Room by room: A DIY renovation

with Sharn

This week we talk to Sharn about DIY renovating her Victorian property room by room. 

We discuss how both her partner skilled themselves up, and the process of managing a project in multiple stages. 

Plus the power of making renovation transparent and accessible through social media.



Amy: Welcome to Stories from Site, the renovation podcast that digs a little deeper. I’m Amy Dohnalek and together with my co-host Jane Middlehurst we peek behind the curtains of those insta-worthy interiors to bring you the real processes people went through to make their dream homes a reality.

This week we talked to Sharn about diy renovating her Victorian property room by room.

We discuss how both her and her partner skilled themselves up and the process of managing a project in multiple stages.

Plus the power of making renovation transparent and accessible through social media.

So welcome to Stories from Site, Sharn, I know you spoke with Jane first, do you mind telling me a bit about your house and what you did?

Sure. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here and chat about my house. So, yeah. We bought our house in London in February, 2021, so very much in the height of the pandemic. Like we moved when you were still not allowed to have people in your front room and all of that jazz. And we bought in North London a Victorian three story house, which sounds very, very posh and fancy, but when you see the inside of the house, you realize it isn’t.

Sharn: Previously we’d lived in Essex and we owned a house in Essex and the dream was always to live in London. Like me and my partner have always wanted to live in London and we really never thought that would happen for us for many, many years. But then during the pandemic and all the finances just aligned and we were able to make that leap.

So we were like, let’s go. And we just amazingly were able to move to exactly where we wanted to live. That was convenient for us both and yeah. But I think the compromise with that to get the big house in London was not to buy a big, beautiful, nicely done and decorated house. It was to buy a big wreck in London.

So we kind of. We kind of inadvertently having never renovated before, like we’d painted walls. That was as far, we put up shelves. That was as far as we’d gone, and we ended up buying a full head to toe renovation project in London and we’re like, well, we’re doing this. We were, I think we were just quite naive as well.

I think anyone who’s not renovated before, you just walk in. You’re like, oh yeah, how bad can it be? And you know, there’s a wall there that’ll be fine. And then like five minutes later you realize the whole wall needs to come down and be rebuilt. So there’s been a lot of learnings through that. But we, but on top of all of that, we just feel very blessed that we’ve been able to make that jump to somewhere we’ve always wanted to live.

And yeah, so doing a renovation project was just the sort of vehicle to be able to live that life.

Amy: Amazing. And how can I ask you how are you teaching yourself the tools you need?

Sharn: So a lot of it, I mean, everyone always says YouTube, but a lot of YouTubeing. A lot of TikTok as well. I love TikTok, there’s so much good stuff on there. And we, yeah, just do a lot of Googling and also we’re really lucky, my partner’s brother is a builder. So he’s not often available to actually come and do the work for us, but he, he’s on the other end of the phone when we’re like how’d you do this?

Or what’s the building regs for this? So he’s like our encyclopedia, which is fantastic. We’re really lucky to have him there. So that’s kind of how we learnt. And also a lot of just uncover something and guess, and you know, you kind of just have to take it bit by bit and go, oh, that’s there. What do we do with that?

Quick Google? All right, we’ll do that. So you just learn on the job from what’s in front of you as well.

Amy: Wow. That’s impressive though.

Sharn: Thank you.

Jane: I remember you saying that when you moved in that you didn’t have the budget to do the whole house at the same time and get people in to help you do it. So you’ve arrived in your new house and it all needs doing. How do you make a plan for that and how, did you approach what you were going to do?

Sharn: Yeah, I’m always amazed when people on Instagram, I’m like, going to visit the site today. And I’m like, how are you not live? Like what? You’re going to visit the house you’re renovating? I have to live in mine. I’m so jealous. It’s complete envy for me.

We were told to start from the top downwards. That’s the best way to do it. But then obviously we would just, we did it from the bottom upwards. So we did it completely wrong way, mainly because, we came into the house and we were like, right, we’ve got to live in this. It’s so bad. How do we, you know, make our priority list?

And the first priority was in the lounge, the floor in there was just completely bowing. So like the floor was creaking, you’d walk in it and it would just bow even more.

So we just kind of went, well, that is obviously going to fall in at some point, so we need to sort that we can’t live in that for years. So we kind of just had to start with, rather than doing things in the right order, doing things in the order that were like, right, we need to live here.

Can we live with X, Y, Z? So hence we ended up doing the lounge and the office space first, which is immediately as you walk in the house, they’re, they’re there, they’re the first rooms. Which again, I know is not the right order, but. We also thought if we’re going to live in a renovation project, we don’t wanna sit in a lounge at at the end of every day, that’s like an absolute tip. Like the carpet was about 40 years old, the walls were crumbling. It was so bad. There was a monstrosity, like eighties fireplace that had been built in over what would’ve been a lovely Victorian fireplace that no longer existed.

And like the ceiling was all cracked. It was really bad. So we just kind of went for how do we make this a nice livable space while we’re doing what we want to do to it? So yeah, we. That was kind of how we prioritized it.

Amy: No, that sounds really sensible. And was there a functioning kitchen and bathroom that just kind of needed up dating? or

Sharn: Oh,

Amy: or.

Sharn: I wish, I wish it just needed updated the kitchen. I was gonna say they’re the worst rooms, but I dunno how you could categorize them in this house. The kitchen was really, really bad. It was right at the back of the house. It was awful. It was the cheapest, smallest little white gloss kitchen.

And the floor was like just, I don’t even think it was flooring. It was just like, like off cuts of lino just laid down. So the kitchen was really bad. We lived with it for over a year though, which I’m amazed at when I look back. And also the kitchen was a tiny, tiny little room at the back of the house.

And then you ahead of that, you had this big sort of, dining room space. So we kind of switched the two over. So we turned the big dining space into the big sort of wide galley long kitchen, and then we opened up that kitchen space at the end and then made it into like a diner with bench seating and stuff.

So we completely reconfigured those rooms. So it was a lot more than just a lick of paint and some new cabinets. That was the biggest part of the project we’ve done so far was kitchen diner and the bathroom we’ve just started on upstairs, which is a big room. I think it used to be a bedroom, but.

I think the bathroom might be the worst room in the house. Cause it was half carpet, half tiled. There were plug sockets all around in the skirting boards in the bathroom. The kind of bit that they’d tiled, they’d like made a raised wet room bit and they’d finish the edge of it just with like a long bit of skirting.

They’re just like plonked on top of the tiles. It, so it was really, really, really bad. So the bathroom is the current project, which is just, yeah. Again, it’s not just putting a new suite, we’re rebuilding the floors, the ceiling, the walls, basically everything there’ll be brand new and we will not be having carpet.

You’ll be pleased to hear.

Jane: Carpet in the bathroom is an interesting concept with plug sockets, just for that extra danger.

Sharn: A beautiful combo, a beautiful combo.

Amy: And did you have any help as in, I mean, you’ve got your brother-in-law at the, the end of the phone. Did you need any kind of professionals to help you at any stage?

Sharn: No, we haven’t, had really any professional help. We haven’t had to have planning permmision, we haven’t extended or anything. Obviously we’ve done our sort of research into building regs and what we can and can’t do and what would need signing off. But luckily we’ve kind of always been within those.

So we haven’t had to have many people and we have had a structural engineer to come cause we need a new roof. But that’s a few years down the pipeline. We have a structural engineer to come and look at that, who’s kind of given us an idea of what’s possible there. So that’s the only kind of professional help we needed to have in, in terms of like planning the kitchen, for example.

We had an idea in mind, then we went to a high street kitchen shop and sat down with them and they helped us sort of plan it and you know, they do this every day so they know all the tips and tricks and what works best where, and what maximizes your space. Whereas we didn’t know those things. I’ve never planned or renovated a kitchen before until now.

So I would recommend to anyone who’s like kitchen planning, just go into a high street shop, book an appointment, spend a few hours, soak up all that wisdom, and whether or not you end up going there, you can, you still can learn so much from that.

And I found that really helpful.

It must have been quite tricky. I think when you are doing things all at once, you kind of come up with your budget and you have a strategy for that. But when you’re doing DIY and it’s over quite a long period of time, budgeting, that must be a bit more tricky

Amy: can I ask you how you’ve approached that?

Sharn: Yeah, that’s the thing. I think people are like, what’s your budget? And, and not to sound sort of flippant, but there isn’t really a budget all the time because a lot of what we do is, okay, we, we, me and my partner work full-time jobs, so we. Go to work, save up as much as we can and go, right, we wanna start the bathroom this month, let’s make a spreadsheet.

What do we think all of this is gonna cost us? And have we got the money right now in our savings account to afford that? Yes or no? And that very much informs if we start doing stuff or if we don’t.

So yeah, the budgeting is, is a hard one cuz yeah, we can’t really go right. We’ve got this lump sum and this is what we’re gonna spend it on. It, it’s very much a rolling thing. And quite often we’ll go, oh right, we’ll buy this this month.

Then when we get paid at the end of the month, we’ll buy the bath or we’ll buy this. So it’s like literally can be that month to month. But we always, have that spreadsheet that we start with, which adds up. And a lot of it is rough estimates. Like plastering might be a thousand pounds and tiles might cost us 600 pounds.

So that’s kind of how our budgeting works in our world, which I know, as you say, for renovation is a bit different and it’s a bit it’s a bit of a gray area.

Amy: No, but I think it’s really, really helpful. Cause I think that monthly budget is kind of enabling you to stay on track all the way through. But it’s still, it is a hard thing to do. So, yeah, it’s amazing that you’ve done what you have.

Sharn: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s just, there’s only two of us and we’ve set up a joint renovation specific bank account. So I’m like, right, I’m gonna put this much into the renovation account this month. So it’s not like, oh, what have you got in savings?

What have I got in savings? What do you want? What do you wanna surrender to the bathroom, you know? Because obviously it’s really important we’re two independent people and we want our own monies to do our own things and live our own lives and live life together and do fun things as well as renovate our house.

So the renovation account just really kind of gate keeps that money just for renovating. So there’s no sort of arguments or fallouts over what money is going where, which I think is super helpful.

Amy: That’s really helpful. That’s a, a good top tip.

Sharn: Yeah, definitely.

Jane: What you’ve done so far is really beautiful, like fun and energetic and there’s lots of creativity in the work that you’ve done. And I was just thinking, it’s quite a hard slog, isn’t it? What you’re doing, you know, it’s so much work and you’re starting project after project, after project.

With the creative side of things, is that kind of what keeps you going? Because I guess you’ve got a vision in your mind is, are you planning that each room at a time as you go through?

Sharn: Yeah. Thank you very much. That’s very kind and that’s kind of what we wanted to achieve. The vision was very much to make it feel like a Victorian house. So not to like, just whitewash it and turn it into a modern box. Cuz I wanted to be, you know, respectful, I guess, and sympathetic to, the history of this house.

But I still wanted it to feel like us. And I’m a colorful person that always have colorful hair and I dress like a clown most of the time. So I didn’t want to follow, this is what a Victorian house should look like. I’m gonna paint my walls. You know, this color and use this farrow and ball paint because that’s what you do in a Victorian house.

Like I wanted it to feel like us. So yeah, again, we plan room to room and I think if you’ve got a strong personal style or taste, which me and my partner do, that will kind of naturally carry through all the rooms and they will all sort of marry up. Even though we plan them very separately, we don’t go like, oh, we want this room to tie with this room tie in with this room.

We just happen to like colors that are all in a very similar palette and area. So they all just kind of. You know, coincidentally do tie up at the end. But yeah, the vision is we kind of have that end vision in mind at all times. Like, I think I always start with, right, what do I want it to look like?

And then I go backwards in with my steps and go, right, how do I get there? Because there’s no point in, I dunno, going, all right, we’ll put this there. And then I’m like, oh, actually I wanted to make a feature of that. And now I’ve, I’ve not been able to do that.

I think you kind of have to plan your features and your look and feel into the process as you go.

And then that enables you to one, have that vision to the very end. So it keeps you going. So you’re like, it will look pretty one day. I promise we’ll get there. It’s gonna look gorgeous. But then also it allows you to, I think, plan your process better sort of knowing what you’re trying to achieve.

And my partner is always like, oh, you only care about, you know, the end bit and the fluff in the pillows and stuff. I’m like, no, I don’t. But I think it’s very important to know where you’re gonna put that chair and where you’re gonna, what will, what wall you gonna paint, what color and what you want it to look like, because that, informs your process.

Amy: And how do you do that? What kind of method do you use?

Sharn: I love a bit of social media. I’m always on Instagram and TikTok, and I think there’s so many amazing real homes on there where you can go, oh my God, someone could do this, I could do that. I think I’m really lucky to live in a period home and I never take that for granted.

And also there are a lot of period homes, out there that people live in. So you kind of, I, I can kind of go online and see homes that look like mine or they, you know, Victorian lounge is very much of a similar layout, so I can go, oh look, they did that in their home. Maybe that’s something I could adapt and do similar in mine.

So yeah, I look for a lot of inspiration, mainly online. I don’t really do magazines. Pinterest, sometimes, not massively. Cause I do love Pinterest, but it is very like high end glossy and I prefer things that like, you know, I wanna see how you DIY tiled your wall. Cuz then I can see that it’s real and how like I could do that myself.

It makes it feel more attainable. So I do a lot of looking online and fellow sort of renovation accounts. And also I look at the boring stuff like, oh, how do you do push fit plumbing and how do you insulate your roof? You know, I wanna see the process of that. Not necessarily just like a pretty interior design before and after.

So I find sort of the DIY inspo is really helpful online on places like TikTok as well.

Jane: I’ve never thought about it like that before. That you are running in parallel, the practical and the visual. And actually knowing especially as a DIYer, but for any project, you kind of know that the thing that you want to do is feasible. And just looking at that finished glossy image is not gonna tell you anything.

It’s like this, it’s this mystery where you’re saying, well, how, how did they manage that? How, how, how has that happened? And using video in that way just opens up this whole other world of, of marrying those two things together.

Sharn: Yeah, and I think also it makes it like. You know back in the day where you used to flip through magazines and you’ve got this woman sitting on her sofa in front of her beautiful home and you are just like, oh my God, this rich woman just like. She’s so lucky. I wish I could be her. And then actually when you unpack, you know, and I, and people could look at me and think they’re very same if I did a magazine shoot in my front room, but then if you like look back and I give you all the context of what is taken to get there, I’m like, it’s been really hard and like it’s been awful and I’ve been covered in dirt and it’s taken eight months and it’s not just a before and after shot.

I think it makes it. It adds reality and it also adds knowledge. Like I’ve learned so much online from people who are just doing the same thing as me and they’re like, oh, when we did this, we did this. You know, when we put in our fireplace we actually did this. And I think that’s so helpful and that’s what I try to do through my channel is just not tell people how to do things, cuz I’m not a pro, I’m a diy, but just to show you how I have done it and how we’ve got, got to this place and you know the little hacks and tips and anything that can save you money, save you time, you know what we’ve found useful. I like to share that with other people cuz I’ve absorbed so much of that for myself.

Amy: I really love that camaraderie and also just the community where

everybody’s helping each other and the transparency of it takes it off from being this pedestal

out of everybody’s hands and actually it’s like, yeah, you can do it.

I mean I look at my, my dad was a big DIY and like just very capable and you kind of just think like they just know that stuff, but actually like they’ve learned it from people who have it down. And I think we are regaining that confidence to actually do things ourselves.

And I think that was lost somehow.

Sharn: Yeah. I think the online community makes, what it does is make interior design and renovation very accessible.

And I think what you mentioned there is so important about how you, you know, growing up you might watch a parent or, your uncle or someone do DIY and you’re just like, oh, they just know it. And it’s like, well, everyone’s learned somewhere. Your dad isn’t born like knowing how to use a drill.

You learn it somewhere. And I think, uh uh, you know, to go deeper with it, very much generationally. It’s the men that do the work and the men that learn these skills and women aren’t capable of it. And I think a lot of what is happening online is like women are sort of reclaiming that.

Like, and I’m brilliant at designing a space and I can do it X, Y, Z, or I can use a drill and I can saw wood and all these things and I’m gonna teach you if you want to learn how to do it and feel confident in it. Here’s how I do it, and you can do it too. So I think it just sort of reclaims the sort of ownership of diy, of construction, of anything to do with houses.

Anything practical like women or non-binary people can do that as well as men. And you can learn the same way any man you know has just learned they weren’t born with those skills.

So I think that’s so important as well. And that’s what I love about TikTok, massively Instagram as well. Cause most of the accounts I follow and engage with and talk to are women, there are very few men actually who have Instagram accounts for their homes or for their renovations. It’s all women, women putting in all the work in terms of like making this content, sharing their stories, and they’re also really pitching in with like the grafting as well.

So I think it’s really lovely to see that and to be a part of that.

Amy: amazing.

Jane: how much of your week does it take, like hours wise? I know it obviously ebbs and flows, but

Sharn: Yeah,

Jane: can you talk a little bit about that?

Sharn: It consumes my whole life. I dunno how people have children and do this because I just wouldn’t even bother, honestly. It’s wild to me. It. As you say, when ebbs and flows. So when we are like in renovation phase, like we are right now, we’re doing our bathroom. So every weekend is taken up with DIY at the moment, and most evenings I’m in bed on my phone searching for radiators or tiles or, you know, boring things like insulation and things like that.

So it takes up a lot of time. And then also like, you know, you order these things and then they have to arrive. So I work from home, and then the doorbell goes in the middle of the meeting. You’re like, sorry, whole bath has just turned up my doorstep. So there’s just like, it really just eeks into every part of your day.

Like, it’s not just like a, oh, we order the stuff, it turns up magically all at once, and then it’s all in the bathroom and it’s done. It really, it’s just a continuous, ongoing part of my life that’s just happening. In the, not even in the background, you know, alongside anything else important I’ve got happening that day.

You wake up early, you go to bed late, you do DIY on the weekends, and then you’re like, oh, I haven’t finished that bit. So I’ll do that tomorrow night after work. So it’s, it’s very much a constant intrusion in my life.

Amy: Wow. But you must also, I mean, to kind of commit to that, there must be joy. Like, To even get to where you’ve got to right now? I mean, it’s so good to hear the actual hours, because I think people just think, oh, you know, like maybe a couple of hours and then you kind of tick.

That’s done, you know, planning wise. But actually the research, you’re right, like conception, planning and then executing, it’s multifaceted.

Sharn: Yeah, you’re right. It is, it just takes up so much time and you think one thing’s gonna take you two hours and you might as well triple, quadruple that it takes you eight hours and that’s just how renovation life is. But as you say, there is joy in it.

Like the reason we are doing this is one to live where we wanna live. So, you know, it’s enabled us to live in an amazing location. Our quality of life now, and I say this all the time to people. Is so much better in terms of like the culture we have around us, the leisure things we have to do, the stuff on our doorstep.

The accessibility to things that we weren’t able to access before are amazing. So the joy really comes from, for us, from having like not only this, amazing house that we have, but also the world just outside of this house we’ve, like, cultivated for ourselves is like incredible. And we, we, we never take that for granted.

And we are like, we talk about it all the time about like how this was the best move we’ve ever made and the best decision we’ve ever made. And then with the renovating, like it’s h it is horrible. Like we are in a stage at the moment where we’re in like dusty, horrible, messy crap everywhere phase. But there is so much joy when you,

when you get to a stage with it where the progress starts moving a bit quicker, you’re like, oh my God, I’ve done this. And you, I know it’s really cliche to be like, it’s all worth it in the end, but you can look back and go, oh my God, I created this. Like, what a talented person I am. Like how did, how did we do this?

Like I can’t believe, you know, I was able to like, Have a full-time job, have friends, have family, look after three cats, have some sort of social life and like create this house for myself. So reali it makes you realize how much you are capable of if you kind of, yeah, again, a cliche, but if you really put your mind to it, what you can achieve is amazing.

And so there is so much joy in like waking up every day and coming downstairs to the bits of the house that are done and going, like, I live here. What?

Amy: Yeah.

Sharn: So it really, it really is worth it in the end. But when you are in it, like, you know, yesterday we were insulating our roof in the bathroom and. You know, it’s horrible and you’re sweating, it’s disgusting, you’re hungry, you’re tired, you’re a bit hungover from your birthday maybe.

I don’t know. And you know, you and your partner are, you know, you’re gonna have little little arguments and things cuz you’re getting each other’s nerves and stuff. And you, on those days, you’re like, I wish this would end. I wish it would be over. But you know, the fact of the matter is it’s all temporary and it will be over and in a, in two months time, I’ll be talking to you and the bathroom will be done.

I’ll be like, look how amazing it looks. And so there is. Joy in that sense of sort of pride and achievement that you get out of it. And also all the stuff you learn along the way, you really take for granted. Like we’ve learned so much that I can just go, oh yeah, if you wanna do this, you do X, Y, Z. And people are like, what?

What do you mean? How do you know that? And you’re like, well, I, I just know that now. So you ki it is like real personal growth alongside that sense of pride, which is just amazing. It’s, it really like, you know, builds who you are as a person, I think.

Amy: You really are gonna be on my call list you are like the walking encyclopedia now.

Sharn: Yeah. I mean, I, I think people ask me stuff and I’m like, well, I also think stuff is so specific to everyone’s house. So people are like, how’d do this? And I’ll be like, well, I dunno what your house looks like, or, I dunno what this is like in your house. Which is why I get so annoyed when people, like, you know, on TikTok, you, you get comments and stuff and people say, oh, you should have done X, Y, Z.

And I’m like, you literally don’t live here, so you don’t know. That’s not how it works. So you, you know, there’s a lot of that. But I try and, you know, give out wisdom where I can, from what I’ve learned over the years.

Jane: Talking about wisdom, for people listening, if there’s one piece of advice you would give to somebody who’s thinking of this route and the way that you’ve done it, do you have one?

Sharn: I would just say you know, people don’t like to talk about money, but I think it is, you really have to make sure you’re moving in with a bit of cash to go, because if you, it depends with the level of your renovation, right? So if you, it is just like I’m, it’s not to my taste, I need to paint some walls.

You can kind of wing that money-wise. You can save, you know, a little bit month to month and paint a wall and hang a picture and stuff. But if it’s a full renovation, I just think we came into this quite naively because we’ve never done it before. And everyone’s gonna do that and that’s fine, but make sure you’ve got a little bit of money otherwise.

It will be soul destroying when you’re like, oh, I can’t do anything for five years and you’ve got to live in it. So I think the one bit of wisdom is just like, make sure you really have worked out your finances and it, you know, whatever you’ve got, if you feel like it’s enough to at least do one room, then it’s worth doing.

Other wisdom, I would say is just, I guess just be mentally prepared that it’s gonna be a huge part of your life. Like, as I was saying, you know, if you’re just decorating, you can do that in a few weekends and that’s done right. But you’ve really gotta mentally prepare for like, this is gonna be something that is gonna be so present in your life now for years.

If you’re going down the route we are, where she’s doing it over years room by room, this is gonna be a huge part of your life and what you do at weekends and evenings for the next five plus years. Right? That’s a reality for us. So just, I suppose, you can be naive and think, you know, knowing what needs to doing, and if you don’t know the structure of a floor, that’s fine. You’ll learn it. That will come. But yeah, I just don’t expect to move in, spend two months renovating and then put your feet up for the rest of the time. I think just really come to terms with the fact that, they call it a project for a reason.

You know, it’s really gonna take over your life at times, but it’ll be, it will be fine in the end. Everything will be okay and you’ll get there. No matter how horrible, messy it will be, and just don’t, I know it sounds, this is really, I dunno, a really flippant thing to say, but like just don’t deep it too much.

Like it’s temporary. You’ll get past it. Like when you’re in those messy stages, you will hate your life and you’ll be like, everything’s a mess. I just wanna like throw it with a bin and run away. But just tell yourself it’s temporary and it will move on cuz it will. So just like, I think the mental part of it is as much a struggle as the physical and the financial part of it. Like mentally get yourself to a place where you can sort of overlook the horrible parts or can tell yourself that they’re horrible now, but there is an end in sight and it will come.

Jane: Can I say as well? Just I think your feed and the content you put out is just so valuable. The transparency of like, the reality of what renovating is like, and I’m thinking of that video with you basically covered in dust and the, and it’s hardcore and also just like, the accessibility and the end product being amazing.

Amy: So I think just like, thank you so much that you are out there in the world doing it because it’s really, it really is valuable.

Sharn: Oh, thank you. That’s so, that’s so lovely to hear. Cause I think, as I say, a lot of people cover up the bad stuff cuz they want their Instagram to look beautiful. They want it to be aesthetic. And I get that like, and I always say I’m not an interior design account, I’m a renovation account. Cuz people really come to me for the process and the journey

Jane: It’s so much more interesting though.

Amy: It’s so true. Oh, thank you so much.

Sharn: Very welcome. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been amazing. Thank you.

And for anyone who’s intrigued to see the final results, and also works in progress, head to our website at homenotes.co/storiesfromsite where you’ll find more information about the project.


The reality is most people don’t get started on their renovations for years because they can’t answer this simple question. What can I afford to do with my budget? We are here to help. Download our renovation budget guide in the link below to understand your whole project costs.



Our closing thoughts:

Renovating is definitely a marathon not a sprint.

But for those on a tight budget (hands up, all of us!) choosing the long DIY route can mean that dream home is in fact affordable.

Let’s power up our tools, people!


View more episodes


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.

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34. Blank slate to dream home: Avoiding interiors overwhelm

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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!

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32. Listening to the walls: Restoring an Edwardian terrace

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

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30. Slow renovating: Creating interiors that last

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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21. 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.

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20. The ugly duckling: Transforming a 1960’s house

This week we speak to Camilla who’s renovation journey started during lockdown when she and her husband realised they needed more space for their growing family. After an initial dream of finding a period property they fell in love with a 1960’s property which needed a complete renovation.

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19. The secret garden flat: self-build extension

This week we talk to Nic who, together with his partner, self-built a garden studio and extension to their 1 bedroom flat.We talk to him about his decision to take on a self-build project, the process they went through and what he would do differently next time.

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18. A blank canvas: bringing a home to life

We talk to Tamzin who explains why, after renovating previous properties, she chose not to take on a big renovation for her current home.We discuss the joy of getting creative in your home, being savvy with up-cycling interiors and her process of turning a blank canvas into something special.

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17. Unexpected discoveries: The cottage renovation

We talk to Hannah who is midway through renovating her thatched cottage in the countryside and the downsides of renovating an old property.

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16. Grabbing an opportunity: developing a garden site

A serendipitous chain of events led Siobhan and Joe to quickly move from a finished flat straight into a building site with development potential.

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Coming soon . . .

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