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This owner spent time, rather than money, turning an unloved rental into a beautiful, Scandi-inspired family home
‘When we moved to the UK from Poland in September 2011, we initially rented a flat from a private landlord,’ says the owner of this three-bed house. ‘But after a couple of years, we were given a rental property through a local organisation that offers good-quality housing for people in need, with a view to renting, shared ownership and even the possibility of buying, which is a dream for me and my husband.’
When the couple first moved into the house, it was in a complete state, but it had a lot of space, large rooms and a bright, airy hall. ‘I just loved the feel of it right from the very first viewing,’ says the owner. ‘We were given a £170 voucher to go towards decorating, but that only covered some of the cost of laying two carpets.’
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‘Luckily, over the previous few years, we’d saved up so that we could afford to decorate when we found the right place. When we received the keys, we had two weeks before we needed to move, so my husband and brother-in-law spent the time making the place habitable by laying flooring and making the walls look decent.’
The house really needed replastering throughout, but they couldn’t justify the cost, and the owner had already seen a gorgeous grey-and-white brick wallpaper on eBay that she loved. So they papered over the worst walls, and then painted the rest in either white or Shadow Grey by Dulux.
‘To make our funds stretch, we spent a lot of time doing the rest of the work ourselves in the evenings and on weekends, and trying to make accessories ourselves rather than buy them,’ the owner says. ‘I always knew that a grey, black and white palette would reign in my home. They are such calming colours when used together – a must when living in a busy household – though I do like to add a touch of pink here and there.’
This rented three-bedroom Seventies end-of-terrace house in Middlesbrough was bright, airy and had lots of potential, but every room needed a lot of work. The owners laid new flooring, painted or wallpapered every wall, and decorated each room using a palette of whites, greys and black. ‘Think about your house as a whole when choosing your decor so that the rooms flow and the scheme has a feeling of unity,’ says the owner.
The owner used the black and white fireplace in the living as a starting point for furnishing the space. ‘I bought the grey sofa second hand and my husband made the coffee table from some spare wooden pallets, which I finished off with castors and a lick of white paint,’ she says.
‘Then came the fun bit – accessorising the rooms. I was inspired by Instagram and Pinterest to warm up the interior using wood, warm textures and fluffy textiles.’
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‘I love cooking and baking, so getting the kitchen right was high on my agenda,’ says the owner. ‘However, when we began work, one of the walls started disintegrating and at one point I did feel like the renovation would never end, especially as I was also trying to manage small children and a cat! At the time, it felt like the longest few weeks of my life but I knew it was worth persevering, and once the problems with the room were sorted, I started to enjoy the decorating side of things.’
The couple couldn’t afford to change the wall tiles, so they refreshed them by using tile stickers. ‘I got them for around £30 from eBay, and the effect is fantastic,’ says the owner. ‘Even when you look closely, you can’t tell that the tiles aren’t real.’ Then she painted the wall at the end of the room with blackboard paint and added a few wooden accents, plus black-and-white kitchenware and tea towels, to complement the finished room.
‘I love adding a bit of colour to our bedroom by changing the bedding – it’s an ideal quick fix as I can’t stick with one style for too long,’ says the owner. Layering up cosy textiles is a great way to add warmth and texture.
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The couple chose the Hemnes day bed from Ikea for their girls’ bedroom, because it has plenty of storage and can double as a sofa during the day, saving valuable floor space. The owner has used layers of wall stickers to cleverly create the effect of an oversized mural on the wall.
Although we’re so proud of the work we’ve done to this house on such a small budget, there is still a lot that we’d like to do. I’d love a new floor in the kitchen, and in the longer term, I’d like to rearrange the space so that all three of our children can have a bedroom of their own. I’d also like to do some work on the outside of the property and make the garden look beautiful.’
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‘I’m so lucky to have a husband who perfectly understands the look I want to achieve with our furniture and accessories, and then has the talent to turn them into reality. And although we do all the work ourselves, and often joke that we live on a construction site, we will happily take our time and make sure we are happy with the finished result – although I’m not sure there is ever such a thing as a “finished” home!’