Mum transforms plain new build into Nordic wonderland for just £3,000 with DIY

A DIY-loving mum has explained how she transformed her plain new build into a Nordic home for just £3,000 by doing most of the work herself.

Helena Cho and her husband purchased their dream family home in London for £650,000 in 2019.

But after a few months Helena, who works in clinical cancer research, began to pine for the “calm serene set-up” in Sweden where she was born.

To help her feel more settled, she decided to transform the property with a Nordic vibe.

“I have lived all my life in Sweden and after living in London for a few years I started to miss the atmosphere,” she said.

“That’s when I decided to bring the Nordic vibe to our home.”

Helena – known as Yooni on social media – DIYed around half of the renovation on her own, with decorators called in when she was heavily pregnant to finish wallpapering and decorating several rooms.

The talented DIYer kept her budget to a few hundred pounds per room, with the total sum reaching £3,000 for the ten spaces she transformed within the home.

Helena said: “Some of the projects were completed by myself and some were completed by my decorator as I was heavily pregnant when the decorating works needed to be done.

“I wanted a cosy vibe in the guest room and decided to paint a feature wall in limewash paint in colour in slate.

“The organic brush-strokes give the room a depth and also a warmer cosy feeling.”

Designing and decorating her baby’s nursery herself, the mother installed picture rail panelling – costing a total of £300.

Helena said: “The nursery was painted in the Valspar paint colour ‘Rabbit’s Foot’ and I also decided to create a feature wall by adding picture rail panelling.

“It was pretty easy to put up, you will need pine picture rails, a hand saw and masking tape.”

Using the same technique for the office, Helena created her signature feature wall behind the desk, which cost £300

She said: “In the office, I used the same technique and materials, I decided to add simple MDF boards cut in thin strips as part of the feature wall.

“I also added limewash paint colour to create the texture and depth to the wall and topped it up with a shelf in a pine colour.”

As the property was a new build home the high-spec kitchen was “very basic”, however Helena decided to work with what they had been given.

Helena said: “We didn’t want to spend a fortune renovating the kitchen when it was perfectly usable and so we added the marbles tiles to help work as a splash-back but also make it look more interesting.

“I also decided to change the handles of the kitchen cupboards into sleek black handles which I bought from amazon for £20 and it totally changes the look of the standard boring new build kitchens.”

In the dining room, Helena kept it cool with white walls, adding a featured panel wall with three neutral-toned pieces of art, spending a total of £300.

Helena said: ”The dining area I left white but wanted an eye-catching feature wall and decided to also panel the wall with picture rails. It is a simple but effective way to transform your room.”

Also included in the total was the guest room, costing £200, the living room, costing £400, the sunroom, for £300, downstairs toilet for £200, bathroom for £200, and the hallway and landing for £400.

The family’s outside space also had a makeover, with crisp white fabric sun-loungers inspired by the couple’s honeymoon in the Maldives.

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Helena said: “Due to the pandemic we realised how important garden space is and we transformed our garden from an overgrown jungle into our own little paradise.

“I wanted this space to be used and it has now become an extension of our house.

“We were fortunate enough to meet our landscaper Gary who helped turn my vision into a real garden space.”

Helena found the most challenging part was picking out the paint colours.

She said: “As the lights are cast differently in each room and at different hours, it is important that you give time and try paints in different shades and tones before you go for it.”

The hard-working mother also struggled to find the time to complete DIY projects while looking after her son.

Now left with a tranquil home with all the peace of Sweden, Helena is “very pleased with the outcome”.

Helena added: “You don’t have to spend £1000s to make the rooms look luxurious and well done up.

“I reckon if we weren’t using the decorators for some of the projects we would have saved even more.”

What it all cost

£500 Master bedroom
£200 Guest room
£300 Nursery
£200 Office
£300 Dining area
£400 Livingroom
£300 Sunroom
£200 Toilet
£400 Hallway/landing
£200 Bathroom