Whinnie Williams Seventies-Inspired Home Is Filled With Retro eBay Finds

By House and Home 01-11-2019

Words: Hannah Newton | Photography: Claire Worthy

"I said to my boyfriend: I want to live like I’m in a movie – so that’s what we did.” Meet Whinnie Williams, self-confessed love-child of Brigette Bardot and Del Boy Trotter, musician, DJ, curator, visual and textile artist, interiors and eBay addict, whose five-bedroom house, home to 18 pets, pulsates with the kind of eclectic mid-century vibe once du jour on the pages of Playboy magazine.

“Nothing in this house has been bought new, it’s more of a challenge and much more fun that everything has a story,” Whinnie muses. The stripy Forbo (Forbo.ie) vinyl flooring comes in a range of colours. Cushions from Poodle & Blonde can be seen on the vintage 1970s eBay sofa. “Yes, the sofa is disgusting, but I love rescuing something,” she laughs. The statement painting was done by Whinnie. On the mid-century cabinet sits a Poodle & Blonde Cone City Lampshade. The ceiling light is from a car boot sale. For a similar wall colour, try Farrow & Ball's Terre D'Egypte.

Think marbled ceilings, a tangled profusion of house plants, bold furniture design, wooden panels, soft earthy colours interspersed with textured walls, gold swan head taps and lots of shag pile.

Whinnie, her boyfriend, the film director Tom Dream, poodles Brian and Peachy and assorted rabbits and guinea pigs, live in the southeast English seaside town of Margate. Once the terrain of junkies and jacking up, it’s now the pulsing heartland of vintage retro. Pockets of regenerated streets and avenues are home to artists, designers and musicians, who, having left the sky-high prices of London behind, have turned their attentions to this corner of North Kent, embracing the vast skies that hang over the North Sea.

The units are Ikea (Ikea.ie) and Whinnie got her builder to make MDF doors which she painted. Tikkurila's Bottle Green is a simialr shade. She got handles from Etsy, Poodle & Blonde Money Tree wallpaper is on the walls and a terrazzo-style flooring covers the floor. Look for similar at Tilestyle.ie. The chair is an original 1960s French seat, re-upholstered in Poodle & Blonde’s Tottenham Dalmatian fabric in Cocoa. The plant pots are all junk shop finds

When the couple moved in, their Victorian home had been divided up into flats with few original features, but within 12 months they had stripped it back and begun the process of returning it to a home. With a background in set design, Whinnie was unphased by this process and enjoyed styling each room individually. “Give yourself a year time-frame,” she advises. “Don’t rush it, be open-minded, be brave with colours and make sure you don’t overlook the ceilings.”

“You don’t need to spend a fortune,” she stresses. “I spend hours on eBay, literally hours and hours, and in auction houses. I buy the stuff no one else wants, like my velvet shell bed – it’s kind of weird but I adore it – it cost sixty quid.”

Like a set from a film, the dining room is signature 1970s. The brass and glass table and chairs were from a charity shop. The ceiling lights were from a car boot sale, the wallpaper is Woodchip and Magnolia (Woodchipandmagnolia.co.uk) and the mid-century record player cabinet was 110 from a local vintage shop - look for similar at Kirk Modern (Kirkmodern.com). Coloured  vintage glassware can be seen on the table with vases from Sunny Vintage and Retro in Margate. “The stripy Forbo (Forbo.ie) school flooring is really affordable,” Whinnie says.

The stone fireplace was built using stone cladding. “You buy random shapes and it’s like a lumpy heavy puzzle that could fall on your head. It was very fun to tile,” she reveals. The roller cabinet was from an antiques shop and Whinnie found the old TV dumped on the road. “It blew up when we turned it on, but it still looks good."

Last year Whinnie co-founded her interiors brand, Poodle & Blonde (Poodleandblonde.com), which is in part inspired by her passion for mid-century vintage. She sources second-hand pieces, furniture and lamp-bases and re-upholsters them in Poodle & Blonde fabrics. However, she also sells her own designs, which she hand-draws or hand-stitches directly onto material then prints onto wallpaper, stationery and fabrics.

The challenge of creating a unique home on a budget is, for Whinnie, fun. “Everything has a story, even the kitchen, we’ve learned so many hacks from doing up this house. The kitchen is Ikea, I painted the doors and got gorgeous handles from Etsy,” she reveals.

In 1895 the Shell Grotto was discovered underground in Margate, inspiring this room. Whinnie used a pearlescent paint on the ceiling and hand-painted the wall murals. The plastercast fireplace was a €25 eBay find, which she embellished with an ornate shell design. “Tom wouldn’t help, he said, ‘this is your madness.’ The shell room has been the hardest because it’s so intricate, but that makes me love the space, knowing that no-one else has it,” she muses. The bed was found in a second hand shop. The cushions on the bed are from Poodle & Blonde. A fringed chair can be found at Aprilandthebear.com.

Whinnie found the sugar-pink 1970s sink and toilet on eBay (Ebay.ie) as a matching set for her bath. The retro 1960s glass door was another eBay purchase, as were the tiles and gold swan-head taps, which were around €45. “I manage to find things particularly if they’ve used bad shots,” Whinnie says. Tom bought her the central light fitting for her birthday. The black Chinoiserie cabinet by the sink is from an antique shop and cost around €80. “I love it when people appreciate the style and the nostalgia. Everyone always says, ‘oh my nan has that’. I want people to be taken to another place and for it to feel special.”

Plants and poodles feature heavily in Whinnie’s home and as a vegetarian who is passionate about animals, this touch of humour and humanity comes across in her styling aesthetic. Poodle vases, ‘70s jugs and old pictures flourish – Whinnie picks them up in junk shops and car boots like a magpie. She has a love of unwanted pieces, and isn’t in the least bothered about being precious or on trend. It’s this gloriously singular vision that places Whinnie Williams firmly in that rare camp of beautiful individuality.

This Chinoserie-themed room is a stunner. “This whole room was based around a wardrobe I found for €140 on eBay. I wanted a Chinese filled room and all my ideas start with just a small nugget,” Whinnie says, adding, “remember, do not get distracted, make sure you bring it back to your original vision – trust your instincts.” The marbled ceiling is actually Margate Marble wallpaper in Emerald Pinky, from Poodle & Blonde. For a similar paint shade, try Okra by Dulux.


The trap, cups and saucers, fruit bowl, pineapple ice bucket and vintage salt and pepper cruet set are all vintage finds; in honour of dogs Brian and Peachy, knitted poddle toilet roll holders sit resplendent on the loo - Whinnie's stepmum created them for her; vintage photos sit with classic instruments and gold standard amps; In the living room natural tones make for a relaxing atmosphere, as does the huge, 1970s sofa, found on eBay for €250.


See below for more beautiful sneak peaks of Whinnie's home:



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