‘WE DID IT UP ON A TINY BUDGET’

By stick­ing to a mono­chrome scheme through­out, Mar­tyna cre­ated a calm­ing sense of flow

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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.

Help­ing hand

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.

Pow­er­ing through

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.

Bath­room ba­sics

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.

Fu­ture am­bi­tions

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!’

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