Step Inside Cressida Murray’s 1970s Home Renovation, As Seen in Grand Designs

All photographs credited to Bruce Hemming.

Following our exclusive Decorcafe members’ tour inside photographer Cressida Murray’s 1970s home, we invite you to virtually visit this East Sussex abode.

Cressida and her husband were seeking out a project to develop and transform into their own. Situated in the beautiful South Downs, a walking distance from their daughters’ school, they found this house that was perfect for development.

We bought the house 2014, having rented in Lewes for three years beforehand. The shape of the roof, the fact that it was a project, the location and the price drew me and my husband towards the property.

Flawlessly decked out in 1970s style, Cressida’s home was the perfect subject for a Grand Designs feature.

I am a photographer and it made me think of using the house as a photoshoot location. I heard that a Photographer wanted to take photographs to pitch to magazines. The editor of Grand Designs Magazine liked our house and agreed to feature it.

Entrance to the 1970s Home

The entrance to the home sets the tone for the rest of the interior design style. Slate tiling throughout the ground floor provides underfloor heating throughout. The blue and yellow colour scheme is a theme across the atrium and up into the first floor, as is the unique skirting around the walls, with three indents.

There is also our first introduction to the Mid-century furniture that is intrinsic to the 1970s design, is a vintage cabinet from fellow Decorcafe Experts, Lovely & Co.

The Atrium

Originally covered by a living room on the floor above, the floor was removed to reveal an open-plan stairwell. This architectural decision completely opens up the room to the floor above, creating a seamless living space.

I like the hallway and atrium space and that it is cool in the summer months.

One of the most eye-catching elements of the stairwell, or ‘atrium’, is this fantastic mural, hand-painted by Cressida and her daughter. The floral shapes mimic the very real plants in the room and, combined with the nest chair that hanging from the ceiling in front of it, gives the space an organic feel.

Having visited Charleston Farmhouse, the home of Vanessa Bell (an artist within the Bloomsbury set) I was inspired by the home decorations. There were amazing paintings and prints on the wall. I wanted some wall paper so decided to do some myself with my daughter. We used paint samples and just did it free hand, copying some wall paper print ideas and some flowers I found online.

Adjacent to the stairs, another striking element from this room is the steel bar bookshelf. The Atrium was created by taking a floor out and having a bespoke iron staircase built by a local ironmonger so as to have a bookshelf alongside it. Cascading across the entire wall, this unique feature is made from scaffolding poles. Echoing the harmony of the rest of the house, the scaffolding poles are a motif we see in other elements of the home; holding up the ceiling lights in the kitchen, and transformed into room dividers in the living room.

The Open-plan Dining Room, Kitchen and Living Space

Following the open-plan layout of the house, the atrium leads directly into the kitchen, diner and living room area. Aside from the gorgeous Neptune kitchen, one of the first things you notice about this space is the panelled wooden ceiling. A compromise that Cressida made with her husband, following their decision to install under-floor heated slate tiles, the ceiling was created in lieu of a wooden floor.

Along with the wooden ceiling, the hanging lights and honed granite work surface over the island are marked by Cressida as some of the best features in this room. The 1970s design is completed with complimentary Mid-century furniture and leather chairs, iron staircase, hanging chair and large lightbulbs.

We have previously refurbished a flat in London and done an extension in our first house. This house was built in the 1970s and we wanted to keep some of the vibe. We have always liked mid century furniture and am a huge fan of wood. My husband wanted underfloor heating and so we have slate tiles in the kitchen and hallways but wood in the living areas and on the ceiling to match the outside!

The kitchen is mostly painted a very pale grey to match the Neptune wooden units, the farrow and ball colour is ‘cornforth white’. The snug and one wall of the kitchen is ‘down pipe’ (a very dark grey). Contrasting with the paint work, the walls behind the kitchen and the sofa are tiled with brick slip tiles. The tiles create an illusion of exposed brick, where real brick worked would not have been possible. The entire room is also lit up with natural light, as a sliding glass door opens up the entire back wall to the garden.

I love the that we have huge glass sliding doors which open onto the garden… I love the wooden ceiling and the kitchen layout works really well and worth the many hours spent trying to work out the best use of the space.

The India Yellow Living Room

The 1970s design continues up to the first floor to the sitting room, perched on a mezzanine-like floor above the stairwell. The room is painted in an India Yellow dupe and flooded and natural light floods in from the balcony.

Like the snug, tucked away in the open-plan living space on the floor below, this sitting room can be transformed into a cinema room, with a wall projector. The living room also mirrors the wooden ceiling below with a wooden floor.

This L-shaped living room also acts as a spare bedroom, with a sofa bed placed around the corner. To provide some additional sound proofing, Cressida also plans to add a glass partition between the main living space and the ‘spare bedroom’.

Master Bedroom and Bath

The master bedroom makes a splash with a nickel bathtub, poised at the end of the bed. Cressida explains how the bath is built onto a platform, to try and give the bather views out of the window. More gorgeous Mid-century furniture and exposed wooden floorboards create a vintage look. The wooden shutters are also painted in farrow and ball to seamlessly match the walls.

For more creative inspiration at home with Cressida Murray check out her Instagram here.

For Cressida’s photography services, visit her expert page here.

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