Simon Hooper has a unique insight into being outnumbered, raising 4 girls with his wife Clemmie. They moved to a new house three years ago. At that point, it was basically a white box with no originality. Since then they've done up two bathrooms, their own bedroom and 2 children's rooms, including the twins room and continue to wage an ongoing war with the garden.
"We love having the garden as a project, and so do the kids. It's good for them to get their hands dirty in the garden. It turns into something of a game. I was brought up doing the same thing, always getting dirty. Even though I have to redo half of what the girls do it's worth it to teach them to muck in.
"The biggest project though, has been our bathroom. We really struggled with it; it was old, not well put together and the shower leaked. Based mainly on the cost factor, I was adamant that I wanted to do the bathroom myself. I designed it using pinterest boards, inspiration publications and fell back on my art A-level, drawing pictures of what it would look like. I got advice from a builder but did the design myself.
"There were a few moments where I thought 'oh no what have we done?' We he had ripped up the floor to reveal very old pipes and a squirrel's skeleton! I mean, where do I even start?! Ripping it up was the fun part but I like to get hands on and of course there are things I don't know how to do so I had to learn. I watched tutorials on YouTube or took electrical wiring and plumbing courses. It's daunting at the time, working with water and electricity, but when you break it down it can be as easy as lego!
"Half the fun was finding the things I needed at the cheapest price, like finding the bathroom tiles I wanted for 6p each. I spent a lot of time searching online and speaking to friends about where I could get the best deal. 50p each tile, for example, can sound small when you're planning your project but if you're buying in bulk, you can really make a big saving by shopping around. When you look at these home interior and inspiration mags, they're all using the expensive ones. It's about how you put it together, not about using the most expensive items.
"There is a sense of purpose to the task and if you break it down to its simplest components - from finding a bargain to learning something you had no idea about before - it's just about doing it the right way. You can easily get yourself worried, but calm down, think it through and you can achieve anything.
"When we featured the finished product on Clemmie's social pages, she got loads of comments saying it looks mega expensive! Our friends were impressed too. It's nice to show off a bit, as I put a lot of work in. The bathroom is by far my favourite room in the house; everything I went through to finish it, although I'm also really proud of the girl's room. I did this zigzag along the wall with several different colours. Why can't I just do a job that's nice and easy! I created it, so I'm really proud of it.
"We did have to take out a small loan to do the renovations and we used some savings too. We have a young family, if we wait until we have all the money to do all the things we want we'll be waiting forever.
"The best advice I would give to anyone wanting to do the same and take on a renovation project is to start small and build up - don't take on building a new kitchen or bathroom as the first thing you ever do. Start with painting a room and fixing broken things. You'll naturally progress your skills and interest, and your tools. That's what my dad always told me."
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