‘WE DID IT UP ON A TINY BUDGET’
By sticking to a monochrome scheme throughout, Martyna created a calming sense of flow
When we moved to the uk from Poland in September 2011, we initially rented a flat from a private landlord,’ says Martyna. ‘but after a couple of years, we were given a rental property through thirteen group, a local organisation that offers good-quality housing for people in need, with a view to renting, shared ownership and even the possibility of buying, which is a dream for me and my husband Lukasz.
When we first moved into this house, it was in a complete state. But it had a lot of space, large rooms and a bright, airy hall, and I just loved the feel of it right from the very first viewing.
Thirteen Group gave us a £170 voucher to go towards decorating, but that only covered some of the cost of laying two carpets. Luckily, over the previous few years, we’d saved up so that we could afford to decorate when we found the right place. When we received the keys, we had two weeks before we needed to move, so my husband and brother-in-law spent the time making the place habitable by laying flooring and making the walls look decent. The house really needed replastering throughout, but we couldn’t justify the cost, and I’d already seen a gorgeous grey-and-white brick wallpaper on ebay that I loved. So we papered over the worst walls, and then painted the rest in either white or Shadow Grey by Dulux. Thankfully, we were able to move in on time and, to make our funds stretch, we spent a lot of time doing the rest of the work ourselves in the evenings and on weekends, and trying to make accessories ourselves rather than buy them.
I always knew that a grey, black and white palette would reign in my
home. They are such calming colours when used together – a must when living in a busy household – though I do like to add a touch of pink here and there.
I was so pleased when I saw the monochrome fireplace in the sitting room, and I used it as a starting point for furnishing the space. I bought the grey sofa second hand and Lukasz made the coffee table from some spare wooden pallets, which I finished off with castors and a lick of white paint. Then came the fun bit – accessorising the rooms. I was inspired by Instagram and Pinterest to warm up the interior using wood, warm textures and fluffy textiles.
I love cooking and baking, so getting the kitchen right was high on my agenda. However, when we began work, one of the walls started disintegrating and at
‘combine plants and wall sconces with photos and typography to create an unusual and individual feature wall’
‘stick to the same colour palette throughout your house to give it a sense of cohesion and flow’
one point I did feel like the renovation would never end, especially as I was also trying to manage small children and a cat! At the time, it felt like the longest few weeks of my life but I knew it was worth persevering, and once the problems with the room were sorted, I started to enjoy the decorating side of things.
We couldn’t afford to change the wall tiles, so I refreshed them by using tile stickers. I got them for around £30 from ebay, and the effect is fantastic. Even when you look closely, you can’t tell that the tiles aren’t real. Then I painted the wall at the end of the room with blackboard paint and added a few wooden accents, plus black-and-white kitchenware and tea towels, which really complement the finished room.
It took me a while to fall in love with our bathroom. It’s very small, and there was nothing I could do to change that, so I decided to give it new life by using accessories. I bought a couple of plants and some monochrome towels, and Lukasz cut up some timbers that he’d found. Then using wood glue, he turned them into a gorgeous wooden bath
‘layering up cosy textiles is a foolproof way to add warmth and texture to a bedroom’
rack. Now, with a few added candles and a fern print on the wall, it’s become a lovely place to relax in.
Although we’re so proud of the work we’ve done to this house on such a small budget, there is still a lot that we’d like to do. I’d love a new floor in the kitchen, and in the longer term, I’d like to rearrange the space so that all three of our children can have a bedroom of their own. I’d also like to do some work on the outside of the property and make the garden look beautiful. I’m so lucky to have a husband who perfectly understands the look I want to achieve with our furniture and accessories, and then has the talent to turn them into reality. And although we do all the work ourselves, and often joke that we live on a construction site, we will happily take our time and make sure we are happy with the finished result – although I’m not sure there is ever such a thing as a “finished” home!’