University students transform home in four months for £12k with savvy DIY tricks


Two savvy university students have given their home an incredible makeover in just four months for £12,000 – and did almost all the work themselves.

Mia Thomas, 22, and her partner Jack Bradley, 24, moved into the flat in June 2020 and decided to renovate it into a modern space.

The space is now unrecognisable after the couple toiled after classes and on the weekends painting walls, adding new fittings and even building a decorative chimney breast.

Jack was able to do much of the work thanks to his skills as a part-time electrical engineer but the couple also roped in kitchen fitters for some of the fiddlier bits.

They bought the property last year for £150,000 and started doing it up in January, finishing the work by May.

“We’re so pleased with what we’ve done so far,” Mia said.

“We’re really proud of ourselves and how it’s all coming together.

“I would say that I have the eye for design and Jack is the handyman – we’re a good team!

“We were both raised in DIY families and enjoyed the idea of doing up a house ourselves.

“This way we would make the house the way that we want it, but also hopefully add some value for when we come to sell it.”

The couple started with the kitchen, ordering new appliances from Wickes, which cost them £1,600.

Jack was able to do much of the work thanks to his skills as an electrical engineer but the couple also roped in kitchen fitters for some of the fiddlier bits.

They also painted the walls for £20 and retiled for £200, as well as adding new cabinets, handles and other fittings for £7,910.

Altogether, the room was the most expensive in the house to transform with £9,630 from the total budget going towards the kitchen.

Mia said: “The most enjoyable part so far has been having the kitchen of our dreams finished!

“It’s such a nice space and we use it so often.”

Meanwhile, in the living room, the couple ripped out the old flooring and replaced it with new imitation parquet flooring, which cost £600.

Next, they fitted new skirting boards from Skirting 4 U (£200) and repainted the walls with a cheap tin of paint from Wickes (£30).

The couple also fitted a new toilet and vanity unit and added charming accessories including a mirror, prints and a hanging plant – which cost them just under £520 in total.

For the bathroom, they reinstalled the pipe work with a new shower, alongside a bespoke shelf made from wood and waterproof backer board.

They also built a false chimney breast out of wood and added a plasterboard – costing £80 in total – though they outsourced the latter to a professional.

For their new cloakroom, the couple ripped out the flooring and walls – then did pipe work modifications to turn the old cupboard into a laundry closet.

The entire home transformation cost the couple around £12,344 in total – and they couldn’t be more pleased.

Mia offered a few words of advice to others who wish to do their own home renovations.

She said: “Definitely don’t underestimate how much time and effort is involved, it consumes any spare time that you have, but it is worth in the end!”

Appliances £1,600

Tiles £100

Paint £20

Cabinets, worktops, handles, fitting £7,910

Total = £9,630

Living room
Flooring £600 (includes hallway and kitchen)

Skirting £200

Paint £30

Wood/plasterboard £80

Total = £910

Floor tiles £80

Wall tiles £100

Grout £20

Toilet £50

Vanity £200

Mirror £40

Paint £20

Prints £5 (Dunelm)

Frames £3.99 each (Aldi)

Total = approx £519

Floor tiles £50

Wall tiles £250

Shower £150

Bath £150

Vanity £200

Paint £20

Toilet £50

Prints £15

Towel rail £120

Shower screen £100

Mirror £20

Total = £1,125

Laundry cupboard
Wallpaper £20 (Amazon)

Tiles (the left over from the cloakroom) £0

Wood for the shelves £20 (B&Q)

Floating shelves £15 (Homebase)

Legs for the shelf £30 (B&Q)

Total = £85