Hester’s Handmade Home

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Interview by Lindsey Harrad
Photography by Hester van Overbeek and James Gardiner

Be inspired by innovative thrifty makes and upcycled Scandi chic in blogger and author Hester van Overbeek’s Victorian terrace.

Hester

Craft and interiors blogger Hester van Overbeek has a drill and she’s not afraid to use it. She loves putting together Ikea flatpack furniture and if there’s anything she doesn’t know how to do, she just goes online, finds a tutorial, and gives it a go. ‘I ran a workshop recently and was amazed at how many women on the course said they had never used any power tools,’ she says. ‘Part of my mission now is to help make women feel more comfortable about using tools as I think it’s ridiculous that they should have to wait for their boyfriend to do these jobs. Using power tools doesn’t have to be ‘manly’. There are some days that I build a piece of furniture and then I bake a cake – building stuff doesn’t make me any less girly.’
Hester has spent most of her career as a makeup artist, doing hair and makeup on photoshoots. She moved to London from the Netherlands for the
career opportunities, intending to stay six month at most, but 11 years later she’s settled into life in the UK. A few years ago, Hester and her boyfriend decided to move out of London to the seaside, renting a 1920s house in Broadstairs. ‘The house was in really bad shape and I made a deal with the landlord to do it up in return for a reduction on the rent,’ she says. ‘The house was really close to the beach and I love the Scandinavian look so I turned the house into a Scandinavian beach house – everything was white and blue with lots of timber and it was very light and bright. It actually inspired a few of my friends to do their houses up too, and one of them suggested that I write a blog showing other people how to do it, so I thought ‘why not?’

bloginspiration

Blog inspiration

The Hester’s Handmade Home blog was the result, launched just over two years ago. ‘My craft creativity was definitely ignited again when I started doing up that house,’ she says. ‘I had always liked to make things and I had a little blog going already, but I noticed that often the craft content was more popular than the makeup posts.’
The Broadstairs project had a wide appeal because Hester combined a ‘super-small budget’ with original and creative upcycling projects, often reusing everyday materials in unexpected ways. Trademark makes included her amazingly stylish hessian coffee sack curtains and patchwork bench covers made from old denim jeans, the blue dip-dyed curtains made from leftover unbleached cotton, and what her friends joking referred to as the ‘splinter room’, a guest room featuring a bed made entirely from old palettes.
It was her most innovative project for the house that led to a new career direction, with her makeup work soon taking a back seat to craft and interiors projects. ‘I wanted a four-poster bed as the bedroom was really massive, but our Ikea bed was only two years old so I couldn’t justify buying a new one,’ she says. ‘I started looking into ways I could turn it into a four-poster and the results attracted the attention of Ikea. They came and photographed the house and the shots attracted the interest of a book publisher.’

James Gardiner

Photography by James Gardiner

Book launches

Hester’s first book for CICO came out last year – Furniture Hacks – and her new book, Crafting with Mason Jars and other glass containers, is out now. ‘The theme for the second book came about after I had created an idea for a jam jar project for a workshop I was running at Kirsty Allsopp’s Handmade Fair. But then my publisher also thought glass jar projects would make a good book. I wasn’t so sure at first – I mean, 35 different things to make with jam jars, really? However, after some research I actually came up with a total of 55 ideas! I didn’t want to do anything that was already overdone on blogs and Pinterest like making snow globes or candleholders, so I wanted to be a bit more creative with it. And also avoid anything too weddingy – the resulting projects are a little cooler and
more modern.’
After securing two book deals in a year, Hester and her boyfriend were ready to leave ‘the house that changed my career’ to buy their own home,
which would also be a fresh blank canvas for Hester’s design ideas. Their new end-of-terrace Victorian house in Ramsgate was an ex-rental
property that was definitely another ‘doer-upper’. ‘We are still by the seaside, but now five minutes from the beach instead of one minute, so I felt this house didn’t suit the seaside theme, although I’ve stuck to the Scandinavian look,’ she says. ‘I have a beautiful light and airy downstairs studio for me to shoot and film in, and I use this house for projects to feature in my website series Hester’s House Updates. My aim is to show people you don’t need a lot of skills or money to turn your house into a stylish home.
Again, I don’t want to spend a lot of money so it’s all about upcycling and being creative.’
Hester’s particularly proud of her kitchen in the new house. With no budget to replace the dated 1970s kitchen, she covered the units with
thin plywood and used thicker plywood to make new doors and left them all unpainted for a more dramatic look, transforming the space for just £150. She then painted the ‘really bad’ blue formica counter tops with a granite-effect paint. ‘I got amazing results for just £50 instead of £500 for new counter tops,’ she says. ‘I think the kitchen has been one of my favourite projects in this house.’

sharedideas

Shared ideas

Elsewhere in the house, her living room is nearly finished, using Annie Sloan ‘Versailles’ (a soft olive/beige) paint on the walls, a white cork floor and a handmade tree slice side table using recycled legs from a reclamation yard (check out the easy tutorial on her blog) for a natural, on-trend botanical look that was originally inspired last year by some leftover cotton curtain fabric featuring a green and yellow botanical print donated by her mother.
However, she says her favourite feature is the bespoke art wall. ‘I created a really big photo wallpaper mural from an 18th century painting I
found from the Rijksmuseum database,’ she says. ‘Actually I had my partner decide on the final image – I choose so many things for the house
and I wanted him to be involved in something, so I made a shortlist of 25 images and he chose this one, and I think he did a pretty good job. Usually he just lets me do whatever I want, I’m very lucky, but if he really doesn’t like an idea then I won’t do it. He did veto the bright yellow front door that I wanted!’

Find more of Hester’s brilliant craft and home ideas plus video tutorials at
www.hestershandmadehome.com

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