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Name: Sofie Hepworth, Rob Hepworth, with kids Teddy and Reggie
Location: Turnbridge Wells — Kent, United Kingdom
Size: 450 square feet
Type of Home: Self-built Garden studio
Years Lived In: 6 months owned
Content creator, product designer, serial renovator, and founder of the website “Three Boys and a Pink Bath,” Sofie Hepworth is known for her creative and inspiring uses of color. Whether the space is rented or owned, she’s always filled the homes she shares with her husband and kids with a mix of vibrant hues and soothing pastels. When the family decided they would need a home to live in while they renovate an old Victorian coach house they purchased, Sofie and Rob decided to go small: They built a 450-square-foot garden studio to live in for 18-24 months while they renovate the main house. Once renovations on their main house are complete, this colorful tiny home will be used as a guest house and Airbnb.
“This tiny house has been lovingly named #SheilaShed and is actually our third Apartment Therapy tour, all of which have been just as colorful but this is the first time we have been able to showcase how to use color on a smaller scale,” Sofie explains.
The tiny house took eight months to build, and before it can be used to entertain guests, this super small space has to work as an actual home for a family of four! Genius small-space solutions were implemented throughout to make the space function as a home and look good, too. The kids sleep in an incredibly cozy looking mini-room with modern bunk beds, and Sofie and Rob sleep in a brilliant Murphy bed they designed when they couldn’t find anything they liked to purchase: Instead of folding down, the door to the Murphy bed swings open, acting as a privacy wall and creating another quaint sleep space. The furniture in the home is multi-functional and extendable, and even the sofa has wheels, all for maximum flexibility in a super small space.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I have been described as a Scandi Maximalist — by this I think people are referring to my love of clean lines and minimal clutter (the Scandi bit) but with a LOT of color (the maximalist bit). I am not sure if the experts would agree LOL but I would describe my style as contemporary, joyful, and unique.
Inspiration: SheilaShed was hugely inspired by Australian interiors, where you often see single-story dwellings, set in leafy plots with lots of natural materials, wood, botanical, indoor-outdoor living, mashed with bold color pops. I love white and color in equal measure, and it’s something I see a lot in Australian homes’ rooms.
I wanted the studio to feel like a holiday home, totally un-British, and just something a bit different. I also wanted to demonstrate that small spaces can totally take color too! And for this I got a lot of inspiration from camper vans and homes on wheels I found in the depths of Pinterest LOL.
Favorite Element: Has to be the outdoor pink bath. It was a snap decision that everyone thought was crazy at the time but not only it is beautiful it gets used ALL the time (No killer spiders in this country guys).
Biggest Challenge: Trying to fit everything a family of four with two young children need into 450 square feet; it was not easy! I overcame the challenge with a lot of head scratching, many many drawings, cardboard cutouts, and trial and error to work out the best layout to make our multifunctional adapting home work for everyday family life.
Proudest DIY: Without a doubt the Murphy bed. In the UK Murphy beds don’t seem to be a thing. I found SO many online in the US but even those were a little dated, and VERY expensive. We didn’t have enough room to fit in beds for our children and us so a Murphy bed in the main living area was a MUST. Given we were unable to find one, we set about designing and building one ourselves. We bought the hardware online and the rest was built from timber from scratch. We went for a pull-out door (rather than a pull-down) as this then created a wall for privacy and the illusion of a bedroom pod in the main living area. We are SO pleased with how this turned out and how it’s functioning for us. We managed to squeeze a king-size mattress in too, which is a huge plus in such a small space!
Biggest Indulgence: The pink concrete outdoor bath tub was the biggest splurge, but I had recently inherited a small amount of money from my grandma and wanted to spend it on something I wouldn’t ordinarily buy myself, this was the perfect item! It has been SO worth it, the kids use it all the time (as we couldn’t fit one inside) and even when it’s raining or cold outside, sitting in hot water under the stars surrounded by plants is nothing short of magical!
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Our home is essentially one large room that has to adapt to become a: living room, playroom, office, kitchen, dining room, and bedroom. That is a really tall order. We have achieved this by making all the furniture multi-functional and extendable and by putting wheels on our sofa so we can move it to transform the space depending on what ‘room’ we need it to function as!
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? My yellow sofa. I started the color scheme around the yellow sofa; I just thought it was so joyful and fitting for the home I wanted to make you instantly smile!
Also my hanging chairs and hooks. Finding folding chairs in the perfect minty/sage-y green was a serious bonus; they were so reasonably priced too, it is like they were made for me! I had this idea to hang extra chairs on the wall (for when we were in office mode for me or for guests) and these literally came straight out of my head! [The hooks] are SO useful not just for the chairs but for hanging toy bags, washing, coats, and anything else you need to get off the floor!
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Vertical height ALWAYS! In small homes you have to use all the vertical height available to you; we have SO much storage in our home as we used the space right up to the ceiling to create bookshelves, toy storage clothes storage, and plant holes! This space normally doesn’t get used but by doing this we have kept much more floor space! (You might need some mini steps though!)
Wheels: Putting wheels on your sofa is a GAMECHANGER! We bought some sofa wheels from Amazon and simply drilled them into our sofa legs. This allows us to move the sofa around adapting the space as we need. Just yesterday my children had friends round so we moved it up against the wall in the office zone and they had twice as much floor space to play! Also, in the summer we can wheel it onto the deck outside; I think I will do this whatever-sized house I live in moving forward!
Bespoke furniture using High Streets modular systems. Okay so when you think of built-in furniture you think EXPENSIVE! But there are heaps of High Street stores out there with cheap modular internals that can be adapted to make semi-bespoke furniture, which is perfect for small space living. We used B&Q range of wardrobe and desk internals/modular furniture and then built our own doors and/or clad them to create a bespoke built-in look! We did this for out media and toy storage unit, our desk, and our wardrobe area! If you don’t have the skills, you can hire a handyman, which will be far cheaper than a carpenter. As you aren’t making furniture from scratch a handyman should be able to do this for you!
What most people get wrong about using color in their home: I think one of the biggest mistakes I see if trying to be too matchy-matchy. People are afraid if their “yellow” doesn’t exactly match, it will look bad. I purposely try and use at least three shades of any color I pick in a room; the tonal effect makes the room more interesting and gives off a look of “I know what I am doing with color” even if you don’t LOL.
Also for matching of colors that work together — the best tip I can give if to use a paint color card, if you match colors in the same horizontal lines they will have the same undertone colors so they will work together! Paint color cards have been created by color experts who know how to pair based on color science! So use that color card as a bible and match up fabrics beddings and such to your card! I always have one or two in my handbag just in case.
Also — nature always gets it right! If you see a flower with beautiful shades of purple and yellow, and you LOVE it, it’s going to work in your home… nature ALWAYS gets colors right!
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Think of your home as a whole — never decorate a room or a corner in isolation! You need continuity, flow, and style that is consistent in your home to make it really powerful. In the past I have decorated rooms in isolation and jumped on trends, but then your home feel disjointed and confusing! You can pick up on one thing that ties all your rooms together. This could be yellow cushions or in my case plants; This consistent theme ties your whole home together and unifies each of the spaces, which is the difference usually between a good house and a GREAT one (no matter its size).
This piece is part of Color Month, where we’re showing you the best ways to inject more color into your home and life. From paint color combos to vibrant house tours, head over here to see it all.