A fashion designer who was made redundant during the pandemic, soon after buying a fixer-upper home, has revealed how she added £67,000 to the value of the outdated property in just one year – while retraining to be a teacher.
Tasmin Blaney, 29, and her partner Phil Bolger, 30, originally from Manchester, purchased their first three-bed home in Warrington for £173,000 in September 2020.
But just as the couple of eight years were ready to sign on the dotted line for their mortgage, Tasmin was ‘devastated’ to be told she’d lost her job at fashion supplier Visage.
The couple decided to buy the house nonetheless and did it up, spending only £19,000, thanks to DIY hacks and bargain buys, and adding £67,000 to its value.
Tasmin, who watched YouTube videos to teach herself DIY, said: ‘A lot of people worry they wouldn’t be able to live through the mess of it all. I won’t lie, it is a very difficult time but it is so worth it!’
Tasmin Blaney, 29, and her partner Phil Bolger, 30, originally from Manchester, purchased their first three-bed home in Warrington for £173,000 in September 2020, just after Tasmin lost her job at fashion shop. The couple opened up their kitchen to create a big open plan room offering plenty of light and a view to the garden (left, the kitchen before, and right now)
(pictured left, before) the couple’s blue and white bathroom was very standard, with a blue time floor and outdated tile work and a traditional rectangular white bathtub crammed in a corner. (Pictured right, after) Spending a total of 6,000, Tasmin and Phil swapped their old bathtub for a free standing one and opted for trendy mint-green tiles, as well as stylish black fittings
Before, the living-room was cosy, but small and dark, with beige furnishings, salmon curtains and an uninspired brown carpeted floor, pictured left. They painted the living-room green and spent only £1,500 on this particular renovation. Tasmin and Phil opted for neutral tones for their new living-room, with a light grey sofa, white throw and grey rug. They decorated with plant and added a pop of colour with accessories, pictured right
The couple were over the moon when they finally bought their house in September 2020, but they knew they had a tough road ahead, pictured
Having spent months picking out the perfect ‘project’ home to do up together, the couple – who had previously been renting together for five years – were set on getting their dream home, in spite of Tasmin’s career set back.
They paid a 15 per cent deposit of £26,000 for the home and coughed up a further £19,000 in savings on the renovation.
‘I was devastated when I lost my job, especially because the sale was so close to going through’, Tasmin said.
‘But I believe everything happens for a reason and losing my job in the fashion industry during the pandemic forced me to go down a different career path and start a new challenge.
Tasmin and Phil, pictured, lived together for six years in a rented accommodation before taking the plunge and buying their first house in 2020
Pictured left, the garden looked nice, but was in need of a little TLC, especially the terrace’s tile, which needed a deep clean, and the bushes, who needed a trim. Pictured right, the new windows opened to a lovely terrace with wooden garden furniture and a barbecue and a well-manicure lawn with trees offering shade
‘When we bought the house we knew we wanted a fixer upper, something to put our stamp on.
The cost of Tasmin’s incredible £19,000 home renovation
General works: £1,500
Blinds and cotton curtains: £16
Curtain rail: £40
Kitchen units, floor, labour: £8,000 – £9,000
Kitchen patio doors: £800
Building work: £3,000
General building costs:
‘I had dabbled in very small DIY projects before this so I was excited to get started on a much bigger project.’
To keep costs low, the couple lived at the home throughout the building works and learnt how to tackle DIY on YouTube.
They also both continued working full-time – Phil as a pallet repairer, while Tasmin retrained and qualified as a maths teacher.
Tasmin said: ‘When we were looking for houses I had a list of must-haves and a few extra added bonus features on my list and this one seemed to tick nearly all the boxes for our budget.
‘I was adamant I wanted a garden, hallway, separate living room and potential to have an open plan kitchen dining room so this was perfect and I was over the moon with the bay windows and fireplace in the living room.
‘The house was very well maintained but was in need of an update as the interior was quite outdated.’
Tasmin utilised her fashion design skills by creating vision boards for each room prior to the renovation.
In the living room, the pair spent just £1,500 transforming the space with a fresh neutral and green palette, removing the heavy beige curtains and pelmet to maximise the natural light.
Instead of opting for made-to-measure curtains that had been quoted at £400, the couple opted for modern blinds and thin cotton curtains that cost just £16, plus a £40 curtain rail.
Other thrifty projects included upgrading the fireplace, updating the seating bench and dining table and other bits and pieces around the house.
The pair also sanded and refinished the floorboards, as well as replaced tiling throughout the property.
Tasmin added: ‘Coming from a design background, I made inspiration boards on my laptop when I was deciding on what I wanted in each room.
The dining-room had blue carpeted floors, which made the room fell dark and beige and dark brown furnishing. Tasmin wanted to maximin the house’s space by merging the dining-room with the kitchen (left, and right, mid-way through the renovation)
Pictured: the couple’s front room during the renovation, after it was stripped of its carpeted floor. They opted for neutral colours to maximise the light, and spent only £1,500 to do the room up
The couple had builders completely take down the wall between the kitchen and the dining-room to create their open plan cooking and eating space, pictured
‘Seeing it all together on a board helps to see what compliments each other well and what maybe doesn’t work so you can avoid that before you buy.’
However, the couple certainly encountered ‘tough times’ on their renovation journey, including spending months without a fully functional kitchen or bathroom.
The couple stripped out the dated and pokey kitchen, knocking through a wall to create an open plan kitchen/diner and fitted a sleek country-style kitchen island complete with a breakfast bar – costing around £8,000- £9,000.
Tasmin said: ‘Having no kitchen or bathroom is a very good motivator to keep you going, it needed to be done so we spent every spare minute we had chipping in to get the work done as fast as possible while still both being in full time jobs.’
The couple stripped the kitchen of its all cupboards, pictured. The room cost £9,800 to renovation, because it was the most ambitious part of the house makeover (left and right)
Phil in front of the back windows of the house before the renovation. The couple forked £800 on bay windows for their new kitchen, that open to the garden
Tasmin confessed one of the hardest parts of the project was living in the home while the renovations were taking place (pictured left and right)
Tasmin and Phil also avoided forking out £400 for a professional floorer, instead installing a wooden parquet floor together.
Another room that received a massively beneficial overhaul was the upstairs bathroom, where the couple spent £3,000 ripping out the old-fashioned grey three-piece set and replacing it with a dreamy ex-display feature bathtub and modern fixtures sourced from eBay.
Outside, the couple repaved their patio and extended it into the garden to increase the outdoor entertaining space, bought modern garden furniture, and put flower beds down.
They also invested in a new set of kitchen patio doors, costing £800 including installation
Before, left, the entrance lobby was covered in a burnt orange carpet floors, and the doors were painted white. After the renovations, Phil and Tasmin fitted a new floorboard, right, and painted the second door and the door leading to the front room in grey, right
Their dining-table in now nestled into a corner of their open-plan kitchen. They opted for a trendy booth-style sitting area with a bench and cushions, pictured after
The kitchen, which looked dated before, was replaced with modern cream cupboard units, a beautiful stove, wooden floors and a kitchen island with extra-storage and a sink
Pictured: the cosy fireplace and storage unit in the living-room now. The couple picked a relaxing pistachio colour for their walls to add more light to the room
The new living-room is luminous and houses two sofas. The raffia table matches the light picked by Tasmin, who made vision boards of how she wanted each room to look
However, they did have to hire professionals for some of the bigger jobs, such as plumbing, electrics, gas, plastering and general building work – but to save on money and get better deals they used websites like Checkatrade.
The couple, who met at school, have so far only renovated the downstairs of the property, with the upstairs bathroom being the only exception – leaving potential for more value to be added to the now £240,000 home.
For those looking to start their own home renovation, Tasmin added: ‘Even if you don’t want to do as much DIY as we did, checking on websites, you can find a really good deal which would cost less than buying a house all done, and plus you get the added bonus of choosing the finish that you want – not what someone else has chosen.
‘I am a big believer in just giving things a go.
‘You will make mistakes but you will learn from them and that’s how you become more confident and try the bigger projects.’
The couple decorated their new bathroom with artworks and plants to make it a cosy relaxing room, perfect for a soak after a busy week, pictured
The stove part of the new kitchen was decorated with a mosaic, which fits the new aesthetics of the room perfectly. Like in the bathroom, Phil and Tasmin opted for a black tap and black fittings
The new bay windows, which open to the garden and offered plenty of light. The central island of the kitchen offers extra storage too, pictured
Phil and Tasmin chose a trendy cupboard unit with a small basin at the top for their bathroom, next to an angle shower with black fittings, pictured