Tucked away in Orkney’s main town is a rather unusual house. Its Victorian exterior might not stand out from the rest of the street, but hidden inside is an interior full of playful design and vibrant colour choices.
The home of Jay Jennings of Instagram account paintthetownpastel, the house is an inspiring display of what some paint, perseverance and creativity can achieve.
This dream house to anyone who adores colour, was purchased by Jay and her partner Rob two years ago after they moved to the island from London. In that time, they have been renovating, upcycling and transforming its dated interior into something entirely their own.
With its pink fireplace, lavender office walls, and geometric tiled utility room, it’s no wonder too_many_cushions has amassed over 11k followers since Jay set it up this summer to document her interior choices and renovation journey.
I posed a few questions to Jay to find out a little more about her and her beautiful home.
What made you move from London to Orkney?
“I love London but my partner and I both wanted to move out of the city, mainly to find a better work/life balance.
“The funny thing is that neither of us had been to Orkney before. It came up as I was looking at old barns online (as you do!) and struck me as a place we’d probably both love, since we’re both big fans of the Nordics.
“We booked a trip for Rob’s birthday and looked at some properties while we were here. The rest is history as they say - we haven’t looked back!”
What drew you to the house you’re currently renovating?
“The potential. It’s a beautiful building with so much history, but was badly in need of TLC. I was looking for a project and I’d certainly found it!”
You mention on your Instagram that you’ve been more conservative with colour in your past homes, what’s made you so bold in your choices this time around?
“I’ve always been surrounded by colour in past homes, just not on the walls! It was all in the furnishings, accessories etc.
“I think because I knew none of them were a ‘forever’ home, and bold colour choices can be tricky to sell! Also I think white walls can be a little harsh this far North. The Orkney winter needs a bit of colour and drama to liven it up!”
What inspires you and your design choices?
“Wes Anderson, Miami, ice cream parlours, flowers, OlafurEliasson, fruit salad, deckchairs, wagashi, The Golden Girls, Danish design, bubble-gum, Jeff Koons, James Turrell, 2LG, minimalism, maximalism, nice stationery, Tokyo, macarons, people who don't do things by halves.”
You do a lot of upcycling, are there any projects you’re particularly proud of?
“I do indeed. The folk at Restart know me well by now! But probably my favourite upcycle is the tiles in the utility room (what was the old kitchen).
“I kept the old plain white tiles and painted a geometric pattern on them, inspired by some wrapping paper I found. Much cheaper than retiling and I’m so pleased with how they turned out!”
What’s next on your renovation journey and will it be just as vibrant?
“I’m working up the courage/strength/motivation to tackle the master bedroom. It’s a big job and the woodwork is in poor condition.
“That will be my New Year project, but in the meantime I’ve started an online upholstery course run by the fab Joanne Condon. I can’t sit still for too long!”
Out of all the colourful areas you’ve created within your home, do you have a favourite space?
“It’s got to be the kitchen. Our budget wouldn't stretch to a bespoke hand-painted kitchen so I bought a standard grey one and painted it myself.
“Our joiner was horrified that I was painting a perfectly good new kitchen but he ended up loving it and even took pictures to show his wife! Win!”
What I love in particular about Jays house is how welcoming, light and airy the space is. I was very lucky to make a visit earlier this year. And I find the before and after photos incredibly inspiring. It shows you what’s possible with colour, motivation and the bravery to try. Jay makes it look easy.
Hop over to instagram where you can take part in paintthetownpastel instagram giveaway including one of my gift mugs sets. But be quick sunday is the last day.