How readers celebrate Christmas at home
Handmade seasonal touches add festive decorative detail, enhancing the modern rustic feel in this 1960s house
Excitement was tinged with nervousness when Olga Prinku and her husband Andrew Wright received a phone call confirming that their bid on a 1960s house had been successful. ‘We couldn’t believe we’d finally settled on somewhere,’ explains Olga. ‘Although we wanted our own home, we were living comfortably in a relative’s property. With no pressure to move, what started as a temporary solution turned into three years.’ But with baby Matty growing bigger by the day, the couple had to find a more permanent home.
Having returned to the UK after working abroad, Moldova-born Olga and Andrew decided to settle in North East England, near Andrew’s family. ‘We didn’t have a type of house in mind, just somewhere south facing with plenty of light and outside space so we could enjoy the rural life,’ says Olga, who runs her own craft business.
The property that ended their hunt was a detached, four-bedroom village house tucked down a quiet lane. Built in 1963, it had been well loved, but the interior was dated. ‘There were patterned wallpapers, an avocado-green bathroom suite and the main bedroom had a pine sauna cabin,’ says Olga. ‘The secluded location is special though, and the space flowed well and had a lovely light, open feel.’
Although structural changes weren’t necessary, the house did need a lot of work. While the sale progressed Olga and Andrew concentrated on making plans and investigating costings. Their carefully drawn up budget was put under pressure when winter set in. ‘We’d viewed the house in the summer, but didn’t get the keys until December,’ says
Olga. ‘It was freezing inside and that’s when we realised there was no insulation. That was an extra, unexpected expense.’
The property was completely stripped out, ready for underfloor heating, and a new kitchen and bathroom were installed. Replacing the old floors, fitting sliding glass
doors to maximise light and redecorating throughout added to the job list. Local builders carried out the bulk of the work, but the couple did what they could to save money, and were able to continue staying in a relative’s home while the refurbishment was being done.
‘I’m so glad we weren’t living on site, but we were here every day,’ says Olga. ‘We sourced all the materials down to the last nail, and painted most of it ourselves. It was stressful but we learned a huge amount.’ Designing the kitchen-dining area was a challenge. Olga was keen to include an island, but struggled to make the layout work. Eventually she opted for two runs of wall units with neatly concealed appliances and a central dining table. Her sleek Ikea kitchen furniture is typical of her taste for clean lines and Scandi-inspired style.
Clutter is a pet hate, so the kitchen has plenty of cupboards. Elsewhere, shelves have been added to alcoves, the sauna in the main bedroom is now a walk-in wardrobe, and under-eaves areas in the bedrooms have been opened up to maximise space and storage.
Natural ash flooring runs right through the house. ‘When it arrived, it was the wrong one,’ recalls Olga. ‘Luckily it was my second choice, so rather than wait weeks for the replacement, I negotiated a discount, which helped our budget and kept us on schedule.
’At Christmas, a traditional tree, dressed in festive red and white, is the focal point of the living room. Some decorations are treasured gifts or reminders of travels, and Olga and Matty enjoy making new ones to add to the collection. As their second Christmas here approaches, Olga, Andrew and Matty are looking forward to relaxing, family celebrations.
‘Having our own home has made all the difference and we’ve no more plans to move,’ says Olga. ‘We feel we really belong here now.’
FOR STORE DETAILS SEE WHERE TO BUY PAGE
LIVING ROOM There’s plenty of space for everyone on the L-shaped Delux Deco sofa, layered with cushions from Olga’s collection at prinku.com
HOMEMADE STYLE Olga’s handmade cushions dress the Ikea sofa. She created the coffee table herself from a kitchen unit door, and produced the colourful cow print series on a screen-printing course
ORIGINAL DESIGN This fabulous ‘Christmas tree’ decoration was made by Olga from driftwood. The rough string and imperfectly shaped sticks give a naïve, quirky feel
MATTY’S ROOM Opening up the eaves space has enlarged this room. Olga used blackboard paint to create a giant drawing board on one wall
GUEST ROOM A trio of circular wreaths made by Olga brings a simple rustic touch to the room