A Small UK Home Got a Beautiful Budget Reno, and the Garden Is Must-See Stunning

A Small UK Home Got a Beautiful Budget Reno, and the Garden Is Must-See Stunning

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Name: Maxine Brady, interior stylist and lifestyle blogger, and Teddy, my Maltese dog.
Location: It’s a tiny two-bedroom railway worker’s cottage in Brighton, UK
Size: 753 square feet
Years Lived In: 5 years, owned

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My home has been my passion project for the past five years—and was the inspiration point for starting both my (award-winning) lifestyle blog, We Love Home, and my interior design studio! When I bought my house, it was a total wreck—but I knew as an interior stylist how to make it look beautiful on my tiny budget. I decided to launch my blog to show that you don’t need to have lots of money to have a beautiful home. And to chart my home’s progress. I wanted to showcase my ideas for anyone else looking to do up a smaller home.

Before: This house had been empty for seven years when I moved in and was a total wreck. The garden was so overgrown you couldn’t open the back door. The ’90s bathroom was leaking into the kitchen. The kitchen was so damp snails used to appear on the floor in the mornings. All the rooms needed attention—from windows, to doors to carpet to the roof— there wasn’t a bit of this house I haven’t worked my DIY magic on. Oh—and the layout needed reconfiguring so it worked smarter.

After: As soon as I open the door to my home, I feel completely at ease. I adore the space I’ve created and it feels so relaxing here. I’m so proud of how much I have achieved in the past five years and—the best bit—it is never finished. I keep making small adjustments and tweaks and swapping things around so my home feels like new all the time. My home has encouraged me to set up my own interior design studio where I can help others achieve a home style that is truly them no matter what their budget.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Thoughtful, practical as well as stylish. I don’t follow trends—and I only have in my home things that I love (as that keeps clutter at bay).

Inspiration: I’m influenced by my travels abroad as I love bringing back items that will work in home (my light fitting, art, throws…), as well as the vibrant city of my home town of Brighton—which is a buzzing metropolitan seaside city filled with urban hippies, creatives, and artists. It’s always sunny here which makes for a happy place.

Favorite Element: My garden (which was my latest makeover) is my pride and joy. In the summer, it doubles the foot print of my ground floor—turning into an extra outdoor dining area, living room, and cook’s garden. I’ve never had a proper garden before and I’m learning something new all the time.

Biggest Challenge: Having to do all the building work at once—and finding the money to pay for it! Originally, I was going to start with the kitchen—but then my bathroom leaked down taking the kitchen ceiling with it. This meant I had to do the bathroom and kitchen reno at the same time—and I thought why not take the wall down between the living room as well? I had builders in the house for two months and lived with brick dust with a puppy. Not fun but totally worth it. [See what her kitchen looked like before!]

Proudest DIY: The DIY copper handles in the kitchen. They always get lots of comments on how fab they are. That and the wallpaper in the spare bedroom. I’ve written a DIY blog post on them.

Biggest Indulgence: The roll top bath. It had always been my dream to have one. In order to fit the shower above, I had to have the bathroom ceiling raised by 40 centimeters—which resulted in a lot of soot and dust AND cost me an extra £1000. But totally worth it for my dream bathroom.

Best Advice: Take your time. I lived in the house for about five months before I started the building work. I spent that trying to work out how I lived in the house. It so tempting to rip everything out when you move in but taking time gives you the space to decide what bits you want to change first and what elements can wait. It will save you money on a building project. And your desire to have your dream space will get you through the gritty building works.

What’s your best home secret? My sofa was an £150 eBay find that I have pimped up twice now. I had new covers made in a soft peach and new cushions, too, so it is like a brand new sofa. It’s more environmentally-friendly as well too.



  • Living Room & Dining Room & Hallway — Dimpse by Farrow & Ball. Skirting, Urban Grey by Little Greene Paint Company
  • Main Bedroom — Ammonite by Farrow & Ball
  • Bathroom & Kitchen — Loft white by Little Greene Paint Company


  • Wall colour — Dimpse Modern Emulsion, Farrow & Ball
  • Skirting painted in — Urbane Grey intelligent eggshell, Little Greene Paint Company
  • Flooring — Galleria engineered European Oak, UK Flooring Direct
  • Blinds — Hillarys Blinds
  • Hearth tiles — For similar try BCT St Pancras Feature Tile, Victoria Plumbing
  • Lighting — For similar try Indoor Paris Pendant shade, Garden Trading
  • Mode Radiator — Vogue UK
  • Rug — Urban Outfitters
  • Sofa — Sofa.com
  • Sofa fabric — Altela velvet teal fabric [130380], Clarke & Clarke. Sofa covers, Eeze covers
  • Edmond linen armchair — Pib Home
  • Rar Eames style rocking chair — Lakeland Furniture
  • Tray table — Cox and Cox
  • Silver pouf — Bohemia Design
  • Plant basket — HomeSense
  • Cushions — Habitat, Homesense, Marks & Spencer, Dunelm Mill
  • Silver Pineapples — Laura Ashley
  • Hide throws — Hide.co.uk
  • White table lamps —IKEA

DINING ROOM             

  • Table and cupboard — Vintage
  • Tolix Chairs — Cult Furniture
  • Rug — Modern Rugs.co.uk


  • Great Waves Wallpaper — Cole & Son
  • Devonia Plain in French Grey Carpet — Axminster
  • Carmina light fitting — Umage
  • Bespoke ottoman bed — Happy Beds
  • White wooden slatted blind — Hillarys
  • Earthy brown twisted satin sheen electrical cable — Dowsing & Reynolds
  • Puderviva quilt cover and two pillow cases — Ranard
  • Clip-on wall light fitting — All IKEA
  • Abs Geo quilt, £45, and Abs Geo cushion — Both Marks & Spencer
  • Slaked lime Intelligent eggshell — Little Greene Paint Company. (skirting and wardrobe)
  • Mode Horizontal column radiator 550 x 507 — Vogue UK
  • Geometric ceiling rose — Amazon
  • Kingston French Mirror — Exclusive Mirrors
  • Copper cupboard handles — Grace & Glory
  • Copper table light for similar try Copper Z table lamp — Trouva
  • Vintage chest of drawers — Department in Hove
  • Vintage wardrobe — British Heart Foundation
  • Ghost chair — Cult Furniture



  • Walls painted in Modern Emulsion Blackened and Middleton Pink — £46. 50 for 2.5 litres, both Farrow and Ball
  • Devonia Plain in French Grey Carpet — Axminster
  • Blinds — Hillarys
  • Milano Windsor traditional white 4 radiator — Best Heating 
  • Ranarp wall light and grey sheepskin throw — Both IKEA
  • Continental pillow cases — Zara
  • Ghost chair — Cult Furniture
  • Eos light fitting — Umage
  • Bust of lady — Vermont Dove Grey Pencil Pleat Curtains, Dunelm
  • Elisia Champagne Silver beaded mirror — Decorative Mirrors online
  • Bed, Wardrobe — Both Gumtree
  • Bedside cabinet — Shelter Charity Shop
  • Paris Art British Heart — Foundation Charity Shop
  • Cushion with lady on — eBay.
  • Flamingo print, rug, art gift, gold wall clock, ottoman — All gifts from my Mum


  • Bath and feet, sink, toilet, taps, bath taps, shower, radiator — Bathroom Takeaway
  • Wall Tiles — British Ceramic Tile
  • LightingDowsing and Reynolds
  • Cabinet — vintage
  • Walls — Little Greene Paint Company ‘Loft White‘ Paint
  • Underfloor heating — Warm Up

Thanks Maxine!

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