We speak with the wonderful Jessica Cooper of @the_yellow_house_on_the_water about home renovation, social media and the challenges of making your mark on a new build property.
Jess lives together with her husband Chris and their 9 month old daughter, Constance.
“I am currently on maternity leave, but in my spare time I love socialising with friends and playing sports, especially netball.”
Jess, originally from Derbyshire, has lived in various places across the UK, usually to pursue her career.
“After graduating in 2009 I joined Taylor Wimpey plc as a Graduate Trainee, working in all aspects of the business including engineering, sales and land planning.”
“I started my professional career as a Land Manager in North London and East Anglia.”
Jess then moved back to the East Midlands with her husband, who is a Geography Teacher, when she joined Taylor Wimpey East Midlands in 2016 as Land Director.
“We hadn’t decided on a new build, but the house was quirky and different, the location was also ideal as we wanted to be closer to family in Derbyshire, but also not too far north as we both work in Leicester.”
After renovating their previous property, Jess and Chris had not planned to buy a new build, however they fell in love with @the_yellow_house_on_the_water as soon as they laid eyes on it.
“We bought our home in 2017 and we have made some alterations over that time.”
Jess and Chris tend to prefer dark and moody interiors that show elegance.
“We are fans of bold statement pieces that make a room, our gin trolley is one of my favourite purchases.”
One of the perks when buying a new build property is that it presents a blank canvas, a benefit that Jess and Chris were keen to take advantage of.
“We have improved two bathrooms; we added a shower and tiling to the guest room as we knew it needed to be more practical for when people stay.”
When Jess and Chris moved in, the top floor bathroom had an abundance of wasted space, so they decided to add a magnificent freestanding bath and replace the shower with a glass shower screen and beautiful black panelling.
“We purchased our bath, tiles, shower and shower screen from Easy Bathrooms in Derby and then Mason Bathrooms fitted it all, they did an excellent job and I would highly recommend them!”
Michael John Flooring provided and fitted the bathroom floor, who Jess and Chris would also recommend highly.
“Over lockdown we have redesigned our garden which was a bit of an overgrown jungle.”
After being quoted £8,000, Chris decided that he would renovate their garden himself.
“We cleared the whole garden and created a circular patio, surrounded it with lavender, created a border full of pink roses and exposed the brick wall which was completely hidden by the overgrown shrubs.”
The project took 6 weeks and many YouTube videos, with the end result being a stunning, characterful garden.
“I think that as items are preselected in a new build (kitchen/flooring/bathroom) you have to try and make the property your own in other ways with feature walls or statement pieces.”
On buying a new build property, Jess mentioned that it is important to look past the simple décor and be creative in how you make your mark.
“Our home is not very neutral and simple, I like to have key features and feature walls that make it our own.”
Jess’s favourite part of their home is the master bedroom and en-suite, which enjoys magnificent views out over the canal.
“The freestanding bath is so relaxing and I love the pink that we painted it.”
Jess and Chris love living on the waterfront as it attracts life and is a space that people come to enjoy.
“Over the summer months, young people often come to the canal and jump in. A few people find it annoying however we enjoy seeing them having fun, laughing and getting into mischief!”
When looking to make improvements to your home, Jess mentioned to always do your research, set a budget and get advice from tradesmen/experts before going ahead.
“To save costs, think about whether you have the skills to do anything yourself.”
Recommendations are often the best way to help you decide which tradesman/workman to choose, however if you do not have any then getting a number of different quotes and checking their social media pages is a good place to start.
“We did our first home up in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, this was a true ‘doer-upper’, it was a long slog but worth it in the end.”
Jess has always been interested in interiors and thoroughly enjoyed renovating their previous property.
“I get most of my inspiration from Instagram, after starting my home account last year I have found so many amazing interior accounts.”
Jess started @the_yellow_house_on_the_water as a hobby, mainly to get inspiration but also share her love for interiors.
“I was just about to go on maternity leave when I started it, I thought it would give me something else to think about as well as the new baby!”
@the_yellow_house_on_the_water now acts as motivation to keep styling and sharing the décor of their home, as well as a way of getting advice for improvements that they are thinking of making.
“I asked our Instagram following frequently when we were doing the garden and I found people’s advice really helpful.”
“You can put a question out there and people will try to help or offer advice, I think it’s brilliant for that.”
The account has started to become a blend of family, home and interior with Constance and their cat Sam often featuring.
“The lounge shots and ones that include Constance get the highest engagement as well as the before and afters, Instagram loves a renovation shot!”
“I also run an instagram account with 4 others called @cataboutthehouse, where we share fabulous interior shots that of course include a cat!”
Jess and Chris love the small village that they now call home, with the setting being one of the main reasons that they bought their property.
“We are surrounded by nature and wildlife, we have cygnets and ducklings every year, we’ve had otters in the canal, and now we even have a resident heron!”
Another benefit of living in Mountsorrel is their favourite pub, The Swan.
“We love the gorgeous home cooked food and friendly service, and it’s so cosy in there during the winter as they have a glorious open fire.”
Jess and Chris have a range of favourite shops and designers.
“We love Barker and Stonehouse for key pieces, but we also love Homesense for cushions, rugs and throws.”
“We have bought so much from Brand Alley, although you have to be fast as it sells out quickly!”
Jess and Chris also love to upcycle, often browsing on Facebook Marketplace looking for furniture that they can make their own.
“We use local, independent businesses such as Tipperleyhill illustration for prints and From the Garden Room for plants and hangers.”
In terms of the future, Jess and Chris want to continue to make improvements to their home and are looking to convert their garage to increase downstairs space.
“It will make a large kitchen diner and also form a playroom for Constance to store all of her toys.”