Name: Emily Lyons
Cat(s) Names: Nellie & Dexter
Location: Plymouth, UK
Type of home: House
Size: Two bedroom terraced house
Years lived in: 2 and a half years
Tell us about your home:
We bought our first home two and a half years ago. It's a two bed terraced house in Central Plymouth, UK. It was really the second bedroom that sold this house to us - the loft has been converted to create a mezzanine level in this room and one of the walls has been left as exposed brick - it's quite weird but in a totally unique way. We knew we'd be able to do some really fun things with this room. We're in the slow process of renovating this room into an office and studio space at the moment.
Tell us about Nellie & Dexter:
Dexter is a four year old blue British Shorthair. He loves humans and is always happy to see us, but he also likes his space. He currently spends most of his day curled up on the back of the sofa. He's a stubborn boy and he absolutely believes that he runs this house. To be fair he kind of does. Nellie is a two year old Tortie British Shorthair. She is so lovely and gentle, she's such a good girl. She always waits patiently for her food, and she curls up on the bed every night. She's quite clumsy and loves flopping all over the place because she knows how cute it is. Our cats are complete polar opposites of each other, but they're both wonderful in their own ways and have so much character.
How would you describe your style at home?
My style follows the same spec across the board really. I love colour and pattern, so I incorporate it into every aspect of my life. My home style tends to consist of a few bright, bold colours paired with some striking black and white patterns. I love a pattern clash, and I really love playing around with different patterns in black and white. There's something about the contrast of black and white that I find so effective everywhere. It's so simple but it's so strong. I love the balance of bright colours offset by some bold black and white patterns. It makes a room feel complete and well put together for me. Even though my style is quite maximalist in this way, I do prefer minimalist styling in my home. I like to find home decor items that I really love or create them myself, that make enough of a statement on their own. I like minimal shelf styling, where every piece is a statement piece. My number one item for bringing rooms together is plants. I could forgo everything else and just have a home full of plants!
How have you made your home pet friendly?
Over the years we've learnt what items/materials are cat resistant and which ones are likely to be destroyed by their claws. When buying furniture now we tend to avoid Linen materials because these are perfect for cats to get their claws into and destroy. We have cat scratching toys dotted around the house, and plenty of smaller toys to keep them occupied when they're having a mad five minutes. We put lots of soft comfy blankets around the house as well, you know the ones that cats like making bread on, rather than cat beds, to create lots of cosy spaces for them around their humans. We put precious items out of reach of the cats, put plants up on high shelves and I find that if I put large plants up on a stool/table, the cats tend to leave them alone. It's only when they're at their level that they're interested! We've also removed the carpet throughout our whole house because our cats are renowned destroyers of carpets - plus we prefer hard floors. For the time being we've painted the floorboards throughout our house because they were all half painted before and we couldn't face the task of sanding them back.
What was your proudest DIY?
That's a tough one! I feel proud of a lot of my DIY projects for different reasons. Normally because I never expect them to turn out well! One that I'm quite proud of is the bathroom window DIY project I did, which was the first DIY project in this house! We had to renovate our bathroom as soon as we moved in because some leaks were uncovered, but we had to do it on a real budget because we'd just forked out for a brand new boiler as well. Because the bathroom is at the front of the house we had a window with one of those horrible opaque plastic panels at the bottom for privacy. Because we couldn't afford to replace the window, I decided to paint it for the time being. I painted the window frame black and I painted a black and white stripe pattern on the plastic panel and it completely transformed the room. I absolutely love making a statement out of things that are otherwise eyesores in a room. This window is now my favourite part of the bathroom and I no longer want to replace it! Two years later and it has held up really well too.
What was your biggest indulgence?
We have really managed to renovate our house on a tight budget, with a lot of help from my handy dad! The biggest indulgence we've paid out for is a boring one really but we paid to have our whole hallway plastered and both ceilings redone because we really didn't want to attempt it ourselves! We planned to do it ourselves but put it off for so long that in the end we decided to pay for someone else to do it. I don't regret it one bit!
What are your budget-friendly design tips?
If you can't afford to replace things that you don't like, paint them! The power of paint is unmatched! We've painted the horrible radiators that we have in our house to make statements out of them and they look fabulous now. Rather than wallpapering (unless you find something you know you'll love for a long time) just have a go at adding some different colours, or even just some shapes or stripes. Art is a great way to make a big blank wall more exciting as well, and it really brings a room together. You don't always need to fork out for loads of frames either - we've used patterned tape to create the illusion of a frame behind a print before and we've used some funky bulldog clips to hang prints on nails, it makes a gallery wall feel less uniform as well! I've painted a lot of second hand furniture which means I've been able to create pieces that fit perfectly with a room and my style. You can easily change these up as well if you get bored with a design! Quite often I find an item that I really like the shape of, but it doesn't fit my colour palette or style. So I paint it!
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in having a pet in a stylish home?
First would be the decline of my beautiful yellow chair that was destroyed by Dexter's claws and has been banished to the mezzanine floor and covered with a blanket. Second would be trying to create harmony between cats and plants. I love plants. They are my favourite part of my home, they're so good for my mental health, and the joy that I feel when I see a new leaf coming through is unmatched! But unfortunately Nellie used to claw at the leaves on some of my big plants when she was smaller. All of my monstera plants took quite a hit when she was a kitten. As I said I've found that putting them up higher has really helped with this, and she's kind of grown out of that habit now anyway, apart from when she's hungry and she's trying to annoy us into feeding her. Very sneaky!
What’s your best piece of advice for cat owners who want to keep their homes looking good?
Get a good furniture furminator - it is the only thing that prevents us from choking on furballs everyday. Our cats have a special indoor cat food that helps with furballs so they don't have that problem luckily. Make sure you've got toys and scratching posts/pads to occupy your cats and distract them from your furniture! You don't have to sacrifice having nice things because of inquisitive cats - you've just got to be savvy about how you keep them separate. Use shelves for plants and vases, and also add colour and pattern in ways that your cats will not be interested in - such as on the walls. Our velvet sofas have been an absolute success with our cats - it's not really the kind of material that cats can get their claws into so they've held up really well over the years! I love my cats and my home wouldn't be a home without them. We've managed to adapt our home and our decor to work with our cats over the years because this is their home too!
Emily's Etsy Shop: Shop Prints