From the kitchen units constructed from discarded packing crates to the vintage quilts that cover every bed and sofa, almost everything in Tamsyn Morgans’ possession has lived another life. Tamsyn’s approach to decorating is not only kind to the environment – and her budget – but has also helped to create an individual space that inspires the photography for her lifestyle blog, The Villa on Mount Pleasant.

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Tamsyn’s love of old things began when she was a child. ‘At the age of 10 I started seeking out treasure at car boot sales with my father,’ she says. ‘I would soak up costume dramas on TV and especially enjoyed Little House on the Prairie. I would try to create a similarly warm and nostalgic feel in my bedroom with displays of vintage perfume bottles and faded postcards. I cherished the visits to my elderly grandmothers, too; both of their homes were strewn with well-used items that fascinated me. I loved imagining what tales they would tell if those objects could speak, and now, through my blog, I get to ponder these stories.’

Tamsyn’s Victorian terraced house perches high on a hill with views down on to the grand old city of Norwich. It too had lived another life before she took it on five years ago. ‘I spent the first six months cleaning every inch of the house, ripping up carpets and painting every surface,’ she says. ‘I did most of it myself, although I had a little help from friends and my father. He travelled up from the south coast every weekend to lend a much-needed hand, especially in the kitchen, which we gutted and rebuilt from scratch using salvaged components.’

Although Tamsyn had a clear idea of the feel she was trying to achieve, as a newly single mum of two starting afresh, she wanted to turn the house around as quickly as possible. ‘I didn’t want Lola and Finlay to live in a building site for too long,’ she says, ‘so white seemed the obvious choice for the walls. But, I have to say, it has stuck, as it works so well as a backdrop for my photography projects and for showing off my collections. If I want to introduce some colour, I create a display of vintage books, prints or paintings – or I paint an old cupboard or dresser.’

Despite buying a few new items for the kitchen, Tamsyn has remained faithful to her 10-year-old self when sourcing other pieces for the house. She loves the feel of vintage cutlery in her hands, the soft light emanating from beneath the pleated frills of dusky pink charity shop shades and the luxuriant texture of her velvet cushions.

‘There was an element of being mindful of my budget when furnishing the house, but there’s so much more to it than that. I prefer things that are already in existence, made long ago with thought and care. For far too long we’ve been a throwaway society, so I’m proud to be doing my bit while proving you can have a pretty home without spending a fortune. I’ve never been one to follow trends.’

Christmas decorating is a fine example of Tamsyn’s playful styling around her home. She may have taken inspiration from Scandinavian interiors with her use of white paint, presents wrapped in brown paper and natural foliage, but her love of colour is expressed through her collection of vintage glass baubles. These jewel-like decorations are displayed on every surface: in old packaging tins and sweetie jars, dangling from twigs and trees, and even threaded with strips of vibrant sari silk and hung from old chandeliers.

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‘About 10 years ago, I found a whole box of old baubles in a charity shop. Their delicate feel, the sparkle, and even the slightly musty smell of their cardboard tray sent my mind back to Christmases past.’ Since then, Tamsyn has snapped up every set of vintage baubles she can find and has inherited a few from those much-loved grandmothers, too. She accepts that these paper-thin glass treasures are incredibly fragile so some will inevitably get broken and need to be replaced, but always with something else just as beautiful, colourful and pre-loved, like all the other cherished possessions in her inspiring home.

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