‘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
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.
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.
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.’
‘Pick a theme – in my case it’s bird motifs – and use it throughout your home for continuity’
‘the birds and coat hooks jazz up an otherwise plain wall’
‘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’
‘open shelving is great for putting pretty accessories out on display’
Great idea ‘Let a feature wall stand out by painting the other walls in an off-white shade’