Determined to get onto the property ladder, Becca and her partner, Jordan, decided to move back in with their respective parents and spent nearly four years saving for a deposit. In late 2019, they were in a position to begin seriously looking for their first home.
‘We quickly realised space meant more to us than location and we rejected a studio in central Brighton in favour of a bungalow by the coast in nearby Peacehaven, where Jordan’s parents live,’ says Becca. ‘When we first came inside, we both had an instant feeling that this property was the one.’
Although the bungalow was stuck in a time warp – pink and green carpets, Artex ceilings, beige decoration and a kitchen and bathrooms that had seen better days – the couple relished taking on the renovation project. Not only was the sale price less than an equivalent property already done-up, Jordan is a carpenter and builder and could do most of the work himself.
Welcome to our home…
We are Becca Larkin, on Instagram @renovationliving, 26, an account manager for beauty brands, and my partner, Jordan Sutton, 27, who’s a carpenter.
Our home is A two-bedroom, semi- detached bungalow built in the 1980s located in Peacehaven, East Sussex.
‘As first-time buyers we needed to increase the property’s value so that we’d be able to move up the ladder later on,’ says Becca. ‘This was the biggest bungalow we’d seen and saw instantly that we could knock down the wall between the kitchen and living room and create a more social open-plan room.’
As soon as the sale went through in December 2019, the couple got to work stripping walls and ripping out carpets and the kitchen – all while still living at home. Jordan had a long list of jobs to fit in around his day job.
‘All the rooms needed re-wiring and we discovered we had to replace the boiler and heating system, which was a cost we weren’t expecting,’ says Becca. ‘Jordan took every job as far as he could and then he’d bring in an electrician or gas engineer he knew through work to certify the final stages.’
A bit more about our home…
My best bargain Was IKEA’s Ekbacken laminate worktop. It was really affordable, we paid £550 and I recommend it to everyone.
Shops I love are Creative Cables, my favourite independent for lighting, and the Decorating Centre Online is really handy – you type in the name of the paint, they colour-match it and send a sample pot.
My best project The floating shelf in the kitchen was made from a piece of scaffolding board painted the same colour as the living room, with ironmongery I spray-painted gold.
First, the kitchen wall needed to come down. Becca, a digital marketing expert, began playing around with social media platform, TikTok, and noted it didn’t feature many renovators. ‘I uploaded a video of Jordan knocking down the wall and we got to 1.8 million views!’ says Becca.
‘Now we have 123,000 followers on @renovationliving.’ Pinterest and Instagram became a source of inspiration for Becca, too. She found herself following accounts such as @lustliving and @renovating_love_lane for ideas. ‘They have a similar interiors style, which I love, mixing darks and neutrals with subtle muted tones to create a calming feeling,’ she says. ‘Luckily, Jordan thinks the same.
For us, too much bright colour would be overwhelming and not particularly relaxing.’ The inky-black kitchen and living room walls form the foundation of their scheme, kept light with crisp white decoration and a pale oak-effect floor. Bathrooms are bright, too, while their bedroom is infused with soft tones of dusky pink and green.
‘Black is a powerful neutral that we separated with white panelling in the living room and with a white worktop and tiles in the kitchen,’ says Becca. ‘I like the balance, it’s not heavy and gothic, nor stark and clinical.’
By the time the pandemic sent the country into lockdown in March 2020, the couple still had a lot to do. Becca moved in with Jordan at his parents’ house so they could safely carry on renovating the bungalow together in their spare time. As the months went on, they kept an eye on their £30,000 budget, using a spreadsheet that outlined the costs to keep them on track so they didn’t break the bank.
‘Sometimes it was hard to stick to the budget,’ says Becca. ‘As our first home, we wanted it to be special but without overspending, so we didn’t splash out on things like a marble worktop and instead sourced a great marble- effect laminate from IKEA.’
In July 2020, the work was completed and Becca and Jordan were finally able to move in, although there’s still more they’d like to do. The bathroom is their most recent project, finished just a few months ago, and they’re considering converting the loft or the garage – or perhaps moving on and starting again.
‘We’ve both absolutely loved working on our home, it’s become a real passion and I hadn’t realised how into interiors I would get – now I care more about renovation Instagram accounts than fashion!’ enthuses Becca.
‘I’m super proud of Jordan’s work, we couldn’t have achieved any of this without him. It still blows our mind that we live together and own this house, we’ve become real homebodies.’
Photos James French. Styling Marisha Taylor.