2020 is a year that many of us will not forget.
On 23rd March, the country entered lockdown for the first time and the majority of us spent most of our time at home. We holidayed in our back gardens, home-schooled our children at the kitchen table and created temporary work offices in the spare bedroom.
As shops, pubs and entertainment facilities closed their doors, many Northern Ireland residents used their free time in lockdown to give their space some TLC and try their hand at home renovations.
Darren from Comber had initially began renovating his home in November 2019, before the pandemic started.
“When we were made aware of the lockdown coming, we had to speed a lot of things up. Although the majority of the renovation was finished, everything was only half done. We had no kitchen at all, no skirting boards on and the back garden was full of muck. The main renovation activity that took place over lockdown was the kitchen and back garden.”
“We had no kitchen for 6 weeks and it took 3 days to go in when we got the go-ahead. The garden as a whole was a project over lockdown which I hope to have finished before summer next year,” Darren added.
Renovating a kitchen and garden when the country was in lockdown did pose its challenges as Darren discovered: “supplies were hard to get hold of, and not being able to have anyone in your house to help was difficult.”
What are Darren’s top renovation tips for those starting a home project?
“Be prepared, plan your budget and make sure you have the right equipment.”
Follow Darren as he shares his renovation project on Instagram – 28renovate
During the summer months, many of us enjoyed the warmer days and longer evenings in our gardens.
“When lockdown hit, I was working from my dining table and looking out to a miserable garden. The weather was picking up and I thought we need to make the most out of this space if we were going to be stuck at home,” said Victoria from Belfast.
Between working from home, home-schooling and everyday parental duties, Victoria managed to create a beautiful space that all the family can enjoy.
“When it comes to your home, having space you can share together is key. We are now in the middle of a renovation to create a bigger open plan living, kitchen, dining area.”
Victoria’s top tip to those renovating their home is to “plan your space.”
Follow Victoria’s renovation journey on her Instagram page – vicandmaisie
Emma from Belfast also places emphasis on creating a space that can be enjoyed by all.
“Since renovating our house, we knew we were missing one essential item of furniture, a dining table. Lockdown afforded us the opportunity to embark on creating our ideal dining area.”
“Lockdown taught me how important ‘Home’ is. It’s our sanctuary and our safe place. Being able to dine with family means the world through this isolating time,” Emma added.
“We knocked down one wall between the snug and utility knowing that this would create the perfect space.”
“We started early April and the project grew wings with adding to the initial plan I.e. New floor, new windows, new skylight! It took 3 months in all.”
Emma did face challenges while creating her dream dining area: “The main challenge of the project was the length of time it took to get materials delivered during lockdown and one trade can hold up another.”
Emma’s top 3 tips for those renovating their home:
- “If using external workmen, get a reference.”
- “Use Pinterest for ideas then shop around on Internet for bargains to get that look.”
- “Restore old furniture, upcycle for cost effective solutions.”
Gary, also from Belfast, was kept busy during lockdown with his renovation project.
“I had already planned to do the bathroom pre-lockdown but kept putting it on the back burner. When furloughed, I grabbed the opportunity to do something positive and productive with my downtime.”
“The bathroom took slightly longer than anticipated due to delivery delays of my tiles from Spain due to COVID. I also had to wait until my tiler and plumber were allowed to come do their thing. The shower / bath area was done over a day and a half once the tiles, taps etc arrived.”
Like many of us who renovated their home over lockdown, Gary also faced challenges that he managed to overcome to create his dream space:
“The delivery times were longer and there was lots of waiting for the tiler and plumber to be allowed in to do the work. Trying to organise disposal of old tiles etc. was a challenge with reduced rubbish collections and dumps being restricted.”
Yet, through the challenges and lockdown, Gary reminded himself how important home is:
“The most important thing I learned is home is where the heart is, you should be able to chill out and relax in comfort while being grateful for having a roof over your head and food on your table as life is too short.”
Gary shared his top 3 tips for those who are thinking of renovating their space:
- “Don’t rush on the design / style decisions, try to combine several styles you like for your own bespoke version so not to look exactly like a bathroom you’ve seen in a bathroom catalogue.”
- “Pay a little extra for long-term parts of your bathroom like your taps and floor tiles. You can always paint the room a different colour to change the style down the line.”
- “Always get 3 quotes and always go by word of mouth recommendations. Anyone can buy advertising but they can’t buy a positive reputation for good work.”
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