Using bold paint techniques and clever design hacks, Emma Parkes has transformed her rental into a home full of personality.
Here, she tells us all about her home makeover experience…
My home makeover
Our last rental was lovely, but it was by a busy road and the garden wasn’t easily accessible, so I wanted something that was more family-friendly. This place ticked a lot of boxes, being down a quiet road surrounded by fields, but also near a town, and it felt like a lovely, safe environment for the kids. It’s an older property filled with character, which really appeals to me. Most importantly, being a single mum, it was affordable.
The house was very plain, so I wanted to add my own personality. The letting agent suggested I send photos of my last rental to the landlady so she could see my style. In fact, my old landlord asked me to leave the place as it was as he loved the improvements.
I asked if I could have free rein to decorate, because if not this place wouldn’t suit me. Luckily, she said, ‘yes, as long as everything could be put back if we leave’. The first thing I did was paint the coral circle in the kitchen, and then I moved onto the living room, painting the walls green and pink.
I’ve always loved bold colours and pattern and even though this is rented, I’ve enjoyed adding personality to every room.
It’s not finished yet, but I love the transformation so far and it really does feel like my home now.
‘The first thing I did when I moved in was paint the door and the coral circle on the wall. I don’t tend to spend long thinking about things and give any ideas I get a go. Here, I literally just drew the circle on the wall the old-fashioned way, with string and a pencil. Then I added the scaffold board shelves and the gallery wall, which I laid out on the floor first.
‘I did the second circle a few months later and I love the overlapping effect. I’d never been brave enough to paint a mural on this scale before, but this wall was perfect for experimenting.
‘I drew out the pattern freehand with a pencil and then filled it with leftover paints from other projects around the house, so it didn’t cost anything. Then I outlined it with a Sharpie to make it stand out.’
‘I love the kitchen area with the original quarry tiles, and it’s a deceptively big space. The ladder used to live in the garden, but I felt it was wasted out there, and I love the look of things hanging from the ceiling as it’s such a good but often overlooked space to use.
‘I painted the ladder white and, being bamboo, it’s very light, so I simply hung it from screw-in hooks, then I added some cheap faux flowers from The Range.
‘I’m always a bit torn over using fake ones as I’m not sure if I’m a lover or hater of them. I have about 30 plants in the house and only about five are fake, but I actually think they work well in this room, and of course they never fade or need replacing.’
‘I originally painted the whole of the main wall green, but I really liked the half- painted walls popping up on Instagram so I thought I’d give it a go. I already had this delicate pink on another wall so knew it would work well with the green.
‘I’m naturally drawn to leopard print, for my clothing and home accessories, so choosing this animal-print paper came easily, and I put it up myself. I’d never wallpapered before, but it was actually quite simple, though a friend did help.
‘I used to have a gallery wall in here, but I wanted something a bit more grown-up, so I replaced it with these Vogue prints from eBay. The flooring was already down throughout the house, but I would love to see what’s beneath the carpet in here. I’m hoping for some lovely, rustic floorboards.’
‘I’ve used this Miami Mint turquoise paint by Johnstone’s a lot in my previous homes and I’m always drawn back to it as it’s such a sunny colour and makes me feel like I’m on holiday. Once I find a colour I love, I tend to stick with it.
‘My income isn’t great as it’s just me, so I have to be creative with my budget, and tricks like using cheap terracotta pots to create a stunning display costs just a few pounds.
‘The plant display was free as I just found the branch in the field outside and put it in the shed to dry out for a few days. I picked up the wood for the shelf above the bed from the side of the road and my boyfriend, who’s a welder, made the brackets for it and engraved a little heart on the underside of one of them!’
‘I love all the rooms in the cottage except for the bathroom as, although it’s perfectly useable, it really isn’t to my taste. Also, the loo is in a separate room next door but has no sink, so you have to come in here to wash your hands anyway. I would love the chance to knock through and create a big open space.
‘For now, I’ve just tried to jazz it up as much as possible by adding the cute gallery wall, bright towels, and the colourful upcycled cabinet. In the next few months I hope to add some patterned tile-effect vinyl over the existing tiles, which will be a quick budget-friendly fix to make it look nicer.’
Feature and styling Lisa Moses. Photos Katie Jane Watson.