Living room makeover: ‘I wanted the space to be rustic and weathered’

Jennie Roe’s living room renovation involved new paint techniques and salvage buys to get the seaside vibe she craved

Jennie Roe had always dreamt of living by the sea. In October 2019, she and her partner Greg decided to move into her three-bedroom home in Brighton, but they soon realised that their new home was far from the dream they had imagined. Here, Jennie recalls her renovating experience…

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A bit about me…

I’m Jennie Roe, 33, an event consultant. I live with my partner, Greg Lawson, 42, a firefighter, in a three-bedroom end-terrace home in Brighton. 

Living room makeover: 'I wanted the space to be rustic and weathered'

My renovating experience…

When we moved in to our home, the living room was lacking in character and style. The bulky open staircase in the centre of the room was ugly and dated, and as for the glossy wooden flooring – it had to go. We felt like it was just a long space with very little function. We had toyed with the idea of moving the stairs, but the architect said it would be a massive cost with little return.

Living room makeover: 'I wanted the space to be rustic and weathered'
The new soft scheme works a treat. Jennie has mixed lots of different materials, creating a cosy space that’s perfect for chilling out in at the end of the day

We decided to work with them and came up with the idea of replacing all the steps with reclaimed scaffold boards, which Greg cut to shape. He also spray-painted the steelwork white. It really makes it a feature of the room and now they don’t seem so intrusive.

Living room makeover: 'I wanted the space to be rustic and weathered'
The newly opened fireplace was a big expense, but the results are exactly what Jennie had in mind. The exposed brickwork is really effective, and the unpainted plaster has the perfect rustic feel that complements the new wood-burning stove

The fireplace was the next big project. We wanted to open it up and make it a focal point that would also heat the space. Fitting a wood-burning stove instantly made a difference.

Living room makeover: 'I wanted the space to be rustic and weathered'
‘The old staircase in the centre of the room was ugly and dated, and as for the glossy wooden flooring – it had to go’ says Jennie

We left the brick exposed and I found an old metal shelf to go above the stove. We painted the walls in an off-white but used a specialist paint on the wall down into the basement to create a textured effect. It’s a clever yet simple process and gives a weathered feel to the wall, which matches the look we’ve tried to create with the doors and salvaged furniture.

Now, I love the fireplace. The brickwork is amazing, and the unpainted plaster works really well as it adds an original feel to the space. The old metal antique shelf was a bargain buy at a local salvage yard.

Living room makeover: 'I wanted the space to be rustic and weathered'
Style idea: Exposed walls are on-trend this season and really add a rustic effect to any room. They are easily achieved if you have an older house, but many companies offer wallpapers which give a similar feel

A clean, seaside, rural-inspired décor adds character and makes the room feel large and spacious. I’m over the moon with the finished result – it’s cool, calm and a great place to chill out.

My style advice…

Three simple tricks to try in your own home

Consider window treatments

Living room makeover: 'I wanted the space to be rustic and weathered'
Jennie used Silver Etch Frosted window film, £19 for a 0.5 x1.2m sheet, from Brume

The large windows provide lots of light, but the downside is they look out onto a busy road with passers-by. ‘We didn’t want to block the light with having full shutters or heavy blinds,’ Jennie explains. ‘We added some frosted film to the bottom row of window panes to keep the room feeling private, while still letting light flood in.’

Choose multi-use furniture

Living room makeover: 'I wanted the space to be rustic and weathered'
Style idea: Lots of cushions and throws in different textures and colours bring a plain sofa to life

With the sea nearby, the couple expect lots of visitors, so making the room usable to overnight guests was a priority. ‘We found this multifunctional corner sofa from IKEA,’ explains Jennie. ‘It has storage for bed linen with two lift-up seats, and the chaise section pulls out into a double bed.’

Create your own flooring

Living room makeover: 'I wanted the space to be rustic and weathered'
‘The flooring was a big job, but the finished result is great. We didn’t want it to look perfect’ says Jennie

Jennie wanted a rustic wood floor, but soon realised it was out of their reach. ‘Our cheapest option was to sand back the original flooring, which just took a day with an industrial sander,’ Jennie explains. ‘We then applied many coats of floor paint and finished off sanding back several areas for a more rustic feel’.

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This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in HomeStyle magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?