Tea and Biscuits



Designer Nikki McWilliams has stamped her personality on this converted rural Victorian home in Alloa, Scotland.

Nikki McWilliams is a textile designer, married to Michael. They live here with their adopted Norwegian Forest cat, Frankie, who is 2 years old. The house is a two-bedroom Victorian conversion in Alloa, Scotland. The couple have lived here since 2014, when they moved from Dundee city centre as they wanted a more rural location with a garden. The house was built in 1890. Nikki wanted to completely redecorate as the style wasn’t really them. The living room and bedroom floors were both stripped and sanded/painted. Nikki explains that took a lot of work but they’re definitely the thing that she is most proud of in their home. Her favourite part of the renovation was being able to add their personalities to every room. The house is now contemporary, bright, colourful and playful.

One of the main selling points of her home, a converted Victorian house in Alloa, Scotland, was the fact that the garden had been re-designed in the early 90s by the BBC show Ground Force. They have since removed the obligatory water feature that came with every TV garden makeover show of the time, but they love spending time there. Not many people can lay claim to having a famous garden, but Nikki and her husband, Michael now can! It was this, plus the abundance of natural light and original features such as the high ceilings, cornicing, fireplaces and sash and case windows that really sold the home to them. Both being creatives (their studios in Dundee were within a converted Jute Mill) they were used to being in a really light and bright space. The ceilings are high and the rooms are either south or north facing, meaning they get a lovely variety of light quality in each room throughout the day.

When it came to putting our stamp on their home, they had a good idea of what they wanted to change; the decoration. As there was so much natural light from the north and south facing windows, Nikki was keen to make the most of this by painting each room. When it came to decorating their home, everything happened quite organically. They love light, so they painted each room a light colour (with the exception of one mustard wall in the north facing living room) to maximise this. This palette was then the backdrop for their collection of new, vintage, charity shop and homemade furniture and accessories, some of which has been reclaimed from skips, including Nikki’s favourite acquisition – a Parker Knoll chair. This bargain find was salvaged from an office clearance; “I saw it on the back of a dumper truck and asked if I could have it. I knew it was a good chair and would look great with some new upholstery!”

The redecoration took around six months, and they started as soon as they moved in. Having just adopted Frankie at this point, he was a tiny, hyperactive 10-week-old kitten. They spent a while trying to keep him away from the dust sheets and paint tins…but in the end, it was easier to just let him join in! He’d often climb the ladders to keep an eye on them or even sit on their shoulders while they worked. Despite this distraction, the work was completed and all that was left to do was add the finishing touches to each room. Nikki likes to collect mementos from their travels, which means their souvenirs are more often (tricky-to-pack-in-a-suitcase) lamp shades than novelty fridge magnets.

Overall, they are happy with their colourful, eclectic home, but theu still have some plans to change the famed garden. They want a little more outdoor space for socialising in the summer evenings. Nikki says “It feels a little bit sacrilegious to re-do a Ground Force garden…but the time has come to make it our own!” TC
Published: December 2017