Sandra Baker – of the to-die-for interior inspiration Instagram account @the_idle_hands – shares this wonderful historical Yorkshire home with her husband and two daughters. Running with its Victorian origins, the interiors are a daring embrace of all things maximalist. From patterned floral wallpaper to stripy runners, tasselled lamps and green velvet sofas, Sandra’s home is a triumph of eclectic detail. On paper it sounds like a lot is going on, but Sandra’s skilled eye has woven these references together to create a wonderful harmony of print and pattern. We also love the use of a darker palette for the walls, which in turn make brighter colour references pop! Enjoy this conversation with Sandra around her home and the design choices behind it.
Hi Sandra, how long have you lived in your home?
We moved in in November 2012, so just over 6 years.
Can you describe it in 3 words?
Bold, patterned, whimsical.
What was the first thing you noticed about the space?
The scale of it. The rooms were all so much bigger than in our previous house (which is why we were moving). It felt really grown up, and I still can’t believe it’s mine!
What was the biggest challenge you faced when decorating?
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the sort of house where you can apply a quick coat of paint and transform it. Every room we’ve decorated has had to be stripped right back and new electrics and plumbing installed, then the walls made good and new flooring fitted. This makes it costly, which in turn means that it’s taken a long time to get to where we are now. And there’s still a lot to do!
What is the best design advice you’ve received?
Don’t dive straight in and decorate as soon as you move in. Live in the house for a while and see what works and what doesn’t. You have a much better chance of getting it right.
What aspect of your home do you love the most?
The space. We have room to come together as a family, but enough space to take a breather from one another!
Do you have a proud DIY moment?
I do! We had lived with the kitchen, as it was when we bought the house, for a couple of years, as we weren’t in a position to buy a new one. One day I decided I couldn’t live with the yellow walls and cream units a moment longer, and spent 3 solid days painting it from floor to ceiling. It may not be my dream kitchen, but it scrubbed up pretty well!
Favourite piece of furniture?
The wooden “monk’s bench” I inherited from my great auntie. I remember it well in her hallway when I was little, and now it sits in mine, still lined with newspaper from 1974 (and provides great shoe storage!).
What is a dream piece you’d like to acquire?
I wouldn’t say no to a Houtique “Wink” lamp.
Was there a leading inspiration for your home?
If I ever feel in need of inspiration, I always find it in Jo Berryman’s work. She’s wonderful.
How do you approach choosing furniture for a room?
Instinct! I’m not the greatest planner, I tend to fall in love with pieces, buy them and hope for the best. I can usually find a way to make it work (which isn’t to say I haven’t had to send back a few mistake items in my time!).
Biggest design error?
Being led by fear (it’s too bold, it’s too bright, what about when we come to sell?). I strongly believe that your heart should soar when you come through your own front door, whatever your style.
Easily the amount of House of Hackney “Artemis” wallpaper I used across three floors of hallway. I will love it forever, though.
You have friends visiting for the weekend! Where do you take them?
Saltaire, for a wander round Salts Mill, a huge converted mill housing a great independent bookshop, an antiques store, art store, interiors store, galleries (loads of David Hockney) and fabulous eateries. It’s my happy place. Saltaire village also has great independent shops to rummage in.
What do you love most about living in Yorkshire?
The proximity to beautiful countryside, whilst still being able to pop to decent shops! I didn’t grow up here, but I’m proud to call it home.
Whose home would you love to sneak peek into?
I’d love a sneaky peek into Pearl Lowe’s incredible home. I’d probably try and claim squatter’s rights!
And finally, what’s the next home project?
The biggest one to date! Removing a huge chimney breast wall up two floors to make an open plan kitchen/dining space, and to reconfigure the main bathroom space upstairs. It will make a huge difference to the way we live.
To see more of Sandra’s fantastic home, follow her on Instagram @the_idle_hands.