I turned my husband’s grey pad into a girly paradise on a budget – I get freebies from Facebook Marketplace & paint them

WITH pink walls, pastel blue velvet furniture and flowers in every room, Beam Irwin’s home is every little girl’s dream.

But when she moved in with husband Christian, 40, in April 2020, his three-bed pad in Middleton, near Manchester, was bare and grey.

Beam, 35, a prop stylist for photo shoots, moved from her home town of Manila, Philippines, after marrying Christian, who works in business management, in January 2020 and immediately set about transforming the semi-detached 1950s house.

Beam tells Fabulous: “I threw myself into decorating as I couldn’t do much during lockdown. This was mostly me going through Pinterest and looking at inspiration boards.

“My previous homes have all been a pastel paradise. The updates took a year and the place definitely has more character now. 

“It shows a lot of my personality. Ideally, I would like to say it shows my husband’s personality too, but the fact is it’s more me. 

“I feel very peaceful here. I wanted this home to be a sanctuary, where we would feel calm, safe and relaxed.”

Admitting their pink pad is too girly for Christian’s taste, Beam says: “At first, he would try to have a say with what I’m doing, now he lets me get on with it. 

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Even Beam's sofas were second-hand and given to her from her sister-in-lawCredit: Beam Irwin
Beam managed to convince Christian to let her have a pink fireplace, so long as he kept his giant TVCredit: Beam Irwin
The couple's bedroom was grey and dull before Beam got her fingers over itCredit: Beam Irwin
She used a pot of pink paint and cream paint left by the previous owners to create a stunning ombre feature wallCredit: Beam Irwin


“We’ve made some compromises though. For example in the living room, I won with the pink fireplace, but if you turn your head around to the other side, there’s a massive TV he wanted with a masculine sideboard.

“Some areas of my house don’t reach Instagram (Beam has 1,900 followers on her page A Place Together). It does have my husband’s touches.

“Before marrying Christian, I lived on my own and I did up that apartment in a similar style, but it was even more feminine. So believe it or not, I controlled myself with this one.”

The couple bought the house for £150,000 and Christian, who is also Filipino but grew up in the UK, moved in late 2019. Beam says: “When we first got the house, it was bare and neutral. 

“The previous owner liked a lot of grey. They had a taste which was very clean, neutral and simple, and the house appealed to me because it was a blank canvas. 

“I could envision my colours and how I wanted to decorate. The house also has really good bones, I didn’t see anything I had to pull apart. I knew I could just work my way through little cosmetic things.”

In a quest to save cash, Beam was determined not to make structural changes to the house and instead focussed on painting and sourcing furniture, including freebies and Facebook Marketplace bargains.

"Most of the house was done by me, although credit goes to my father-in-law for the shelves in the alcoves."

She spent £3,851 in total, including just £215 on her kitchen makeover, where Beam used sticky back plastic to transform the room from black and brown, to her signature pastel colours.

Beam says: “The kitchen was the first room I did, because it had this stark varnish I really couldn’t take. Every time I made my morning coffee, I felt like the first thing I saw after waking up was something I didn’t like.

“I spent whole days on that kitchen, from the moment my husband left for work until he’d get home in the evening. I set myself a routine of eight-hour days.

“Most of the house was done by me, although credit goes to my father-in-law for the shelves in the alcoves. For everything else, I went on YouTube and studied how to do it myself.”

To transform the kitchen, Beam painted the floor tiles in a geometric style, covering up the existing faux marble brown squares.

She says: “We were lucky because the kitchen is quite big. That was one of the reasons we bought the house, because my husband and I both love to cook. 

“But I realised there wasn’t enough cupboard space to put our things in and I had to think about our budget. 

“There was enough space to put cabinets on the walls but I wasn’t ready to spend that much yet. Since we’ve only just started living together, we thought ‘let’s save some money’.

“I found an Ikea trolley for £80 and transformed it into a kitchen island, painting it the same colour as the kitchen cupboards, which solved our problem. We had more storage and more countertop space too.

“I also bought adhesive vinyl stickers from B&Q for the counter top, because originally it was black granite, which wouldn’t go with the look I am after. 

“I’d already used adhesive vinyl in my last apartment and it worked fine, so I decided to do that again, save some money and maybe later on we can do something else with the kitchen.”

When it comes to money saving, Beam loves Facebook Marketplace, which she scours every day for bargains.

She says: “Our fireplace mantle was free from Facebook Marketplace, as was our dining table. 

“I don’t know why the table was free, it was in great condition. They were probably moving house and didn’t know what to do with it. All I had to do was add a table runner.

“The sofas in the living room are hand-me-downs from my sister-in-law, so we got those for free too. They’re white and I just accessorised with pastel pillows and throws.

“The chest of drawers in our bedroom cost £20 from Facebook Marketplace. I tend to look for white furniture I can paint and in this case, I changed the knobs too, adding sleek gold accented ones from Ikea.

“When I was decorating, we’d go to car boot sales and get things like vases and huge picture frames for £1, which I’d paint in my signature pastels so it would match the house perfectly.

“I also painted an ombre statement wall in the bedroom, using leftover pink paint from the living room and cream cans the previous owners left behind, because they loved their neutrals.

“It only cost me about £20 and really uplifted the room. We’re proof you don’t have to splurge to have a fantastic house.”

You can follow Beam on Instagram at instagram.com/aplacetogether/

Beam’s tips for doing your place up on a budget

  1. Find freebies: Rummage through your friends and family’s sheds, maybe they have furniture which can be upcycled.
  2. Pick a theme: Immerse yourself in Pinterest and inspiration boards before jumping into a project. A house should have some uniformity running through the rooms. Research your theme then stick to it with discipline, so every room feels like a cohesive space. It’s more relaxing that way, the themes aren’t clashing with each other.
  3. Get social: I’m on Facebook Marketplace every day. My tip for finding bargains is saving key words and allowing Facebook to alert you whenever a seller launches something. Then you’ll be the first to look and potentially score that bargain.
  4. Get creative: See the potential in everything and know you can always transform it yourself.
  5. Make small changes which look expensive: One of the things which made the biggest difference was changing the height of the curtains. Most curtain poles are just above the windows, but it’s such a quick change to just drill new holes at ceiling height. Floor to ceiling curtains make a room look so much more expensive.

For more home transformations, check out how this woman did up her house on her own, people say it looks like an entirely different home.

Plus, one woman transformed her house using bargains from B&Q, and even has a pink oven.

Meanwhile, we were quoted £800 for a chic corner seat, we made our own using free wood.

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