couple of weeks at a time there, so the dream would be to have longer… months… pick up an old Royal Enfield motorbike, and really take my time exploring!
- My ideal day would be spent… On a coastal walk near here on the south coast, stopping halfway for a bit of pub grub and a couple of pints.. then home to have some friends round in the garden for cocktails, outdoor cooking, merrymaking and chatting round the fire until the sun has long since gone down – especially as I’m writing this on an especially dreary January day in Devon.
- My personal motto is… Well, I seem to repeat ‘it’ll all be worth it in the end’ in my head 10 times a day… but perhaps a more elegant way of putting it is something that was passed onto me by a neighbour when I first moved in… ‘First, it is impossible… then, it is difficult… and then it is done’.
- My guilty pleasure is… Well… it’s no surprise I’m partial to a tipple but I’m not sure I feel guilty about that haha….
- The last film I saw was… Don’t look up. It was average.
- My favourite book is… Hells Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs by Hunter S. Thompson. When I was younger I adored the tales of King Arthur too.
- In five years’ time, I want to be… Happy. Preferably with a near-finished house and a garden I’ve started transforming!
- The three things I can’t live without are… Music. Risk. Challenge…. Oh, and a beer now and again!