A MUM has spent four years and £2,500 transforming her boring beige rental property into a colourful masterpiece – even though she'll have to whitewash it when she moves house.
Rachael Havenhand, 28, from Todwick, Sheffield, spends around seven hours-a-week adding to her multicoloured home – but dedicates much longer when she has a project on the go.
The single mum-of-two, to Gabriella, nine, and Florence, five, moved into the three-bed rental property six years ago – and tried to be "normal" with cream and grey decor for the first two years.
But since then, she's started painting every inch of the property – including the walls, floors and furniture – and she's far from done yet.
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, the aspiring interior designer reveals all…
"When I first moved into this house with my daughters' dad six years ago, it was beautiful but very beige.
The people who lived here before us had brown and cream furniture. But it was a ready made house and, for the first couple of years, I tried to be normal.
I’d shop online, go to The Range or IKEA and get things in gold, silver, grey and cream. I put up grey wallpaper too.
Then the colours just started seeping out of me. I thought ‘bugger this, I’m not normal, this isn’t my house the way it is’.
I wanted to bring some colour into my home, bit by bit.
The colours just started seeping out of me. I thought ‘bugger this, I’m not normal, this isn’t my house the way it is’
So four years ago, I started painting the furniture, then I took the wallpaper off and painted the walls pink. I've been adding to it ever since.
I’m always looking around and thinking ‘what can I do next?’ or ‘I’m bored of that’. I have to reign myself in, because I'd change everything every day if I had the time.
Before, I was a bit worried about what my landlord would think. She’s been over a couple of times, she looks around and says ‘umm OK then’.
But as long as when I leave it’s all back to neutrals, she says that’s absolutely fine.
When I move, I’ll literally whitewash the whole house. I’ll have to strip it all back and paint it cream or beige.
There will be some satisfaction in painting it all white. It will be sad to do, it will break my heart and I'll probably cry.
But to know the next place is a blank canvas to start again will really motivate me to get it done.
When I move, I’ll literally whitewash the whole house. I’ll have to strip it all back and paint it cream or beige
It will take me a couple of weeks, I've got murals on some walls which will need sanding down, but I reckon I could whitewash a room every day.
I'll need to lay a new lino down on my kitchen floor too, because I painted that in a neon pink and turquoise green eighties print.
It makes me really happy to have a bright house. If the girls are at their dad's, I try to watch my soaps but I always get distracted.
I have to rewind the TV all the time because I'm just looking around my house, thinking about what I could do next.
My house makes other people happy too. I've had some comments from strangers, saying 'oh I couldn't do that' and at first I'd take it personally.
If I put a picture on an interior group on Facebook, I’ll get strangers saying ‘can you imagine the headache living in here?’ or ‘it would give you a migraine’.
But I just laugh it off. I think most people appreciate what I’ve done, even if they couldn’t live with it themselves. It’s very rare I get a negative comment like that.
I get strangers saying ‘can you imagine the headache living in here?’ or ‘it would give you a migraine’. I just laugh it off
If someone's being deliberately nasty, I just ignore them. It makes me and my daughters happy, and that’s all that matters.
Without my house, I wouldn’t have the following I have on Instagram. I have 25,000 followers, and I get paid work from that.
I also work as a fitness trainer and have my own Etsy shop selling prints – and I'm part way through an interior design diploma.
When people come into my house for the first time, it blows them away. They say ‘oh my God this is so different, I would never dare do this’.
It comes out of me naturally, being able to put colours together and use them in that way.
A lot of people are scared of colour, so when they come here it really does take their breath away.
The girls love it, although they think I'm absolutely crackers and probably get a bit irritated where I'm constantly changing things, especially in their bedrooms.
It wasn't to my ex's taste at all – we did argue about it a couple of times
It wasn’t to my ex’s taste at all; he lives in a beige flat now we've split, with black furniture.
My house is like the inside of my brain so it suits me down to the ground. But my girls’ dad is very different, he likes his surroundings to be simple. He’s gone back to his greys, white and black now, he calls that ‘normal’.
We did argue about all the painting a couple of times. He let me get on with it and have full creative reign, but when I was painting around him it would frustrate him.
He was quite happy to move out in the end.
When I'm in the zone with decorating, I can't get out of it. I re-did my whole kitchen in a week. I sanded down and repainted the cupboards, spray painted the handles, painted the walls, floor, ceiling and my fridge.
I'm a slave driver to myself, it was non-stop and I was surviving on about four hours' sleep – and fasting so I didn't have to cook.
But I got there in my end and it looks amazing. My mum and my kids' dad looked after the girls, and my sister came to help me paint the walls.
The first time I cooked in my new kitchen, I was so nervous, because it took me two days just to paint and varnish the floor.
The only furniture I bought brand new was my sofa and my bed, which are both from IKEA. Almost everything else was given to me
For a couple of weeks, I hated cooking in there, because I didn't want to ruin the pristine floor.
You can't help but make a mess when you're cooking sometimes, but as long as I clean it immediately, it stays in a good condition.
I think in total, with all the paint, furniture, accessories and upcycling, I've spent about £2,500 on the place.
The only furniture I bought brand new was my sofa and my bed, which are both from IKEA. I bought the most expensive mattress, which was about £400.
Almost everything else was given to me. My piano was gifted to me by a local church, they absolutely love that I painted it bright blue, although I’m about to paint it again.
My table and chairs were given to me free. Sometimes I even mix my own paint colours to save money.
My elderly neighbour across the road will message me and say ‘Rachael I’ve got this, would you like it?’ She goes to antique fairs, so I get all sorts from her.
None of them mind, I always warn them I will probably paint the furniture. If they did mind, I’d turn it down.
I’ve got a load of furniture in my garage ready to do up. The plan was to upcycle it all in my signature quirky and colourful style, then sell it on.
But I’m so busy with my print business, running my Instagram and working with brands that it’s on the back burner.
Facebook Marketplace is fantastic for bargains and I love eBay too.
Before people realised I liked free furniture, I would be on eBay every single night, scouring the local area for a chest of drawers or something like that.
I once bought a vintage love seat for 99p, I still can't believe I got that.
I painted it with emulsion and PVA glue, then waxed it and gave it to my mum. It looks a bit like leather now – and only cost me a tenner to do it up. That was my best bargain."
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