I started settling into my Chicago apartment five years ago and was very careful about how I decorated it. It was the first time I had lived on my own, after all, and I wanted it to be just right. After some serious mood-boarding and deliberation, my first purchase ended up being a vintage rocking chair. I was such a planner, the poor thing sat solo in my living room for a good month before I slowly began filling in the home around it. While it took much longer for it to all come together, I cherished this ability to go back and forth on all manner of decor decisions and to really plan out what I wanted my space to feel and look like.
Crafty mom Betina Bianculli, on the other hand, was in a different boat when she, her partner Joel and daughter Manuela moved into their Norwich, England home. They agreed to play host to Betina’s mother a mere three weeks after moving in. It seemed daunting, but the strict deadline lit a fire underneath the brood, and they quickly began prepping for what was sure to be a decorating sprint. The first step was coating many spots in the house in white paint. Fanatical color-lover Betina knew this clean slate would offer the perfect backdrop to any kind of furniture or statement piece that came her way, no matter the style. In fact, her strategy worked so well she even extended the shade to the bedrooms’ wood floors. Manuela’s flamenco dress and orange bunk bed stand out more than ever when displayed in such a clean setting, and Betina’s cacti-patterned bedding takes center stage thanks to the recessive floor color.
The most impressive improvements occurred in the kitchen and bathroom. Yes, believe it or not, they were overhauled in three weeks as well. What was once an outdated, avocado bathroom is now light and fresh thanks to its coat of colorless paint and accessories that pop. And by simply installing new IKEA cabinetry and yet another fresh coat of white, the kitchen glows like new. Each of these spaces were topped off by a final sweep of style: the addition of travel souvenirs, photography and mementos. They were put in place just in time for Betina’s mother’s arrival.
At the end of the hustle and bustle, she came and went, and the family had a grand time. With the scramble to kickstart it behind them, their home now plays host to making memories, laughter and all of the shenanigans a young family can get into. A portrait of Betina’s idol, Frida Kahlo, looks down from the mantel onto all the family does, grinning at the pretty life they’re building together and the strength and creativity Betina and Joel are passing onto Manuela. Enjoy! –Garrett
Photography by Betina Bianculli & Liam Bailey