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An English Home Where White Paint Allows Colors to Pop

by Garrett Fleming

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 What was once an outdated, avocado bathroom is now light and fresh thanks to its coat of colorless paint and accessories that pop.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

An English Home Goes from White to Wonderfully Colorful, Design*Sponge
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The home's most distinctive piece of artwork is this stunner by Betina's friend Margarita Iribarren. It brings such "life and happiness to the room" and is the first example of the home's recurring theme of trailblazing women.
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Betina's Argentinian upbringing instilled in her a love for color and bringing the outdoors in. Her English home embodies that and more. When she began putting together the "eclectic, rustic and bohemian" abode, she was sure "to fill it with color, life and memories!"
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When Betina first laid eyes on this home, it got her heart racing. It was so sunny, full of potential and begged to be stripped down and restyled in her favorite looks: "the colors and textures of India, Morocco, Mexico and South America."
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The family's collection of vintage miniatures lives in an old typographer's tray above the fireplace. Frida, Betina's favorite artist and another female icon, is immortalized in the mantel's artwork.
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Each room in Betina and Joel's home features a simple, fresh white paint job. That way they are free to add in pops of color here and there when they see fit.
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Betina has brought the dining room's secondhand bench and chairs back to life through custom-made cushions and a rainbow paint job. The colorful hues were inspired by this collection of antique tea pots. She picked them up while traveling.
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Betina made the dining room's macrame wall hanging and often sits pots here to soak up this spot's stunning sunshine.
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Betina and Joel designed their daughter Manuela's room to be "a fun and colorful space where she is inspired to make and create and be happy!" To accomplish this, they've painted her bunk bed bright orange, created a rainbow garland to hang above it and used vintage fabric to make punchy curtains for underneath it.
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A Frida Kahlo doll and chalkboard wall add an artistic touch to Manuela's space.
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Manuela's flamenco dress hangs on her closet doors. I love the unexpected dash of color the floral knobs give the streamlined piece.
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When the family first moved into their English home, its bathroom was outfitted with avocado-colored everything. Betina chose to strip it down and paint it all white. She then jazzed it up by adding back in pops of bright-and-colorful IKEA accessories.
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The white painted floors in Betina's bedroom reflect light, filling the space with a sunshiny glow. Her bed is from The Futon Company, and her bedding is from Urban Outfitters.
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A low-profile bed needs a low-profile companion. Everything about the table Betina's paired with hers is truly one-of-a-kind. She made this little guy out of a piece of wood and an old camping stool's base. Even the pottery sitting on top of it is of her own creation.
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Betina installed John Lewis wallpaper to give this side of her bedroom a visual anchor. In front of it sits her collection of greenery. Her grandmother was a passionate plant-lover and instilled in Betina a similar adoration for planted pals. They both love their ability to enliven a space.
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Betina, Joel and Manuela's 1930s-era home is located in Norwich, England. The laid-back town sits two hours outside of London.

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