Inspiring interiors: a unique designer look on a budget

Money was tight when this couple bought their new home. So, they got out the sledgehammers, scoured junk shops and created a home that blends a variety of styles.

Shabby chic may have defined the Noughties, but the pared-down Scandi style that followed was made to suit the recession. Today, this is already being replaced by a fascination for all things mid-century and modern. Shani Beadle’s style is a strangely effective blend of all three.

Her Walthamstow house is filled with a mix of favourite pieces collected since she and her husband, Andreas, bought their first home in London more than a decade ago. But the unifying factor — linking everything from the painted industrial closet in the bedroom to the handmade origami streamers in the living room — is that Beadle buys on a budget.


Shani and Atlee Beadle: Shani has blended mid-century and modern to create a fresh interior and exterior style for the family home

Take, for example, the lovely chest of drawers in her bedroom. The piece, with more than a dozen drawers of different shapes and sizes, looks like it cost a fortune but in fact it came virtually free. A friend who is a set designer built the carcass and Beadle tracked down  suitably vintage drawers — think Forties library index card holders and bureau drawers, as well as some that are homemade from offcuts of metal and timber. Part of the reason for this thrifty, creative furnishing is that when Beadle and her husband, now both 40, bought their three-bedroom house three years ago, money was tight. 

The couple had been living in a one-bedroom flat in Leyton, but after the birth of their daughter, four-year-old Atlee — named in memory of the photographer Simon Atlee, a close friend, who died in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami — they needed more space. They made a profit of about £60,000 when they sold the flat for £200,000, but affording their £305,000 house was still a stretch. Their new home needed renovating but despite having little spare cash, the couple took on much of the building work themselves, tearing down all the ground-floor walls to turn three small rooms into one large living room/kitchen. Professionals were called in, however, to add steels to the building to stop it collapsing.


The home was renovated on a limited budget, with the couple taking on much of the work themselves
A run of glass doors was installed leading out to the garden, and a new kitchen was put in, with white tiles and stainless steel surfaces. The couple painted the floorboards black, clad the walls in tongue-and-groove which they painted in Farrow & Ball’s Cornforth White, and stripped the render of the brick fireplace. The project — including redecoration throughout — cost about £30,000, and thanks to Waltham Forest’s stellar price rises over the last year or two, the house is now worth between £500,000 and £600,000. “We couldn’t afford to buy it now,” says Beadle, whose interior design and textiles company, Étoile Home ( featured at this year’s Clerkenwell Design Festival.

To keep costs down, the staircase and upstairs walls and floors were painted white — a pure, simple backdrop for  displaying Beadle’s antiques collection from fairs, junk shops and auctions. “I am not a purist,” she explains.  “I have done shabby chic and I like mid-century a lot, so I mix everything up.”

The mid-century wooden desk in the living room was sourced at Spitalfields  Market, while the modern prints on the wall behind it were bought at the E17 Art Trail and teamed with an old oil painting from the Ardingly Antiques and Collectors Fair in West Sussex, along with a couple of plates from Caravan vintage store in Hackney.

The origami bunting threaded on string was made by Beadle and a friend, and though the pine dining table came from Ikea, it has been stained and has acquired a patina, thanks to “a million dinner parties and craft sessions”. It is paired with Fifties wood-and-vinyl Ben chairs bought from a junk shop for about £30. You could try eBay for something similar. 


The kitchen features white tiles and stainless steel surfaces, while school locker-style cupboards provide a unique storage option.

School locker-style cupboards provide brilliant storage in the living area, while the leather club chairs were a purchase from Les Couilles du Chien in Golborne Road, west London.

The bench in the hall, painted egg-yolk yellow, was another Ardingly find, as was the turquoise-painted metal cabinet which doubles as a wardrobe in the master bedroom.  Ardingly is also great for French antiques, although for fans of Danish design, Beadle says the regular sales at Newark in Nottinghamshire, staged by the same company, are well worth  a visit, as is a more local venue,  Blackduke & Cashman in Walthamstow Village, where she  picked up mid-century ceramics and glassware. 


Eye catching storage: Clever stair space and an egg-yolk yellow hall bench; the look in Shani Beadle's home is shabby chic meets pared-down Scandi.

Other cheap-chic touches include the roughly painted white louvre doors fixed behind the bed to add wall  texture.

The house remains a work in progress. Beadle and her husband, who works with autistic children in the borough, ensured that the steels they had installed when they knocked the ground floor through would be strong enough to support a loft extension, which is on the agenda.

Treasure hunter’s diary

  • The E17 Art Trail is an annual event which runs during the first two weeks of June. Visit Art trails are a brilliant way to meet local makers and pick up work at a fraction of the price you would pay at galleries. Art Trail Wanstead, for example, is scheduled for September 6-21. Alternatively, view and purchase work  by graduating students from the Royal College of Art at the college’s annual graduate shows in Kensington and Battersea throughout June.  Visit
  • Les Couilles du Chien, for unusual antiques and decorative pieces, is in Golborne Road, Notting Hill, W11. There are stalls on Saturdays, and it’s less tourist-heavy than adjacent Portobello Road (
  • For offbeat interiors try Caravan in Hackney, which is open by appointment only (
  • Shani Beadle recommends Blackduke & Cashman in increasingly trendy Walthamstow Village as a mid-century hunting ground (
  • Old Spitalfields antiques market is held on Thursdays. Be there by 8am to get the pick of the bargains.
  • Ardingly International Antiques and Collectors Fair, West Sussex, has 1,700 dealers. See for details. The same organisers hold events at Newbury in Berkshire, Shepton Mallet in Somerset, and Newark, Notts.

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