We all have wildly different tastes, but the most interesting thing about how we decorate our homes is the way we tailor it to our space. For JT and Max, their new-build house was the perfect opportunity for JT to flex his creative muscles and embrace Scandi style. At Christmas, their warm yet minimalist space is full of fairy lights, candles and artfully placed paper decorations.
The owners: JT Collings, a biomedical sciences student, and his partner Cosmo Max (known as Max), a law student, live here with their dog Rocco
The property: A two-bedroom new-build terrace in Northallerton, Yorkshire
Project cost: £9,500
‘My love of Scandi style started in this house,' says JT. 'It was totally empty when we moved in and the walls were painted white. I was desperate to change them until I saw how much the paint reflected the light and made the place feel brighter. After that, I started exploring the style a bit more, focusing on monochrome and soft greys. Decorating has definitely been a learning curve in terms of finding out what I like. Max leaves most of the décor to me – everything is very functional, minimal and easy to keep on top of.'
‘The process of doing up our home has actually been quite enjoyable,' comments Max. 'Though it’s been stressful at times. You want to get it right – you have a vision in mind and after all the fuss, it should be a relaxing space. I put across my thoughts and we talk through our ideas before we embark on things, but JT’s very passionate about what he wants and he definitely takes the helm. At the end of the day, you both want it to work and you do come to a compromise.'
More from Real Homes
From stunning readers' homes to extension 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.
‘We’re pretty unified when we work together,' says JT. 'I’m very stubborn but Max is very agreeable, so we get on quite well. We both have jobs that we hate. I don’t like painting because it doesn’t come together quickly enough, and Max hates flatpack furniture. That’s because when we were moving in, he tried to carry a huge wardrobe over from his old place, dropped it and took a massive chunk out of the bottom, and took a chunk out of the ceiling when we were assembling it, too. It was a bit of a nightmare.'
Max continues, ‘When JT wants something done he wants it done there and then. One time we wanted to lay down flagstones in the back garden, however, my dad, who’s a builder, couldn’t come down for a week. I ended up trying to dig everything up and put them down, but I didn’t have a shovel, so I was using my hands to put in the cement. I remember thinking to myself, “What am I doing?” I was literally elbows deep in the stuff.'
‘Max probably gets frustrated with me just as much as I do with him,' says JT. 'I wanted to change the office around one day, so I rang him at work and said, “I’ve got this really good idea.” He told me to wait until tomorrow so we could talk about it, but I did it straight away. He came home and the entire desk was ripped apart.'
‘I’m quite critical,' says Max. 'Whenever JT says “I’ve got a good idea” I’m always hesitant. But he’s really passionate about what he does and 95 per cent of the time he’s right. He’s created a space that’s chilled out and not too busy. Since we’re juggling being students and working at the same time, it suits our lives perfectly.’
‘We love throwing parties in our space – whenever we do, everyone seems to gravitate towards the kitchen, which is my favourite space because it’s so light and airy,' says JT. 'We’ve had around 40 people in there in the past, even though there’s a sitting room next door!'
'Christmas is my favourite time of the year,' says Max. 'When I was younger, our house was full of over-the-top tackiness – streamers, angel hair on the trees, the lot – and I’ll always associate it with that kind of gaudiness, but our tastes are a bit more minimal now. It’s all about making the house cosy. I love cold nights wrapped up in a blanket with hot chocolate or mulled wine, or gin, watching Christmas films.'
JT concludes, ‘Christmas is all about hunkering down and doing the wintry things that everyone loves. We always have a Christmas film night where we’ll switch on the tree lights and cosy up. Our living room is the perfect space to relax like that on a dark winter night.’