A couple had their work cut out when they picked up the keys to their first home.
Teacher Clara McGillian and lecturer Nicholas Felstead knew the 1930s period property had a lot of potential – but it required a lot of work.
Even though they had little DIY experience, they threw themselves into the renovation project in Bridgend, Wales.
Clara, aged 31 and originally from Northern Ireland, told WalesOnline: "When we first walked in and saw the original front door with the stained glass, we just knew that we had to have it!
“We could see so much potential in the house.
"However, at this point, we didn't even own a drill and we totally underestimated how much work was involved.”
Clara continued: "It was like a time warp! It had elderly previous owners who we think last decorated it in the 70s – we found a date for 1972 under the wallpaper in the hallway.
"We also had found out that it had been empty for approximately four years and so it was quite musty and damp."
The couple had previously been renting and were anxious to banish years of magnolia memories and express their style on the interiors of this three bedroom semi in the Bridgend area.
But before colours, textures, furniture and accessories could even be considered, there was a whole house to drag from the past into the present day, from top to bottom.
Clara said: "We knew the house needed a whole rewire and we actually discovered that it had the original electrical consumer unit from the 1930s.
"Therefore, we got an electrician in straight away to start the work. We were renting at this time but we only had enough budget to rent for six weeks more before having to move into our new house.
“We were very much under a time pressure.
"We began by stripping all the wallpaper off every single surface, ceilings included, and we ripped down the old lath and plaster ceilings. Some were quite damaged and drooping.
"We did keep all of the old radiators too as we couldn't afford to replace them all and they were in perfect working condition. We then got the whole house skimmed, which we were hoping to avoid but the original plaster wasn't in a great condition."
Then the tenancy was up on the couple's flat so, whatever state the house was in, they had to pack up and move in.
There was no kitchen, only one electric socket was working and the walls were only half-plastered.
But the state of the house made the couple work even harder to continue the renovation job they had started, as quickly as possible.
They spent the whole of the summer of 2019 grafting and ploughing their way through the DIY jobs, doing as much as they could themselves to save money.
Although a new experience for both of them, the couple successfully fitted their own kitchen, taking the time to measure accurately and rechecking everything was level during the installation; time consuming but necessary.
It might have taken two weeks but installing the kitchen themselves saved Clara and Nick a considerable amount of money, with the only expenditure being the worktops.
A professional was booked for this tricky job that requires specialist tools and if bodged, would have set them back financially.
Once the major renovation, structural and installation work was complete, then came the fun part; the interior design.
The couple looked to the house itself for that first spark of inspiration.
Clara says: "After renting for a decade, we were so sick of magnolia walls and brown carpet!
"We wanted our home to reflect our personalities but also to be a place where a happy atmosphere is created. We also wanted to tie our style into the home.
"The windows and the front door have stained glass and the colours are red, green and yellow.
"We’re not huge fans of red but we used pink, green and yellow as base colours for the house and tied in shades of grey."
Now each room has its own identity and personality and yet fits effortlessly into the overall interior design scheme but this was not particularly planned.
The overall look the couple continuously had in the back of their minds was to create a feeling of warmth and happiness in every space, in every room.
Clara revealed: "I wanted to walk through our front door at the end of a long day in work and feel instantly pleased so I chose colours and styles that make me feel happy."
And the couple have certainly achieved that.
From the moment the sunny yellow front door greets you and you walk in, you know this is a home full of joyful colour and intriguing personal design statements to enjoy.
So far the renovation has taken 17 months and cost about £25,000, including all the major work such as a new roof, rewiring, plumbing, heating and plastering.
The couple are chuffed with the results so far – and recommend DIY to others who are looking to inject some personality into their homes.
Clara, known as @dustandbricks on Instagram, says: "Buy a renovation job and paint your house in colours you love. Be brave because it will pay off.
"Start off small with accessories like cushions. Build yourself up to wanting to use colour. And also remember that if you don’t like it, you can always paint over it.
"I've started up an Instagram hashtag called @colourfiedhomes that people may find useful to help with colour inspiration…
"We would also say get involved! You can learn so much for tradesmen if you watch them work. It's also unbelievable how much money you can save by doing the work yourself, such as painting and decorating, although some jobs need to be left to professionals obviously."
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