Ever since she was a child, Claire Harvey has enjoyed making her surroundings look and feel the best they can.
In those days it was her own room that got the focus of her creative energies and her mum, who was also a keen decorator, was happy to allow Claire to express herself within her own four walls.
As the photos of her central Southsea home show, Claire’s passion for colour and texture has grown and now she has become a trendsetter through her Instagram account documenting the transformation of her home.
“I’ve always loved doing this. When I was younger I was forever redoing my room. My mum and aunties are all really into their homes and making them look nice – and it’s my thing too.
“Although I love my job, it isn’t particularly creative, so this is my creative outlet,” said Claire, who heads up employer partnerships in early careers and apprenticeships.
Two previous Southsea homes have been transformed. When they moved to their current address, they realised it would be a major project and Claire admitted there were times when she questioned what they had done.
“We were looking for another project and a bigger garden and it turned out this house was right under our nose. The previous owner had been here for 20 years so it needed a bit of love and updating.
“We started at the back of the house with a new kitchen, central heating, rewiring and new windows before getting onto the cosmetic stuff.
“The first six months were pretty hard, especially for the children. We had moved from a lovely home to a building site but it was worth it and they love it now,” she said.
Claire and husband Nick did all the design work and turned to architects Thorns Young for the drawings, calculations and managing the planning application process. Builder and joiner Jamie owns Hartts and was invaluable for the tricky bits. He did the entire kitchen build and renovation, re-installed all their fireplaces and the downstairs loo as well as wood panelling in their bedroom.
“We get experts in for plumbing and electrical work, but we do like to do the decorating ourselves and sourcing the elements that will bring a room to life is such fun. For the bigger decorating jobs like the hall, stairs and landing, we did get some help from Southsea Decorating Company and Ashley from there also renovated our lovely orange front door.
“I love a bargain, and it’s great to mix old and new. We’ve got a unit in the kitchen that cost £65 from a house clearance, and I get such a buzz out of it because it looks so great,” she said.
Art has played an increasingly important part in how Claire pulls a room together, and it is one of the areas where she is happy to invest.
“I love art and if I have some birthday money I love to treat myself to a print. We have some wonderful local artists and I love Roo Abrook and the fairground light signs from Missing Chopper based in Hayling Island,” she added.
From the outset Claire has documented the transformation of her home on Instagram and she has developed such a following that she is hoping to do more with her love for interiors.
“I’ve been helping friends for a while and other opportunities are starting to develop. We are going to be featured in a future edition of Real Homes magazine and I am starting to get approaches from collaborators.
“There’s also quite a little scene on Instagram with local interiors people and we are arranging a meet-up soon,” said Claire.