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DIY Mum Transforms Bathroom Into Stunning Space For Under £500, Saving £3,500

November 22, 2021, 12:00 PM
  • Monica Farrelly, 45, wanted to overhaul her bathroom without spending a fortune
  • She used budget materials such as Amazon stick-on tiles and a free scaffolding board as a shelf
  • Monica managed to do the project for under £500 instead of an estimated £4,000

If your bathroom is in need of a serious overhaul but you don’t want to spend thousands of pounds giving it a new lease of life, look to this DIY-savvy mum for inspiration.

Monica Farrelly, 45, a pharmacist and mum of two boys from Glasgow, transformed her bathroom into a chic monochrome space for under £500 - saving thousands, as she estimates that hiring professionals would have cost around £4,000.

Monica took inspiration from Pinterest and used budget materials such as Frenchic paint, Amazon stick-on tiles and even a free scaffolding board as a shelf.

Monica told the money-saving Black Friday app: “I decided to become self-employed as a locum a year ago, giving me better opportunities to do the things I enjoy best - to create interiors, make furniture and basically just to nurture my creative side.

"The idea for my bathroom came from an extension of what I had already created in my hallway and kitchen.

"Having already spent so much on those other areas, I decided to do it on the cheap as my budget wouldn’t stretch to a brand new suite and tiles.

"I noted some tips and inspiration on some Facebook groups, took lots of inspiration from Pinterest and of course from my favourite interior magazines.

"My vision was of an industrial feel mixed with natural wood and greenery plus a hint of glam.

"My creative process really took off when my partner took our boys to see family in France for a few days, giving me the perfect opportunity to revamp the bathroom and use it as a surprise for when they got home!

"My process for most of my projects generally involves an attitude of ‘try something, see if it works, if not, change it!’

"I knew I wanted crisp white in the shower area with nearby greenery, then a more sophisticated industrial-style boudoir for the rest.

“First, I prepped the bath panel and the wall tiles throughout the bathroom using sugar soap. This helped remove any residual dirt or grime built up over time.

"Next, I lightly sanded the tiles using my orbital sander on a 120 grit. This provided a better surface for the paint to adhere to.

"I removed the toilet roll holder, wall cupboard and towel rail with ease, however, the old concertina bath screen took a good couple of hours to remove.

"The fixing bracket fitted to the main wall tiles and was held in place using the expected Rawlplugs and screws, but the thick yellow industrial-type glue for additional security was definitely not expected!

"This was my original family home and my dad worked in the shipyards, so my guess was that it came from there.

"Using a hammer and wallpaper scraper, I finally managed to prise it off the tiles, but with resultant damage to them. Around six were either cracked or completely broken.

"After receiving advice from a tiler, it was advised that I remove the broken ones and replace them with new ones. Given that the tiles were from the ’80s, finding tiles that size was virtually impossible.

"My only option was to buy bigger ones and cut them exactly to size. This I did with my jigsaw and diamond blade attachment.

"Thankfully I have a lot of patience, so after a few hours of finely shaving and sanding tiny bits off, I managed to have the perfect fit. I secured them using tile adhesive and grout.

"I could then start my painting!

"Once I had decided what height to have the contrasting colours meet, I used frog tape to ensure a straight edge.

"I decided after research to use the Frenchic Al Fresco paint. It’s a chalk and mineral-based paint which leaves a matte finish. It’s known for its durability and is waterproof.

"Using Harris paintbrushes from Screwfix, I painted a thin coat of Blackjack above the frog tape line. It dries quickly but is patchy at first, however after the second coat, its coverage was incredible showing no bare areas.

"These two coats took around three hours to complete. I removed the frog tape and started on the white Dazzle Me paint, again using paintbrushes.

"I used a steady hand to bring it up to the line meeting the Blackjack. Any areas needing to be tidied up at the end were done using a very small brush. The white paint took four coats to completely cover the old blue tiles.

"The bath panel, window surround and storage unit were prepped and painted in a similar fashion, taking two to three coats of Blackjack paint. Lastly, I freshened up the ceiling with a coat of white emulsion.

"The flooring was my next job. I prepped it again using sugar soap. I decided to lay it on top of the existing linoleum for two reasons.

"Firstly it was already perfectly smooth and flat and secondly, the flooring underneath was concrete and the instructions for the floor tiles told you not to place on concrete as it wouldn’t stick.

"I calculated the exact centre of the floor, then set about laying the tiles. I used measuring tape and a Stanley knife to cut the tiles around the edges.

"The tiles themselves were self-adhesive and were extremely sticky. For the tricky areas around the sink and toilet, I used scrap backing paper along with a pencil to give me a template.

"I used the template, making gradual changes until it became a perfect job. It was a bit tedious but well worth the result.

"I also used contact adhesive spray in areas I felt would have been prone to more moisture and heat, just to give it some extra security. Finally, I sealed off the edges around the sink and toilet with black sealant to finish the job.

“The final jobs included fitting a new dark blind. This was easy as the previous pilot hole fixings were in exactly the position I needed the new one to be in. I also fitted a new black toilet seat, replacing the existing white one.

"The fitting of the bath screen was a little trickier as it was really heavy and fitting it needed to be exact. Firstly I fitted the wall bracket for the screen to slide into, then with some help I managed to accurately secure it in place.

"I sourced some scaffolding boards from my friend Paddy as I wanted some raw rustic-looking shelves. I cut them to the size I wanted using my circular saw, let them dry out a little then sanded them.

“Lastly, I oiled them using some leftover worktop oil from my kitchen. I secured them to the wall using Rawlplugs and screws, using a special tile drill bit to ensure I didn’t crack or damage my tiles.

"My last job was to fit a new light. My existing one screwed directly into the ceiling, so I needed to fit a new drop-down pendant then fit my light shade.

"Equipped with my head torch and ensuring the mains was switched off, I set about changing the ceiling rose. I discovered after unscrewing the existing wiring that the old wiring system was in place from the mains!

"After a quick bit hesitant search on Google, while my two young boys waited patiently for the internet to return, I worked out what wire went where and reconnected it all.

“I fitted the pendant to the ceiling, inserted the bulb then the light shade, popped the mains back on to excitedly discover it had worked! My kids were so happy for me too that I had achieved it!

“The materials I used included Frenchic Al Fresco Blackjack, Dazzle Me and Gold Frensheen, which cost £69.80.

“The flooring was stick-on tiles from Amazon which cost £57.60.

“The light fitting, shade and pull cord were all Amazon for £50.87.

“The bath screen was from Victoriaplum.com for £200 and the storage cabinet, which I painted, was from Habitat for £80.

“The shelving was a 9” scaffolding board which I cut, sanded and oiled - that was free.

“The industrial shelving brackets were from woodnwax.co.uk for £24.

"Other accessories included ‘toilet rules’ and gold peace sign from Rockett St George for £54, the Nkuku vanity mirror for £38.50, the Habitat round gold mirror for £25.00, and some plants from M&S and Next, which cost £54.50 for all three plants.”

Monica is thrilled with the outcome of her project and with the thousands of pounds she has saved by doing it herself.

"I feel so proud of the look I’ve created and how much better my house looks overall - it just ties everything together!” she adds.

"Cost-wise, without the plants and decorations, it cost me just under £500 to complete, where £280 of that was the bath screen and the storage cabinet.

"Looking online at your typical DIY store, I reckon it would have cost around £2,000 to do a similar job.

“That's without the cost of the workmen to complete the plumbing and tiling, so possibly £4,000 with those costs included.

"I feel absolutely elated to have completed this myself.

"I’ve always been quite hands-on when it comes to DIY, and it’s a constant learning curve. I feel so proud of what I have achieved in a short space of time and would do it again in a heartbeat.

"My sons encourage me too, telling me ‘well done, Mum, it looks amazing' - they’re so sweet and are my complete inspiration to keep creating!

“My tips for people who want a similar look are to plan and take plenty inspirations from your favourite magazine and Pinterest on the look you’re trying to achieve.

"Don’t be afraid of failure. If you don’t like it, it can be simply changed.

"And if something breaks, it can be fixed!

"Play great music whilst you create and work on your project - it’ll encourage and inspire you further!

"Share your work as it may inspire others.”

Tom Church, co-founder of the money-saving Black Friday app, comments: “What an amazing project Monica has pulled off! It would have been tempting to go to a contractor who could have done all this for her, but Monica has saved thousands of pounds by doing it herself and being really clever about the materials she’s used.

“From using stick-on tiles to creating a shelf out of a scaffolding board, Monica has used plenty of savvy tricks to create a stunning look for less.

“I love her positive message too: as she says, if you try something and you don’t like what you’ve done, it can always be changed or fixed, so if you’re thinking of doing some DIY in your home and you don’t know where to start, browse Pinterest, buy some cheap supplies online and give it a go!"

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