How read­ers cel­e­brate Christ­mas at home

House Beautiful (UK) - - Contents - WORDS ANNABELLE GRUNDY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY COLIN POOLE

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

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