I saved £14k doing up my dated 60s house with bargains from Facebook Marketplace – my sofa was FREE

A SINGLE mum-of-three has revealed how she transformed her home from a dated 60s pad to a stylish space – and saved £14,000 with DIY jobs.

Katy Cannon, 47, a divorced mum and teacher from Surrey, bought the home from a man who had lived there for 50 years – and had not modernised it.

But she happily took on his furniture, upcycling it and buying bargains from Facebook Marketplace to bring the four-bed property – which she bought in April 2018 – back to life.

Katy spent just £600 on paint and materials and a further £600 on furniture – and saved around £14,000 by doing all the wallpaper stripping, painting, sanding and making a summer house herself.

Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, she reveals how she did the huge project on a budget…

When I got divorced and moved out of the family home, it was really important to find a house where my three girls could have their own bedrooms.

I was gutted when the dream home I’d spotted – a detached house with garage and garden – was taken off the market before I could view it.

But then a friend told me if you put an offer in the agent’s obliged to show you around. So that's what I did.

The owner had another offer from builders but was delighted to sell to a family instead.

He'd lived there for 50 years and brought all his family up there, it was a proper 60s home. While the house had amazing potential, the décor was dated, with swirly carpets and dark heavy curtains

He'd lived there for 50 years and brought all his family up there, it was a proper 60s home.

While the house had amazing potential, the décor was dated, with swirly carpets, dark heavy curtains and fitted cupboards in the master bedroom.

My first thought was to rip them out but then I thought, “What’s the point? I’ll only have to buy new wardrobes.” 

As part of the deal, he left me his classic 60s furniture, plus his old tools and a huge fish pond with about 50 or 60 fish in it.

Cash was tight after buying a home, so my priority was spending as little as possible. I had to massively brush up with my DIY skills. “Work with what you’ve got” became my mantra. 

My first step was to get the bedrooms done so my daughters could have their own space amid the chaos – as I have 16-year-old twins and a 13-year-old.

I painted the cupboards and changed the handles, then sanded and varnished the floors – using a £40 varnish by Ronseal.

When I did up the bathroom, I bought the cheapest wall tiles I could, but splashed out on new floor tiles. House plants are a good value way to update a room too.

When you're modernising such an old house, there's some things you can't do yourself, so bathroom fitters were my biggest outlay.

Katy’s best bargains

Sofa: free from a friend

Pallets for outdoor sofa: found on the side of the street

Sink and bath: ex-display, £150

Shower unit: new from Facebook Marketplace, £100

Bathroom cabinet: free online because it was damaged

Linen cupboard: £60, worth £600

Radiator cover: £10

Blue rug: £30 new

Curtains: eBay, £13

Tent: free from a friend to transform her shed

I spent £4,000 in total on my bathroom and getting two carpets fitted.

But I saved cash on my sink and bath, which were ex-display so cost just £150, and my shower unit which I bought new on Facebook Marketplace for just £100.

The cabinet was also new, but because it had a dent it was being given away for free. You’d be amazed how many people give things away when they just want to get rid of them.

The trick with all these sites – Facebook, Gumtree and Freecycle – is to put in the groundwork.

I would always check first thing in the morning and keep checking back throughout the day.

I’ve bagged some great bargains on these sites – a radiator cover for £10, a new blue rug for £30 that was the wrong size for someone’s room and some eBay curtains for £13.

I’ve saved thousands by doing most of the DIY myself. I’m proud of the fact I’ve created a beautiful family home together with my kids

I even got a linen cupboard for £60 that was worth ten times that. Be flexible and be prepared to drive to pick your bargains up.

My aim for most of the house was to brighten it up as quickly as possible.

I painted the walls a neutral beige, bar some yellow and blue feature walls, then binned the old curtains and heavy pelmets. 

But mainly, I stuck with the original features.

The sixties fireplace in the lounge will eventually have a log burner, but for now I’ve put a log basket.

While the dining room looks very “mid-century modern”, with just a few minor tweaks and a secondhand bookcase I picked up for £30.

Downstairs, hiding under fusty carpets, was an amazing parquet floor.

There were a few holes in the wood from carpet rods but I found two big crates of spare wooden parquet from Facebook Marketplace for just £40. 

I did splash out on new spindles in the staircase, so that the hall would seem lighter and more airy. Those cost around £800 but a friend and I spent a week painting them, saving hundreds on a decorator, and I paid her £200.

We had a great laugh and learned how to do coving together.

I also asked my mates to let me know if they were chucking anything out.

One pal asked me to help sell her old corner sofa, as she knew I was an expert at the online sites, but I told her, “I’ll have it thanks!” so she gave it to me for free. I was so grateful to her.

That sofa gave me the drive to clear out what was a downstairs junk room, to create a snug for the kids.

It was a race against the weather as the sofa was sitting on the drive.

I took up the swirly carpet, ripped the wallpaper off the walls and a day later it was finished – with painted walls, shelves up and some pictures.

Now it's the perfect place for the girls to hang out with their friends.

Katy’s top tips

  1. Work with what you’ve got – upcycling is more cost-effective than buying brand new
  2. Don’t put your DIY kit away until the job is finished, or you won’t get it out again
  3. Get your kids involved stripping walls, painting and even graffitiing the loo
  4. Buy stuff you love and then worry about where it’s going to go later 
  5. Be the friend who always takes unwanted stuff
  6. Be brave and embrace DIY. Google and You Tube are your best friends
  7. A good finish is all in the preparation – wash down, fill and sand before you paint
  8. Find workmen you trust to do the work you can’t do – it’ll save you money in the end
  9. Don’t expect to find your bargains straight away – keep checking apps like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Gumtree and Freecycle and eventually you’ll find what you need

During lockdown, I turned to DIY again to update our garden – and create our own summer house for free.

There was an old shed out there but it needed a good lick of paint.

I sawed off one side then repainted it, making a sofa out of an old futon mattress I was tempted to throw out, as the base had broken, and some pallets I found on the side of the road.

Another friend was throwing out a tent which had a hole in it. I took the tent door and staple gunned it to the shed, now we roll it up and down if it’s raining.

It took just 24 hours to create a magical area, which looks great when it's lit up with fairy lights. 

Now I’ve created a lovely family home for next to nothing. The only new items I had to buy were beds and a carpet for my room.

I have had to spend money on workmen for jobs I can’t do myself, like the electrics – which cost £1,000. That’s pushed the cost up to around £7,000 all in.

But I’ve saved thousands by doing most of the DIY myself, and learned some amazing new skills in the process. I’m proud of the fact I’ve created a beautiful family home together with my kids. 

 See more about Katy’s house renovation on Instagram.

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