How to create a bold, contemporary home, with Neil and Will Harman.

Comments 1

Jul 7, 2016

Neil and Will Harman, their son Hugo and their Boston Terrier Seven.

It’s all about bold stripes, patterns and colour in the Harman house. The family have lived in their extended, smart-enabled Victorian home in Fife, Scotland since renovating in 2015, but this international family are endlessly jet-setting around the world. When they’re not in Scotland they list their 4 bed, 3 bath home on Airbnb. We spoke to Neil about how he and husband Will created their bold, contemporary interior style.

The sitting room, featuring the Trio cushions.

Shop the Trio cushions.

Neil says: I’d describe our home as contemporary, quirky, colourful, cosy and different, which may seem contradicting. I really like combining totally different prints and textures. I like a home to feel cosy and textures bring so much of that, but at my core I love bold print and colour. I simply bring it all together. I have tried to bring consistency throughout the house by repeating stripes in most rooms to create a flow throughout. It’s the core pattern that I come back to.

The dining table, with the Cora mirror in the background.

Shop the Cora mirror.

My advice is to be bold and colourful in each space but try to have that consistency. We have a strong monochrome base throughout our home, with bold colours and patterns overlaid. You get a sense that each room has its own unique style but that you’ve not changed houses.

Never second guess yourself and do what you love. Don’t worry what other people might think and BE BOLD. Don’t be afraid of pattern or a strong colour palette. Oh, and don’t forget to carry this approach right down to the finish touches.

Hive pendant lights (£99) on either side of Neil and Will's bed, as an alternative to bedside table lamps.

Shop Hive pendants.

MADE is my go-to for lighting. We’ve had compliments on the Hive Pendant Lights that flank the bed in our master bedroom. They’re such an unusual shape with a clever geometric pattern. In our guest room we have the Starkey Chandelier. It solved the problem we had of getting lighting to work over the top of a modern four poster bed frame. We use the Vetro floor lamp every day in our open-plan kitchen and living area. The reason I know we use it daily is we have our lighting connected to the internet and this light pops on at just the right time every evening. It’s such a strong design feature and creates great ambient light in a large space with the vaulted ceiling.

The spare bedroom, with Cole & Son wallpaper and the Starkey chandelier.

Shop the Starkey Chandelier and Bouji ottoman.

The only room that’s slightly off-piste is the upstairs guest bedroom. I’ve always loved that wallpaper from Cole & Son and when they updated it to include the pears I just had to have it. It’s very whimsical in the guest room but that was the look we went for in the end. The Starkey chandelier above it works perfectly.

The spare bedroom, with peacock printed linen and armchairs, the Woody chest of drawers and a bright yellow cabinet.

The best advice I received before we renovated was to assume that you’ll spend double what you expect. It rang true time and time again. It’s good to be realistic, especially when you are renovating and extending a large home from the ground up. We’re still not finished; we have an office extension to build. I’m dreaming of a “Mad Men” retro style fit out of that space. I want the office to be functional but a style of its own.

The biggest challenge of our renovation was just the sheer scale of what we were undertaking. We renovated the 19th century home entirely - every single square inch has been upgraded, plus we planned for 2 additional extensions. I’m tired just thinking about everything we’ve done.

We agree about a lot of styling choices, but we debated our front door colour for weeks and weeks. In the end we stood across the street with lots of sample cards trying to imagine the door colour and refused to move until we agreed on the same one.

The extended living and dining area looking out onto the deck.
The extended kitchen and living area.

My favourite room is the new extension, with the open plan kitchen, dining and living area. The huge sofa in front of the wood burning stove with bifolding doors with dual aspects of the garden is a great place for relaxing in front of the fire in winter.

Hugo's bedroom, with a striped ceiling, bold feature wall and black, white and yellow colour scheme.

When we renovated the house, we didn’t know if we were going to have a baby. At that point it wasn’t guaranteed that we’d be successful in our surrogacy journey so we had to decorate with a view that it could be a home office or nursery. We went for a bold colour palette, like the rest of the home, and lucky for us, we got pregnant. We added some personalisation when Hugo came home with us from the USA. I actually love these little personalisations around the house!

The Harper & Wadman prints and the Ozzy floor lamp.

Will had the bespoke prints in our TV room made, which was quite fun. We had meshed our surnames when we got married so he had the prints made to show Harper and Wadman becoming Harman.

The Woody chest of drawers in the Harman's spare bedroom.

“Where did you find that?” is the most commonly asked question when we have visitors. We’ve just returned from Dubai and we’re about to go to the US to visit Will’s family. We travlled through Asia and lived in New Zealand, so we’ve sourced pieces from all over the world, and had bespoke creations made in the UK.

I think our friends think our place is great to come and spend the weekends. We’ve tried to think of everything in terms of style and convenience. I wanted it to feel like a home away from home for our friends and guests, that’s warm and cosy but with plenty of space for our friends (and their kids). I’m regularly assured that they love the house and not just the hot tub outside!

The Copa outdoor lounge set on the new outdoor deck. The 1890 Victorian home was renovated in 2015.

Shop the Copa outdoor collection.

The best thing about our home is having a Victorian house that has been designed exactly how we want it inside. We also love the quiet, rural location of the house with the south facing acre plot, but that it’s only 30 minutes from Edinburgh. Although, the garden is big and requires a lot of maintenance. During summer our garden is a great entertaining space. We’ve had a few barbeques out there with friends and family.

Shop the Vetro floor lamp.

MADE is my go-to for lighting. We’ve had compliments on the Hive Pendant Lights that flank the bed in our master bedroom. They’re such an unusual shape with a clever geometric pattern. In our guest room we have the Starkey Chandelier. It solved the problem we had of getting lighting to work over the top of a modern four poster bed frame. We use the Vetro floor lamp every day in our open-plan kitchen and living area. The reason I know we use it daily is we have our lighting connected to the internet and this light pops on at just the right time every evening. It’s such a strong design feature and creates great ambient light in a large space with the vaulted ceiling.

Shop the Cage pendant light.

See the whole tour of Neil and Will’s home on MADE x Unboxed, or take a look at their home on Airbnb.


One thought on “How to create a bold, contemporary home, with Neil and Will Harman.”

  • Cookalino said:

    July 9, 2016

    As an honorary Fifer I was super excited to see that this fabulous home is in my adopted county!
    So unique & fearless! I wouldn't change one thing. ?


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