A freelance retail buyer and content creator has helped nearly double the value of her home by turning it into a colourful maximalist wonderland.
Helen Sellwood, 36, has DIY-ed herself a unique home full of colour, with the help of her husband Dave.
Helen, who’s from County Durham, loves mixing and matching different colours and textures to make spaces unique.
Their hard work has really paid off because not only did their DIY efforts save them £21,000, but their home is now also worth a whopping £125,000 more than it was when they purchased it.
Sure, this will in part be down to the fact that they bought it back in 2004, but given the average price of a semi-detached home in County Durham over the last year was £148,231 according to Rightmove and the semi-detached Sellwood home is now worth £400,000, time is very unlikely to be the sole reason for this sharp rise.
When the couple first got the property, it was very neutral, but Helen wanted to make her mark on the place.
She had some previous DIY knowledge from doing up the couple’s first home, but it wasn’t until Covid hit and the lockdowns happened that she had the time to really experiment.
Helen’s had a lot of positive feedback about the new décor, but there are some who think it’s all a bit much.
‘When we moved in the house was very neutral and classic in décor,’ she said.
‘It was tired and needed re-painting, and we wanted to put our own stamp on it.
‘At first, we added mainly greys and whites but in the living room, we did the dark blue feature wall, which gave a really cosy feel and was the first bit of bold colour we added in this house.
‘The pink was added years later during lockdown and I really wasn’t sure at first but my Instagram followers insisted it looked great so after living with it for a week I decided I loved it too – it just took me a while to get used to.
‘I’ve since added pink to the hallway, our bedroom, the loft bedroom and both bathrooms, so it’s clearly a bit contagious.
‘I think it’s such a warm colour, and it goes so well with bold contrasting colours, especially blue and green. The latter is my favourite colour combination.’
The kitchen ended up being the biggest challenge for the couple, who are parents to sons Harry, six, and Austin, 16 months, because their plans needed to change partway through the project and they found damp on one of the walls.
Some work in an en-suite also proved difficult to juggle, and ended up taking Helen five weeks to finish whilst fitting in childcare and work.
‘The kitchen has been the biggest project to date,’ said Helen.
‘To save money, we bought it from DIY kitchens, and I project managed it.
‘There were things that came up along the way that were unexpected. We found an RSJ beam, so we ended up having to box that in when we were hoping to change the look, and then due to removing a large step, we decided to lower the back door level and get a new door and radiator, which wasn’t in the original plan.
‘There was also quite a lot of damp, so our plasterer had to tank part of the wall.
‘Being without a kitchen for six weeks was pretty stressful, but it was totally worth it in the end.
‘My most recent project, our en-suite bathroom really challenged me. It involved painting every surface from the ceiling to the floor and included lots of tile painting.
‘It took me ages to settle on a tile paint colour I was happy with as it had to be colour matched.
‘It took me five weeks from start to finish, fitting it in around the children and work and there was a lot of painting until 10 pm went on. There were definitely a few moments where I felt like giving up.’
Even though she describes her home as now being ‘very marmite’, Helen says it accurately represents her tastes and is full of happy memories.
‘I love putting different colours and textures together, creating mood boards and researching to find the best products to create a unique look,’ she said.
‘I think my home reflects my love of colour and pattern and it is full of things we love, have picked up on our travels or mean something to us.
‘We also have a lot of vintage furniture, which has been handed down to us and I have upcycled.
‘You will see I’ve got a lot of gallery walls around the house; they have become a bit of an addiction.
‘I like to add prints with positive text or beautiful images that suit the colours and style of each room.
‘I love vintage touches, so our sofas are in the chesterfield style, our bedroom is heavily influenced by the Art Deco period and our dining room is still very traditional.
‘This suits the style and period of the house. It wouldn’t feel right to me to add a very modern style and take out the original features.’
Now, Helen shares photos and clips of her house and the DIY process with her tens of thousands of Instagram followers.
‘Most people are really positive. I share our home most days on my Instagram account @baliol.house and get really lovely feedback,’ said Helen.
‘I think people like to see upcycles that haven’t cost much to achieve. Most of our furniture is second-hand and upcycling is a great way of bringing a piece back to life again. I always try to record the process so that people can give it a go too.
‘People also really love the gallery walls and the living room. I think the contrast of the blue and the pink and the high Victorian ceiling really appeals to people, and it’s certainly not your usual Victorian-style living room.
‘I feel like we have created a really unique and happy family home for our boys to grow up in.
‘I think surrounding yourself with colour can only be positive and it seems to stimulate their minds.
‘I love seeing people come in and look around at all the interesting objects. It’s a very eclectic mix so there’s always something quirky to look at.’
Helen has no plans to stop making changes and tweaks to the four-bed family home.
‘The next project in the house is the staircase,’ she said.
‘It’s the last bit of grey, so I can’t wait to get rid of that. I am hoping to add some panelling to give it a more classic look.
‘I also want to re-paint the kitchen and add some wall tiles.
‘After three years it’s become quite scuffed, and I wish we have added more tiles when we revamped the kitchen.’
To anybody who wants to take a leaf out of her maximalist book, Helen says: ‘If you want to add colour to your home the best advice I can offer is just to give it a go.
‘Use apps like Instagram and Pinterest to create mood boards and collect ideas.
‘It will give you the confidence to just go for it and if you really don’t like it you can always paint it again.
‘As a busy mum, I am also learning that projects take time and try to tackle them in sections now.
‘Due to this house having high ceilings, the hall feels like such a mammoth task so I’ve broken it down and done the ground floor first and then will tackle the stairs as a separate project.’
Helen’s cost breakdown:
- Kitchen cupboards – £7,000
- Mirostone worktop – £1,500
- Kitchen floor and fitting – £3,000
- Radiator, doors and decorations – £5,500
- Small bedroom paint and accessories – £100
- Bathroom paint – £70
- Bathroom wallpaper – £200
- Living room paint – £50
- Sofas – £3,000
- Living room carpet – £500
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