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One of the upsides to being stuck indoors for months during lockdown? Many of us realised that with a little bit of work – and often only a little bit of money – we could turn our homes into something much closer to our dream. Here, twelve DIY-loving homeowners share the lockdown revamps, upcycles, DIY projects and renovations they completed during lockdown, which not only added value to their properties, but made them positively happy places to hang out, too…

A revamp saved me from replacing my kitchen.


Jodie Pinney, 39, Orford Suffolk

“I’d been planning to rip out our old kitchen and start again; but when lockdown happened, I decided to revamp it as a temporary measure. I changed the worktops, oven, sink and tap; tiled a splashback; made wooden plank shelves; painted the existing cupboards and swapped the handles. Now it’s lighter and brighter – like having a completely new kitchen – in fact, I no longer want or need to renovate. It cost £7,000 in total, but it’s saved me tens of thousands!”
@thedunnsorford Link opens in a new window

Project cost: £7,000

Our ombre stairs kept us sane.


Zoe Pearson, 38 and Neil Pearson, 38, London

“Lockdown was stressful as our daughter was just nine months old. It sounds funny, but to relax, we jazzed up our stairs using an ombre paint effect. We mixed different amounts of pink and white paint in jam jars, experimenting until we had the shades we wanted; lighter tones at the top and darker at the bottom. Painting took place during our daughter’s naps, and the stairs were in use throughout – it was tricky remembering which were wet! Now they make me smile every time I use them.”
@ohhihome Link opens in a new window

Project cost: £30

Garden furniture is expensive – so we made our own.


Jennifer Rothbury, 36, and Miles Rothbury, 36, Manchester

“We wanted to give our garden a makeover but couldn’t justify buying expensive new outdoor furniture. So, we made our own sofa with wooden pallets begged from local builders. We used four for the seats; two for the back rests; and then cut two more in half to make the side section. They were sanded, painted and fixed together with brackets, then topped off with cushions bought on eBay. It was well worth the effort – similar L-shaped sofas can cost £1,000, and we used it non-stop over summer.”
@crack_the_shutters Link opens in a new window

Project cost: £174

We turned our landing into an office.


Marianna Popejoy, 40 and Ross Popejoy, 42, London

“We’d planned to build a linen cupboard at the top of our landing, but during lockdown we panicked there was nowhere quiet to work from home. Then I had an idea – I pushed two old bedside tables onto the landing, put some leftover decking wood on top and added a dining room chair. Instant office! We later added shelves to store our laptop and reference books. Creating our own desk means it fits the space perfectly and working from home is easier – and comfier – as a result.”
@the_wooden_hill Link opens in a new window

Project cost: Free

We got designer style for under £100.


Laura Suter, 33, London

“While decorating our bedroom during lockdown, we wanted to do something interesting on the wall opposite the fireplace, to balance the space. So, we created panelling with a geometric twist. Summoning our GCSE maths skills, we worked out a pattern, then cut lengths of pine stripwood using a mitre saw. After sticking up the pieces with No More Nails, we filled, sanded, primed and painted it the same colour as the wall. The results look really professional – we love it.”
@anothervictorianreno Link opens in a new window

Project cost: £90

Upcycling saved me over £750.


Bethan Juliff, 37 and Patrick Burke, London

“Looking for a bed for my daughter Evan’s third birthday, I spotted one for £100 on Facebook Marketplace that came with three cabinets – the whole set originally cost £950 new! I painted the ugly brown wood, added rattan to the cabinet fronts (£30 from Amazon); then swapped the stubby legs for ones from a chair found in the street. I’ve gone from hating the cabinets to loving them, and Evan adores her special bed. We’re even planning to add a house-shaped frame on top. When money’s tight, upcycling is the way to go.”

Project cost: £190

My daughter loves her mini mud kitchen.


Carly Stevens, 37, and Lee Stevens, 39, Bedfordshire

“Based on similar kids’ mud kitchens he’d seen online - with price tags of £100 - Lee made one for our daughter, Daisy, using leftover timber from a garden project. He screwed together a simple frame, fixed a shelf at the bottom, cut a hole for a bowl sink and added hooks for her utensils. We also made a chalkboard and Daisy helped us paint it yellow, her favourite colour. She’s not stopped playing with it since!”
@carlyjstevens Link opens in a new window

Project cost: £20

We made our neighbour’s ugly extension disappear!


Kate Sandhu, 35, London

“Our neighbours have an unsightly extension with windows facing into our garden. While spending time outside during lockdown, we came up with a plan to cover it up with a living wall. Real plants are expensive – and we didn’t want bits dying or falling off – so we put up a trellis and screwed mats of artificial plants (from Blooming Artificial) to it instead. The space has transformed from an eyesore into our own little sanctuary, and I’m sure it’s added value to our house too.”
@thehouseonhollydale Link opens in a new window

Project cost: £500

Scaffold shelves transformed my patio.


Lisa Dawson, 49, York

“Our courtyard isn’t easy to decorate, as it’s surrounded by walls on all sides. At the beginning of lockdown, I gave it a facelift, clearing winter debris, jet-washing the patio and adding festoon lights – but one side was bare. Then our builder suggested a plant shelving wall. He used scaffold planks from a builder’s yard and heavy-duty brackets from Amazon, adding wooden struts between each shelf. He also made a bench, which we later tiled. What was once a fairly boring space has become a really sociable outdoor room.”
@_lisa_dawson_ Link opens in a new window

Project cost: £160

My sunny space makes me smile!


Hanna Buck, 37, Colchester, Essex

“The little office space by our front door was dingy and the window needed replacing, but we didn’t have the budget. So, I used a bright colour to make the nook more of a feature. Just painting the window yellow made me feel better, but then I included the walls around it too, to make the whole space pop! I hung pictures and postcards and added plants as a finishing touch. Rather than being a dumping ground for paperwork, it’s now a bright, cheery, lovely space to spend time in.”
@hannabuck Link opens in a new window

Project cost: £27

It’s an allotment by day, cinema by night.


Su Lawrence, 50, and Pete Lawrence, 53, Brighton

“We’ve always wanted our own vegetable plot, but our garden was overgrown, so we hired a rotavator to clear it. Builders had quoted £1,300 for a fence, yet we managed it ourselves for just £300, before adding decking and shingle paths, making raised beds with sleepers and planting everything from tomatoes to courgettes. I then pinned up a sheet and added lanterns and blankets to create an outdoor cinema with a little projector. We saved thousands compared to using professionals and got to know our neighbours better in the process. Now, I love tending my plants and watching box sets under the stars.”
@suzy._lawrence Link opens in a new window

Project cost: £2,100

From spare corner to Zoom room.


Jenny Wood, 43, from London

“When my husband first started working from home, embarrassingly, he had to conduct Zoom calls sitting on the spare room bed. So, after measuring up, we made a pocket-size workspace in an unused corner. We ordered a small desk from Ikea, then ‘shopped’ our home for a rug, chair and accessories we already owned. It looks great, has turned a boring corner into a useful space, and it’s saved my husband from chatting to his boss while tucked up in a duvet!”
@woodyjen Link opens in a new window

Project cost: £80

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Jenny Wood

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