Back in December 2019, Sabrina and her boyfriend, Ben, bought their first home together, a two-bedroom Victorian terraced house in North Birmingham.

‘Before we moved in, I had a clear vision of what I wanted our new home to look like, and bold colour featured high on my wish list,’ she says. ‘As soon as we got the keys, I was desperate to crack open paint tins and start decorating.’

Sabrina in her green living room
The house has lots of original features, including the wooden fireplace and sash windows. Sabrina painted a feature wall in Emerald Temple by Valspar before moving in. She has gradually added prints, artwork and furniture to the scheme. ‘The sofas were our first big purchase. I made the blinds myself with material from Terrys Fabrics. I’ve never made anything like this before so I followed online instructions. It took a long time to make but it saved us so much money’

The couple, who moved in with Sabrina’s parents to save up for a deposit, found their new home following a short house hunt. ‘After several years living in Manchester and London, I moved back home to Birmingham as I missed my family and the area,’ she explains.

Sabrina's green velvet sofa with Jerry the cat!
The gallery wall above the sofa is Sabrina’s latest addition to her living room. ‘I call it my ‘Brummie’ wall as everything on there is Birmingham-related, including a cityscape. When friends come to visit, they point out sites they know’

‘I knew exactly what I wanted. I discounted many properties without even looking at them because I knew they weren’t right for us. The location of our new home was crucial and, after several houses, we found this property ideally placed just outside the centre of Birmingham.’

The house had been owned by a builder so all the structural and building work had been done to a high standard.

‘The previous owners had renovated the floors and skirting, and renovated all the wooden doors,’ she says. ‘I loved that it was an older building with lots of original features. Thankfully, it didn’t need anything doing to it, which was good for us as we don’t have the time or money right now to take on a building project.’

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Welcome to our home

We are Sabrina McIntosh, a maths teacher, 33, and my boyfriend, Ben Watson, a computer programmer, 35, and our cat, Jerry.

Our home Is a two-bedroom terraced house built in 1901 in north Birmingham.

Having spent years living in rented accommodation, Sabrina was a self-confessed DIY and decorating newbie, but keen to learn.

‘I love crafting. I’ve been making things for as long as I can remember. When we bought our house, I moved on from knitting and crocheting to painting and upcycling, learning as I go,’ she says. ‘I’ve never decorated or painted a home before. This was all new to me. I spent hours on YouTube learning how to tackle DIY projects myself.’

Sabrina's drinks cabinet and record player
Sabrina found her drinks cabinet discarded on the street. ‘Originally, it was dark brown wood, so I painted it the same colour as the walls and then added vinyl to the doors and inside. The records above are Ben’s – we love to play music in the evenings’

Before they had unpacked, Sabrina cracked on with the living room. ‘Although the house was in good shape, it was decorated with patterned wallpaper, which looked dated,’ she explains.

‘I tackled the living room, painting a feature wall in emerald green. It made sense to get decorating before we properly moved in – that way, our belongings weren’t in the way where they could get splattered in paint.’

Sabrina's home250501
The couple were gifted the wooden table and chairs from Sabrina’s parents. She plans to change the upholstery fabric on the chairs to a brighter pattern to complement the rest of the scheme

Using a Pinterest board as her starting point, Sabrina painted the walls and furnished the room with velvet green sofas from Dunelm.

Slowly decorating throughout her home, Sabrina stamped her personality on each and every room. ‘If I had my way, I would have painted every room green as it is my favourite colour, but we decided to mix things up throughout the house.’

A bit more about our home...

My top tip Is to try your hand at upcycling. Charity shops are full of inexpensive furniture. I share my projects on Instagram at @house_of_devizes.

Shops I love are H&M Home, and Dunelm is always a winner. I’m a huge fan of British Heart Foundation charity shops for bargain finds, too.

I learnt to To upcycle a sideboard into a mini bar, and create tables out of drawers.

Sabrina in her colourful bedroom
Sabrina's bedroom
The IKEA bed is one of the few pieces of furniture that the couple brought with them, and Sabrina spray-painted its frame white. In the room, she painted up to the dado rail (including the radiator) in rust shades, and drew attention to the chimney wall with a complementary orange tone

‘I decorated the bedrooms in warmer tones and put up a decorative blue mural in the bathroom,’ she explains. ‘I’ve always been drawn to brighter shades and that has been reflected in the way I dress. Now my love of colour is reflected in my home style, too.’

Sabrina's bathroom
The house already had a brand-new bathroom, but had plain white walls. The Shinrin-Yoku mural by Rebel Walls was made-to-measure for the space. ‘This design jumped out at me as I was attracted to the blue tones, which I complemented with Hicks’ Blue from Little Greene. This was my first time wallpapering and it was much easier than I thought. The mural website had lots of easy to follow ‘how-to’ videos, which made the task much simpler’

The couple had to start from scratch when it came to furnishing their home. ‘All we had was a bed and a wardrobe that we couldn’t physically get out of my parents’ house. We had to buy everything for the house, so we paid for things as we went.’

This is when Sabrina turned her hand to upcycling secondhand finds. ‘I practically live in charity shops, picking up things for our home. I’ve even found furniture in the street that I have given a new lease of life.’

Sabrina's handmade rope shelves
Sabrina made the rope shelves herself, figuring out how to make them as she went. ‘I spotted the idea on a website and loved it for this room. I had the macramé cord already and I found a piece of wood in the garage, so I thought: why not?’

When decorating her guest bedroom, Sabrina hit a stumbling block halfway through the makeover. ‘I started painting the ceiling in a peach shade but I ran out of paint after the first coat. Lockdown had just started, so I struggled to get more of the same colour from anywhere.’

It didn’t take her long to find a solution, though. ‘Luckily, I found a company that would colour-match this shade so I could complete the project,’ she says.

Sabrina's guest bedroom
After painting the ceiling and a border in Faded Henna by Valspar, Sabrina added black stripes using washi tape. The metal day bed is from The Range and can be turned into a comfy bed for guests. ‘Eventually this room will become my crafting room so I have a space for my projects,’ she explains

Next on the list for Sabrina’s home is her kitchen. ‘I want to paint the cabinets in a cerise shade and replace the black metal handles with brass ones. It’s going to be wild. I haven’t told Ben my ideas yet! But he understands that decorating my home is my creative outlet when I come home from work. I love nothing more than decorating at the weekends and I can’t wait to do more.

Sabrina's kitchen
Next on Sabrina’s to do list is her kitchen. The current plan is to paint the cabinets a bright pink and add brass accessories. ‘I moved in with no tools – now half of the kitchen is taken over with my DIY materials,’ she explains.

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