Thrifty single mum transforms RENTAL home with shoe-string budget by hunting for second-hand bargains

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A single mum-of-two has transformed her rented three-bedroom farm cottage into a modern multi-coloured masterpiece, using hand-painted murals and second-hand furniture.

Emma Parkes, 49, from Shropshire, who works in special needs education, moved into the drab property on the outskirts of a small village 16 months ago with her daughter Poppy, 18, and her son Ralph, eight.

Eager to make the place feel more like the vintage-style country home they’d dreamed of, Emma got to work stripping out the old carpets to reveal rustic floorboards, which she then painted white, with permission from the landlord.

Picking a “feminine and uplifting” colour palette to replace the magnolia throughout the home Emma injected pops of colour into every room – spending a total of £1,500 on the renovation.

Pictured: Emma’s mural in the bedroom

“When I first arrived, the cottage was all magnolia, but structurally sound,” Emma told Jam Press.

“I knew I wanted to inject colour with a boho style enjoying plenty of plants throughout the house.”

The first room Emma tackled was the lounge, where she spent £800 overhauling the furniture with “retro” secondhand buys and creating a feature wallpapered wall.

She said: “I first decorated the lounge with a colour palette of green, pink, soft pink and vivid pink.

“The walk-in fireplace also had exposed brick which I freshened up with some white paint and I created a feature wall with wallpaper gifted by Lust home.

“I removed the curtains and replaced them with a natural branch with plants hanging from it,  I’ve also created this in my bedroom.

“The windows are very pretty to look at plus the view is incredible, so I didn’t want to hide either of these with curtains.”

In the kitchen, Emma spent just £200 transforming it into a fresh and floral space using her creative skills to paint a bright pink and aquamarine mural across one of the walls.

Pictured: The kitchen after the make over

The mum said: “The kitchen was the first room where I painted one of my murals on the wall.

“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.”

Emma, who has done all of the work herself, began DIYing her home as a way to deal with the grief of suddenly losing her dad in 2020.

Documenting her home’s transformation on her Instagram account @tallulahcottage, which now has 10,900 followers, Emma has shared the work downstairs and is now moving onto the upstairs.

She said: “In my bedroom, I’ve removed the carpet and exposed the floorboards and painted them white.

“I have a reclaimed piece of wood above my bed which acts as a shelf and my main wall is painted Miami mint with a feature flower arrangement on it which gets a lot of love on Instagram.

Pictured: Emma Parkes with one of her murals

“The window is exposed with another branch hanging from the ceiling with plants and all the furniture is second hand.”

The room, which cost just £150 to create, also features an incredible floral themed hand-painted mural by Emma, that uses continues the colour scheme throughout the room.

Adding touches of bright colour and painting walls throughout cost a further £350, but Emma is not done yet.

Emma added: “My children bedrooms still need to be decorated.

“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.”

Outside the quaint cottage is surrounded by fields, with a large driveway and garden, that wraps around the cottage “giving sunshine all day”.

Story from Jam Press (Cottage Transformation) Pictured: The fireplace after the transformation

Emma said: “My outside space is very big and a wonderful canvas for some future plans.

“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.”

The mum credits her “creative thinking” for being able to carry out the renovation on such a small budget.

Emma said: “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.

“My style is definitely always evolving and I do love change, I’d describe my style as boho with a vintage twist.

Pictured: The bedroom after the make over

“I love to style flowers in with my interiors and this features a lot throughout my home, and my colour palette consists of uplifting feminine colours that are definitely good for the soul.”


Kitchen – £200 second-hand furniture and paint for the mural

Lounge – £800 second-hand furniture, paint. Wallpaper was gifted

Bedroom – £150 second-hand furniture and paint.

The final £350 was spent on additional paint, second-hand furniture, etc throughout the house

Total amount spent: £1,500