A bold move: design-led detail in this colourful family home

A bold move: design-led detail in this colourful family home

“Designing a home should be fun.” This was Neil Harman’s approach to overhauling his Victorian stone villa in Fife, Scotland. “It’s not always a given, particularly when taking on a project of this size”. The business consultant, who lives with husband Will, put his management skills to the test to create a colourful yet cosy family home for themselves, son Hugo, and Boston Terrier Seven.


Zero to Hero

The house, in rural Fife, was a derelict stone shell when they started out. “We stripped everything right back to the bare bones.” The couple extended the property and reconfigured the living spaces. The result? “A contemporary home within the period exterior.”

Space, Man

“We spend most of our time in the kitchen/living/dining room which we call ‘the Great Room’. With a small child, you all want to be in the same space so having a large, functional room which is practical but also feels comfortable is a must.”

Get Cosy

There’s plenty of space for everyone to relax, from the open-plan entertainment zone, through to the sitting area, curled up by a blazing fire. “We’re all about getting cosy, sitting under blankets, candles on, relaxing together in front of the woodburner. As a family, there’s nothing better.”

Glow Up

“People underestimate the importance of good lighting.” Neil likes to have lots of lighting options within one room, “from freestanding floor lamps to table lamps and statement pendants. Reflections from mirrors and flickering candlelight add atmosphere.”

Entertain Me

“I love our kitchen and spent a long time ensuring it was exactly what we wanted, but to be honest, Will does most of the everyday cooking in there. I’ll get involved if we’re entertaining but mostly, I’m in charge of making the gin and tonics...”

Good Vibes Only

“I don’t think you should overthink design or slavishly follow trends, just fill your home with whatever makes you happy.” For Neil and Will, this includes Boston Terrier trinkets. “There are ornaments dotted around the house and even a work of art made from an apron we found. It brings a bit of fun and colour to the predominantly monochrome kitchen.”

Inside Out

“We like to entertain friends and family outside too so the garden has become an extension of our living space. We opened up the Great Room with eight metres of bi-folding doors so when the sun shines, we throw them open.”

Great Escape

“One of the main reasons we bought the house was for the garden – it’s a whole acre and gets an amazing amount of sunlight for Scotland. Hugo loves running around in the open air.”

Industrial Feel

“After a long journey, we had Hugo through a surrogate in Maine, USA, where Will is from. Portland, Maine is an industrial city and I’ve drawn on that to try and bring an industrial feel to certain parts of our home.”

Changing Times

“Our address happens to be Main Street so we named the house The Maine House, and I have two clocks in our hallway showing the time here and the time in the state of Maine itself.”

Mixed Up

“I like to mix and match when it comes to the design aesthetic, particularly with ornaments and home accessories. The little bar trolley in our formal living room is stacked with a mix of modern pieces and fun, bargain finds from antique shops.”

Gin Thing

“We actually call this room ‘the gin and tonic room’. It’s what we tend to do most in here! It’s the one adults-only room in the house, designed purely for relaxing in with four roomy chairs rather than a sofa.”

Bedside Manner

“I get so many comments on the Hive pendant lights hanging either side of our bed. The bold geometric shape really stands out against the yellow wall and they’re a bit different to the usual bedside lamp, giving the room a luxe, hotel vibe.”

Colour Pops

“While the decor is predominantly black and grey, there are pops of bright colour – from the mustard wall in the main bedroom to the artwork and accessories throughout the house.”

Size Matters

“Proportion’s really important. You need big, impactful pieces to fill a home like this. I’m not scared of taking design risks.”

Family Home

“When we bought the house, we didn’t know if we were going to be lucky enough to have a family so I was designing a home that had to work equally well for just the two of us. What is now Hugo’s room could have been either a nursery or an office so I chose a black and yellow colour palette rather than something too ‘baby’.”

Softly softly

“Cushions and textiles are a great way to bring colour and pattern to a monochrome space in a subtle way. I like to layer and mix and match. It’s as much about comfort as design.”

Happy Ending

“When we originally bought this house, we wanted a family home, a forever home, something that could grow with us. And when we brought Hugo back here, everything just worked. It really felt like we’d completed our family and it's been wonderful seeing him grow into the playful toddler he is here.”

Article written by: Carrie Mitchell
Photography by: Susie Lowe

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