Case Study: India Hares
Sep 6, 2022
When India Hares and her husband Tom bought their 1930s semi-detached house in Balham, south-west London, it was the perfect blank canvas for them to put their stamp on.
Totally unmodernised and incredibly dated, the property needed a complete revamp, and the couple had a clear idea of what they wanted to do. In addition to making essential practical changes that would bring the home up to date, it was important to create a space that was stylish, welcoming, functional and, ultimately, led by thoughtful design.
With nods to traditional Mediterranean décor throughout, as well as clean, contemporary lines, clever colour choices, and a firm focus on sustainability, their well-planned refurb has resulted in a timeless and beautifully balanced home that suits the family’s needs perfectly.
Here, India shares their design story…
Fashion buying & operations, location house owner, content creator.
Style and location of your property:
A 1930s semi-detached house in Balham, south-west London.
Who lives there:
Myself, my husband Tom and two children Honey, ten, and Rocco, 8.
What was the property like when you bought it? Was there a lot of work to do?
We were the second family to ever own the house since it was built in 1936 so it needed complete modernisation. There was red lino flooring throughout and polystyrene tile ceilings, complete with a serving hatch from the kitchen (surprisingly handy!) We bought the property intending to do a full renovation of the entire house, and as house reno virgins we couldn’t wait for the challenge.
What was your overall vision for the home?
We wanted to create a big open-plan living space in the kitchen that could be the centre of our family life. Our overall aesthetic vision was to create a relaxed Mediterranean style, whilst still feeling contemporary and cosy. To achieve this we opted for lots of natural materials and colours like our Dinesen heart oak bench, steel Crittall doors, exposed ceiling joists, terracotta tiles, and of course the beautiful Bert & May encaustic Otura tiles which welcome visitors in the hallway.
Where did you start? And what were the biggest challenges you faced along the way?
We came across an architect who shared our vision and wouldn’t break the budget. My husband and I had a clear idea of what we wanted so the plans and ideas quickly came together. The finish was a real priority for us which meant we had to compromise in other areas - such as some items of furniture and the garden.
You’ve used our Otura tiles in your hallway and on a bathroom splashback and they look great! What was your original vision for these spaces and why was this design such a great fit?
We fell in love with the bold geographic Otura tile immediately and were so drawn to the beautiful green version, which we think makes an instant statement the moment you enter the house. It also complements the terracotta stone tiles in the kitchen so perfectly.
Although we wanted a contemporary look, the encaustic stone gives an instant feel of character which only gets better with age.
We loved the idea of a consistent feeling to run throughout the house so as well as the entrance hall we also used the Otura as a splashback in the upstairs family bathroom.
What do the tiles add to the spaces?
They make such a beautiful statement and feel completely timeless.
What led you to choose Bert & May?
The combination of amazing colour palettes and designs with high quality, long-lasting materials. They are used in some of the most beautiful homes which helped to inspire our choices.
You were recently featured on the front cover of Kitchens Bedrooms and Bathrooms’ sustainability issue. How did you ensure that sustainability played a part in your renovation?
For both design and sustainability reasons we tried to keep as many of the original features and fittings as possible. We maximised insulation and tried to use long-lasting materials throughout. The extension is south facing so the floor-to-ceiling Crittall glass doors and windows maximise the solar gain.
Have you always had a passion for interiors?
Coming from a homewares buying background I’ve always had a huge passion for, and interest in, interiors.
Where do you find inspiration?
My mother is from Grenada so having spent lots of time in the Caribbean I’ve always been naturally drawn to bright colours and natural materials as inspiration.
Where are your go-to places for fantastic interior finds?
I like to combine the occasional designer piece (where budget allows) from brands such as Heals with fab high street finds. But my all-time favourite way to spend a Tuesday morning would be at the Sunbury antiques market rummaging for treasures.
Share a design trend you're currently obsessed with.
family across different materials to create a multilayered look. We did this in our living room, matching wood and wall colours and in our kitchen where tones of the terracotta floor blends perfectly with the pink of the kitchen cabinets.
What is your favourite room of your house & why?
It will always be the Kitchen, which like many of us is the hub of family life, but since completing the garden it’s become a real extension of the space. This is in no small part because of the link between the Terracotta floor and timeless terracotta path from Bert and May. We combined an array of natural materials and tones in the kitchen (Danish wood on the beach seating, stone flooring, steel doors, exposed ceiling joists) so to now be able to have the room so flawlessly link with the outside is so dreamy.
What's your favourite way to add personality to a space?
Lots of colour! Don’t be afraid to experiment (my husband might disagree! But sometimes you just don’t know until you try). Colour pops combined with more simple, natural colours can completely change the feel of a room without being over bearing.
Share a design hack or tip that everyone should know.
Paint the ceilings and walls the same colour - it adds the illusion of a higher ceiling and a much larger room, whilst offering a real piece of statement design on a budget. We did this in my son Rocco’s bedroom and couldn’t be happier two years on.
What’s next with your reno plans?
We’re about to have our 3rd child so would like to add more bedrooms. We’re lucky enough to have a huge loft space so will be converting that next. My head is full of big ideas and inspo, but first up focusing on the arrival of our little one!
To find out more, follow India on Instagram: @ourhouseedit