When Emma Peleshok took a selfie from the passenger seat of her friend’s car back in 2015, she never expected she’d be moving into the house captured in the background exactly a year later. Emma needed a smaller place having separated from her husband; their large four-bedroom family home in York was too big for her to maintain alone. ‘I thought I’d have difficulty finding something. I hadn’t planned on moving and it wasn’t under the best circumstances,’ she says.
The owners Emma Peleshok, a programme manager for the Food Standards Agency, her husband, Scott, a builder, their daughters, Dionne, and Gracie, and Westie Roxy.
The property A three-bedroom Victorian mid-terraced house in Haxby, York.
Project cost £30,000.
When she saw a ‘for sale’ board being erected outside a house on her favourite Victorian terrace, she rang the agent straight away. ‘I tagged along as they were about to take the pictures,’ she says. ‘The agent said it was a shame I probably wouldn’t get it because my home wasn’t on the market yet, but luckily they found me a buyer who viewed it the next day and offered the asking price straight away.’
Within four weeks, Emma had the keys to her new home. ‘It was a difficult time in my life but it seemed like all the stars were aligned,’ she says. ‘The house had everything on my tick list – high ceilings, period fireplaces and spacious rooms. All the ceiling roses and coving had been restored. It had both a courtyard and garden at the rear, as well as a lovely forecourt where I could add iron railings.’
The house only had two bedrooms, which brought the price within budget, but Emma knew she could call on Scott to convert the good-sized loft into a bedroom for one of their daughters. A utility room and space for her baby grand piano were the icing on the cake. ‘Apart from the loft, I remember thinking I won’t have to do anything to the house,’ Emma says. ‘But of course I’ve ended up making tweaks in every room.'
Most were simple repainting jobs, such as banishing the cold blue in the bathroom, refreshing the colours in Gracie’s bedroom and adding more storage. Creating a coherent feel throughout hasn’t always been easy, though. ‘The kitchen-diner is open plan and it’s been a challenge to get a consistent feel and achieve something that flows,’ she says.
Keeping the existing units but painting the walls white with a contrasting dark feature wall and exposed brick alcove has made a huge difference. ‘It previously had more of a country style with duck-egg blue walls and floral wallpaper, so I just wanted to make it a bit more modern and funky,’ Emma adds.
The last room to be finished, and Emma’s least favourite, was the master bedroom. ‘The furniture was in the wrong place and the green and yellow wallpaper just wasn’t me,’ she explains. ‘I’d always wanted nicely organised wardrobes, but they can look clunky. I opted for streamlined mirrored doors across the alcoves and chimney breast. I didn’t feel I was losing too much space and the mirror opens the room up.’
Having bought her first home at 18 and moved 12 times since then, Emma’s learned a lot over the years. ‘I’d say never skimp on sofas and beds, but for everything else, try to revamp what you’ve already got – whether that’s painting furniture or dyeing old cushion covers in the washing machine,’ she says. ‘I always try to reuse pieces where possible, like the cast-iron fireplace that was moved from the master bedroom into the living room when I had the wardrobes fitted.’
Throughout the project, Emma and Scott stayed friends and are now back together. ‘He moved in about 18 months after I bought the house,’ says Emma. ‘But I definitely enjoyed having free rein with the décor while he was away. It’s lucky Scott doesn’t really have a big say in it – his taste tends to involve wooden giraffes and safari stuff.’
Looking back, Emma can see that her style has changed, even in the last two years. ‘When I look at pictures of my old house, which was more minimal, I don’t like it anymore,’ she admits. ‘I’m always redoing rooms but the consistent things seem to be light walls and the odd quirky statement piece, like a giant clock or neon light. I also love to mix artwork from small independents such as LFL print house and illustrator Amy Beager with bargains from H&M and HomeSense.’
As a self-confessed ‘transient decorator’, Emma always has a project on the go. Now, she’s gearing up to refresh the kitchen and landscape the garden. ‘I have a strong attachment to this house as I bought it on my own,’ she says. ‘It’s taken me 12 houses to get here so I’ve definitely got no plans to move any time soon.’