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