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Single mum transforms rented home with second-hand finds for just £1,500

November 28, 2021


Emma Parkes, 49, completely transformed her rented home (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage

You don’t need to own a propery to make it your home.

Take note from Emma Parkes, a single mum from Shropshire who’s mastered the art of renovating a rental – and all on a tight budget.

The 49-year-old, who works in special needs education, moved into a plain rental home on the outskirts of a small village 16 months ago, along with her daughter Poppy, 18, and her son Ralph, eight.

Like most rented properties, the three-bedroom cottage was a bit blah – all white walls and plain furniture.

So Emma set about a mission to turn the rental into the vintage-style country home she dreamed of, starting by stripping out the old carpets to reveal the floorboards.

Don’t worry, she got permission from the landlord first, who was all for her swapping the magnolia decor for cheery pops of colour.

Emma moved into the three-bedroom cottage in Shropshire 16 months ago (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
Her landlord gave her the okay to paint (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
The single mum did all the renovation work herself (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
Including painting murals on the walls (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
It makes a real change from the usual magnolia (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)

Emma said: ‘I knew I wanted to inject colour with a boho style enjoying plenty of plants throughout the house.’

The first room to tackle was the living room, where the mum spent £800 completely overhauling the room.

She cut costs by opting for secondhand buys with a retro feel, then adding a feature wallpapered wall rather than doing the whole room.

She opted for second-hand furniture to keep costs low (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
The total cost? Just £1,500 (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
Pops of pink and green create a cheering feel (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
There are plenty of plants (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)

The walk-in fireplace’s exposed brick got a lick of white paint, while the curtains were swapped out for a natural blanch with plants hanging down.

Next, the kitchen, where Emma spent £200 transforming it with a fresh, floral theme.

Part of this was painting a bright pink mural across one of the walls.

‘The kitchen was the first room where I painted one of my murals on the wall,’ said Emma.

Each mural packs a punch (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
Immersing herself in DIY helped Emma deal with the loss of her dad in 2020 (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
The mum has been sharing the renovation process on Instagram (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
She wants to inspire other people to give DIY a go (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)

‘All my murals are hand-painted and original. It is very much floral-themed and uses bright but soothing colours.

‘The use of plants continues into the kitchen where I’ve hung a reclaimed ladder from the ceiling with flowers hanging from it.’

In the bedroom is another mural, plus white-painted floorboards and a reclaimed piece of wood above the bed, acting as a shelf.

Emma wants her home to be a happy space (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
The garden is pretty great, too (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)

Slowly but surely, and with a lot of hard graft, Emma managed to turn the house into her perfect home – and all with a budget of just £1,500, and doing all the DIY herself as a way to deal with the gried of suddenly losing her dad in 2020.

She’s documented the entire process on her Instagram, @tallulahcottage.

But she’s not finished just yet.

Emma added: ‘My children’s bedrooms still need to be decorated.

She’s not done yet – the bathroom is one of her next big projects (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
The kids’ bedrooms need doing up, too (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
A cosy corner (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)

‘The landing and stairs have carpet down but I’m hoping to rip this carpet up and expose the floorboards.

‘The bathroom is not to my taste and definitely one of my next projects.

‘I’m hoping to knock the wall down which at the moment separates the toilet to create a much larger space, and I’d love a freestanding bath in the bathroom and exposed flooring.

The makeover has taken about a year (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
She did the job while working full-time and looking after her two children (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)
Cool, right? (Picture: Jam Press/@tallulahcottage)

‘It’s taken me about a year to get to where I’ve got with my home.

‘I’m a single mum and work full time so it can be hard to achieve the work I do on my home quickly, I dip into it as and when I can.

‘My budget has definitely always been on a shoestring so I often have to be creative in my thinking and I source practically everything second hand.’

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