Since she snapped up her Victorian terrace in Ilkley, Instagrammer Nicola Broughton – otherwise known as the Girl with the Green Sofa – has transformed it into a luxurious and individual home for her and her family on a budget. It’s Nicola’s clever way with DIY that brings this house to life – to her a daunting task like panelling a wall is as easy as nipping to B&Q and spending an afternoon in overalls.
A home this colourful and unique can only be packed with tips, and with Nicola’s DIY know-how and effortless style, we were keen to hear how she does it for ourselves.
The owners: Nicola Broughton, an investment director, her husband Sam, who runs a computer programming and games business, and their sons Jack, nine, and Alfie, six
The property: A six-bedroom Victorian terrace in Ilkley, Leeds
Project cost: £40,600
'The living room was the start of my Instagram journey,' Nicola says. 'I’d seen how other people were decorating with dark colours and decided our living room was too light – I wanted it to be cosy. One lunchtime, the rollers came out and I painted the walls.
'Our old Chesterfield sofa gave up the ghost when the kids bounced on it one time too many. I managed to persuade Sam that it was a good idea to buy a green velvet one.
'Most of the furniture is salvaged, and we kept the original fireplace, too. There’s a BoConcept chair in the window – it’s Jack’s football-watching chair and Alfie likes to curl up in it to watch his iPad or read.
'Looking around the walls gives you a sense of how I collect and style items. There’s a punching-in rack from a salvage yard, vintage letters, and art found through Instagram. I’ll also shop on Ebay, at vintage fairs, and buy from independent artists.'
'We knocked the dining room through into the kitchen early on and I painted everything in light colours. I thought we’d move on at some point so tried to create the house someone else would want. But then I realised we wouldn’t actually need a bigger property, and decided to decorate for me.
'The walls are Rivington Blue by Abigail Ahern. I wanted to try her first paint colours when she brought them out because I like her aesthetic. I chose Lucy Tiffney wallpaper for the fireplace wall. I love the pattern and texture. It was the perfect colour for that room, and I bought the picture frames and light fitting to complement it.'
'I really wanted to use emerald green somewhere in the house and our bedroom was looking a bit shabby, so I thought, “Now or never.” I tackled the panelling myself,
which was a completely new skill – I do all my own decorating. It’s a warm colour, and I contrasted it with pinks and yellows that sit quite nicely against it.'
More from Real Homes
From stunning readers' homes to extensions advice and decorating ideas, each issue of Real Homes magazine is packed with inspiration. Get the magazine delivered straight to your door every month with a subscription.
'The bedroom is somewhere we can completely switch off. We don’t have a TV in here, but I do have a chair. Sometimes, if we have playdates and there are 10 nine-year-olds downstairs, this is the room I come to for peace and quiet. It’s our escape room – a sanctuary.'
'The wallpaper in this bedroom is by Feathr. They started out by basing their work on art because it’s their belief that there’s not enough beautiful, unique wallpaper out there. It’s also a lovely flower print.
'I buy from a lot of smaller businesses. Quite a lot of them find me, but historically, they’ve been around as long as I have on Instagram, before it got so crowded. Someone posted about this wallpaper so I posted about it as well and that’s how they got in touch with me.
'We decided to remodel the top floor to get a bit more room out of the property. We knocked into the eaves in Jack’s room to make a cupboard, and did the same to Alfie’s room to open it up – there’s a sofa in that space now. We went from five to six bedrooms just by knocking into the eaves.
‘We sat down and planned Alfie's room together. I pulled together a moodboard and we decided on a travel theme. I asked Rebel Walls to create their World Map mural in a bespoke size that would fit into the eaves. The idea was to evoke travel through that and the air balloons. Now, he knows all his continents and a lot about countries.’
'We talked about vintage sports as a theme for Jack's room. I wanted to create something that would grow with him. We decided on this Brooklyn wall mural, based on an old factory wall with flaking paints and all sorts of textures. His bedding is a footballer’s body, so when he’s under the covers with his head on the pillow, he looks like a footballer heading a ball!'
'I scoured different places and found antique boxing gloves, an old tennis racket and a baseball glove. We painted the room black. Two of the walls are actually chalkboard paint. He does his maths homework on it, and when he’s in bed and one of us is doing bedtime, he might be unsure about a concept so we’ll sketch it out. When his mates come round, they draw silly faces and names all over it.'
- Wallpaper: Lucy Tiffney and Neisha Crosland
- Velvet sofa: Made.com
- Accessories: Rockett St George
- Furniture and rugs: Covet
More lovely real homes to browse:
- Real home: a bright home transformation with a Mid-century twist
- Real home: a Victorian house with a traditional twist
- Real home: a renovated and extended Scottish cottage
- Empty list