First time buyers transform flat with bold colour and oodles of personality



Bedroom woith colourful leaf print wallpaper behind bed
Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson

Renovating her first home gave stylist Gemma Gear the opportunity to properly explore her style and to create an eclectic look that’s filled with fun and colour.

‘This Victorian terrace was about the twentieth property my partner and I looked at it’ says Gemma.  ‘The interior hadn’t been touched since the 70s, with yellow laminate flooring downstairs, artex ceilings and magnolia walls.’

‘However, we loved the original wooden doors, original wooden flooring upstairs and the two gorgeous fireplaces. I knew that all it needed was some TLC and an injection of colour – along with a total kitchen and bathroom revamp!’ Seeing the potential they went for the real home with a view to transform it.

Sitting room

First time buyer flat cobalt blue sofa, giant yellow floorlight, vintage accessories

Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson Photography

‘Friends often ask me how I choose the colours in our house – honestly, I just go for it! Sometimes I start with a statement piece, like the cobalt blue sofa in our living room, and work from there using the colour wheel’ she says explaining the vibrant living room colour scheme.

‘I chose a bright contrasting yellow for the standing lamp and rug, and those pieces prompted the entire palette. Then, I tried clashing different colours for everything else until I settled on this design.’

Flat with colourful accessories, cobalt blue walls

Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson Photography

‘Choosing accessories was really helpful in finding my style because they’re easy to experiment with. I tried out cushions, throws and vases in various patterns and colours, kept the ones that worked and repurposed or returned the rest. I love the joy colour brings. It lifts your mood and you can’t help but feel happy in the space.’

The creative living room paint ideas help to make the vibrant colours even more impactful.

Dining room

First time buyer flat, colour, vintage dining

Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson Photography

‘I think art is so important when it comes to my sense of design. A statement piece can inspire the look for an entire room – the Andy Warhol print in the dining room certainly did. We lifted pinks and oranges from it, and chose furniture with those colours in mind.’

‘All our art has meaning, whether it’s the Frida Kahlo in our bedroom, or the pizza slogan print in the kitchen, which is a bit of fun. Throughout the house we’ve mixed punchy statement pieces that stand alone with funky gallery walls to avoid everything being overly matchy.’

Gallery wall and vinyl storage

Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson Photography

‘I’ve always been very hands on when it comes to DIY. In the dining room I’ve created a non-traditional gallery wall with music decks beneath, that feels fun and spontaneous. We did all the sanding and painting ourselves when we first moved in, to keep costs down.’

However, having the house to work on during lockdown was a lifesaver. I channelled all my energy into my DIY blog (, as I had so much time at home because my line of work completely shut down for five months over the summer.


Small galley kitchen, white units, black and white geometric tile floor

Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson Photography

The small galley kitchen idea was the last major project. ‘It’s only 6 metres squared so we opted for hidden drawers, a pull-out spice rack and a compact dishwasher to save space. We even managed to squeeze in a wine cooler! I wanted to maximise storage and utility, without compromising on style.’

‘We worked with Benchmarx who offer a complete design service, which made all the difference. They thought of things we wouldn’t have dreamt of until it’s all in and it’s too late. The bright orange tap is a focal point and it inspired the palette for the whole room’ Gemma reveals.

‘I made a mood board, played around with colours, then eventually settled on pairing the orange with aqua for a scheme that feels fresh and fun. I even found a Gluggle jug to match!


Bedroom with colourful zig-zag wallpaper, yellow bedding, picture shelf

Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson Photography

‘I think headboards can feel a little dated and you can do so much more with the wall if you ditch it’ says Gemma. Who goes on to explain the bold bedroom wallpaper idea, ‘ This gorgeous leafy wallpaper from Scion Living makes our bedroom feel vibrant.’

Bedroom with vintage furniture, cane 1970s chair, white painted fireplace

Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson Photography

‘Black accents sharpen the décor throughout the house and I love the contrast of black against the white walls and all my colourful patterns. I love the portrait of Frida Kahlo: she’s one of my inspirations. I’ve paid homage to her style by decorating with plenty of colour and greenery.’


Shower over bath with monochrome tiles wall

Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson Photography

The colour palette takes a more monochrome scheme in the bathroom, with hints of lime green accessories and of course the lush green from the bathroom plant ideas.


Small garden with outdoor furniture, rug and dog kennel

Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson Photography

‘When it was all getting serious last year, we decided to order fence panels, AstroTurf, masonry paint, festoon lights – everything we might need to transform the garden. We got stuck in and spent the first two months in the sun every day making it into a really lovely space.’

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