Emma totally transformed her run down cottage
(Picture: Media Drum World)
A DIY aficionado has revealed how she added £115,000 to the value of her two-bed cottage – all by spending just under £11,000.
Self-styled ‘DIY-Educator’ Emma Downer has spent the last four years doing up her cottage, sharing the highlights of her journey to her 315,000 TikTok followers.
The 35-year-old Bristolian bought the 19th Century cottage for £210,750 when it was in dire need of renovation.
The place is now unrecognisable after she got to work on her basement, hallway, kitchen, bathroom and home office.
Emma spent 80 days transforming the dingy, unused basement into a cosy spot to store her tools and chill out.
This is her biggest project to date in her home renovation journey, but she still kept costs down to £800 by finding material online for free and doing all the plasterboard, plastering and radiator fitting herself.
Emma’s kitchen is unrecognisable from before (Picture: MDWfeatures/Emma Downer)
As well as saving money, she has picked up a lot of skills on the way.
‘I started that last year and because there were lots of different skills that I hadn’t done before so it took a lot of research, it was much slower,’ Emma says.
‘I was doing stuff that was sometimes quite far out of my comfort zone so I had to work up to that stuff.
‘I would try slightly easier things and then once I knew I could do that I would move on to slightly harder things.’
Emma completely resorted the original hallway tile (Picture: MDWfeatures/Emma Downer)
Her pride and joy is the Minton mosaic tiled floor in her hallway, for which she restored by using original tiles she snagged from eBay for £750 – a good price for these tiles which can fetch thousands of pounds.
Emma recalls: ‘I was on holiday in Tanzania and I was trying to buy these floor tiles on Ebay at the bus stop before we went up the mountain.
‘I restored the floor and it was really time-consuming but rewarding, the tiles were mosaic style and they can be really expensive.
‘I used the flooring in other areas of my house so overall for the tiling in the hallway I would say I only used about £400 of that flooring.’
She turned the basement from this… (Picture: MDWfeatures/Emma Downer)
…To this (Picture: MDWfeatures/Emma Downer)
She also revitalised the bathroom with tiling, plumbing, painting, and fixing the original floorboards for just £3,200, which involved installing a £2,000 solid cast iron clawfoot bathtub, too.
In the back garden, Emma gutted and repainted, adding a shed and hot tub.
She also transformed the completely gutted shell of a kitchen into a kitsch country haven complete with quirky light fitting.
The kitchen renovation cost £5,700 – much less than it usually would – as she built the worktops, fitted extractor fans, and had the boiler moved to generate space.
Emma’s DIY skills are entirely self-taught. She decided to share her skills on social media after finding out how satisfying it is to ‘do things you don’t think are possible.’
She’s faced a lot of scepticism about her ability to do certain things, like install her stair runner, but hasn’t let that stop her.
The bathroom was clearly unloved before Emma got to work (Picture: MDWfeatures/Emma Downer)
It’s now bright and stylish, with the clawfoot tub serving at the focal point (Picture: MDWfeatures/Emma Downer)
Emma says: ‘I felt like I achieved that in the face of adversity and at the end when it was done everyone said wow you really did do a good job there.
‘They were surprised but pleasantly surprised that it worked out well.’
Her aim now is to encourage others along their DIY journey, with hacks, how-to’s and before and after renovation videos.
Emma’s office was decked out in green paint and carpet (Picture: MDWfeatures/Emma Downer)
However she’s now turned it into a welcoming workspace (Picture: MDWfeatures/Emma Downer)
She says: ‘If you are willing to give painting and decorating a go that can save you a lot of money.’
You can start small, by learning how to example, for example, helping you to hang pictures on your wall or finally mount your TV.
Above all, Emma wants people to start where they feel comfortable.
There wasn’t much to work with in the kitchen either (Picture: MDWfeatures/Emma Downer)
Emma saved money on the overhaul by fitting and building things herself (Picture: MDWfeatures/Emma Downer)
She explains: ‘When people see what others do online they think they could never get there because it feels so far away from where they are at.
‘I always like to remind people that that was me, that was how I felt, I saw other people doing stuff and thought I could never do that.
‘But once you start where you feel comfortable you build confidence in yourself because you prove to yourself that you can do it and once you have that it makes you curious about what else you could do and that is how the skill gets built.
‘Once you have gained a certain level of skill it is amazing how quickly that level of skill rises once you have the basics.’
Bathroom, full renovation: about £3200. Would have been a lot cheaper if it were not for the cast iron bath setup which was over £2000, other costs include tiles, paint, sink unit, taps, radiator, the sink Emma found buried in the garden, she reused the floorboards that were already there.
Kitchen: £5700 including kitchen unit, oak worktops, moving the boiler, paint, extractor fan, tiles, floor tiles, tile adhesive, backing boards, light fixture, boiling tap, sink.
Hallway: £750. Got the tiles cheaply from Ebay, other costs are MDF for panelling that B&Q will cut to size for you, paint, tile adhesive, grout, tile backing boards.
Basement refurb: £800 Materials include, plaster, plasterboard, wood, MDF, sand, cement, tanking fluid, paint, radiator, Emma picked up plyboard that was going free from a house nearby. Storage units she got for free.
Office Cupboards: £400 made to fit by Emma, materials are MDF, paint, varnish, handles, drawer runners, architrave. The paint was gifted as part of a business partnership and would have cost an additional £100.
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