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The Great Renovation Word / Eco

Photography / Eco

Victoria Nowell has turned a botched up detached house into a sparkling home at virtually no cost. It’s a stunning transformation, full of ideas for you to adapt…

We bought a rundown house and made it to a beautiful one


nce a professional embroiderer, now a civil servant, Victoria’s proudest role is that of home-maker. With her husband Andrew, the 45 year-old from Conisborough, Doncaster, has totally renovated her home. “We bought a rundown house and made it to a beautiful one,” she says.

Having worked on her home for more than 7 years, she never gets tired, and enjoys every moment. “I don’t know why but I’ve never found it boring. We do our job in the daytime and when we come back, we start our ‘project’. The kitchen took us a year, and the hall took a year, the dinning room as well… Yeah, we kept doing a small bit every day. To be honest, it became a sweet habit doing this together. It’s quite enjoyable,” says Victoria. Although the couple seems to be delighted with their renovation, things looked tough in the beginning.. “The house had been on sale for 3 years and no one bought it because it can be only described as a ‘botch’. The previous owners taken a lot of shortcuts it so it was done badly. We couldn’t afford a million-pound refurbishment, so we decided to do it ourselves.” Standing in the hall, it is difficult to imagine that, as described by Victoria, this was once ‘a terrible structure’. Decorated with a great grandpa’s clock on the light blue wall, as well as the whimsical floor pieced together with hundreds of dark blue and terra cotta triangular

The hall way now decorated with a great grandpa clock, an antique desk from their friend, a light blue carpet, a collection of pictures of flowers and birds, as well as the retro styleof floor discoverd by the ower.

Sewing and quilting are the perfect ways to add warmth to a home

Victoria was surprised by what she discovered, hundred-year-old vintage tiles underneath the black and white squares. She laughs: “It was absolutely amazing. What a rare find?”

The renovation of the hall was just a small part of Victoria’s recycling journey. She tried to make the best use of everything original and anything nice but without spending a fortune. The kitchen is another good example. “Everything in our kitchen is recycled,” Victoria says. Andrew and I enjoy cooking, so we have to make the kitchen nice. We brought the bench from our church as it was broken, but it is functional now that Andrew has fixed it. Besides that, we repainted most of the kitchen space white, including the table and the cupboard, to make sure it looked bright and clean. I also sewed the white curtain to match the room. Another thing I like is that we built the clothes hanger above the heater, so we can dry clothes quickly. Basically what I’ve spent on the kitchen was just the cost of the paint. If you are not allowed to paint furniture, you can buy a big cloth for the table and chairs. It would be fun as you can change it when you want. ”

The historical floor shines after years of burial, but only the owners know the hard work behind it. “Just to make sure that the whole floor had the same tiles, I started removing the black and white ones from different corners and the central part of the floor. And I spent most of the year scratching bit by bit, not only the colourless layer, but also the one underneath which was made of something similar to tarmac. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it as I have had people to evaluate the floor, and the antique that we uncovered is now worth at least £2000.”

Speaking of how to recycle, Victoria always follows the rule: “It’s all about being imaginative, you need to embrace what you’ve been given and work with it, like being unlimited within the limit. For example, except for redesigning the original resources from our house, we spent quite a lot of time moving thing from skips and people’s garages. You’ll be amazed by what people throw away. We have spent only a small amount, on things from Ebay. And you can find all sorts of things from charity shops like Oxfam. It’s cost effective generally.”

tiles, the hall looks as classy as an elegant manor in an old movie. Talking about the hallway, Victoria smiles with pleasure, “I like quite a few things here, the clock, the carpet…but the thing I’m most proud of, is the floor.” “It was once covered by black and white square tiles. We found it terrible. As we decided to change it, I found the floor layers higher than normal.” Driven by fierce curiosity, she started to dig.

Building a dream home is not always about recycling what others have used, but also creating something new, and something warm. “Sewing and quilting are the perfect ways to add warmth to a home,” says Victoria. “It’s an emotional as well as a physical thing. Like when a friend of mine was sick, I sent her a comforter. “It is also sweet and warm when I’m quilting on the sofa, and Andrew is sitting next to me reading, with the quilt half covering us. It doesn’t have to be in winter, it could be anytime. Quilting always makes me feel good even when I’m doing it on the train to work in London.” She shows me small pieces of patch work and her quilting kit and tells me how she was “hooked” eight years ago.

The hall way before renovation

As for her favourite quilt, Victoria would say it’s the very first one she made. “I wanted the quilt to look like my grandma’s garden, and it actually met my expectations after near 1000 hours of quilting. I folded the patches into flower shapes, with subtle colour of different flowery patterns. It looks as if it’s covered by hundreds of flowers when you are using it. Victoria’s quilts seem to have another function, and that is, wall décors for bedrooms. Although the walls are painted in plain white, yet you will not feel any monotonous as each bedroom contains a subtle-designed quilt blanketing on one of the walls, making the bedrooms have a character of simple and fresh. The crafty lady seems to be keen on not only quilting, but also everything about fabric. “Everything you can see in my house that’s made from fabric, I sewed them, and everyone can try. OK, maybe you can’t quilt, but you can make curtains; maybe you are not a very good sewer, but a staple gun can help. I can’t believe I’ve said staple gun, but yeah, everyone should own a staple gun!” she laughs, as she shows the 2.5-meter-height dark red curtains above the rustic French windows that connect the living room to the garden, in which are planted many vibrant summer flowers coloured peach with hues of orange.

Victoria has used dark red as background colour for dinning room to go with Andrew’s collection of various chicken pictures

She continues, “As for cushion covers, you don’t have to sew a zip on them; you can just fold them to the middle easily. Another thing I do on fabrics is that I buy a lot of sheets and dye them and the colours can be interesting and always surprise you. Then you can use the sheets to make other stuff.” Although Victoria use “subtle” to describe the style of her quilts and other craft work, she has different tastes on interior style.

ground mixed with other colours is great.”

“I prefer to be more colourful for my home. Britain is so cold in winter, and even in summer, it’s grey as well. So, for me, I’m not afraid of using colours. And it can make your home bigger and make you feel brighter. Sometimes a neutral back-

For Victoria, a picture does not have to be something painted or taken with a camera, but anything that can be hung on wall. In her home you can find carpets, not only on the floor, but also, on the wall, as well as quilts - apart from her collection of pictures and photos.


“I think everybody can make pictures. In the After past, I had pieces of really beautiful fabrics from India and I framed them to be stunning pictures. I’m so happy to have all The metal pot found from a skip these pictures and the colourful bits, and is now placed near the fire place. I will keep adding more in the future.” It can be practically used as a container for coals, as well as a Victoria’s journey of discovery and creanice decoration tivity doesn’t stop inside the house. “I’ve just rebuilt the wall in front of my house. We didn’t like the new bricks, so we used old ones. To be honest, I don’t know what I will do next, but I’m quite sure that my house is not done yet, and we’re looking forward to the next adventure.”

The Makeover of bathroom

Dress Up Your Bed Word / Eco

It’s always good to start a brand new day with waking up on a wonderful bed!? Hence, a beautiful bed linen becomes very important apart from a supportive mattress. Searching from more than 60 top brands, we want you to sleep on only the best.

Fancy Dreames

Brand Diversity

s-Silver ilt & Cushion Clarendon Qu om 300 on reverse Price: qUILT Fr ont; 100% cott fr lk si 0% 10 Quilt t & reverse 100% silk fron rs ve Co n io Cush Colour iVORY ver w & Cushion Co Kelmscott Thro 100 om £ Price: quilt fr 100% cotton / Brown Colour: White s stitch all-scale mos sm in d te it kn



House of Frase

Cost Effective

Gathering from more than 500 luscious brands worldwide, House of Fraser is known by the diversity of its home collection. From the playful ones like Anorak’s newest Kissing Stags printed set, to as elegant as Christy’s Sofia Bed Linen in silver, House of Fraser will definitely not disappoint you. The brand not only owns diverse styles, but also has various pricings.ranging from Christy’s Summer Stripe Double Flat Sheet In Lavender of £35 to Yves Delorme’s Baupre Sureau Double Duvet Cover of £425.

n g Stags bed line Anorak: Kissin £ 45.00 From £ 14.00 To 100% cotton d cream Colour: Black an

John Lewis Marlow Cotton Sateen Duvet Cover of John Lewis seems less expensive, selling at a price of £80 for a double bed, yet its fabric processed skills seem not less skillful than the former ones. The £70 Lina Embroidered Duvet Cover (double bed), decorated by leafy stems, can even make your bed extreme classy and breezy.

ver Sateen Duvet Co Marlow Cotton Price:£80 tton Material 100% co 0 Thread Count 30 Brand Diversity

nen Christy Sofia Bed Li .00 65 From £ 12.50 To £ Cotton sateen ry neutrals Colour: contempora 0 thread count 23

Quality Cost Effective

Duvet Cover Price: £70 red Style embroide on 100% cott 200 Thread Count

Brand Diversity Quality Varied Cost Effective Varied

nen Yves Delorme Bed li Price: £425 Colour Taupe Sateen damask thread count 350 ver Reversible duvet co

pany The White Com Too many options and don’t know which one to go. Why not stick to the simplest? The White Company London, literally, gives you and your bedroom a taste of fresh and pure. However, the simple style would not simplify the price as the brand seems targeting at a rather higher market. With the newest bedding set costing around £275, makes it less affordable. Yet the luxury finish of the 100% silk covers for cushions and the quilt, as well as other skillful processed technique, such as cotton jacquard and cotton sateen, may justify its high expenses.

Practical Choices ld Bedding Wor Reckoned by its speciality, offering you around 200 choices of affordable bedding set. Its collection of Belledorm Egyptian Cotton Satin Stripe Bedding Set, with a thread count number of 550, seems would promise you comfort and luxury. Having a discount of 40% and now selling from £56, make it more cost-effective. Brand Diversity Quality Varied Cost Effective

pe Bed Set Belledorm Stri Price: From £56 on sateen cott 100% Egyptian ory iv or te Colour Whi 0 55 t Thread coun


Although Next is a fashion specialist, its bed set can make your sleeping corner into style. With a price from £25 for Salvage Printed Stripe Bed Set Two Pack (in different styles), No matter you use the other set as a replacement or a gift to a friend, it would be a rather profitable choice. However, in order to be entitled to the discount, you need to order the matching curtain at the same time, which makes it only worthwhile to those who need the shade.

e Print Duvet Set Singl Tesco Building Blocks Price £8.80 ground pattern on whitle back Colour Black printed Thread count 132(+-3%) ster 50% cotton Composition 50% polye

Do you know...

s fferent design Bed Set in 2 di Price £25-£45 een Colour earth gr polyester 48 cotton % 52 Composition Curtain Price £35-£65


spun with natural fiber, is also popular for home furnishing. It offers specific advantages over natural fabrics, such as more durable, easy-washing and more wrinkle resisting, while the natural fiber keeps its core nature of softness and comfort.

Brand Diversity Quality Cost Effective

Sateen Weave

Ikea As the practical home furnishing professional, IKEA would definitely not be missed in this list. Its newest arrival Alvine Kvist bed set at a fairly practial price from £20, yet densely woven from fine yarn, creating luxury in durality and comfort.

ist Bed Set Ikea Alvine Kv Price £20-£35 nd hite backgrou 100% cotton d pattern on w te in pr ey gr Colour dark 2 Thead count 18 Brand Diversity

is a more skillful technique to construct the fabric than plain weave. This kind of fabric normally consists of high thread count, and gives the feeling of smooth texture with luster at its appearance. Therefore, it is likely to be more expensive than the plain weave. Other more advanced techniques are twill weave and patterned weaves.

Thread Count

in an easier understanding way, normally refer to the number of threads contained in one square inch. It is the main measure of fabric quality nowadays. According to the National Textile Association (NTA), the higher the thread count number, the higher quality of the fabric.

Quality Cost Effective


Asda & Tes

The designs, as well as the rate of good review, bed sets from Asda and Tesco beat similar supermarkets in the bedding market. With an average supprissing price around £10, bed sets of the two brands win other competitors over price. However, with thread count numbers around 130-150, the materials weaken the quality in general.

The thread counts for “standard” cotton are around 150, while a good quality piece has around 180 threads in the square. The one which could be described as “percale” would have 200 or more threads. However, it should be noticed that an extremely high thread count, for example, 1000, tends to be misleading as they often count each threads in ‘plied’ yarns, due to the marketing strategies. The example of high number, in fact, consists of only 250 two-plied threads. * Some of the infomation is gathered from Which? research (

Brand Diversity Quality Cost Effective

ck vet Set Union Ja ASDA Printed Du Price £9-£13 cotton % polyester 48% Composition 52 printed pattern blue Colour red and 4 Thead count 14

10 Ways To Easy Living F

Word / Soumya

Here’s a pro tip for mid-week meals. Prepare all the ingredients for multiple slow cooker meals at once, then dump them in to bags and freeze. When you’re ready to cook, simply take a bag out, throw the ingredients in to the cooker and turn it on. When you come home from work, dinner is waiting.

orever losing your bathroom essentials early morning? Use magnetic strips to store bobby pins (and tweezers and clippers) behind a vanity door. You will never get late to work this way.

Magnetic shelf- Just hang the shelf wherever you have nails over the wall. As it’s magnetic you can stick notes, photos, keep books, and your coffee mugs. You can also just stick your keys and you will never forget about them. It’s not very expensive and you can get them at Accessory shelf- Have a messy way to keep your accessories and can’t find its pair? There are easy ways to clean it all up. Use a spoon drawer and hooks. Stick the hooks to the drawer and use a frame hanger to help you hang it on the wall. You accessory shelf is ready. You would never lose one again.

Decorate this Milk Carton instead! Handcrafted of stoneware and glazed pure white, our classic cartons are witty accents for the table. A natural insulator, the clay helps keep milk well chilled for breakfast, or perfectly warm for pouring into coffee and tea. Both pieces are microwavable and freezer and dishwasher safe. You can get them at

Hang a shoe organiser over your pantry or kitchen door and fill it with cooking utensils and supplies that you use every day. It saves space as well and is stored away in secrecy.

Overhaul your linen cupboard – store bed linen sets inside one of their own pillowcases and there will be no more hunting through piles for a match. And nor will it be all spread all over and taking space in your cupboard. You can use that space for storing other things like more shoes.

Avoid messy dresser drawers by “filing” your clothing sideby-side instead of stacking items on top of each other. Organising clothes is much easier and it remains clean for a longer time. See the before and after.

Before AFTER

For those who can’t stand the scrunching and bunching: how to perfectly fold a fitted sheet. It’s square and easily done and stored away for use next time.

You need to find a use for those wire CD racks as no one buys CDs anymore. Re-purpose them to hold your Tupperware lids. Pop them in your utensil drawers and you can store lids and plates neatly.

Labelled cords: It’s not easy figuring out which wire belongs to the TV and which belongs to the DVD or the internet cable. The easiest way to sort out this mess is using the labelled cord that you can either make out of bread tags or using coloured plastic rounds to differentiate them.




I’m planning to wallpaper part of a teensytiny bathroom (more like a closet, but I want to go really dramatic) in the house we are purchasing, and I have been searching for something just like this gorgeous vintage print. It isn’t actually available as wallpaper anymore and I am so bummed! As someone without a collection of sources for great wallpaper, I’m at a loss.

‘Earlham’ , by De Gournay


You have various online shops who have amazing prints. Depending on your budget the quality and the prints will change. if you want really good quality, as well as full custom design, you can check at ( they have wallpapers from £40 to £100. if you want something a little less expensive i suddest you got to ( they have various artists with variety of designs.


My landlord doesn’t allow me to stick posters on wall because he is afraid of that the tape would ruin the surface of the wall. And he didn’t even allow me to use blue tags. Are there any non-marking materials for wall décors? A Tesa Powerstrips Range seems to be the most essential solution to this situation. While having the strong adhesive ability, the products, yet surprisingly, are easy to remove and leaving no trace. The brand sells a wide range of non-marking adhesive products in different sizes. You can simply apply the transparent tape to your posters or use the masking tape as protection for painting and decorating. The Tesa Powerstrips solutions are available at http://


Another convenient yet creative way for wall décors are the removable wallpaper. Easily order from Ebay or Etsy, the reusable products can come in different patterns and various materials such as plastic and fabric, or even, you Walter Crane Swallows antique can customise specific slogans and shapes, adding more wallpaper by Whoopicat, Etsy fun to the plain white wall.

Reusable wall decal by ChuckEByrdWallDecals , Etsy

Interactive wallpaper by Tinch Design Studio, Etsy

Book-pile night stand, by Josefin Hellström


I love reading and have just moved to London recently. Having no reading room in my house, I don’t want to spend too much on all the books and magazine. How can I organise them nicely together without spending a lot?

A magazine chair, by Sutkutusu

HÖSTÖ Bucket, by Ikea

A rather non-cost solution would be to Pile the same size of books or magazine together to a specific height, then add a wooden/plastic board on, and turn the pile into a desk/ chair. Although it may be not in your convenience to take out daily reading books, the character of spacesaving inspired some designers for better solutions.


I just signed a lease on a garden level apartment in Sheffield. One of the draws was the big back yard, but it needs some work. I talked to the landlord and she is willing to let me do some gardening, but I have no idea where to start and I’m on a tight budget.


I suggest that you first mow the lawn. You could just get some cheap furniture from ( they have tables and chairs from £10. You could then make some DIY lamps using glass bottles and candles and you have pretty lit up garden perfect for a summer/autumn dinner.

BOLLÖ Folding table, by Ikea

TÄRNÖ Folding chair, by Ikea


This is part of my design of my dissertation project