Living in colour: My Colourful Rented Flat

Having spent the past few months indoors (still so surreal eh), for me it’s never been more important to feel at home in my home. As a renter, it’s not always easy to put your own stamp on a space but it can be done! And here’s my flat tour to prove it… 🙂

Welcome to our colourful flat in Colchester, Essex – just over an hour commute from London via train. We moved to this 2 bedroom maisonette to start our journey as a family of 3 with Baby Dylan. The walls might be renter’s basic white and the carpets are boring beige, but the building has some interesting quirks (and squeaky floorboards) and most importantly, so much light! It’s a great blank canvas to create our first family home.

What the flat lacks in colour, we make up for with our accessories! Our landlady went to art college with Damien Hirst so she’s cool with our rainbow, maximalist (more is more!) interior. We have a lot of things… although if you ask Jack he will say that most of it is mine!

Jack & I are both Graphic Designers so we love books, art and collecting things. It makes for a busy interior style (which we are still learning to baby proof as Dylan gets more adventurous!), but being surrounded by inspiration definitely brightens my day.

After talking about it for ages, we finally got some picture ledges to display more of our art and create a focal point for the living room. It’s made such a difference to the space, and also means we can actually enjoy the art instead of it sitting inside a folder, oops! Although, we probably need to stop buying art now to be honest as we’re running out of wall space! ha

Some of my favourite pieces include the Gayle Mansfield Magnifique print, a trio of amazing risograph prints by Jacqueline Colley and some famous replicas from the Tate Modern shop – Matisse, Lichenstein, Warhol… iconic!

The Living Room

Our biggest and brightest space is the living room (on the 1st floor). Like most millennial households, it’s a multi functioning room which adapts to our needs throughout the day. For the most part it’s a play area (for Dylan) and social space where we watch TV and play records, but it’s also our wardrobe, working from home office and dining room. We don’t have a dining table or space for one – we have a breakfast bar in the kitchen downstairs but it’s mainly used for buggy/bin storage to be honest.

Initially when we moved in this room was our bedroom, but after 6 months (and with Dylan moving into his own room) we decided to switch things up. The main issue with this room is mould – we can’t place any furniture flush against the outer walls and so we’re a bit limited on our layout options. Luckily this current layout is working for both us and the walls!

As with most living spaces, the sofa is the most dominant piece in the room. It’s an IKEA sofa bed which we bought 4 years ago (from the Bargain corner and almost split up in the process – eeek!) and has survived being dismantled a few too many times. It might be on its lasts legs, but it’s still going for now. I’ve been eyeing up a green or orange velvet sofa but I’m not sure if it would be too much alongside the rest of our stuff… especially my cushion collection:

I don’t know how or why the cushion collection got a bit out of hand, but it’s always handy to have cushions isn’t it? My cushions (because I don’t think Jack really likes any of them) are bright and bold to balance out our boring grey sofa… or that’s the excuse I’m using anyway. A mix of Natalie Lea Owen, Orla Kiely and IKEA.

The other stand out piece in this room is the IKEA rainbow stripe rug – I love it so much! We’d be staring at the awful beige carpet without this rug AND it’s great for framing the sofa area. We have Dylan’s Gus & Beau playmat (gifted) on top which is not only great quality and essential for little ones on the move but a great interior vibe.

The main storage in our living room are these IKEA Kallax units with drawers & fabric boxes. It’s seen better days to be honest – it used to be nicely curated but as Dylan ‘levels up’ with what he can reach we are having to adapt it. He loves pulling out the yellow books at the moment (several times a day gahhh) but I’m hoping he will get bored of that soon so that the rainbow book shelf can be reinstated.

We have talked about the idea of swapping the Kallax unit out for a retro sideboard (which I might upcycle with some paint), but we’re waiting to find the right one – I’m manifesting it. We regularly check our local Emmaus charity shop and one day I’ll walk in and find the one! Keep your fingers crossed for me 🙂

The Desk

As I said, the living room has a few purposes including my office. I’m a Freelance Creative (and Blogger, obvs) so having a desk space is important for my productivity… and stationery addiction.

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💘 Wavey vibes 💘 {gifted prints} Y’know what they say: ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ and that’s great because I’m finding words a bit hard right now… just spent an hour in a trance trying to write this caption (whilst Dylan napped so it actually felt like 5 minutes) 🙈😅🌈 Generally I’m trying to keep positive but I feel wavey tbh… ok one minute and then a bit weird the next! I know I’m not alone – it’s pretty exhausting, eh? 😩💤🙈 With so much out of my control I’m doing what I can to keep my Capricorn control freak tendencies in check – I refreshed the inspiration grid above my desk and it felt good! ✅😅👌🏼Glad I can surround myself with things that are both nice to look at & nice to people like this print by @loisohara x @evermadeuk – ultimate wavey vibes! 🙌🏼🌊🙌🏼 It’s aptly named ‘Find Joy in all the chaos’ with profits going to help the NHS 💙🌈💪🏼 It’s small things that can make a big difference, especially when everything is currently a bit overwhelming!

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After being a dumping ground for the past 9 months, my desk has recently received some TLC in preparation for the end of my maternity leave and the start of my new work/life balancing act. I previously had a cork memo board but it was unfortunately a mould victim (this is an old solid brick wall building with insulation issues) so we added this metal grid (from Amazon) so that I could curate a corner of inspiration.

I’m sharing my desk area with Jack at the moment as he is working from home (oh Coronavirus) and surprisingly we are managing to keep things tidy AND he doesn’t steal my pens. He uses a second screen alongside his laptop for work (as a Graphic Artist at a newspaper) so we have moved things around to accommodate this, but don’t worry – there’s still plenty of space for my notebook collection.

For now we have this fold away chair, however we might need something a bit more permanent as Jack’s been complaining about his back. In contrast, we have a yellow velvet beanbag from Bean Bag Bazaar (gifted) which is SO comfy and perfect for chilling in the evenings. If I could get away with working on the beanbag I definitely would… but Dylan has other ideas!

The Gallery Wall

I’ve been a green eyed gallery wall monster for many years. It just wasn’t possible in our previous flat but I hoped that one day my gallery wall dreams would come true. When we came to view this flat I knew that I’d finally found my canvas, although hanging frames on a staircase isn’t all that easy… or safe!

There have been some casualties along the way – I’m talking frames, not people thankfully. Most of the frames have been hung using Command strips, however after a few smashes we reverted back to the old fashioned hooks (and perspex frames mainly from IKEA).

Our print collection is populated with pieces that hold memories, fabric banners, photobooth pictures and cool mementos e.g. Jack’s Hard Rock Cafe pin collection and a HAY plastic bag from Milan Design Week 2018. Of course there’s always room for more art… I’m working on some pennant flags so watch this space!

Artists featured include Cassandra Yap (feathers), Freddie Payne (Margate Lido), Supermundane and Ella Masters (hands).

I’ve recently added some stripes alongside the bannister for a graphic detail. I just used washi tape for now as I was testing the idea out before deciding if I wanted to paint it, but actually I might just leave it. I like it AND it was really hard to get the line straight the whole way down the stairs!

The Bedroom

As I mentioned before, this used to be our living space but it definitely works better as a bedroom. Our mustard yellow bed from takes centre stage – it’s a ray of sunshine! I really want an ottoman storage bench for the end of our bed to hide our awful washing baskets (not pictured ha) but I haven’t found the right one yet.

You’ve probably noticed that we love a good shape in this household. From art to light fittings, trays and mirrors too. I had a vision of a round mirror for above my ‘dressing table’ so when I found this one for cheap in our local Dunelm I was pretty happy. Ideally it would have been a bit bigger than 55cm, but for £20 you can’t really complain, eh? I don’t have much time for make up or earrings since having Dylan but at least my nail varnish looks nice in colour order, eh?

Above the bed we’ve got a little Print Club London gallery with prints from their Blisters series – Ministry of Love (rainbow beer bottles), Cassandra Yap (tattooed Dorothy), Positive Press (Pretty pretty pretty good) and Gavin Dobson (watercolour fry up).

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AD 💕 Self-care club 💕 Sometimes it’s really hard to look after number 1 when you’re in charge of a small person… 👶Finding time for even the simplest things can seem almost impossible!? 😱😩🤷🏻‍♀️ Well, one positive to come from being inside more at the moment is that I’ve been making time for ME! 💪🏼💕🥰 In the mornings (after my night shift 😴) Jack is entertaining Dylan (on his WFH commute😜) whilst I have some uninterrupted ME time: a proper shower (bye dry shampoo), moisturise with @palmersuk & drink a HOT cuppa tea! 🙌🏼☕️😂 Of course some days I just sleep in… 😅 BUT I’m really appreciating the difference that a bit of hydration (to my skin & mind) can make, so here’s to taking that lesson in self-care into the future with me… 🤞🏼🥰 Palmers is available to purchase on @amazon btw so you can enjoy soft skin too 🙌🏼💕 #ad #palmerssquad #cocoabutter #thenatureofyou #palmers #lovelytummies #palmerscocoabutter #cocoabutterformula

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The Nursery

It feels like I only just shared my DIY Nursery tour blog post, but already we have changed the room! It’s the same furniture, but with Dylan now on the move we have created more floor space for him to play.

The vinyl decals really help bring this room to life, paired with the bold yellow chair and statement IKEA drawer unit, DIY’ed by yours truly. If you’re interested in learning more about the process then check out my Nursery blog post.

Hope you enjoyed snooping around. I love seeing other people’s spaces – I think you can learn a lot about a person from their home/ interior style. What would your home say about you? Oooh! Super happy to be featured in Emma Jane Palin’s Stay At Home With series with a little interview if you wanted to read a bit more on our decor decisions.

(Btw we’ve already changed a few things around since I shot these photos… only change is constant after all!).

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© Natasha Nuttall | January 2022

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