So far on my ‘Stay at home with’ series we’ve seen a mix of rented and owned homes in various locations across the UK. I very much want to present a range of housing situations and with that, the very real notion that every home is on a journey.
I can’t think of anyone more “real” than my best friend Natasha Nuttall so it’s a pleasure that I bring you her rented family home today. Having moved to Colchester from East London just over a year ago, Natasha and her fiancé Jack welcomed a new addition to their nest in July 2019. Baby Dylan was one of the deciding factors behind their move and has undoubtedly had an effect on the way they have had to plan their space. Believe me, that’s not said in a negative manner – I believe it’s spurred them on to make their home feel more like a place they want to spend time as a new family.
As graphic designers by trade, both Jack and Natasha have a strong interest in colour and visual communication. Their rented home is typically white walls and beige carpets but they have managed to bring their own personal style to it with lots of colourful soft furnishings and artwork.
Split over two floors and located partially over a shop, the bathroom and kitchen are downstairs, while upstairs you’ll find a living space (which also acts as an office) and two bedrooms (a master bedroom and nursery respectively). Want to see more? Let’s get to it.
You’re a HUGE fan of colour, that’s obvious, but how would you describe your interior style?
N: Colour is really important to me – it inspires and makes me happy so I’m just drawn to it. When it comes to interiors, I think our graphic design background is really the main influence. Some of our furniture is a bit random (and has been adopted from friends – thanks EJP), but in general I’m a sucker for anything colourful and statement pieces with bold shapes, clean lines and a pattern thrown in for good measure. A lot of our furniture is currently from IKEA but in the future we’d like to invest in some quirkier pieces and do a bit of DIY too.
J: I mostly do as I’m told, but I like to think that our home accessories are influenced by nostalgia. We like to collect things and everything we choose to display seems to have a memory attached – places we’ve visited, occasions we’ve celebrated etc.
Do both you both agree on your design decisions?
N: Hmm… sometimes!
J: We’re both strong minded and often have to convince the other person that things will look good before we do it. Sometimes we test things out for a few days to see how it makes us feel or how practical it is before fully committing.
N: I’ve always been an ideas person but I sometimes they just float around in my head forever – Jack is the practical one that helps to make things happen. After 9 years together he’s learnt that when I start a sentence with ‘So I’ve been thinking…’ it probably means I’m going to ask him to do something a bit awkward e.g. move the whole flat around at 10pm (true story).
And how has baby Dylan changed those decisions, if at all?
J: We have to be a lot more practical now that Dylan is interested in putting everything in his mouth and opening drawers for fun. He’s fascinated with books at the moment – he loves to pull them off the shelf and we’re out of space to put them out of his reach.
N: I think the general assumption is that having a baby means you can’t have nice things… well, it’s not 100% true – you just need to move them a bit higher! You do need to be less precious and more prepared for things to get covered in dribble/food… I’m still learning to let go. But I think that our interior has changed for the better since Dylan arrived if anything; things are tidier, more organised and we have less clutter (but still, a lot of stuff). We’re spending more time at home, on DIY and making it a home instead of just somewhere to store our things.
Living in a rented property means you’re limited in the changes you can make. What ways have you found around this?
N: All of our walls are white (not magnolia though thankfully) which I actually don’t mind because it keeps things bright and as you’ve seen, most of our possessions are colourful. Originally I wanted to paint a mural in Dylan’s Nursery but then we added some vinyl decals and I decided to get creative with the furniture instead. I don’t think I’ll ever part with those drawers which we DIY’ed when I was 39 weeks pregnant.
J: We probably need shares in Command strips with the amount we’ve used to display our art. It’s a good way to limit the number of holes in the walls and we’ve also added picture ledges to create a focal point around the TV.
And how have you added colour to your home?
N: So many cushions! Although Jack isn’t the biggest fan of my cushion collection.
J: Yeah, a lot of the colour comes from the textiles; curtains, cushions and bedding. Oh and the mustard yellow bed is quite a statement.
N: The big rainbow stripe rug in the living room might be a bit much for some, but it helps cover the boring beige carpet and balances against our ‘safe’ grey sofa. We have talked about getting a brightly coloured sofa in the future but I’m not sure if it would be too much… if that’s even a thing in this house!? Ha
As a print fanatic, can you tell me your favourite places to source prints?
N: Oh, we’re both big fans of Print Club London – they have something for every taste and budget (and the team are lovely too!). I think Museum and Gallery shops have a great selection of art work, posters and postcards. We have some iconic prints from the Tate Modern, postcards from several Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions and I was pleasantly surprised to find a Hattie Stewart piece in Colchester’s art gallery, First Site.
J: I love everything from Telegramme – we have a couple in the kitchen. I’ve also got my eye on a couple of Concepcion Studios pieces but we’re trying not to buy any more art at the moment as we’ve still got pieces waiting to be hung.
If you could add one thing to your home, what would it be?
N: Oooh, this is a tough question. Can I add another room? I’d love my own office/studio space… with lots of storage for all of the creative projects that I start but take forever to finish. We’ve joked about getting a shed but Jack also wants a man cave.
J: I spend a lot of time in the kitchen (I love to cook) but currently it doesn’t really match the rest of the flat. It’s a bit dated, dark and doesn’t use the space to the full potential. I’ve been manifesting my dream kitchen for the future including white brick tiles, a central island and butchers block worktop. One day!
Sounds lovely! Finally, can you tell me your favourite small businesses that we all must absolutely go and look at right now…
J: I wish we had a record shop here in Colchester (have found some gems in our great charity shops though) but every time I go to Margate I buy vinyl from Transmission Records… if Tasha lets me.