Students, 22 and 24, transform flat in four months with just £12,000

University students give their flat an incredible modern makeover for just £12,000 – doing most of the DIY work themselves between classes

  • Mia Thomas, 22, and Jack Bradley, 24, bought a flat in Derbyshire for £150,000
  • DIY-savvy couple took on the task of giving outdated home a modern makeover
  • They completed the project in four months and it cost them just £12,000 in total

Two university students transformed their home in an incredible DIY renovation for just £12,000 – doing most of the work themselves between their uni classes. 

Mia Thomas, 22, and her boyfriend Jack Bradley, 24, who also works part-time as an electrical engineer, purchased their flat in Derbyshire in June 2020 for £150,000.

The DIY-savvy couple decided to renovate the outdated home and took on the task of giving the flat a modern makeover, starting with the ‘kitchen of their dreams’.


Two university students transformed their home in Derbyshire in an incredible DIY renovation for just £12,000 – doing most of the work themselves between their uni classes, including brightening up the dated kitchen (pictured before the renovation, left). After: The DIY-savvy couple decided to renovate the outdated home and took on the task of giving the flat a modern makeover, starting with the kitchen. They installed cabinets in an on-trend shade of grey and replaced the worktop with natural wood

Mia Thomas, 22, and her boyfriend Jack Bradley, 24, who also works part-time as an electrical engineer, (pictured together) purchased their flat in June 2020 for £150,000

COST BREAKDOWN: £12,344 DIY renovation total

 KITCHEN

Appliances – £1,600

Tiles – £100

Paint – £20

Cabinets, worktops, handles, fitting – £7,910

Total: £9,630

 LOUNGE/LIVING ROOM

Flooring – £600 (includes hallway and kitchen)

Skirting – £200

Paint – £30

Wood/plasterboard – £80

Total: £910

CLOAKROOM

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

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 

BATHROOM

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

 

The space is now unrecognisable, with the couple completing the work in just four months after starting in January this year.

The pair would toil after classes and on the weekends in order to get the project finished.

University student, Mia, said: ‘We’re so pleased with what we’ve done so far. 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. 

Jack did much of the work himself but the room was still the most expensive in the house to transform with £9,630 from the total budget going towards the ‘kitchen of their dreams’, including £1,600 of new appliances from Wickes, and repainting the cabinets grey and retiling with white tiles for a fresher look 

‘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 (£20) and retiled (£200), as well as added new cabinets, handles and other fittings (£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.


Before: The old toiled was plainly decorated with white painted walls and yellow and grey lino on the floor. After: The couple 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


In the living room, the couple ripped out the old flooring and replaced it with new imitation parquet flooring, which cost £600. They added black leather couches, a wooden coffee table and a large TV – turning it into an inviting space to relax

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

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.

They changed the radiator into a heated towel rail and also sealed, tiled and grouted the floors. 

Mia said: ‘Learning how to do the pipe work was challenging as it’s quite technical and complicated, and makes a mess if it goes wrong!

‘Jack had never done any plumbing before and found this hard, but enjoyed it since he learnt a new skill.’

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.


The old fireplace was transformed by building a false chimney breast out of wood and adding a plasterboard – costing £80 in total – though they outsourced the latter to a professional

Additionally, they installed backer boards on the floor, tiled the floor and walls, and installed a brand new bath.

Mia and Jack also created their own pocket door in the hallway with a kit from Screwfix (£150) and a new door from Wickes (£80).

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

In a few words of advice to others who wish to do their own home renovations, Mia 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!

The couple still plan to redo one more bathroom, the dressing room and install new carpets in the rest of the house – which they estimate will amount to around £20,000


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

‘Be prepared for unexpected costs of things you wouldn’t ever think of, like screws and paint brushes.

‘Don’t be afraid to do something that you like, just because it’s not ‘trendy’ or other people don’t like it.

‘At the end of the day, it’s your home so it’s important to do what you like to make yourself happy and comfortable in your home.

‘Instagram and Pinterest are the holy grail for inspiration, and don’t be afraid to message people to ask how they did things or where they got things from.

‘Everyone is very friendly and willing to help!’

The couple still plan to redo one more bathroom, the dressing room and install new carpets in the rest of the house – which they estimate will amount to around £20,000. 

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