By Kate Harrold


THIS FIRST time buyer transformed her ENTIRE home for just £4K – using leftover wood, second-hand furniture, black tape, and even a potato.

Graphic designer and solo first-time buyer Kelly Rowland (32) from Sheffield, UK, purchased her Edwardian three-bedroom semi-detached home in 2019 for £126,000. Whilst the house needed some updating, Kelly wasn’t too fazed by this.

Although Kelly had never completed a DIY project on this scale, she’d grown up decorating alongside her late mum, Lynda, and had self-taught herself plastering by the age of 14 and flooring, paving, and fitting UPVC windows by the age of 21.

Kelly in her updated living room. Mediadrumimages/@houseatnumber30

Excited by the challenge, Kelly set to work updating her home and garden on a modest budget of £3,500.

One of Kelly’s most budget-savvy transformations has been her garden which in total, cost less than £300. Kelly utilised picket fencing left from the previous owners and sanded and cut this down to create a log and bin store.

The garden table and benches were purchased second-hand from Facebook Marketplace for just £30. Kelly sanded the furniture back to its natural finish and then painted the bases black (£13) before sealing them with exterior varnish (£16).

Kelly’s stairs prior to their makeover. Mediadrumimages/@houseatnumber30

The bulk of the cost in the garden went on purchasing timber to create a long slatted planter. Kelly used recycled timber for the frame and then purchased some extra slats for £124 and fixed the materials together herself.

To complete the garden, Kelly created a faux tiled wall using masonry paint (£17) and a stencil (£7) and spent the remainder of the budget on plants for the timber planter.

Kelly’s home was equipped with a fairly modern kitchen but the bland, beige cupboards lacked the finish and style Kelly desired. Unable to justify replacing these completely, Kelly upcycled the cabinets for just £150 – saving herself hundreds of pounds.

Kelly’s updated staircase. Mediadrumimages/@houseatnumber30

She used one tin of primer (£16.95) and two tins of hardwearing furniture paint (£29.95). Kelly then sanded the existing wooden worktops and coated them in hard wax oil creating the appearance of a completely new kitchen having been fitted.

One of Kelly’s cheapest projects has been her potato print wall which runs along the staircase to her loft bedroom. The bang-on-trend minimalist wall design cost just £4 and required a tester pot of black paint, a few potatoes, and a sponge – much cheaper than buying similar wallpaper.

Similarly, Kelly created a crittal-style shower screen for £4 using a simple roll of black washi tape.

Kelly removed the bricks blocking up the old chimney to make it a feature. Mediadrumimages/@houseatnumber30

Kelly’s top tips for doing DIY on a budget include buying materials second-hand and upcycling existing items you may already have. Most important of all however, is creating a space that’s unique and individual and one that makes you happy.

“I’ve always enjoyed watching makeover programmes – even when I was younger,” Kelly said.

“My dad hated DIY so I’d always help my mum out while he was at work. Mum used to get more paint on herself than the walls though so I ended up doing quite a lot.

The bathroom prior to the transformation. Mediadrumimages/@houseatnumber30

“When I was fourteen, I watched a few videos on YouTube and taught myself to plaster over an artex ceiling. I was chuffed with how it came out.

“A few years later, I ended up tiling a floor and laying laminate. I can also fit UPVC windows and block pave. I leave electrics and plumbing to professionals though.

“My garden makeover was all about disguising the horrible walls on both sides of the patio area and adding more planting. I looked on Pinterest for inspiration and came across a slatted design planter. I just adapted the look and made it myself.

Kelly’s updated bathroom. Mediadrumimages/@houseatnumber30

“The bathroom was a room where I wanted maximum impact at a minimum cost. Tiling the whole thing would have been too expensive for my budget so I decided to panel half of the wall and wallpaper above.

“Using washi tape to create a crittal-style shower screen really helped transform the space. This is a great idea for renters as it’s so quick and easy to remove.

“I’m certain that the house’s value has increased despite having such a small budget. I’ve opened up the staircase and re-boarded and plastered it. I’ve also sanded many of the original floors to bring them back to life.”

Kelly’s updated dining room which included rediscovering the blocked-up fireplace. Mediadrumimages/@houseatnumber30

Kelly has no plans to slow down any time soon. She’s hoping to add a dado rail and beading to the landing before building a summer house in the garden later this year – with partner Blake now joining in on the build.

“Source items second-hand and upcycle things you already have. Don’t be scared to spray paint or get crafty,” Kelly said.

“You’ll be creating a unique and individual piece for your home.

Kelly painted her kitchen cupboards to update the room on a small budget. Mediadrumimages/@houseatnumber30

“It’s far more rewarding to do things for yourself.

“Don’t be overly influenced by perfectly styled interiors. I ensure you that they are lived in and there’s probably a pile of stuff hidden behind the camera.”