MRS Hinch-esque muted grey walls and crushed grey velvet sofas are Tash McBrinn’s ‘worst nightmare’, she says.
‘It sounds like utter hell. When I heard Laurence Llewelyn Bowen say they reminded him of an ‘80s bank I smiled because he’s not wrong – they’re dull, drab and boring… the opposite of my house.’
Tash, 29, a council worker from Lancashire, owns what might be the UK’s brightest house – and during lockdown it has only got brighter with her making it her pandemic project to complete her final rooms in her ‘maximalist’ style.
But bizarrely she doesn’t even own the home – insteading renting it for £400 a month from a family friend who she swears isn’t fussed that she’s turned into something which would put many buyers off (and give others migraines).
‘He doesn’t mind,’ she says. ‘I always pay the rent on time and have been here for 12 years. He just says, ‘you do what you like.
‘But I do know my style isn’t to everyone’s taste.
‘My sister came round last week, saw my latest work – I’ve put duct tape all over the dining room floor in a cool pattern – and asked if I was off my head.’
Deciding in March 2020, when the first national lockdown was announced, to complete the final three rooms, paint the doors and do the kitchen floor of her three-bedroom, terraced house, Tash hasn’t failed in her endeavours.
And more than a year on she’s proud to show off her final efforts.
She finished her lockdown project despite being heavily pregnant throughout much of it – she’s now mum to Anthony, 13, and Franklyn, five months with quality control worker husband Chris, 34.
‘I painted the plain doors in an ‘80s’ theme with zigzags and colour blocks,’ she says. ‘They look like a bowling alley.
‘It took ages but didn’t cost much as, like with all my house, I used £1.50 tester pots from my local B&Q.
‘Before they were white which I hated and found really dull and boring.’
She’s also redone the landing, turning it from a neutral space into an eye-watering colour fest with ‘an ‘80s feel’.
Meanwhile her previously plain master bedroom’s wall has been decorated with a very colourful mural.
‘I decided on loads of paint drops,’ she says. ‘All done in different colours. I used tester pots so in total it cost about £20.
‘I’ve painted a massive wardrobe I got for free in teal.
‘I also painted Franklyn’s nursery although that is the room which is the most subtle – it is done in teal.
‘I’ve created my own characters like food with faces on the wall.
As well as painting after work and on weekends, Tash also raced to grab the brushes during her lunch break from her council worker job.
‘I get obsessed,’ she says. ‘Once I get going I can’t stop. Chris will leave the house and come back eight hours later and I will still be carefully painting.’
Chris doesn’t get a huge say in what she’s doing – but adds he doesn’t mind.
‘I’ll call him and say ‘what would you think if I painted the wall hot pink?’
‘He will laugh and say ‘you’ve already done it haven’t you’.
‘But later on he will say, ‘actually it looks really good.’’
And whereas Chris likes it, Anthony isn’t so convinced. ‘He thinks I am crackers,’ she says. ‘I haven’t done anything to his room, but I reckon I am close to convincing him to let me decorate it.’
Meanwhile friends and family aren’t all fans.
‘Oh I get lots of people calling me mad,’ she says. ‘People say, ‘this would give me a migraine’ and ‘what does it look like when you’re drunk?’
‘But I don’t even notice it anymore.’
One friend recently asked Chris if he knew of anyone who was good at decorating. He suggested me but his mate burst into giggles and admitted his wife was keen on an all-grey look so I might not be the best fit for the job.
Tash spends virtually no money on her home, insteading scouring for bargains on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, the skip, street and friends.
‘Every bit of furniture in the living room I got off eBay,’ she says. ‘The coffee table was a fiver and the sideboard was a tenner.
‘I raided a skip on the street and got a cable reel and turned it into a side table.
‘I got a nest of tables from a recycling plant and my neighbour got me a stepladder for free. I paint them and turn them into something special.
‘The only cost is time – and it does take a long time.’
But she says she is so happy there. ‘When I first moved in everything was so dull and white,’ she says.
‘Now, there are virtually no bare walls – just the way I like it.’
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