It has been a little while since I featured a house tour on the blog but the best things come to those who wait because I am back with an absolute cracker. If I tell you that the house I am featuring belongs to a couple who run a Happy Endings Agency you might be getting nervous that I have actually introduced a racy new feature on the interiors of London’s best brothels packed full of wipe clean sofas and custard filled jacuzzis. But whilst I am sure there is an audience for that somewhere on the internet, the agency in question is actually a creative one owned by Marianna (Maz) and Ross Popejoy who live in this gorgeous two bedroom house in East London with their 3 year old son Finn. They used to both live and work together but 4 years ago Maz switched from dishing out (creative) Happy Endings and retrained as a Pilates teacher. Their family is completed by adorable dog Indy who occasionally lets them share the sofa with her.
Maz and Ross moved in to the house back in February 2015 having started to give up hope of moving up the housing ladder owing to rapidly rising London house prices and the average viewing being conducted with 100 other people also desperately trying to secure a tiny corner of the Capital to call home. After a demoralising spell of offering on anything and everything they saw and still getting outbid, a local agent who they had got on the right side of called up to give them first refusal on a house they had tried and failed to buy 6 months previously.
Having finally got their hands on the keys, the Popejoys set about transforming it from a tired rental property into a seriously stylish family home it is today. First on their hit list was the bathroom which was downstairs and had some drainage issues that still traumatise Maz today. The previous owner had also gone heavy on brown edged floor tiles. This design choice left Maz wondering “about the person that walked into the tile shop with all of their endless possibilities and chose brown, rimmed tiles. I think we can all agree that brown and rimmed are two words that should never be said in the same sentence.”
Their priority when renovating was to remove those tiles but also to relocate the bathroom and do a side return extension to open up the kitchen. Having painted everything white just to freshen things up the serious work began. Maz and a then 1 year old Finn moved up to Warwick to stay with family for what they thought would be 8 weeks whilst the main structural work was carried out. Fast forward 7 months and they were still there with Ross living and working at his office in London during the week. If that sounds stressful it’s because it was! But with the build finally reaching a point when the family could be reunited, a greater trauma was to be endured: the carpenter’s 2pm poo break which would render the house newly uninhabitable. Maz dates her Cronut addiction back to this time as they would escape to the cafes of Wanstead and seek comfort in the croissant donut hybrid.
They had initially planned to have the kitchen/dining space entirely open plan with a big kitchen island in the middle and a dining table on castors that slotted into the island. The idea being that they could slide it away if Maz needed more space to teach Pilates at home or roll it out into the garden if they wanted to eat outside. However, budget constraints ultimately meant that they ended up leaving some of the supportive walls in place and just opening them up with wider walk throughs which actually worked out for the best as it means they get an open feel whilst retaining some privacy. They are also happy with the decision to keep their lounge as a separate space as it means at the end of day they can retreat in there and shut the door on all the toddler related mess.
Their kitchen was sourced from a company called DIY Kitchens and involved a leap of faith as they hadn’t seen any of their kitchens in person and there was barely anything about them on Instagram at the time (this was 2015 afterall!). Their showroom is in Leeds and with the lead times, they didn’t have an opportunity to go up and see it before placing the order. They have loads of cupboard styles and colours to choose from and are really competitively priced but the flip side is that to save money you have to design and lay the kitchen out yourself. Maz and Ross sourced the handles and worktops separately to give them a bit more of a luxury feel and placed one of the carcasses on castors to make it into a moveable kitchen island. The gamble has definitely paid off though as it could easily pass as a far more expensive kitchen brand.
If Maz has any regrets about the renovation it is the choice of pale, mat, scandi style wooden flooring that runs throughout the entire house as it's not very durable and stains really easily, “there are so many marks on it now that it's basically just one big stain. I keep telling myself it adds character.” The only other regret Maz nurses is having to say no to crittal on the grounds of it being simply too spenny an option at the time. Maybe that is one for their next build!
Whilst the build itself definitely had it’s stressful moments, making choices about the interiors was made easier by the fact that Maz and Ross actually have very similar tastes bar Ross being a little bit more adventurous when it comes to colour. I am guessing Ross took the helm in their super cosy front room where a yellow velvet sofa is the perfect compliment to dark green walls.
One of their only decorating disputes has been about having a ballet pump pink bath tub. Ross was #TeamPissOffPinkBath on the grounds it was too random a colour choice at the time. Whilst I like a pink bath as much as the next girl I have to say I might be with Ross on this one as I love how dramatic their dark tub looks with their patterned floor tiles (not a brown rim in sight) and plant gang.
With most of the renovation of the inside of the house now complete, the next area to receive a makeover will be the garden which Maz is particularly excited about “ with our ugly fence having been staring at me through our big glass doors for over a year now.” They also have big plans for the bedroom (not involving wipe clean surfaces or custard in case you think this will turn out to be a best brothel tour afterall). They have already made a start with the addition of a pallet wall knocked up over the course of a weekend. Personally if I could swap bedrooms with anyone in the Popejoy house it would be Finn who has the birch pine mini house bed of my dreams as well as an excellent selection of colour pop vintage furniture.
Whilst Brexit may have put paid to the crazy days of viewing a house with 100 other people at a time , London’s still dizzying house prices mean that the “ “ are now contemplating a move out of the capital for their next project. If Maz had to sum up her dream house it would be a self build by the sea with lots of wood and glass so the coast is definitely calling. Perhaps this Grand Design dream can become a reality if Maz becomes a Macarena teacher to the stars having successfully taught a drunken Wayne Bridge the moves in a nightclub in Las Vegas shortly before he vomited everywhere.
Thanks so much to Maz, Ross, Finn and Indy for showing me around their gorgeous home. If you would like to see more make sure you are following Maz on Instagram @the_ wooden _hill.