The learn­ing CURVE

A newly built house pro­vided a com­pletely blank can­vas for one cou­ple’s first foray into DIY and dec­o­rat­ing

House Beautiful (UK) - - Reader Home -

While many stu­dents make do with a bed­sit, house share or room in a pur­pose-built block, JT Collings and his part­ner Max Alder­son have found a house and made it their own. ‘Max was look­ing for a new place to rent and I was liv­ing with my mum,’ says JT. ‘So when he came across this two-bed­room house on a new de­vel­op­ment last Fe­bru­ary, we de­cided to move in to­gether.’

Tak­ing ad­van­tage of the Govern­ment’s Rent to Buy scheme, they were able to af­ford the be­low-mar­ket rent and af­ter five years will have the op­tion to buy the prop­erty, move out or ex­tend the ten­ancy agree­ment. ‘The price was right and it was a blank can­vas that we were able to dec­o­rate from scratch,’ ex­plains JT.

As the floors were bare, the first job was adding car­pet to the bed­rooms, engi­neered wood in the liv­ing room and ce­ramic tiles in the kitchen and bath­room. They also painted the stairs and ris­ers a shade of grey. ‘We were ad­vised to wait a year to let the prop­erty set­tle, but we couldn’t hold out that long and started paint­ing af­ter six months,’ says JT, who’s the driv­ing force be­hind the decor and de­scribes his style as in­dus­trial-meets-Scandi. ‘I like clean lines and blocks of colour with plants to add con­trast.’

Although the scheme is mostly neu­tral with the odd grey fea­ture wall, there’s a much bolder look in the bath­room. ‘I orig­i­nally wanted black slate tiles but achieved a sim­i­lar ef­fect for less money by paint­ing the walls black,’ he ex­plains. ‘I don’t usu­ally go for such dark colours but since it’s not a main room I even painted it on the ceil­ing!’

De­spite hav­ing lit­tle DIY ex­pe­ri­ence, JT dived head­first into paint­ing, up­cy­cling and cus­tomis­ing. Wood cladding cut to size at a lo­cal tim­ber mer­chants

be­came a fo­cal point in the liv­ing room, which lacked a chim­ney breast. ‘I saw the idea on a US prop­erty show called Fixer Up­per and thought the tim­ber would make the room feel cosy and wel­com­ing,’ says JT. ‘At first we had an elec­tric wood­burner, but re­placed it with a more ef­fi­cient bioethanol fire, which has a real flame and costs next-to-noth­ing to run. Things are al­ways evolv­ing though – I’m think­ing of white­wash­ing the wood now.’

In the kitchen the de­vel­oper had in­stalled mod­ern cab­i­nets. JT and Max painted the walls a dark blue/grey for con­trast, laid grey ce­ramic floor tiles and cus­tomised an Ikea break­fast bar by adding a re­claimed wood top. ‘It’s quite a small room but ev­ery­one grav­i­tates to­wards the French doors over­look­ing the gar­den,’ JT ex­plains.

With two equal-sized rooms up­stairs, the first is the bed­room and the sec­ond has been trans­formed into a dual-pur­pose of­fice and walk-in dress­ing room. A cor­ner desk has been made from Ikea Kal­lax cube units with a be­spoke tim­ber top, while op­po­site are Ikea Pax wardrobes, Billy book­cases for shoe stor­age and an up­cy­cled vin­tage chest of draw­ers. ‘I love find­ing fur­ni­ture in char­ity shops as it’s such good value I’m not scared to ex­per­i­ment by paint­ing it,’ says JT.

Their next plan is to build a decked area out­side in­clud­ing a cor­ner seat, fire pit and herb gar­den. ‘It’ll be like an ex­ten­sion of the kitchen and great for bar­be­cues,’ says JT. ‘Our ex­pe­ri­ence of liv­ing in a new build on a new es­tate has been great and the neigh­bours are very wel­com­ing. We don’t know yet if we’ll even­tu­ally buy the house but a lot of the im­prove­ments we’ve made are things we can take with us if we de­cide not to.’

KITCHEN Walls are painted in Far­row & Ball’s Down Pipe, which has also been used on the liv­ing room al­coves, cre­at­ing con­ti­nu­ity through­out the ground floor

BATHROOMOFFICE The lit­tle green chair The cor­ner desk was in the bath­room is made by adding a Karen’s favourite solid wood work­top piece. ‘I bought it to an Ikea unit and from the Weal­don fil­ing cab­i­net. The from a junk shop in chair is from Ebay

DIS­PLAY Spices are neatly ar­ranged along an Ikea pic­ture ledge


LIV­ING ROOM JT made his own bot­tle­green cush­ions to team with the navy and grey ones from Cox & Cox and H&M. The rug and trunk were char­ity shop finds

HALL­WAY Dis­played along­side plants in a va­ri­ety of planters are glass cloches and up­turned jam jars in which JT has placed pic­tures – he got the idea from Pin­ter­est

BATH­ROOM A sim­ple mono­chrome scheme, with a towel lad­der from East2E­den and chevron bath towel from Dunelm, is smart and mod­ern

LAND­ING The in­dus­trial feel con­tin­ues with an Ikea light. A large vin­tage-style map from Sim­ply Dutch hangs above the stairs

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