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milieu: a labour of love with Siobhan McFadden

milieu: a labour of love with Siobhan McFadden

Milieu is a series that explores the unique ways in which we breathe life into our homes. From coastal towns to city living, our homes are a celebration of small, simple moments. They’re a reflection of our lives. Our stories. Our milieu.

Our next feature in this series brings us across the pond to Edinburgh, Scotland to visit Siobhan McFadden . Siobhan lives with her husband Rory and three daughters, Úna (5), Nora (2) and Nell (12 weeks) in a Victorian terraced ‘fixer upper’ that they have been renovating themselves since they moved in in 2017.

Siobhan’s home is a joyful expression of colour and family. Inspired by Scandinavian interior design with a dash of countryside farmhouse living, we felt very lucky to be invited in to take a look.

Please, introduce yourself!

Hi, I’m Siobhan McFadden. I am originally from Co. Donegal in the North West of Ireland & I now live in Edinburgh with my husband Rory & our three daughters Úna (5) Nora (2) & Nell (12weeks).

I work as a colour consultant. I give my clients the confidence to create an easy-to-follow scheme that flows between the rooms, taking the stress out of choosing colours and finishes.

I also have an advisory service on how to bring colour in using furniture, soft furnishings, accessories, flooring etc.

Working as a colour consultant sounds like such a joyful career. Have you always been inspired by colourways and palettes?

It truly is, I love my job. It’s a joy to help people make improvements to their home. Colour makes such a big difference to a space. There is nothing more rewarding than leaving a client feeling inspired and ready to make the small changes needed to improve the way they use their home.

As a child growing up I was always very interested in being creative. I have such fond memories of going to flower arranging classes and knitting classes with my grandmother. I studied Graphic Design and Fashion & Textiles at university with a background that has always been heavily colour led.

I learnt a lot from internships with textile designers and then set up my own screen printing label in 2011 when I moved to Edinburgh. It was then that I started working as a colour consultant. I now have over 10 years of experience in the industry and I have recently started consulting virtually which has opened up another world of opportunities.

Do you have a favourite colour?

My favourite colour changes all the time, but I am definitely drawn to warm, neutral tones. If I had to pick one colour to live with throughout my home it would be Farrow & Ball Slipper Satin . I also love Drop Cloth and accent colours like Light Blue , Setting Plaster or Hay.

Did you and your partner always dream of fixing up an older house?

Myself and my husband were brought up in houses built in the 80’s, so we didn’t experience the character of an older building until we moved to Edinburgh 10 years ago. My job brought me into some incredible properties so when we first got on the property ladder we were determined to buy a period property.

We bought our first family home, a Victorian terraced fixer upper in Edinburgh in 2017 and have been renovating it ourselves since. It has been and still is a labour of love!

What is one of your favourite things about living in Edinburgh?

What I love most about our location is that we can walk 20 minutes in one direction and be in the heart of the city, or 20 minutes in the other direction and be on our way up a hill. Edinburgh is a small city, so it feels friendly! It was a very easy place to make our home!

Was Edinburgh a big change from where you’d been living prior?

Massively. We were both brought up in the countryside, with a small population. Think single track roads with grass growing up the middle! I think that is why Edinburgh works so well for us. It doesn’t feel urban at all & it has more of a village feel to it.

We’d love to hear a bit about your children! Were the elder two excited to welcome home their baby sister? (Congratulations!)

We have three beautiful daughters. Our eldest two are quite different in personality. Úna is very creative and loves fashion, whereas Nora is more active. She has just learnt how to climb out of her cot, something that Úna never managed to do! So it will soon be time to go big girl bed shopping!! We haven’t worked out Nell’s personality yet but I’m sure she will be different again.

Thank you, Nell has settled in so well and thankfully the oldest two adore their baby sister. They have been so responsive of her as well as the change so far. We are very blessed.

What does a typical day look like in your household?

Currently I am on maternity leave, so our days are a bit more fluid which is so nice. I am really enjoying my time at home. Rory leaves for work before 6.30am so I am home to get the girls up and ready on the days they attend nursery. I try to be productive with household chores and my creative work on these days.

The rest of the week, he girls and I split our days between home and trips to the park, learning through play. We try to meet up with friends a couple of times a week and we are now starting to join classes again. Úna loves ballet and we are hoping to join our local tennis club soon.

Who does most of the cooking in your home?

That is definitely Rory’s chore. He does all the food shopping & cooking. He enjoys cooking when he has the luxury of time to prepare for it. We are delighted with how we reconfigured the space at the back of our house for the kitchen/diner. It is nice that we can all be in the one area when we have friends over.

It seems like much of your home is a creative zone! Is there a room or particular spot in which you find yourself feeling most inspired?

Our home is compact so each activity has its designated space. When I am working and doing virtual consultations I work from my desk in my bedroom, however the space in which I feel most creative is probably at our dining table. We get such beautiful, warm light in this space in the late afternoon. It’s a nice space to sit with a cuppa, be creative while also being the perfect backdrop for shooting something for my Instagram account, @home__stead

Which piece in your home do you feel has the most unique story?

When we bought our house it was definitely the ugly duckling of the street and for some reason the previous owners ripped out a lot of the original features. So when we moved in we were determined to reinstate as much of the old character as possible. We knew from visiting neighbours’ homes that we originally would have had a vestibule which is a front porch. But the stained glass partition had been ripped down and the Victorian tiles had been covered with a laminate flooring creating an open plan space.

Rory took measurements from our neighbours’ home, built a new partition and we found an old door at a salvage yard. Time restraints and probably a lack of funds meant we weren’t successful in sourcing stained glass so we have a double glaze instead; it works quite well as it is insulating and it lets a lot of south facing natural light into our hallway. We painted it in Farrow & Ball Studio Green to create a focal point in the hallway.

Who or what are your biggest design inspirations?

I am very inspired by Scandinavian interior design mixed with a bit of old farmhouse.

My favourite shops are the charity shops and salvage yards. What I love most about buying vintage is that it is sustainable & more individual. I like having things in my home that not everybody has, like the old brass bed in Úna’s bedroom & our Chesterfield in the living room.

I love using soft hues & natural materials such as wood and stone and lots of white for a serene, calm ambience.

I take great care in picking things for our home that are simple, functional and beautiful.

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