lifestyle

DIY mum completes incredible zebra themed house transformation for under £4,000


Zebras are a symbol for rare diseases – which is close to Emma’s heart (Picture: Emma McAllister)

Neutral décor is a safe option – but it can also be incredibly dull.

One woman has fought back against the bombardment of beige by creating a stunning transformation in her home based on patterns and pops of colour.

Emma McAllister, 35, spent lockdown shielding and decided to spend the time at home turning her house into an amazing zebra-inspired paradise.

She managed to renovate her entire home for less than £4,000 by learning DIY tricks, using cheap materials such as vinyl tiles and MDF, and stocking up on affordable accessories from TK Maxx.

‘I bought my house in August 2020, and in October I was diagnosed with MS and a rare spinal condition,’ says Emma, who lives in Tyne and Wear.

‘Because of this I then had to stay at home and shield from work. I am a paediatric nurse and work in an A&E department. 

Boring and beige (Picture: Emma McAllister)
An interesting living space (Picture: Emma McAllister)

‘So, because I had months and months of staying at home, I decided to focus all my time and energy on decorating my home as bright and colourful and happy as I could.’

The 35-year-old is a big fan of zebras, and they also hold an additional special meaning for her.

‘I love zebras and they also are a symbol of rare diseases so I chose to add lots of zebra prints into my home,’ Emma tells community LatestDeals.co.uk.

‘I created an Instagram page called @zebra.homeinspo and met lots of amazing people with amazing homes which also inspired me. 

‘I ordered lots of things online and sourced the best prices for things and got to work decorating. 

‘I have three boys who also loved helping me paint and pick out things they wanted for their rooms.’ 

Not much to look at (Picture: Emma McAllister)
The vibrant master bedroom (Picture: Emma McAllister)

Emma did everything on a budget and roped her partner in to do the panelling and wallpapering, which saved them some cash.

‘I found my bath online which was a lot cheaper than most places and then a plumber did the plumbing work,’ she adds.

‘I started with the internal doors. I wanted something different so I decided to go with pink doors. I used Farrow and Ball Sulking Room Pink. 

‘I then decorated the living room. I added panelling and moulding to the walls, which was just cheap wood from B&Q which I nailed and glued to the wall and painted with Valspar black paint. 

The new entrance hall is really striking (Picture: Emma McAllister)
A mix of paint and wallpaper adds lots of character (Picture: Emma McAllister)
Emma had fun with pops of colour (Picture: Emma McAllister)

‘I also wanted a fake fireplace wall in here – a family friend built this for me so the cost was free and we paid another family friend £50 to plaster it.’ 

Emma bought her sofa from Sofology and her table from Next. Then she added wallpaper which was gifted from Lust, and the cushions and accessories which she got cheap from TK Maxx. 

‘The total cost of the living room was about £2,000 but that was because of the sofa and table,’ she explains.

‘For the kitchen, I added the breakfast bar so my children could sit here – this was £40 and then I decorated it with polka dots and paint. 

The new front door is bright and bold (Picture: Emma McAllister)

‘My kids’ rooms I wallpapered again, and added black and white accessories which cost £50.

‘For my bedroom, we added panelling all along the back wall as it is a long room so needed a feature.’ 

To make the panelling, the couple bought MDF from B&Q and measured and cut the sizes they needed, then they primed and painted them. 

‘I wanted a bath in the alcove, so I searched the internet and found a black and white freestanding roll top bath for £500,’ she says.

‘A friend of the family then came and built a frame which the bath would sit on and the plumbing would go into and be hidden. 

The bath in the bedroom is Emma’s pride and joy (Picture: Emma McAllister)
Zebra print everywhere (Picture: Emma McAllister)

‘This was free of charge: the plumber then cost £600. 

‘I bought vinyl tiles from Amazon for £10 a pack to cover the frame.’ 

Emma added a seating area with two chairs from Amazon which cost her £80, and a drinks cabinet from B&M which cost £30. 

‘I decorated my drawer with zebra vinyl from Get Kooky and added rugs and accessories. Overall, the bedroom cost £1,500,’ she says.

‘The whole house cost £4,000 to renovate, including the big pieces of furniture we bought.’

Emma is really happy with how her colourful renovation turned out, and says the project was a lifesaver during the pandemic. 

‘I absolutely love my bright coloured home and wouldn’t change a thing, although I’m always changing a few things here and there because I love to paint and decorate,’ she adds. 

Emma is mum to three boys (Picture: Emma McAllister)
Even the bathroom got the zebra treatment (Picture: Emma McAllister)

‘The biggest challenge was the bath – because of the pandemic it was so hard to get a plumber so this took months of people cancelling and trying to find a new one.

‘My main tip I would say is don’t be afraid of colour – it’s only paint and you can always go back to white.’

Emma says the renovation process wasn’t too hard to do for £4,000, if you’re willing to do your research and do the work yourself.

‘For example, I would say to search loads of different places for similar things that cost less – we used vinyl tiles as we couldn’t afford real ones but we love them just as much,’ she says. 

‘I would highly recommend a project like this as I loved seeing the rooms change. 

‘It saved me during the pandemic as I think it gave me something to do and look forward to, and the colours brought happiness into my home.’

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