Couple Quoted £17,995 For Hallway Panelling Do It Themselves For £750
- Savvy Hampshire couple, Bryony and Tom, saved over £17k by DIY-ing the shaker-style wall panelling they wanted for their hallway rather than calling in the pros
- Used YouTube tutorials to guide them and say “it’s staggering how much we’ve been able to save”
- Share their step-by-step guide to achieving the look in your own home
If you're renovating your home on a budget, being able to recreate a much-loved design feature for less can go a long way when it comes to keeping costs in check.
When Bryony Wilson and Tom Bown moved into their Edwardian semi-detached home in Farnborough, Hampshire, in November 2019, it needed some upgrading. As such, they had a long list of projects to tick off their wish list. One must-have improvement was adding shaker-style wall panelling in the hallway, but a professional quote for £17,995 stopped them in their tracks.
“We searched around, but struggled to find any companies offering hallway panelling services,” Bryony 29, a PR & Social Manager, told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk. “So when we did eventually find a company, they knew they could charge whatever they liked for it. We gave them our measurements and they quoted us almost £18k for the work, which we thought was exorbitant considering it’s just MDF and labour costs. We know that making home improvements can really help to add value to a property but, for us, it didn’t feel practical to spend that amount of money on a decorative feature.”
After chatting through their options, Bryony and Tom, 36, a Director of Design in the fashion industry, decided to tackle the project themselves. They ended up spending just £750 on the upgrade, saving thousands of pounds in the process.
“We knew that we could do it for a more affordable price but it’s staggering how much we’ve been able to save – I can’t quite believe it,” says Bryony, who runs an Instagram account @welford.house that charts their home improvements and DIY projects. “We’ve all felt the pinch this year so we’re over the moon that we’ve been able to save where we can.”
Their enthusiasm for renovating the property in keeping with its Edwardian era design influenced their approach.
“We both really love period properties and the opulence that period features bring to homes,” says Bryony. “We are particularly inspired by the décor featured in The Crown and Downton Abbey, and wanted to recreate some of this in our own home.
“We kept seeing beautiful hallway panelling all over Instagram and Pinterest, and the style seems to be having a moment,” she continues. “We felt that panelling was the perfect way to bring a modern yet classic style to the hallway.”
The shaker-style panelling was created using a flat sheet MDF backboard, with strips of MDF layered on top to form raised squares. To complete the design, the couple added wooden beading to the inside edges of the MDF strips for a softer, more elegant look.
The couple turned to YouTube tutorials to help them carry out the upgrade.
“I’d seen a few handy YouTube tutorial videos, which gave step-by-step advice on how to work with MDF and build wall panels,” says Bryony. “The videos are easy to follow and I was confident that we could use them as a guide. We’re also quite handy around the house and have done a few smaller DIY projects in the past, so we weren’t afraid to get stuck in.
“A lot of DIY is guesswork, but the YouTube videos did really help. We’ve also spent more time in the house since lockdown due to less time commuting, so we knew we would have extra time in the evenings to work on the panelling.”
A bonus was that no specialist tools were needed, making the job feel less daunting.
“I quickly learnt that even though the finished product looks incredibly professional, when you actually break it down into small steps it isn’t that hard to achieve an overall professional finish,” says Bryony. “After getting our heads around the basics, we bought a few sheets of MDF from B&Q so that we could have a practice run at cutting it.
“Working with MDF is low risk with high reward. We knew we could keep chipping away until we achieved the perfect result because the worst that could happen is that we’d ruin a few sheets of MDF.”
One they felt comfortable enough to push ahead, they started marking up the design.
“Firstly, we measured the entire hallway by running a measuring table along the walls to ensure we knew how much MDF we would need to cover the length of the space,” says Bryony. “The height of the panels should be roughly a third of the wall height, so our panels needed to be 90cm tall.”
Measuring up became slightly trickier on the stairs.
“We used a digital angle finder, which we bought from Amazon for £10, to find the correct angle of the stair incline that ensured the top of the panelling would meet the top of the ground floor panels at the correct point,” explains Bryony. “Once we had sussed out the length and height of the MDF panels we needed, we bought the MDF online via a website called Cut My Plastic, which cuts the MDF to size for you. This meant we didn’t need any expensive cutting tools.”
The panels were held in place with No More Nails adhesive and a nail gun, which the couple borrowed from a family friend. They added beading for a stylish touch.
“The extra detail is really eye-catching,” says Bryony. “Plus, beading is relatively easy and cheap to get hold of. Both Wickes and B&Q do great ranges. We decided to buy ours online, however, because we needed a lot and we didn’t know how much stock there was in-store due to the pandemic.
“Our layered MDF was 9mm, so we went with 9mm beading. We measured the inside of each of the MDF squares so we knew how much we needed. After purchasing the beading, we used a mitre box, £5 from B&Q, to find the correct angle to hand saw it so the beading would slot into place.”
With the design now complete, all that was left to do was to prime and paint it. The couple used a white undercoat for wood topped off with a couple of coats of Dulux Quick Dry Eggshell.
“We can’t believe the final result,” says Bryony. “It looks better than we could have imagined, and it was so simple to do. I can’t imagine a professional doing any better than we have, and we’ve done it for a fraction of the price.
“Often, hallways can be quite dark and the bright white panelling really helps to bring light into the space and open it up. It’s completely changed the style of the space, and every time I walk through the door I feel like I’m walking through Downton. It’s always the first thing our guests complement us on.”
The couple worked on the panelling on and off for around four weeks, which includes the time spent waiting for the MDF and beading to be delivered.
“If you’re planning a similar project, I’d recommend starting a Pinterest board and searching the platform for hallway panelling styles you like, as there are a few variations,” says Bryony. “I’d also recommend using a spirit level when fitting the MDF because floors can often be quite uneven so you want to ensure all your boards are straight.
“DIY is all about trial and error, and giving it a go,” she adds. “There are so many handy YouTube tutorials out there, which give you easy-to-follow advice. Don’t be afraid to get it wrong. Our spare room was filled with wrong cuts of the beading. Lastly, we always follow the advice of Tom’s dad: measure twice, cut once.”
Tom Church, Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk says: “With time and patience, Bryony and Tom have achieved an incredible result and have saved thousands.
“They also made some savvy time-saving choices along the way, including finding an online supplier to cut the panels to size and deliver them to the door.
“It goes to show that, with some DIY skills, you can make those coveted home upgrades on a budget.”
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