Design is key: An interior designer’s clever budget choices

with Gemma

In this episode, we chat with Gemma, a furniture, interior and spatial designer who created her own family home on a budget. 

We discuss the joys of creating a practical home fit for family life, and the art of using good design to elevate ‘off the shelf items’ and cost effective solutions to create something special.

Gemma shares her practical insights, tips, and plenty of inspiration about how to craft your ideal home, even on a modest budget.





Amy: Welcome to Stories from Site, the podcast for renovation enthusiasts. I’m Amy Dohnalek and together with my co host Jane Middlehurst, we chat with home renovators about the roller coaster that is renovation.

In this episode we chat with Gemma, a furniture interior and spatial designer who created her own family home on a budget.

We discussed the joys of creating a practical home fit for family life and the art of using good design to elevate off the shelf items, as well as cost effective solutions to create something special.

Gemma shares her practical insights, tips, and plenty of inspiration about how to craft your ideal home, even on a modest budget.

Gemma, I’ve been looking at your photos. It’s so beautiful. I don’t normally get the green eyed monster, but I have to say, I was a bit like, Oh, I want that kitchen so

Gemma: Thank you. Well, I tell you, we’ve waited a long time for it, so it’s really nice to finally have a nice functioning home and kitchen.

Amy: Yeah. Do you feel like you’re just in full hosting or just suddenly becoming, you know, a Nigella in the kitchen.

Gemma: Absolutely. Especially now that it’s getting nice and sunny again because I can open up the windows and doors. But yeah, no, if there’s a weekend, which is not very often actually, but if there’s a weekend where we haven’t got much on then I’ll be like, who can we have over?

What could we do? I’m really up for cooking. Yeah, absolutely. But we, we were kind of that way before we moved here. And then when we moved here, we’ve waited so long to do the kitchen that we got to the point that our old kitchen was so bad and it was so rotten because we didn’t want to replace it or do anything.

That the sink, like the tap was falling through the worktop and it got to a really bad place.

So we’d stopped inviting people over. So it feels great now to finally go. Yes. Yes. I’m an interior designer.

Welcome to my home.

Jane: Brilliant.

Amy: I’m sorry, we kind of jumped straight in, but do you want to give us a little kind of intro into, yeah, what the plan was for your renovation and where you started? Amazing.

Gemma: one for me actually, because we bought this house in 2019 and I knew the road very well because we lived not far away. But we had friends here and actually I had already I’ve actually been working on a couple of interiors on the next road, which are the same style of house so they’re Victorian terrace houses.

So yeah, I had an idea of what, what could be done, what I could do with them all. And the view was that it was a great property because it’s a great location.

And I had a kind of handle on what the budget would be. So the vision was always to turn it into a five bed, two bathroom house with a large Kitchen dining space. And that would do us well for a good few years.

I’d worked with an architect who does a lot of local work. But now I’ve done so many projects with her. She was obviously who I commissioned to do this place. Yeah. So that was like a perfect, okay, actually I’m sort of set up here. I kind of know what we need to do, but when we moved in, we didn’t have the budget.

We knew we didn’t have the budget to do what we wanted. So we actually phased it.

And although I say I had a vision of what I wanted to do, I kind of wanted to live here for a bit first.

Because It is interesting, you think immediately, oh the light comes up here and goes down there and da da da, but different times of the year, it’s completely different and you realise which spaces are kind of starved of natural light which spaces actually wouldn’t work, you know, how the, the link to the garden wouldn’t work if we had done it a different way, all these kind of things, you sort of learn because you’re there, rather than just jumping in and going, okay, hand that over, this is what we’re doing.

So yeah, the budget was very small, and at the very beginning, when we moved in, we had quite a few surprises. So the bathroom, within a week, the shower stopped working, the sink started to fall away from the wall, and the loo didn’t flush without a bucket being tipped down. And this was our one bathroom, right?

We were like, okay, so that bit of money we’ve got, we’re going to have to just do this bathroom regardless. So that was our first project. And then the lounge downstairs, they’d taken the hallway out. So you just stepped into the lounge and it had a really strange sort of column in the middle of the room.

It’s really odd. We put the hallway back but we did it slightly differently. So we made the hallway slightly wider and we put a very large oversized pocket door in so that we could have the hallway feel open and the house feel open but that we could then close off the downstairs completely when we needed to.

Amy: Oh, I love that.

Gemma: Yeah, so that was a really nice detail.

And that kind of got us thinking about the rest of the house.

Amy: I mean, you say you just did the bathroom, but actually you did quite a few things in that first phase.

Gemma: Yeah, there were tweaks that I think we just felt we needed to do just to make it work for us. immediately. And then there were a few things like we sanded the floors down and, you know, just made good, decorated it downstairs and just made it work for us for the time being.

And it was, it was lovely, bar the kitchen, which we didn’t touch. We didn’t even bother painting and it was the most revolting, like, green, with weird, blue mosaic tiles. It was disgusting. The cat flap was being held in with, you know, with foam filler. And, and was wedged slightly under a really odd radiator.

It was all really odd. Really, really odd. But we were like, well, we’re not touching it because We just, we just have to hope it lasts until we have the money to do the ground floor.

Amy: How long was it before you did the second phase?

Gemma: So when we decided to phase it, we decided that the bedrooms actually were more urgent for us. Because like I said, it was a two and a half bedroom really. And we have two children. And we have a son and a daughter, four years apart. There was only so long they could share a room for.

I also work from home quite a lot. So I wanted to have an office. My partner works from home one day a week. He likes to have his own space as well. And so we decided that the loft was more important. It would also get to the second bathroom. At the end, this kind of tail end of COVID and lockdown, we did the loft and we did an L shaped dormer.

So we managed to get two double bedrooms and a really good size shower room up there.

Amy: Amazing.

Gemma: Yeah. And that again was working to a budget. I actually really love working to a budget. I love setting myself a kind of, you know, a target and To sort of think outside the box of how to design something that feels bespoke, but on a budget and sort of cleverly shop around.

It’s part of what I do and partly what I really love doing.

That build was quite easy, really, because I think lofts, when you think about builds, they’re probably one of the easiest ones to do. So that was quite easy.

Amy: Did you use a loft company?

Gemma: We did, and actually, I was kind of shunned for doing such a thing, and my builders weren’t very happy.

But it was because we’d waited so long to do it. We just wanted to do it and I was really comfortable that I was going to design it anyway. And the architect that I work with a lot was very, very busy. So there was quite a wait to get any help there. And she had actually suggested, you know, you could just go to a company and, you know, work out what you want.

So actually I did because there, I mean, again, this neighborhood. is pretty much everyone’s done their loft around here. So it was quite easy to do my research and I found a company that I felt were really good to work with because they were really keen to kind of let me run with it.

So I just worked with their architect. So their architect drew up the plans. And then I was just like, well, what if we move this? What if we change that? I want this kind of window. Can we push this more this way? Designed the staircase myself. And actually it was, it was really smooth. Yeah, I would recommend it.

I thought it was a really good experience. It was an awkward time because we were all still working from home then. So I was working from my bedroom at a desk because I had nowhere else to go. So it was quite odd because they were like putting in staircases and stuff and just wandering into my bedroom, asking questions all day long.

It was quite a funny experience. But it was, it was, it was really smooth and they were really nice people.

Amy: And was that the case that they did the shell and you were doing the fit out, or did they do the fittings and finishes as well?

Gemma: I’m trying to think now. Yeah, no, I think they did everything. They even did the plywood staircase and balustrades for me. I just made it super easy because what I did, and which is where the idea for the kitchen came from actually, is that I obviously designed the staircase, I worked out every single detail, the spindle, the top, everything, and then I sent it off to a plywood supplier company and got them to cut everything to size and I basically labelled up everything and I did a diagram.

And it was really easy to assemble. So they basically put it all together. I finished it. They didn’t do the finishing. Um, But they put it all together for me. In fact, I think they were really pleased You know, it was really different to what they were, were used to doing.

So they were like, can we get some pictures of this? And I was like, yeah, absolutely.

Amy: I feel like you did a whole Ikea package for them.

Gemma: Yeah, absolutely. That’s exactly what I did. Exactly what I did. And obviously I was right next to them because I was in my bedroom working from my desk.

Amy: That doesn’t go there. Yeah.

Gemma: Now and then and say, how are you getting on? Yeah, no, they did a really good job. And even little details like I designed the staircase and they were very much working with their staircase guy, because those companies do, don’t they?

And so, they were very much like, So, you want a staircase? You want this kind of bullnose edge? You want to have these traditional balustrades? And I was like, no, I’d like a very square, clean staircase. I’d like to use plywood here. But they got on board, and they just did it. So, it was really, really good.

Amy: So what was the time lag between that project and the next one?

Gemma: So that was a bit longer because we needed to pull together finances to do the next one. So we started the extension at the very, very end, December, 2022. And actually for that, it was very much, we jumped right in and I knew we had to.

So we kind of just threw ourselves in a bit. And like I said, I knew what we could do and I commissioned the same architect that I’d been working with a lot.

Her name’s Rosie. She’s very lovely. And what I loved about Rosie is that I work very well with her, but I can be quite honest with her and we talk, you know, clearly about budget, what we can and can’t have. And I quite like being, sort of set boundaries to work around, you know, and work out how to deal with them. Also the challenge was I wanted to make it a streamlined project, as streamlined as I could.

So even thinking about, architecturally the windows and the doors, how to make the project run as smoothly as possible, happy to look at off the shelf products. Because it would save on cost. It would save on lead times. It wouldn’t necessarily need a specialist to come and fit.

So I was very much like, okay, well, let’s see what we can do. And I’d been looking at, lots of other architects that have used like, for example, Velux roof lights and they’ve just exposed the roof timbers and they framed up the windows. And I love that detail. And I kind of, I think as well, when I set myself a brief for this house in general, it’s a family home and it’s quite an honest home.

And I think I wanted it to be kind of fuss free, I don’t want to be precious about it. I want it to sort of be what it is, but designed. So it was very much, okay, let’s, let’s work with, Velux roof lights, they’re off the shelf. And actually for me, it was brilliant because I could then budget, I could even shop around for the roof lights to find the company that could get them to me the quickest at the cheapest price and the lowest delivery cost.

And we also then had options for them to open because the one experience of summers around, you UK now is that they can get incredibly hot.

So Velux was a great option because we could get roof lights to open. They’re also solar powered, so we didn’t need to wire them in. You can have blinds for them. We actually haven’t needed to fit blinds, but we knew it was an option that you can get blinds for them. The other thing as well, I suppose, was, again, the run of glass is really, really lovely, but we live in a small terrace house in London.

So you can see everything, right? So I can see into my neighbor’s bedroom and bathroom, you know, and she would be able to just see right down. It would be a little bit like, you know, Oh, you know, good morning or whatever. It was that feeling of like, I don’t really want to feel like we’re completely on view all the time.

I remember a client telling me that she absolutely loved her roof lights, but she hadn’t considered the fact that her neighbor. next door, lived in a flat upstairs with a little balcony area, and he sat out there every morning smoking his cigarettes, basically. And so she’d be sitting at breakfast, and he’d sometimes wave, and she would just be like, oh no, this is not what I was, this is not how I wanted it to be.

And I just think again, from my experience. It always comes up that something that’s a bit more bespoke, you get given a lead time, but then it rolls into another two weeks, another four weeks.

They can’t do anything because they’re waiting on something.

And I was just like, that’s not what we need.

Amy: Can I ask you what you used for the doors?

Gemma: Yes, so the external doors. So there were the kind of non negotiables in the design. And for me, I always wanted a window seat. Again, we’re in a terrace house, and it really, it’s a really important connection to the garden.

So in the winter, you can sit there with your coffee and still enjoy the outside. But equally in the summer, I wanted to be able to connect to the garden through the window seat. So the window seat, is a glazing system by Sunseeker,

which is a turn and slide system. So it’s not a bifold because I wasn’t keen to have bifold.

Bifold come with chunky frames and obviously you can’t open one side, you have to open them together. So the, the turn and slide system means that they’re individual panes. They’re in very, very slim frames.

It’s, they’re really lovely. And it means that when you open them, you can just open one pane, one side.

So if you just wanted to open it for a bit of ventilation, you don’t have to have the whole thing open. Or you can open both so they both turn and then you can slide them completely to one side. And then you’ve got a great big opening, which means you can sit inside and outside. And again, we don’t have a huge garden, so it meant we can pull the dining table outside up to the window seat, and pass things through the house.

It works really well.

So I felt for me, it was more important to have this window seat and I do it a lot actually with projects. If I’m doing a small terrace, I quite often recommend a window seat. And people always love them. Nobody ever sort of comes back and says, I wish I’d done doors instead. That’s something that they use all the time.

Amy: It’s such an important point because I think often people say they want this connection to the garden but actually it doesn’t have to be physical it needs to be visual and I think what’s really nice about your design is that there’s actually a swing door that’s a normal size there’s a bit more extra height on it but it’s like a lot more usable because I think sometimes with sliding doors actually moving them in and out especially on a day to day basis they’re pretty heavy

things so I think yeah it’s a really nice way to go about it.

Gemma: Yeah, so that just to go back to that is the only thing that was the more bespoke item because obviously it’s a window seat and they are normally doors, but obviously I tweaked them to work as a window seat. And then the other door is an aluminium frame door from a manufacturer called Origin.

who are like a big manufacturer, but they’re sold through lots of different glazing companies. So again, that was a big money saver for us because I knew that I didn’t want to spend a huge amount on the door. I had an idea on a door I really wanted, but the lead time was very, very long. And actually it was I think a Swedish company, therefore you were paying more to import it.

It didn’t actually make sense to do it just for a door. So in the end I just found an easier off the shelf brand that has a slim frame and I shopped around basically, I managed to save 500 quid on the door because I got quotes from a load of the glazing companies I use in London. And then I happened to just go to a few others that I knew supplied outside of London.

And there was a company in Surrey, exactly the same door. But the delivery and installation costs, cause they did install it. I saved 500 pounds on it. If you really want to plan a budget build, then from the very, very, very beginning, you want to start your budget and just keep revisiting it, keep going back and measuring where you’re at with it and what you could save on still.

I think a lot of people don’t realize that there’s a difference between manufacturers and suppliers. So, you can go to lots of different people and it looks like they’re all doing different doors, but actually, if you actually ask them who makes them, it’s the same door.

Jane: And quite often it will have a slightly different name, but if you ask about it, you can then work out the one you want, like you said. Yeah. And then you can start asking around for people who make that exact door.

Yeah, So like I say, if you shop around and you budget and you work out your prices and lead times early on, then you know roughly how long, for example, the door’s going to take. So you put it into your schedule, even if you then carry on shopping around and find it somewhere else, you know, at the point you need to order it in order for it to hit.

Gemma: The time that you’re going to need it on site,

Jane: Yeah, you’re like, I’ve done enough research now. We’ve got to just plump for it. Yeah,

Gemma: go for it. Absolutely.

Amy: And how did it work with your architect? Did they see you up to planning and then you were working directly with the builder?

Gemma: Yes, exactly. She was amazing actually, because she knew what I wanted. So we agreed to design it together. So actually, even when she was putting together the planning package, I had already designed the interior with her. So she knew the layout. So she knew everything, where everything was going to go.

Amy: And can I ask you how did it feel being the client? ’cause I think as an interior designer, you’re used to kind of, wearing a different hat and then suddenly you’re also wearing the client hat.

Gemma: Yeah, that was for me, probably the hardest part of the project. It was really interesting because I felt like this pressure to almost do what would be expected of me as an interior designer. So I just felt this kind of, Oh, you know, any of my clients or anybody who knows me will be expecting me to really like go for it, but that’s actually not who I am.

And it was almost like, okay, I need to set myself a brief. And really talk to myself the way I talk to my clients and understand like, what is it that I need? What is it that I want? Who am I? And also I had to include my partner in this. And that was quite tricky because actually having your partner as your client is, you know, kind of the dynamic is quite different to that with a real client because Obviously you’re not quite patient with them.

And also because Danny is a creative himself and he has very strong ideas about what he would like and what he wants. And I had to try not to kind of be too forceful in being the kind of know it all and like, but you can’t do that, but you can’t do that. I had to, you know, learn to sit down and go through it all and explain it all exactly the way I would,

with a client. But sometimes I’d be a bit short if he didn’t understand, I’d be like, what don’t you understand?

Amy: I think also, it’s quite difficult because I think with a client you have, you know, you have your client meeting, you have a scheduled time and actually they’re completely focused on the thing that you’re saying. And, you know, I think it’s really hard to make that happen with your partner. You know, it happens at the end of the day, you’re both tired and then, yeah, I think it’s quite hard.


Gemma: to be fair, I think he let me run with most of it. I think it was really, for him, it was, a visual thing and getting as much space as he possibly could. So he would have gone out, he would have pushed it even further if he’d been given the choice. But I think I, I managed to put across a good argument as to why.

Having more space is not necessarily the right thing to do, and that the balance between the garden and the interior was really important, but that actually we had ample space.

And I think now he totally believes it’s the perfect size. It’s a good size space.

We had 14 people here for dinner at Christmas. It was amazing, but it was really lovely. It works really well. And then I think for me, I am not really all about making something, you know, punchy and beautiful and bold and on trend and dah, dah, dah.

I’m not, that’s not how I work. And my background is actually more about how, a space flows for you. It’s all about making living easier. So actually for me, it was about what are the important things, what are the things that as a family is beneficial for us. And that was the connection to the outside.

That was the natural light. That was the functionality of the space, the flow of the space, making sure, you know, there were no areas where people were going to knock into each other, that there was always space around us, that there were different zones for the different times that we needed to do things so the kids sit at the counter most mornings and we have our chat and they have their breakfast and they love it and then we will sit around the table later on that they can spill out because it’s completely open plan downstairs at the moment so then they spill out into the sort of living space.

Over time we’ve decided that actually we are going to close off the front room, but at the time that we did the build, we decided we’d like to live in it open plan for a bit, because actually it’s so lovely, because the light comes up on one side of the house and goes down on the other, and the ground floor is always just full of natural daylight, so it’s a lovely, lovely space.

Ah, it sounds amazing. I love that you’ve interrogated your family’s needs, but also built in that flexibility for the future. ’cause I think it’s really important.

Absolutely, yeah, I think, I think that’s how I’ve always thought about, even where we used to live before, how we kind of grow and evolve in the space. It’s always about, this is what we need now, this is what we’re going to need in three to five years time. This is what, because people said to me, but do you not feel that you’re going to outgrow that house because it’s a small terrace and the kids getting older?

And. Interestingly, I don’t know is the answer because I’ve always managed to make it evolve for us. And for me, size has not always been the most important thing. It’s how you use those spaces.

And the house was not just about the size. It was about what it could do for us. It was about the local area, the community. You know, the kids, groups of friends, everything was important to us.

And at the moment that is still working perfectly. And I don’t know that we would move necessarily based on feeling like we need to go bigger. I kind of try and say this to my clients.

It’s not always about having a big space, having a big home. It’s really not. I just like spaces that work well.

It doesn’t matter what size

I love it, it resonates so massively with both of us. Cause I think that we really, love being clever about being mindful about design, but using your skills in working out the most efficient, cheapest, best way to do it just feels like such a, don’t know, satisfying process.

Yeah, absolutely. And I was going to say, that is the thing about the kitchen. I love the kitchen. Absolutely love it. because, It feels really designed.

I designed it. I thought about every detail yet. It’s an IKEA, it’s all IKEA units, even to the point that I wanted it to be completely flush. So rather than using the wall cabinets, I use the top boxes, but they’re strangely They kind of look strange, but I wanted it to align. So I designed it all to frame imply and then put this shelf in the middle.

So I basically designed a kitchen, a bespoke kitchen, but using again, the off the shelf products that were available to me and just adapted them. And then we were really keen to do something interesting with the fronts. But by the time, like I said, we revisited our budget again and again, and the kitchen was the last thing to go in, we really had nothing left.

And I was really disappointed because I was like, I don’t want to just have like an off the shelf kitchen. And so we did, we did the IKEA units, but we adapted them.

We made them fit to the bespoke sizes. I’ve wanted them to fit. We made ourselves a little pantry one. And then the fronts, the green fronts were Ikea, Bodart fronts, because I couldn’t, we literally had nothing left to go and get a bespoke front made. But I was happy choosing those because they’re made out of recycled bottles, they’ve got a good kind of sustainability story.

So I was like, well, okay, at least I’m making a choice. And that they also are like a nice kind of neutral green. And I love the color and it I felt like it went with the palette I was pulling together. But we married them up with again, the plywood fronts. But the plywood fronts, I did exactly what I did with my staircase.

I basically measured up every single door and I went to a local supplier. I phoned a local supplier because I couldn’t get decent plywood anywhere. And I just happened to phone a local supplier and he said, Do you know what? We’ve just had a delivery this morning and there’s some quite good ones in here.

Do you want to come over? So I literally drove over there. and picked out all the sheets

I wanted. It was brilliant, and they held them all for me. And then I sent them over all of my cuts and we worked them out, and I obviously positioned them all so it was perfect. using as little waste as possible. And so they cut everything for me and, and even delivered it for me.

They just drove it over. No extra charge. They were just like, we’re not far. We’ll just drive it over. And I used all the waste pieces to do the the reveals for the doors and the window seat. And then what was left, I did shelving in my office. And desking in my office with, so I kind of tried to use everything that I could.

I mean, there was a lot more work involved because the guys fitted it. In fact, actually, to be fair, there’s a carpenter who’s lovely and local that I work with a lot. He came over and, Did all the doors for me, just made sure everything fitted exactly as it was. So he fitted everything for me, but he just gave like a day of his time to do that.

And then Danny and I had to finish all of the doors. So we were doing all that. He did a bit of sanding for us, but we did all the finishing and varnishing, like oiling. So we did put a lot of our own time and energy into it. We found these amazing handles from Tonaton. Who are like a Scandi brand in the perfect green that matched the boat up.

So it tied the whole thing together and we, and then we put the money into the worktop. Cause for me, that was really important because I love cooking and I wanted the worktop to work for me. And it all kind of came together to make what feels like a very bespoke kitchen and looks like a very bespoke kitchen, but on an absolute shoestring.

I mean, Luckily, we have like the skills to kind of do it and people we know that could help us do it. But it was very much like, I just felt so pleased I made it work. I got the palette I wanted, the look and the feel I wanted.

And I did it on a, on a really modest budget.

Amy: think what’s coming out of this episode and from what you’re saying is just how actually, it’s all about design, isn’t it?

So like the, the opposite thing is to spend your money on the kind of products and the nice things, but actually it’s how they go together in a space that makes them stand out and sing.

So actually you don’t need to spend the money there. You need to spend the money on the people who can make that happen for you. And I think that’s just coming through so strongly.

Gemma: I think that is the difference you get when you, yeah, commission a designer or an architect to do your interior. You know, they’re considering every detail, like every piece and bringing it all together to create something special. And it’s always unique to that person and to their space. And it, you know, the way that I work, it’s all about them.

It’s about again, how they want to live. It’s not about how I want to live. It’s about the things that they like.

it’s being able to pull that together and being able to sort of see something and go, I know what I can do with that, like, actually you could do something really clever with that

Amy: I think you’ve sung the praises of designers and creatives out there. So I think it’s a really helpful episode.

Jane: I was just loving what you were saying about the materials it really resonates. And I think everything’s so expensive, doors are so expensive, roof lights are expensive. You know, when you actually find out how much these things cost, if you can pay a designer, to put a cheap Velux in that looks amazing because of how it’s positioned and, and how it’s detailed, then it’s a lot cheaper that way.

Gemma: Yeah, it’s, there’s more to it basically than just pretty things.

Amy: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.


Our closing thoughts:

Design can do so much for you!

This episode shows that you don’t need to spend eye-watering amounts on fittings and finishes.

Rather design can elevate that humble IKEa kitchen or Velux roof light into something splendid!


View more episodes


42. Our takeaways: End of series round up

In this bonus episode we take a moment to look back on our sixth series and discuss favourite top takeaways from our lovely guests.

Read More →

41. Life and architecture entwined: The tale of two architects

We sit down with Irene to chat about her personal renovation journey, a renovation of a quirky house in South London.

Read More →

40. Building Dreams Together: Lessons from a family-run builder

We chat with builders Sian and James who share their inspiring journey from purchasing their first 1930s terrace home.

Read More →

39. The art of attraction: Creating a home that sells

We chat with Lorna who shares her reflections on how her experience running an estate agency has influenced their renovation approach.

Read More →

37. Out of the box: Bespoke design vs off the shelf architecture 

Motivated by her daughter’s health needs, Tishna embarked on an in-depth exploration of natural materials for her loft extension.

Read More →

36. The uphill struggle of getting that ‘architect look’

We talk to Kat who shares the challenges of working with her contractor to achieve the considered look she was after.

Read More →

35. Our takeaways: End of series round up

In this bonus episode we take a moment to look back on our fifth series and discuss favourite top takeaways from our lovely guests.

Read More →

34. Blank slate to dream home: Avoiding interiors overwhelm

Isabelle shares her experience working with an interior designer to renovate her London flat and how they helped bring it all together.

Read More →

33. Getting the best deal: Just say what you want

We talk with Jamila who shares her experience of renovating her home in Yorkshire room by room and her negotiation strategies with suppliers!

Read More →

32. Listening to the walls: Restoring an Edwardian terrace

This week we talk to Lou, who is restoring her tired Edwardian house herself, learning as she goes and bringing original features back to their former glory.

Read More →

31. Race to the finish line: A design and build loft conversion

This week we talk to Ella who chose to work with a design and build company to create a loft extension for her home.

Read More →

30. Slow renovating: Creating interiors that last

This week we chat to Lee, founder of Burt and May tiles about his latest home renovation and his approach to creating ‘timeless’ interiors, rich in layers and materiality.

Read More →

29. The renovation game: Climbing the property ladder

This week we chat to Jen, as she shares her journey of climbing the housing ladder, one renovation project at a time.

Read More →

28. Our takeaways: End of series round up

In this bonus episode we take a moment to look back on our third series and discuss favourite top takeaways from our lovely guests.

Read More →

27. Halfway there: Reflecting on the journey so far 

This week we chat with Lauren, a first-time renovator, whose partner’s electrician skills are coming in handy as they tackle the ambitious task of updating their 1970’s home.

Read More →

26. When perseverance pays off: A rural barn conversion 

We listen to the self-build journey of Ade who transformed a dilapidated barn into a dream home for his family in the picturesque Kent countryside.

Read More →

25. Navigating budgets creatively: An Interior designer’s story

We sit down with Bo, an experienced interior designer who had to make some tough decisions when faced with skyrocketing renovation costs.

Read More →

24. Renovating remotely: Transforming an old school on Anglesey

We talk to Gemma about managing a remote renovation and the differences in renovating a holiday home as a business.

Read More →
Stories-From-Site-Barbara - Front cover

23. The doer-upper: A journey of renovating, diy and maternity leave

We talk to Barbara about falling in love with a fixer-upper home and the joys of undertaking DIY projects during maternity leave.

Read More →

22. Prioritising positivity: Converting a bungalow with separate trades

With construction costs rising, Claire and Dan managed the different trades they needed on day rates to renovate their 1950s bungalow.

Read More →

Coming soon . . .

Our membership is launching at the start of June.  Sign up to get notified when it goes live! 

Sign up for

HomeNotes news

Get monthly renovation articles, advice, news and offers to your inbox!