‘i bought my flat from a friend’

Jenny, 26, had al­ways ad­mired her friend’s flat so, when it went on the mar­ket, she jumped at the chance to buy it

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Jenny Hobbs al­ready knew and loved the ground-floor flat that was to be­come her home – all it needed was a few tweaks

Iwasn’t even think­ing about buy­ing a home, but when my friend Han­nah put her flat on the mar­ket, i didn’t want to miss out,’ says Jenny. ‘i’d al­ways loved the space, as it’s got high ceil­ings and pe­riod fea­tures, but still feels so warm and cosy – and it helps that we have sim­i­lar tastes in in­te­ri­ors, too! My style is quite eclec­tic with a mix­ture of vin­tagein­spired and rus­tic pieces, plus lots of prints, pops of colour and bird mo­tifs.

Be­fore go­ing ahead, I looked on­line to suss out the com­pe­ti­tion, but most of the other flats in the area were quite stu­dent-ish and needed too much work, or they were too far away from the town. Many Ty­ne­side flats have the bath­room sit­u­ated off the kitchen, but Han­nah’s was next to the main bed­room, in the mid­dle of the flat, which was a much bet­ter lay­out. Be­ing on my own, it also felt safer to be liv­ing on a pedes­tri­anised street.

With help from my par­ents and some money that I had in­her­ited, I man­aged to get to­gether enough cash for a 30 per cent de­posit and was able to buy my first home for £117,000.

The long wait

Un­for­tu­nately, the buy­ing process turned out to be very stress­ful and slow un­til I hired a new so­lic­i­tor, who sorted out the lease­hold is­sues. Thank­fully, the own­ers of Han­nah’s next home were very pa­tient and waited a year for ev­ery­thing to be signed off and, even­tu­ally, it all went through. When I fi­nally got the keys in

Septem­ber 2014, it was a big re­lief. The first thing I did was re­place the elec­tric stove in the liv­ing room with a new log burner and slate hearth. It cost around £2,000, in­clud­ing fit­ting. It seemed a lot to spend, but I had my heart set on a cream stove, which was more pricey than the black mod­els. It makes such a huge dif­fer­ence to the look of the room, so it was well worth the ex­tra ex­pense.

Penny pinch­ing

I was lucky that the in­te­rior was in good condition. The floor­boards had al­ready been sanded and var­nished, and I kept the blue-grey fea­ture wall, as I’d al­ways ad­mired the colour. Be­ing a first-time buyer, I didn’t have a lot to spend, so I kept costs down by choos­ing ex-dis­play so­fas from John Lewis and bag­ging a £60 dresser on ebay for the al­cove. It also helped that Han­nah gave me her lit­tle din­ing ta­ble.

I had some other bits of fur­ni­ture, but they had never looked quite right in the mod­ern quay­side apart­ment I used to rent, so it was nice to see them in my new pe­riod home. I also en­joyed shop­ping for some fun pieces, such as the fly­ing birds on the chim­ney breast, to add a per­sonal touch. My favourite item is an em­broi­dery of my cat, Maisy, which I’ve hung in pride of place on the wall near the dresser.

Heart of the home

The big­gest changes were in the kitchen. I loved the ex­posed brick wall, but the black units made it feel a bit dark and there wasn’t enough stor­age. To solve the prob­lem, I had the wall-mounted boiler moved to the guest bed­room to free up some space for ex­tra cup­boards. I also had a new light grey kitchen fit­ted.

I’d al­ways wanted a Belfast sink, so that was a must and I teamed it with Moroc­can-style pat­terned tiles from Topps Tiles. Un­for­tu­nately, the ones I fell in love with only came in boxes of four sep­a­rate colours, and I wanted to mix them all

up. It would have cost around £250 to get the mul­ti­coloured look that I wanted, with lots of tiles left over, but luck­ily, some­one else had ex­pe­ri­enced the same prob­lem and was sell­ing off their ex­tra tiles on ebay. They had enough to cover my whole splash­back area, so I snapped them up for just £40, which was fan­tas­tic.

As the tiles are mul­ti­coloured, there’s a lot of scope for choos­ing dif­fer­ent-coloured ac­ces­sories that pick out the var­i­ous tones in the pat­tern – I’ll def­i­nitely never get bored. Now the kitchen feels so much lighter and the oak work­tops even link with the floor­boards in the liv­ing room next door.

Stylish up­dates

Be­fore I moved in, the mas­ter bed­room had been used by Han­nah as a work room, so I found it quite hard to vi­su­alise how it would look. Since then, my mum has helped me put up a bird-mo­tif wall­pa­per be­hind the bed and I bought new bed­room fur­ni­ture from Barker & Stone­house, as well as hav­ing be­spoke lock­able shut­ters fit­ted – they look great and make the place feel so much more se­cure.

Next door, the bath­room didn’t need much work so all I’ve done is re­paint the side of the bath in the same colour as the liv­ing room fea­ture wall and added pretty tow­els and ac­ces­sories from TK Maxx and An­thro­polo­gie.

In to­tal, I’ve spent around £6,000 putting my own stamp on the flat, and it’s lovely hav­ing friends and fam­ily round. My next job is get­ting a cup­board made to hide the boiler in the guest bed­room and, ide­ally, I’d love a new Vic­to­rian-style bath. But apart from that, I know that I’ll be happy liv­ing here for many years to come.’

‘My new units from BB trade Kitchens have made the room feel much lighter, and i added some colour with tiling from topps tiles’ Style tip Fresh look ‘Keep one brick wall ex­posed to add an in­dus­trial edge to your kitchen’

Cute Cor­ner

‘open shelv­ing is great for putting pretty ac­ces­sories out on dis­play’

style tip

‘Pick a theme – in my case it’s bird mo­tifs – and use it through­out your home for con­ti­nu­ity’

fly by

‘the birds and coat hooks jazz up an oth­er­wise plain wall’

Great idea ‘Let a fea­ture wall stand out by paint­ing the other walls in an off-white shade’

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