How one Manchester artist created a modern festive rental home on a budget 

Get Living – operator of Salford’s New Maker Yards – invited local creative Grace Cooper to give a festive-themed makeover to an apartment with a £250 budget.

By Emma Davidson | 13 December 2022

Share this story

As Christmas approaches, laden in tacky tinsel and retro decor, it’s a good time to revisit the so-called traditions and look at alternative ways to transform your interiors in time for the festive season.

New Maker Yards is a collection of more than 800 homes for rent by Get Living located within Middlewood Locks, a new neighbourhood just a stone’s throw away from Spinningfields and in the heart of Salford’s independent community. 

Last month, the Get Living team invited Manchester artist Grace Cooper to update one of the apartments in her signature style and add a sprinkle of Christmas magic with a budget of £250.

How to find your design inspiration   

Local creative Grace specialises in bold abstract designs that are harmonised by carefully curated colour combinations, resulting in original and unique interior pieces. “Personally I’ve never been a fan of the traditional Christmas decor colours of red and green,” she said. 

“Anyone who knows me and my business knows I love pink, so of course that had to be part of my colour palette for this apartment. These days a lot of modern furnished apartments consist of colours like white and grey which can be quite difficult to work with, so I wanted to show people that it’s easy to give your apartment a simple cosy and homely feel.”

The Manchester-born artist draws inspiration from nature and her day-to-day surroundings. Always citing Manchester as a big inspiration for her career, Grace was once a regular at the likes of GRUB and Ancoats pop-up, both of which led her to dive into larger scale projects such as this. 

“With Manchester it’s definitely the people and the other creatives. I’ve had constant support from the Manchester creative community, local friends and people that found me online or visited my pop ups, you’ve got to love Mancs,” she said.

From colour palettes to her unique designs, she also finds ideas in abstract art and architecture, which she has carried over into her work with New Maker Yards. 

For this design challenge, Grace approached local, independent businesses to formulate her final project. Flourish has always been a go-to for the artist for affordable plants, so she decorated the apartment with the plants and pots to add the final homely finishing touches. 

She also added a new rug, cushions, a throw, fairy lights, glassware, Christmas decorations and her own prints to reinvent the space into a cosy winter haven. 

With Get Living you get more than a home

Get Living’s apartments at New Maker Yards already come fully-furnished with three interior styles to choose from, while giving renters the freedom to add their own personality through soft furnishings, accessories and wall art. 

Outside the apartment walls, there’s a vibrant, growing neighbourhood located on the canal basin on the old Salford-Manchester border. Get Living manages more than 800 homes for rent within the community with a selection of one to three bedroom homes still available.  

New Maker Yards has a dedicated on-site team, should you need them, and residents have access to both a Club Room and ‘The Lock’, a new, exclusive co-working space completed with a 92Degrees coffee shop

Get Living offers pet-friendly and pet-free buildings. WiFi is included in the rent and is conveniently set-up for when you move-in. Plus, there’s a whole programme of events and community clubs to get involved with.

Grace’s top tips for (re)styling your rental

Giving tips to anyone looking to redesign their own homes on a budget, Grace said: “Creating a board on Pinterest helped me keep everything in one place and made it easier to choose which products went with the style I had in mind. 

“Try buying second hand, look in charity shops, try pre-loved selling platforms like Depop, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace and look to repurpose items that you would ordinarily chuck out. 

“The majority of furnishings in my apartment are second hand as we are lucky enough to have loads of charity shops near us. It is also quite fun and therapeutic to spend time just musing through different charity shops and you can find some absolute gems.”

Explore the homes at New Maker Yards and support local, home-made homewares and gifts by checking out Grace’s Etsy page


The full list of items Grace added to the apartment are as follows:

Plants and pots £30

Elements sigge rug £99
Old gold elements cushion £10
Zig zag natural cushion £14

Sostrene Grene
Frame A4 £6.84
Tealights and holders £6.88
Christmas tree decor assortment £17.98
Gold candle stick holder £9.24
Fabric placemats x 2 £6.46
Candle sticks pink x 4 £1.60
Wineglasses with Gold rim x 2 £7.56
LED Houses £7.47
Small pink rug £5.70

Soft throw £6.00
Fairy lights £2.00

TOTAL: £249.55
Grace’s own items were gifted as part of the project:
Cushion – prices start from £16 depending on size
Throw – bespoke item to be released in 2023, priced on size