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Kate Sandhu is known as a renovation queen (Picture: Media Drum World)
Why pay loads for a professional to give your home a makeover when you can just do it yourself?
That’s the mantra of Kate Sandhu, 37, a DIY fan who managed to completely transform her London home for just £80,000.
Kate, a strategy head from the city, picked up her love of home renovations when she was just two years old, after seeing her dad getting handy around the house.
Decades on, Kate now runs her very own ‘renovation for beginners’ Instagram to inspire others to give DIY a go.
And just to show she knows her stuff, Kate is happy to share her own home makeover.
She and her husband Chris took a £745,000 house and gave it a stunning DIY renovation to make it their own, spending just £80,000 – but adding £355,000 to the value.
‘When we moved in, the house was livable but grim,’ said Kate.
Kate and her husband bought this house for £745,000 (Picture: mediadrumimages/@thehouseonhollydale)
When they moved in, the property was ‘livable but grim’ (Picture: mediadrumimages/@thehouseonhollydale)
The outdoor space was especially bleak (Picture: mediadrumimages/@thehouseonhollydale)
‘It had no hallway, the pokiest living room that you couldn’t fit five people into, a dining room with no windows and a black kitchen with silver glitter which was reminiscent of a spaceship.
‘The kitchen had an illegal extension on it where the owners had just knocked out the bay window so it had half a wall up and was porous and freezing.
‘It was also on three different levels downstairs, which was odd and the ceilings were super low.
‘We have worked on the entire house, we did a double-storey extension and renovated every room in the house bar the master bedroom bedroom (which we decorated).
‘Downstairs we changed the entire house layout. We extended out, creating a larger kitchen space, added a downstairs loo and created a new living room.
The couple’s DIY skills added thousands to the home’s value (Picture: mediadrumimages/@thehouseonhollydale)
‘Upstairs, we extended out the third bedroom, demolished the bathroom and made it bigger and removed the fireplace from the spare room to make it a more workable space.
‘We’ve done countless DIY projects. In addition to the above – we have done everything from decorating the entire house, tiling, building a home office, refurbishing the floorboards, fixing cracks, building a home office etc and more often than not, my parents are there helping us and teaching us their tips.
‘I started my Instagram account in 2017 to track our renovation but I recently realised that I had a lot of knowledge that could help others.
‘It’s super tough out there at the moment with the cost of living rising and so much uncertainty, and so many people are choosing to renovate rather than move.
‘It’s a daunting prospect for many that is really hard to navigate so I thought I’d start to share my knowledge to help my fellow Insta pals.’
And just look at the gorgeous results of their labour (Picture: mediadrumimages/@thehouseonhollydale)
The retiled kitchen area (Picture: mediadrumimages/@thehouseonhollydale)
Kate now shares her DIY tips online (Picture: mediadrumimages/@thehouseonhollydale)
The entire project has cost them £80,000 – far less than the pair would have spent to get everything done by professsionals (Picture: mediadrumimages/@thehouseonhollydale)
She says her favourite part of the transformation so far is an artificial wall and trellis in the garden, or turning a ‘very ugly’ brick outbuilding into a home office – complete with a computer, desk, and a treadmill, on a budget of £1k (far less than the £10,000 the couple were quoted’.
Ahead, Kate shares her top tips for renovations:
Be ready to make compromises
‘Every renovation has to make compromises,’ said Kate.
‘Write down your top five things you want and five things you’ll compromise on so you know that going into the build – you will need to make tough choices.’
Ask yourself how you will actually live in the space
Don’t just go for what looks great on Instagram. What tweaks will make your home ideal for your lifestyle?
Kate suggests: ‘Think about how you will live in the space and how you want it to make you feel when you are there. Is it small with a low ceiling and so you want to bring light in? Do you want to feel calm and cosy? Think about how it fits with the rest of your home and the flow.’
Kate encourages everyone to give DIY a go (Picture: mediadrumimages/@thehouseonhollydale)
Consider how you’ll live while you renovate
Home renovations can be lengthy processes.
Kate advises: ‘Think about where you may live when you renovate, can you afford to rent? Especially as renovations always go over on time.
‘If you are living in, try to make it easier by not doing all rooms at once and ensuring critical spaces like the bathroom and kitchen are only out of action for a limited time.’
Create moodboards and schedules
Create a Pinterest account or get hands on with a collage. Any sort of visual plan of what you want your home to look and feel like will help to keep you on track.
Then, on a more practical note, work up a timeline of key dates and deadlines.
The couple especially love their outdoor space, complete with a living wall (Picture: mediadrumimages/@thehouseonhollydale)
Do your research – and talk about money
‘Don’t be British about money conversations,’ Kate says. ‘Get a ton of quotes and go and see prior or current builds before you commit to a builder.
‘Sign a contract and make sure you have a line by line quote down to minute detail so you can refer back to it – you will need to and you want to be clear on who is paying for what.
‘Do your research on the contractors you employ, you need to click with them and be able to trust them. Make sure you get recommendations and speak to previous clients.’
Don’t be afraid to work with professionals
‘Use an architect to make best use of space but be prepared to challenge them to make sure you get your non-negotiables and don’t push your budget too much,’ Kate notes.
‘Balance the work you take on yourself, it can seem if you are on a budget like the best thing to do is do it all yourself but in reality, some things are best left to the experts.’
‘Start small and build your confidence,’ Kate advises (Picture: mediadrumimages/@thehouseonhollydale)
Try to have fun
You’re doing something pretty cool – enjoy it!
‘If you are stressed, try to take a step back and regroup,’ Kate suggests. ‘I honestly think people can do anything they put their mind to but it can be daunting.
‘I’d say start small and build your confidence, for example paint a small space, strip some wallpaper or restore a piece of furniture.
‘Once you do one piece you will see that you can do anything and it really starts to feel like an achievement – there’s nothing better than sitting in a space you created or looking at your work once you’ve finished.
‘Don’t underestimate yourself, you can do it and there are a ton of resources out there.
‘Don’t take on too much at first and overwhelm yourself, take it little by little and build your confidence.
‘The worst that can happen is it doesnt go to plan and you can try again or get an expert in – what will you have lost and you may just learn something new.’
To see more of Kate’s renovation tips, head to her Instagram, @thehouseonhollydale.
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