Mother-of-three transforms her home into a zebra-inspired paradise

Walk on the wild side! Mother transforms her home into a zebra-inspired paradise for under £4,000 after learning DIY skills and snapping up budget decor from Amazon and B&M

  • Emma McAllister, 35,  who lives in Tyne and Wear, is a mother of three boys
  • Paediatric nurse spent lockdown overhauling their home while shielding 
  • Learned DIY skills and bought cheap materials from TK Maxx, Amazon and B&M

A mother has revealed she was able to transform her home on a budget by learning DIY skills and snapping up budget supplies.

Emma McAllister, 35, who lives in Tyne and Wear, decided to transform her house into an amazing zebra-inspired paradise while shielding during lockdown. 

The paediatric nurse achieved her impressive home renovation for under £4,000 by learning DIY, using cheap materials such as vinyl tiles and MDF in addition to stocking up on affordable accessories from TK Maxx. 

The mother-of-three told about the process, saying: ‘I bought my house in August 2020, and in October I was diagnosed with MS and a rare spinal condition. 

Emma McAllister, 35, who lives in Tyne and Wear, has impressed DIY fans after sharing how she was able to transform her entire home into a zebra-inspired paradise for under £4,000. Pictured: The living room complete with colourful furniture and zebra print rug. She continued the print on the walls in pastel green and pink for contrast 

Emma said she decided to focus all of her energy on making her home bright and colourful while having to shield during lockdown. Pictured: The living room previously lacked character with beige paint and grey carpets 

Emma (pictured) had to shield during lockdown after being diagnosed with MS and a rare spinal condition, just months after buying her home in August 2020 

‘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.

‘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.

‘I love zebras and they also are a symbol of rare diseases, so I chose to add lots of zebra prints into my home.

‘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.

Emma, who loves zebras, splashed the print across the dining area along with pops of pink accessories and a print of Frida Kahlo to give the room a brighter feel (right) 

Emma said browsing online helped her to find affordable black and white items to continue the theme throughout the house, and the bedroom was given a modern look with the addition of an eye-catching feature wall and a calming monochrome theme 

Emma’s budget buys while renovating her house 

DIY fireplace £50

Living room accessories £2,000

Kitchen breakfast bar £40

Kids’ room wallpaper £50

Bath £500

Plumbing £600

Vinyl £10 per pack

Two chairs £80

Drinks Cabinet £30 

‘I did everything on a budget and my partner did all of the work such as the panelling and wallpapering.

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

‘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.

‘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.

‘We bought the sofa from Sofology and the table from Next. I then added wallpaper which was gifted to me by Lust, and the cushions and accessories which I 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.

‘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. 

‘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.

Emma spent £2,000 on the living room (pictured), including a lavish velvet sofa from Sofology, coordinating table from Next and chic black and white accessories from TK Maxx 

Emma replaced the classic wooden floor boards in the bathroom with artistic white and black tiles, in addition to decorating the once bleak space with plants and eye-catching drawers. Pictured left: bathroom before, right: bathroom now  

Having found a glamorous bath online for £600, Emma said the biggest challenge was finding a plumber to install it during the pandemic. Pictured: bathroom now

Having purchased accessories from Amazon and B&M to overhaul the house, Emma freshened up the exterior by painting the front door turquoise and swapping her black floor mat for zebra print . Pictured left: exterior before, right: now 

‘We bought MDF from B&Q and measured and cut the sizes we needed, and then primed and painted this.

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

‘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.

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

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

‘I then added a seating area with two chairs from Amazon for £80 for two and a drinks cabinet from B&M for £30.

Emma spent £1,500 decorating the bedroom – including zebra vinyl from Get Kooky, black and white rugs and accessories. Pictured: bedroom now 

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

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

Pleased with the finished results, Emma claims 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,’ Emma said.

‘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.

Emma who advises others not to be afraid of colour when decorating their home, gave her hallway an artistic look by swapping white doors for pink, and beige carpet for bold print tiles. Pictured left: Hallway before, right: now 

‘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!

‘I really enjoyed decorating my home and loved looking online at things to use such as the bath I chose.

‘I experimented with using colours such as pink and green and loved the colour combinations.

‘It actually wasn’t too hard to do for £4,000 if you research what you want 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.

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

Emma said the renovation wasn’t too difficult because she did research and claims it gave her something to look forward to during the pandemic. Pictured: The living room now, complete with a fake fireplace to complement the zebra-inspired space

‘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!’

Tom Church, co-founder of added: ‘Lockdown was an incredibly tough time for many families, with staying at home for months on end proving to be extremely challenging for most of us.

‘However, Emma has shown the amazing strength we have within ourselves, taking the time at home to turn her house into this colourful, unique and very on-trend space.

‘The house looks like it cost tens of thousands of pounds to pull off, so it’s amazing Emma managed to keep costs down thanks to some really savvy ideas and budget materials.

‘I’m sure this zebra house must be the envy of all her Instagram followers!’

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