Home Renovation for £25K
Home Renovation for £25K
Downstairs Loo
Downstairs Loo

How £25K Transformed A House Into A Home

Author: Lauren Coleman

Sarah-Jane and Matt’s house was built in the 1940s and extended in the 1960s. They stripped the house back and transformed it from a soulless box to a cheery, light filled home on a budget of just £25K. This included all the building materials, trades people, furniture and a hefty dose of graft from the couple. Sarah-Jane has very kindly provided before and afters of all the rooms so you can see the five month transformation. I’ll hand over to SJ for the tour.

This house was our first house so after we had paid a 20% deposit upfront, we had to be as frugal as we could with the rest of the renovations. We completely gutted the house, stripped it right back to foundations and the more we dug the more we found. The house didn’t look too bad when we bought it, just a little dated and tired and originally we had planned to merely redecorate but I am so glad that we decided to redo everything. New electrics throughout, new central heating, new roof, new skirting boards, new architrave, new door, new plaster …everything – we covered a lot of things that would have caused us problems and greater expense down the road! As we pulled up the floor we found that the foundations were rotten, when we pulled off the skirting board we found that this was rotten too due to an unnoticed leak (non of this was on the structural survey!) We heard from our neighbours that 6 months after moving in the electrics failed and they had to THEN rewire with a newborn baby and all the associated dust all over their things so had we not changed our electrics before we moved in we might have been in a similar situation too!
Living Room Before and After

Stripping the house right back has given us the peace of mind that we know exactly what is going on under the floors and walls and, in theory, we should not have any nasty/expensive surprises which is worth every penny of the £25K we spent on the renovation. To try to keep costs down we did much of the work ourselves. I learnt how to use a mitre saw (which is terrifying by the way!!) and cut and fitted all the new skirting boards and architrave (with lots of tears) I also cut and fitted the wood paneling in the bathroom (more tears) and painted the entire house; aforementioned skirts boards, doors walls with several coats each which is long, tedious and soul-destroying (many more tears) Matt and I thought we would enjoy renovation but it turns out; we really don’t! Towards the end we began hiring in workmen to do the work for us as we were slowly losing the will to live.

As this was our first house we also had no furniture. As you can imagine we did not have much money left over for furniture so almost everything was bought second-hand from Gumtree or Facebook communities. I did not mind buying old wooden pieces and up cycling them. They are often much better quality solid wood items and look so good when they are painted. I did not use chalk paints as these are not long lasting (as all short cuts are) I did the traditional sand, prime and two coats of eggshell and a wax. My favourite piece that I up-cycled was the vintage bureau which I use as my desk in the office.
Office Before and After

I found our gorgeous 1930s doors on gumtree too. I couldn’t believe that I found enough of the unusual matching style in the right sizes for our house! I love them and I feel that along with the thicker skirting board and opening up the fireplace they have completely changed the look of our house from a boxy ex-council house into a charming vintage cottage. Matt’s desk was a small dining table that we painted white. I loved the size of it, not too big and not too small and The shape of it look vintage and in keeping with the house. I reupholstered two dining chairs to be my office chair and bedroom chair. I love the fabric so much I made a throw for our bed too!
Before and After Bedroom

The only pieces of furniture that we did not get second-hand was our bookcase in the lounge as a good second-hand bookcase is like gold dust we discovered, and on the rare occasion that one becomes available it is sold within seconds! After checking gumtree about eight times a day for six weeks I gave up and we bought one from Ikea! and also the armchair in the dining room which is my favourite seat in the whole house and cost only £275 in the Homebase sale. We also bought all our light fittings new from Ikea or eBay. Apart from the light fitting in the hallway which bought second hand from Gumtree, removed the shades, sprayed it back and screwed kilner jars to act as shades instead and it works really well.

Kitchen Before And After

Our kitchen lights were made for us by our handyman after showing him a pintrest picture. They are planks of wood with three hanging black light fitting (Ikea) with a kilner jar light fitted as a shade (Jars bought from the Range) Our kitchen was second hand from Gumtree too. We had a quote for a new kitchen of £3,000 but we then saw this one on gumtree for £250 and liked it even better! It also had exactly the right size cabinets for us! (I meticulously measured!) We then sourced a reconditioned range cooker (my exact dream oven that I had waited 10 years to have!) and then bought a new sink and, worktops. We bought second-hand washing machine, fridge, freezer and microwave at a fraction of the price of new and two and a half years later, are still going strong! We moved in after just one month when it was just bare, wet plaster on the walls, no doors, no skirting boards, no shower, no oven and dust/rubble everywhere! It was horrible! We lived off a slow cooker placed on the lounge floor and a toasted sandwich maker. The whole renovation took five months in total but when you are living in disarray with constant delays with various builders it really took its toll and I was beyond breaking point with it all. We also work from home so there was no escape. We tried going on holiday but the knowledge that it would still be there when we got back was ever present! But now! …Now, everything is exactly how we wanted it. Everything makes sense and functions how we need it to for our lives. I still look around and can’t believe that we get to live here! It is just SOOO pretty and so very “me”! I feel so relaxed that the months of stress and heartache were really worth it now! My style is very cutesy/country chic but most of the stores that I loved were way out of our price range. Most of the decorations in our house (pictures, chalkboard, cushions, bed covers, lamps, candle holders eat) came from either The Range, Dunelm, B&M Store or Home Bargains.

Sarah-Jane’s cheerful abode may be our last home tour for a while. Tracking down newer build owners who’d like to have their homes snapped is proving trickier than I thought but I have a few ideas up my sleeve!


Photography by Sarah-Jane Ethan

Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
Follow Lauren on instagram @mrslaurencoleman
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25 thoughts on “How £25K Transformed A House Into A Home

  1. We like period properties too!
    Can I ask what white you used on the walls? And in terms of your bigger equipment, did you hire it?

  2. Oh wow this is an amazing transformation! And I’m so impressed you did so much yourselves. We’ve just given up trying to fit our own skirting board – it almost reduced my poor husband to tears too! So much harder than it looks!

  3. This is incredibly impressive – I almost can’t believe you had all this renovation work done for £25k – we’ve just had a new roof and that was £6k alone! Enjoy your wonderful home! Xx

  4. Can’t we have home tours of older properties whilst you’re lining up the newer ones? I love a house tour.

    This is a great transformation and I too am shocked that you did so much for so little. I’d love to do more myself to save on costs but it is difficult around the kids. We are preparing to have our kitchen done and just discovered we also need a rewire. It’s such a pain with a toddler. In fact, my husband has taken two weeks off for us to get things done (including painting doors which were hung three years ago 😳) and we’ve now all come down with something. Typical!

    Can I ask how you lined your pantry with shelves? It looks similar to what I want to do with mine – how did you work out the measurements of it all and did you fit it yourselves?

    1. Jade – you can indeed. Just wanted to acknowledge the many requests for newer build home tours.
      Hope you all feel better soon and that your husband can get back in the kitchen soon x

      1. You should check out mrsvjones on Instagram. I think hers is a new build but you can’t tell – either way, its LUSH.

  5. It’s interesting to have a lower budget redecoration featured. Like Jade above I’m curious about your comment at the end Lauren too! Do you mean you’re keen to feature more newer builds as you feel that the emphasis has historically been on more period properties on RMS and including more newer builds will increase inclusivity across the readership?

    I agree with Jade, older home tours are always welcome… For me, the age of the property isn’t that important, more the overall transformation and insight into the process behind it. I guess it depends what we define as being newer builds too – I guess there will always be more older homes being renovated as pre-1980s builds make up 75% of the housing stock and are more likely to need updating. The transformation is often more radical too. That said, I love following Alice In Scandiland’s remodel of her newer build and how homes that may not initially have the wow factor can be transformed into something quite remarkable so if that’s the sort of thing you mean then I’m all for it!

    Finally I’d love it if home tours could include a floor plan if possible please as that really helps envisage the transformation!

    1. Thanks Philippa, we’ll try our best to get a floor plan involved in the future posts too. Any era of housing is welcome on RMS but most of our submissions are Victorian and Edwardian, that’s why I was so pleased to receive Sarah Jane’s submission. I’m in awe of what they’ve achieved on their budget and furniture too!

  6. I am in awe! We decided to do all the painting ourselves, following our kitchen renovation last year, and we’re regretting it as we are limited to times when the toddler is either asleep or out of the house… and then we have to have the energy to pick up the paintbrush! Still a few patches to do, where the old cupboards came down.

    I’d just like to add that a variety of properties is good – I love the look of older properties, but often there’s a question of proportions and how things work in a later build. We’re in a 1930’s end of terrace, and we don’t have a lot of ceiling height!

  7. We have a late 1960s built house, and are only the third owners (bought from an elderly lady in a clean but extremely dated state!). As much as new builds, I also don’t see many of this era of houses on many blogs. I guess because often they are not very attractive on the outside, but we are mid-way through our renovations and you can definitely make them look nice on the inside! In our town the older period properties cost a bomb, so ugly houses were all we could afford…

    We are also doing a lot ourselves (aside from knocking down walls and getting structural steel beams put in – best left to the professionals!). We’ve just finished fitting and glossing skirting boards in preparation for carpet being fitted in the master bedroom on Friday – very exciting! Maybe when we’ve done more rooms than the kitchen/diner, I will get back in touch in case you are looking for any 60s/70s homes 🙂

      1. We also live in a 60s build and we love it. It’s not the prettiest outside but we have so much light and space. Ta the only way we could afford a house with a garden close to London. I’d love to see your renovations (and any others) as we are currently deciding whether to reconfigure. When we have finished the house I’d happily get in touch for a home tour because it is hard to find inspiration for homes like ours on blogs.

  8. I am amazed at what you’ve achieved in such little time, with that budget. Amazed. I bet there were tears! It’s actually quite refreshing to hear from someone on a strict budget and who is also willing to admit just how hard and arduous the renovation process is.

    We’re in the process of buying a 1970’s house and I foresee a lot of this in our future. Including the upcycling of furniture as like you, it’s our first house and we haven’t a stick.

    All for the memories and adventure though!

    1. Our bathroom is now in the fourth month of redecoration and it’s been such a pain in the backside, I have no idea how a whole house can be turned around in five months. I take my hat off to SJ and her husband!
      Can’t wait to hear more about your new pad Naomi x

    2. Would love a post about your house hunt Naomi as I remember the post you did a while ago when you were thinking of buying! 😊 Pleased you’ve found something! X

  9. Fab renovation, it’s really lovely to see a house without a high end kitchen and Georgian proportions (although I love those house tours too). I’m inspired to whip out my paint brush and tackle my horrid hallway in my 60’s house. Bravo Sarah-Jane for achieving so much with so little and thanks to the RMS team for sharing. More like this please!!

  10. Ah I sympathise with those tears, and noone tells you have tricky it can be to measure the angle for skirting boards! We have bay windows, I gave up trying to measure and started using my eye, turned out to be surprisingly accurate 🙂 Well done on enduring the renovations, so glad you are happy with the finished result, worth all the blood, sweat and tears.

  11. I love the honesty of this post and the renovation itself. We have bought a 1930s ex-council house and have unearthed a whole heap of issues in the first month of ownership – including a rewire. Thankfully we haven’t had to live through it as we had a month cross over with our rent notice but you have my full sympathy on the dust and general mess. I am blown away with what you’ve achieved in that time on that budget – seriously applauding you! Also completely agree re getting tradespeople in to save your sanity- we tried filling in electrical chases ourselves and it was frustrating and taking too long. Got a builder friend in and job done in four hours with a far better finish we could have ever achieved! Finally massive heart-eyes at your closet space – given me a lot of inspiration for my own.

    More generally- I second the comment above regarding floor plans where possible. It makes it a lot easier to visualise the transformation in terms of space. I would like to see a variety of houses in terms of size rather than age – seeing what people can do with limited space is fascinating and inspiring!

  12. Lovely house – thanks for sharing!

    Lauren – would be great to see homes decorated in different styles if possible?

  13. Lovely house! Great to see this transformation before my house renovation. I can’t belive it is only 25k. Are the kitchen and living room doors are 1930 as well? I am thinking about doors for my house and can’t decide. I was thinking about solid oak either victorian or cottage style doors, but with glass option for living room, kitchen and porch to give more light as the hall will be dark with all solid doors. We living in 1930 old miners one story semi detached bungalow/cottage. I was thinking wodden doors will give more character than white, but seeing this doors made me think again. I like them too!! What doors would you suggest suit my house?? Thanks!!

  14. My house is ideal for this! 1930’s house where floral wallpaper and carpets have come to die! We are in the process of redoing everything. So far we have changed a few tassel wall lights to ceiling lights and my ceiling is currently a lime green as we are getting them skimmed over.

  15. So pleased to find a house tour like this!! Currently doing up a 3 bed semi-detached, ex-council house with the help of my partner and his dad. Dealing with low ceilings; no period features; one socket in each room (HOW?!) and snazzy 1970’s wallpaper and carpets. We’re getting closer to the decorating stage and I’ve been trawling the internet for similar houses to mine for inspiration. My design ideas are a lot darker and moodier but I love the use of upcycling and the fire place is beautiful. Great post!

  16. I love the idea of featuring newer homes. We have just bought a newbuild home, and I am loving making it our own. Beside how much the developers charge for their fittings…. We really wanted to choose our own things and makes our house different, and as a result have higher quality items which cost us less by DIYing. I love finding other people on Instagram who have the same layout but have done things differently to us. Ours is still very much a work in progress, lots of swatches and samples ago… My favourite!

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