Home Inspiration with Our Edwardian Dream

How to balance family life while creating a forever home 9 August 2021 by Casper Arboll

At Perenna, we have a special kind of love for homeowners who take an active approach in keeping their homes in the best possible condition and fully supporting the home renovation community.

One homeowner leading the way and inspiring others to make the most of their home is Renée from Leeds, wife, mother of two, midwife and the content creator behind the successful Instagram page “Our Edwardian Dream”. Since creating her page at the start of lockdown, she has accumulated over 30,000 followers, establishing herself as a leading interior design influencer.

Renée candidly shares her family’s journey of buying and improving a one-hundred-year-old Edwardian house, including frustrations, top tips on sourcing the best builders and the challenges of keeping the family together working through a year-long renovation project.

We caught up with Renée to discuss her interest in interior design, fascination with period properties and balancing family life while building their forever home.


What’s the thing about Edwardian homes that make you dream?

“I’ve always loved period homes. Especially Georgian and Edwardian style houses. The symmetry, tall rooms and sash windows. They have a simple and classic style that I’ve always admired. If money were no concern, I would love to buy a big Georgian home.”

“When looking to buy, we never looked at new builds or building our own house. We just looked at old houses with the potential to modernising and adding our style. When searching for period properties, you must remember these homes require a lot of work to adapt to your taste and the style you want to recreate.”

“The key feature that attracted us to this home was the sizable rooms. It also has a large back garden which is secluded from others which is a big plus when raising two young children.”



How are you making the home your style?

“The whole family is involved in the process. It takes a long time, and you get to enjoy the journey. Interior design has always been one of my favourite hobbies outside of my midwife job. I love shopping for home things, developing design visions and getting new ideas. My husband has a good eye for design, though his taste is a bit different than mine. He’s into modern design, and I’m probably more classic. We draw inspiration from both styles and make compromises. Since moving into this house, I think my style has changed more than my husbands. I’m more trusting of his judgement, and I think he has a good eye, so it works for us.”

“We outsource the actual building to tradesmen. We’re both working and are not natural talents with DIY tasks, so it’s been essential for us to find great tradesmen who can help us bring the ideas to life.”



How do you find tradesmen?

“Finding good tradesmen is a challenging task. If you’re lucky to find one, they’re either very expensive or fully booked for extended periods. My advice is to keep them engaged when you have them.”

“We had no experience with tradesmen when we started renovating our first home, so it’s been a few years of trial and error. The issue is that it’s impossible to assess the quality of their work before they start the job. But we’ve learned from our mistakes and have developed a better idea of how to evaluate their capabilities.”

“Today we rely on recommendations to find quality tradesmen. Friends and family, Checkatrade and Facebook, have been great sources”



What inspired you to share your story?

“My friends motivated me to start my Instagram account. We’ve all been following and discussing home design accounts for years before I started My Edwardian Dream. I got so much inspiration from other creators on Instagram and always loved looking at their homes. It’s a massive community with lots of helpful individuals.”

“I hope to inspire other people to realise their home dreams by providing an authentic window into the renovation process. A renovation project like the one we’re undertaking is hard work for the whole family. That’s why I share my frustrations if we’ve had terrible tradesmen or other bad experiences. I think it’s important to be honest, and not trying to paint a rosy picture.”



Is that the key to your Instagram success?

“I think people like my home, that probably helps. It’s important to be humble. I make my content relevant, relatable and engaging.”

“The things I buy and use for my designs are very relatable for many. I enjoy mixing up different items. Sometimes I buy expensive stuff, but often I buy something cheap or second hand and use my creativity to make the most of it.”

“Mixing up content is essential. With Instagram stories, I try to do a bit of lifestyle. I’m trying to evolve and not be static. The beauty of old houses is there’s always something to do. We’ve got a garden, we’ve got a summer house and an ensuite that needs completing. There’s plenty to do around the home, and I love sharing those updates with my followers.”



What advice do you have for others starting a home renovation project?

“Manage expectations and have patience. If it’s your forever home, you’ll be living there for a long time. It’s ok if things take time.”

“I’ve had to learn that lesson myself. Renovating a home is a long process, and at times the whole house can be a mess full of dust. My husband and I are both very impatient. We want everything done yesterday. So we get frustrated with the process, especially if things don’t run smoothly. Things never run smoothly. We thought we’d be ready with the house after three years. We’re past that mark and still not finished. That was depressing. But then we realised it doesn’t matter. We’re fine, and the house will be fine. It’s just managing time and expectations but still enjoying the home.”

“The motto in our house is ‘progress is progress.’ Even just a tiny bit of progress is still progress. Be friendly to people, and they will be friendly to you. That will get you a long way.”

Feeling inspired? Click here to follow Renée and Our Edwardian Dream