DIY projects

#6 Fitted wardrobe finishing touches

If you’ve arrived here you’re just a few small jobs away from wardrobe utopia.

#1 | Moulding around framework

If there are sizable gaps where your wardrobe meets the floor/wall/ceiling, quadrant moulding is ideal to conceal this whilst looking smart. Like with the beading, simply cut the moulding to the right length and mitre cut where necessary. Apply grab adhesive (cheap stuff from Wilkos does the trick) to the moulding and apply pressure until the moulding has properly bonded. Remove any excess that has sneaked out and Bob’s your uncle, gaps hidden. For a really smart finish, apply some caulk to hide tiny gaps between the moulding and framework/wall

#2 | Painting

Before slapping on the final colour, use a special MDF primer paint on all the woodwork including the frame. This will avoid the final paint job from being blotchy. I’d recommend using a mini-roller with gloss sleeve for an even finish which should be applied sparingly otherwise you may get the dreaded drippage which will leave paint bumps all over.

On the doors and framework, I did one coat of MDF primer and 2 coats of emulsion (the same paint as walls) which did the job nicely. As for the interior walls, one coat of MDF primer and 2 coats of brilliant white emulsion worked well as it means the inside of the wardrobe is as light as poss.

Festive paint stations

#3 | Rails and knobs

Once all the painting is done, you can put up a rail and do the inaugural hang – a special moment. Another quick step is the door knobs, which you can drill through the back of the wardrobe for. Measure this really carefully as drilling a hole in the wrong place of your finished door would be a traumatic experience.

#4 | Make yourself a brew and admire your masterpiece

At times, it felt like I would never finish this project but the time and mild stress was well worth it. Saving well over a grand was obviously a massive plus but the main pro of doing it yourself is how good it feels once it’s done. Before building this wardrobe I genuinely struggled to put up a curtain rail, so if you’re doubting your ability, remember this. It’s all about patience.

If you decide to give it a go, I’m happy to answer any questions and don’t forget to send me a photo!


  • Caulk with gun
  • Mitre saw or mitre box with wood saw
  • Paint roller with gloss sleeve
  • Paint brush
  • Paint tray
  • Impact driver or screwdriver with bits


  • Quadrant moulding
  • Grab adhesive
  • MDF primer
  • Final paint
  • Rail and supports
  • Knobs
DIY projects

#5 Fitted wardrobe hinges

Before I started this wardrobe I would have said there are few topics in the World less interesting than hinges. Having finished the wardrobe, I can confirm that this is correct. However, they’re an integral part of a wardrobe so getting it wrong could turn an otherwise handsome creation into a pile of crap.

#1 | Choosing hinges

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I went for concealed hinges because they’re hidden, allow for adjustment after installation and can include a soft close function. They also allow for doors to be mounted and removed v. quickly and easily. There’s no doubt they cost more than a standard flush hinge (I spent £75 on 18 hinges) but I think they’re well worth it. ‘Blum’ is probably the best-known concealed hinge brand so that’s who I went with. CharlieDIYTE has put together this video about choosing Blum hinges and how to fit them which is well worth a watch.

For our wardrobe doors, I wanted a 95 degree opening angle and knew that I’d have to get the special ‘thick door’ hinges as our doors are 24mm thick. Soft close was also important.

As for how the doors open relative to the frame, this dictates whether you go for overlay or inset hinges. It’s tricky to explain but basically, inset hinges are for when the door sits within the frame ie: the front of the frame is flush with the front of the door. Overlay hinges, on the other hand, are for when the door ‘overlays’ the frame ie: the doors sits in front of the frame.

Top hinge is inset, bottom hinge is overlay

Once you know all this stuff you can use the Blum catalogue to pick out the hinges that suit you and work out how many you’ll need. For me, I used a combination of the soft close thick door inset hinge (71B9750) and soft close thick door overlay hinge (71B9550) which I bought as a bundle with mounting plates included at Trade Hinges. I used 4 hinges on each of the big doors and 2 on each of the wee ones.

#2 | Practice run

Before you start tearing holes into your doors it’s a good idea to do a mock set-up. This will allow you to make sure your measurements are correct and will highlight any problems that might crop up. For example, it’s only when I did a mock-up that I realised the inset hinge mounting plate would need to sit deeper than the framework. That’s why on the images above and below you’ll see two sections of framework joined by a bracket. This was a fairly big issue that I’ll cover later.

Hinge practice

To create your practice set-ups, make a couple of mock doors with MDF off-cuts and grab some framework off-cuts too. After consulting your Blum catalogue for positioning details, drill 35mm holes into the MDF with a hinge drill bit and screw in your hinge. Fix the mounting plate at the corresponding position on the framework. At this point you’ll find yourself with a hilariously small and totally useless mock door. However, it could well save you some big headaches down the line.

#3 | Preparing the door for hinges

After the practice run, you should now be able to drill the hinge holes into your door with confidence. Remember to avoid drilling where the panel pins are or you’ll damage the drill bit. Once your holes are drilled, create pilot holes and screw in the hinges in place.

Seriously messy job

#4 | Mounting the mounting plates

Again, based on your practice, fix the mounting plates to your framework. There is an amount of adjustment possible after you’ve screwed the mounting plates in place so there’s no need to break down if they’re a nanometre too low/high. As ever, remember to drill pilot holes into the framework before screwing the mounting plates in place.

The big mistake I mentioned earlier was that I didn’t check the positioning of the mounting plates before buying the CLS framework. This meant that thanks to the law of sod, when it came to screwing the mounting plates for the inset hinges into the framework, the ideal screw positioning would be right on the edge of the framework and so the mounting plates couldn’t be mounted securely. This meant I had to make wood blocks that sat perfectly flush with the framework to support the mounting plates which took ages so please don’t do the same. This can be avoided by going for the CLS that is 89mm wide rather than the 63mm wide stuff I went for.

If only I’d gone for the wider CLS…

And now, the moment of truth – you should be able to offer the door up to the mounting plates and click the hinges into place. That first door close and open is a similar feeling to your first… Nandos – bloody wonderful. Although it’s worth caveating that the first close/open will probably catch against the frame and this is where concealed hinges come into their own as there are 3 planes of movement that the hinges/mounting plate can be adjusted in. So tweak away, and soon you’ll have a functioning door which you’ll be redundantly proud of.

At this point you’ll have a fully- functioning wardrobe that just needs a bit of sprucing up

Moulding and knobs covered in the next post


  • 35mm hinge drill bit
  • Combi drill
  • Impact drill driver or screwdriver with bits
  • Measuring tape
  • Metal ruler
  • Pencil
  • Gimlet


  • Concealed hinges & mounting plates
  • MDF and framework offcuts
DIY projects

#4 Fitted wardrobe doors

Making the doors was almost the end of me. It took me bloody ages but it was worth spending the time to get them just right as the doors are what you see 99% of the time. I’d advise doing one door at a time all the way through to sorting out the hinges before moving onto the next door. Be prepared for a serious amount of mess and noise.

#1 | Cutting MDF

Our doors are made out of a 12mm MDF backing, with 12mm MDF panels on the front to match the style of our existing 1930s doors. You can create just about any look by gluing MDF together so even if your design looks very different to what we went for, this technique will likely work well.

As with the shelving, Zach at B&Q was a bloody lifesaver as he cut all the doors and panels to size which was around 40 different sections. DEFINITELY have some sort of coding system for the cuts as it’ll save so much time when you’re assembling the doors. Unlike the shelf cuts, I got doors cut with a 2mm additional buffer to each dimension for some buffer. Whether or not you get your wood cut with a buffer is totally down to you.

Code the sections as soon as they’re cut

Once you’ve got the wood home, put the door backs into the space they’ll be filling to check they fit squarely into the space. After propping the door up in place, you can use a metal ruler to mark on the amount of material that needs to be removed.

With the door back clamped onto a work surface, grab a planer and begin steadily adjusting the door to fit the space, allowing 3-5mm around each door to allow for opening and closing. Repeat this process until you’re happy that the door back fits neatly into the space. BEWARE: this is an incredibly messy process and requires a lot of trial and error.

#2 | Assembling the doors

When joining the panels to the door backs, it’s really important that you are using a perfectly flat work surface or you risk creating crooked doors. You’re now ready to glue the panels in place so get a pencil and combination square at the ready so you can mark on exactly where the panels need to be glued. The combination square is a key tool as the inside of angle of where panels meet needs to be 90 degrees or the door will look wonky. If this means that the panel overlaps the door back slightly don’t worry as this can be planed/sanded off once the glue has set.

Mark the positioning of the panels onto the backing

Grab some wood glue and apply liberally. Use a scraper to spread the glue, then secure the panel in place with a load of clamps. Be careful to check that the clamps haven’t moved the panel when they’ve been tightening.

Use more glue than this. This is not enough glue.
If you don’t have enough clamps, probably don’t just use heavy things like I did

Once the glue is dry, knock a few panel pins in to make sure the panels are securely fused to the door back. The tiny holes left can be easily hidden with wood filler and then sanded with a fine grit paper. Gaps between panels can also be filled with wood filler.

Wood filler hides the panel pins and gaps between panels

Don’t be a dick like me and knock the panel pins in where the hinges are going to be positioned – this can be avoided by planning your hinge positioning before adding pins which as a general rule should be as widely spaced as possible.

#3 | Final door adjustments

With the panels fixed in place, you can get the planer out again to shave off any excess panel overhang. As a final step, use a finishing sander with 120 grit paper to give the door edges a smooth finish.

The angle that the edges of the door are planed/sanded at is important as if you remove too much material from the front edge you may find the doors graze each other when opening/closing and the gap between doors will appear large. Therefore, leave a very slight angle to the edges so that the front edge protrudes further than the back edge.

After a fair amount of trial and error, you’ll eventually have doors which sit nicely in the space with a small allowance for opening and closing. If you have top and bottom doors, making sure the gaps between doors line up is key as otherwise your wardrobe is gonna look butters.

Very exciting to get the doors in place for the first time (these photos were post-hinge fixing)

One really important piece of advice I’d give is to take into account that painting the doors will add thickness so doors that close perfectly unpainted may butt against each other when painted. To avoid this, take 1mm or so more than you think you need to off each door edge.

#4 | Adding beading inside door panels

I actually put the hinges in before this stage but in hindsight it would have been wise to complete the doors before this.

This may be a step you wish to miss but it tied our wardrobe in nicely with our interior doors. It’s super quick as it’s just a case of mitre cutting the beading to size and then gluing in place with wood glue before removing any excess. There’s a range of different styles of beading at B&Q so pop in for a browse (I am not being paid to write this).

Believe it or not, this post could have been 4 times longer. There’s a load of tips and tricks that can save you a lot of time during this process so if you’ve got any questions do leave a comment.


  • Planer
  • Finishing sander
  • Hammer
  • Combination square
  • Measuring tape
  • Metal ruler
  • Clamps
  • Pencil
  • Scraper
  • Mitre saw or mitre box with wood saw


  • 12mm thick MDF sheets
  • Wood glue
  • Panel pins
  • Beading
  • Wood filler
DIY projects

#3 Fitted wardrobe shelving

Adding shelving is the quickest step and makes the space look like an actual wardrobe. You could buy exposed wood and treat it if you like, but I opted for melamine covered white chipboard as it’s made for the job.

#1 | Shelf supports

There’s a couple of ways the shelves can be supported – you can either use wood battens or small metal shelf supports. I went for wood battens just because I wanted an excuse for some more woodwork but the metal shelf supports would work just as well and save some time.  If you go for wood battens, cut them to a length slightly less than the shelf depth and at an angle at the end so that they’re discreet and screw them into the wall/wardrobe side. As ever, whap out your spirit level to make sure your shelves don’t slant.

Hidden shelf supports

If any of the shelves are going to spread across a long distance, add shelf supports to the back wall to make sure it’s sturdy. You can also support long shelves across the front by cutting a rabbet (basically a small recess) into a cross-section piece of framework and sit the shelf into this. I borrowed my neighbours table saw to do this. It makes the shelves ultra-strong and looks pretty sexy, if that’s your kind of thing.

#2 | Cutting shelves

To save yourself a load of time and stress, you can get the shelves cut to size at B&Q. I got my pal Zach (he had a name badge) to cut the melamine sheets to 4mm less wide than the space that the shelves were sitting in which by chance worked really well with no need for adjustment. If you do need to make small adjustments, I’d suggest using a finishing sander with a medium grit paper to gradually remove material without damaging the melamine.

Cutting the shelves can lead to the melamine getting damaged

If bigger adjustments are required (I had to to reduce the depth of one shelf), you can reduce damage to the melamine covering by taping on a couple of layers of masking tape. This won’t leave a perfect finish but it’ll be far better than cutting without the tape.

Made do with a jigsaw and length of MDF as a guide

Because the shelves were a fairly snug fit and weighed a decent amount, there was no need to fix them in place so that’s it, shelves done! I was feeling pretty smug after sorting the shelves out relatively quickly but was brought swiftly back down to earth once I realised how long the doors were going to take me…


  • Mitre saw or woodsaw
  • Table saw/circular saw if you need to make accurate long cuts
  • Measuring tape
  • Spirit level
  • Wood screws
  • Frame fixers
  • Combi drill
  • Impact driver or screwdriver with bits
  • Finshing sander medium grit sandpaper
  • Pencil
  • Gimlet


  • Wood battens
  • Melamine covered chipboard – I used 500mm width
DIY projects

#2 Fitted wardrobe framework

The framework is not something that’s worth rushing as if it’s not square or flimsy, you’ll regret it forevermore. I found CLS studwork to be ideal for a sturdy frame. But before buying and cutting the framework to size, the area needs to be prepped.

#1 | Prepping the area

Our wardrobe would be filling a space to the side of a chimney breast. The back wall was a bright purple and there was skirting and picture rail that would have to be adjusted before any framework could go in. Regardless of what colour the walls are, I’d recommend painting the interior of the wardrobe white as you’ll want as much light in there as possible.

Area painted, floor varnished

As for the skirting and picture rail, I wanted to leave it in place where possible so I just removed areas that I knew would interfere with the wardrobe. I didn’t have the proper tools for this job so made do with a chisel which took a while but the results were decent. Remember that you can fill small gaps with caulk so there’s no need for perfection with this job.

#2 | Cutting and securing framework

Once the area is ready, you can begin cutting your framework to size. I was lucky enough to be able to borrow my Dad’s mitre saw but a good wood saw will do the same job, just a little slower. Always sand cut edges with a fine grit paper before securing them.

J Leaf Snr enjoying his mitre saw

A good place to start is the front bottom cross-section. Work out the exact positioning, get it level using packers and secure it robustly. As I secured this section to our wooden floor, I used long wood screws to drive down into the floorboards and joists. Remember to screw pilot holes and countersink the screws so they look tidy and don’t interfere with doors closing. Don’t worry about the packers causing ugly gaps as these can be hidden when you’re applying finishing touches.

That bottom cross section is now the reference point for the rest of the framework. Next, I put the uprights in place, remembering to pay very close attention to getting them level so that the framework was as square as possible to accommodate the doors. If you don’t get the framework square, making the doors will be a ‘mare and it’ll look well dodgy. The uprights were against a brick wall so I used frame fixers to secure these which worked a dream.

After your bottom and uprights are in place, the top cross-section and any other framework elements can be secured in place. When joining two bits of framework at a right angle, cut the wood at a 45 degree angle ie: a mitre joint. If you don’t have a mitre saw to do this, you can get a mitre box v. cheaply and use a wood saw.

You may need to fix sides/partitions in place before finishing the framework

To secure one bit of a framework to another, a combination of metal brackets and fixit blocks do the trick. Be careful not to go overboard as A) you don’t want these to get in the way of the doors and B) they don’t look great.

Fixit blocks work great but aren’t the prettiest

Once that’s all done, you should have a really strong framework ready to support shelves and doors. Next up, getting shelves in.


  • Paint roller
  • Paint brush
  • Spirit level (at least 60cm)
  • Tape measure
  • Metal ruler
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Mitre saw or mitre box + wood saw
  • Combi drill with bits including countersink bit
  • Impact driver or screwdriver with bits
  • Finishing sander or sanding block with fine sandpaper
  • Pencil
  • Gimlet


  • CLS timber (38mm x 89mm x 2400mm lengths)
  • White emulsion
  • Packers
  • Wood screws
  • Frame fixers
  • Flat and right angle metal brackets
  • Fixit blocks
DIY projects

#1 Fitted wardrobe planning

Before any cutting/gluing/screwing commenced, I spent a fair chunk of time thinking about A) how our wardrobe needs to function and B) how it will look, and I’m so glad I did. This big ol’ wood structure is going to be the dominating feature in most bedrooms so fairly meticulous planning can only be a good thing.

#1 | Assess the space

Spend some time thinking about the space your wardorobe is going to fill. Are the floor, ceiling and walls level? Are there any awkward angles? Are there any sections of skirting/picture rail/dado rail that are going to have to be adjusted? The beauty of a fitted wardrobe is that however unique the space, the wardrobe will fit seamlessly, but it’ll be a much easier job if you’ve got a relatively vanilla space to work with. For our wardrobe, the floor and one wall were far from level and there was some picture rail & skirting in the way but fortunately, no awkward angles.

Such a shame to lose the purple

#2 | Window shopping

Next up, it’s market research. Get down to some furniture shops and pay attention to everything including dimensions, hinges and finish. I’d recommend taking a pad to jot down measurements & notes and also take plenty of photos. You’re going to look like a very odd person but just embrace this. Pinterest is also great for inspo so have a good browse of fitted wardrobes on there.

#3 | Time to sketch

Once you’ve considered the space and feel suitably inspired, spend some time roughly sketching out the framework, shelving and doors until you’re happy that the design looks good and will meet whatever your needs are. In terms of design, we have original 1930’s doors throughout the house and so I wanted to match the panels and trim of these doors so the wardrobe would blend in as well as possible. From a practical point-of-view, I knew that Haz would end up commandeering about 2/3 of the wardrobe and needs a lot of space for long-hanging items.

#4 | Final Design

Once you’re happy with the design, draw your wardrobe to scale based on both the measurements taken of the space you’re filling and what you learnt from window shopping. It’s also worth thinking about your clothes – for example, Haz’ longest dress was 140cm so I designed the hanging space to be 145cm. Sad, I know, but worth doing. She better not buy any 150cm long dresses…

Be precise with dimensions such as depth, gaps between shelves and less obvious things like gap above rail as all of these impact one another. If something’s not going to work it’s far better to find out at this stage rather than whilst you’re building the bloody thing.

I found it helpful to draw the final design out from 3 perspectives – with a front view of the doors, front view of shelves and ¾ view of the framework. This way I had a really solid plan and felt (relatively) confident that all would work.

Coding each cut makes life a lot easier

Here’s a few key measurements that I’d recommend sticking to:

  • Interior depth of 55-60cm to allow for sideways hanging
  • Hanging allowance of around 90cm if just hanging shirts, 140cm if hanging dresses
  • Aim for a door width of around 50cm; our total space was 161cm so I opted for 3 doors
  • Don’t have any knobs higher than you, or anyone using the wardrobe, can reach
  • If adding shelves, I found a 25cm opening height to be about right

#5 | Materials planning

Thanks to your beautiful drawings, it’s now possible to plan out the materials and quantities you’re going to need. I wanted to make sure the wardrobe was built to last so having sturdy framework was important. To achieve this, I used CLS timber (details in equipment list at bottom of post) which is normally used for building partition walls. When you’re out buying the framework, spend time checking that the lengths are straight before buying as there’ll likely be plenty of wonky ones for sale.

For the shelves, I opted for simple white melamine chipboard which is made for the job. It’s rigid and the more white inside the better to help reflect light.

As for the doors, I knew I’d be painting the wardrobe to match the walls so MDF would be perfect as it’s cheap, easy to work with and paints well. To match the style of our existing doors, I’d be gluing panels of MDF to the door and then adding a beading. The added benefit of including panels is that it keeps the door robust and avoids it wobbling. CharlieDIYTE has a really helpful video of how he made MDF mock-panel doors which I must have watched over 20 times. At B&Q you can get wood cut for free so make pals with the staff as they’re going to be sorting you out big time.

40+ cuts of MDF – the man hated me

The choice of hinges is baffling so I’ve done a whole post on this (possibly not the most stimulating read) but I’d very highly recommend using concealed hinges. There are certainly cheaper options eg: flush hinges but these impact the final look and don’t allow for adjustment which would be a problem for a novice DIY’er like myself.

If you’re like me you’ll be chomping at the bit by this point to get going so let the building commence.


  • Grid paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Measuring tape
Doing it up

Top 10 refurb tips

Before moving into our place we were complete DIY novices. My DIY experience consisted of failing to put a blind up and making a shoe rack that is permanently in storage… So basically, we’ve had to learn a hell of a lot. Based on our experience so far, here are our best bits of advice.

#1 | Fork out for good sandpaper

As grim a job as it is, if you’re doing up a house you’re going to do an insanely large amount of sanding. As we’re trying to keep costs down, we used really cheap sandpaper for the first few sanding jobs. This is the falsest economy of all time because shit sandpaper just disintegrates and is utterly useless + infuriating. It will end up costing you more and taking longer so go for decent quality sandpaper.

Also worth saying that sanding by hand is a mug’s game. Buy a power sander (we have an orbital and corner sander) as they too will save you a hell of a lot of time and cost around £30 for a basic model.

#2 | Have a plan

Something else that we soon learnt was that doing random jobs here and there is a terrible idea. Not only does it mean you do jobs in the wrong order, but it’s also less rewarding because you feel as if you’re achieving nothing.

We now tackle one room at a time and write out all the jobs that need doing before making a start. Then we look down the list and roughly plan the order, paying attention to where one job needs to be done before another eg: don’t paint the skirting before sanding the floor as the sanders will mark the paint. The list is then stuck on the wall of the room so we can tick jobs off as they get done.

#3 | Find the best way to do a job as early as possible

There are dozens of ways that a job can be done but only one way that will be the most efficient. Finding this best method sooner rather than later should be your goal as it’s incredibly easy to waste hours doing a job ineffectively. For example, we used a heat gun to strip the skirting paint in our bedroom. The first metre must have taken me 2 hours but by the end I was probably doing 4 metres an hour after tweaking the method and using slightly different scrapers. Vary your methods of doing things until you find the best way and then stick to it.

#4 | Don’t dive in without doing your research

Certain jobs have to be done a certain way or you may end up doing more damage than good. Stripping paint from a fireplace, for example, needs to be done with with paint stripper rather than a heat gun as the intense heat can crack iron. Another example is painting MDF – you need to use a special MDF primer paint before emulsion coats as the finish will look blotchy otherwise.

These are tips that you only find out from research so spend the time looking into this stuff before cracking on with a job. At the end of the day, if you feel really uncomfortable about doing the job yourself you should probably be paying someone else to do it.

#5 | Borrow kit where possible

The DIY approach no doubt saves a lot of money. It does, however, require a lot of tools and bits of equipment that add up. The chances are you’ll have family/friends/neighbours/colleagues that have most of the equipment you need sitting in their sheds gathering dust. Borrowing and lending equipment is a great way to keep costs down and avoid having bits of equipment that you only use once.

#6 | Seek help

About 15% of jobs to refurb a house are rewarding. The rest are largely monotonous, repetitive tasks that take yonks. With these tasks, if possible, it’s great to have someone helping you with to not only speed things up, but also to keep you sane. Whilst sanding our floors I went on holiday for a couple of days, leaving Haz to fend for herself. I returned home to a broken woman as sanding a floor is definitely not a task you want to do alone. Get help from family and friends – the best ones will be happy to help.

#7 | Use paint rollers over brushes

You will get a far better finish using a roller to apply paint than a brush. Brushes are good for tricky areas and cutting in but that’s about it.

#8 | Shop around

Unless money is no object, shop around for all DIY-related goods just as you would for anything else. Prices vary massively and you can’t always rely on one place to be the cheapest. As a general rule, we use Wilkos as a first port of call for most stuff as it’s usually the best value. However, Screwfix is often a good shout and Toolstation is worth considering. B&Q is very rarely the cheapest but has just about everything. And then you have the likes of Gumtree, FB Marketplace and eBay which are perfect for certain kit.

#9 | Before starting a job, ask yourself if it’s worth it

When we first moved in we were adamant that we’d strip back every single square inch of woodwork and repaint it. 5 hours into stripping the caked-on paint of our bedroom door architrave, we realised our plan was overly-ambitious.

Some jobs simply aren’t worth spending the time and money on and being able to identify that is key. Unless you plan on doing DIY every day of your life until arthritis prevents you, be pedantic about the jobs that are and aren’t worth doing. Nobody will ever pay as much attention to the finish of a job than you will whilst you’re doing it.

# 10 | Have a Kitkat

Haz and I both work 9-5 office jobs and, believe it or not, have hobbies other than DIY. We try to spend as much free time as possible on the house but ultimately, if we’re really not in the mood or are knackered, we’ll pour ourselves a G&T/stubbie and flop on the sofa.

There have been periods when we’ve been doing housework flat out for days in a row and we always end up burning out and ultimately being unhappy. Unless you’re one of those types that will not stop until something is done, find time to chill or you’ll end up resenting the seemingly endless job list and maybe even your home.

Most of these tips are more around attitude and approach rather than the act of DIY. I suppose that’s because pretty much anyone can pick up a paintbrush (or roller) and slap it on a wall but having the right approach is what will lead to you doing the best job and having fun at the same time.

Doing it up

Our home when we moved in

The sensation of walking over the threshold into your first home is one of joy and terror. Sure, it feels amazing to have something to show for the years of saving, but the idea of having to improve and maintain a building is fairly horrifying. Just 3 months earlier we were living in a London flat where if so much as a lightbulb stopped working we’d ‘call the man’.

To be fair, there are plenty of houses that are in a worse state than ours when we moved in. The best way to describe it is probably ‘unloved’. Here’s what our house was like when we arrived in August 2019.


The downstairs is a pretty classic set-up for 1930s 3-bed semi. The front door opens into the hallway with stairs to the left, galley kitchen straight forward and 2 reception rooms to the right which share a wall with our neighbours.

Dining room

The living and dining rooms are pretty much the same size and, like the hallway, have pine floorboards that are covered in a thick, dark varnish that’s badly scuffed and looks pretty grim. In the living room there’s a large original fireplace and big window out onto the back garden which is south-east facing. The dining room has had the fireplace boarded up, but there’s a lovely bay window that floods the room with light. The wall between the living and dining room has been semi opened up so it feels pretty open plan.

Living room through to dining room

The kitchen is definitely our least favourite room in the house because it’s small, outdated and only one of the gas hobs work! It’s also ridiculously cold. AND there’s no dishwasher which is surely one of the worst first world problems.



The bathroom and master bedroom face the back garden whilst the other double room and box room are at the front of the house. All 3 bedrooms are in need of some serious TLC – the carpets are knackered, walls are dented, wallpaper is coming off etc etc…

Within an hour of moving in I’d pulled up the master bedroom carpet and found some glorious original floorboards so they’ll be staying. There used to be a fireplace in this room but some maniac sacked it off so we’re going to have to do something about that too.

Master bedroom

The spare room is in need of some serious attention. It looks like a kid put several thousand posters up so the walls and ceiling are grim. As with all the other rooms, the woodwork is badly painted and damaged. The original fireplace is still in place but painted light blue for some reason.

Spare room

The box room has also seen better days but as it’s so small we’re hoping won’t take too long. There’s some weird stuff going on in this room eg: a dangling light switch in the far corner of the room which can be used for the main light…

Box room

The bathroom is just fine. It’s not exactly how we’d do it, but it’ll do for now as there’s way more pressing stuff to be done.


One day many years from now we might need a 4th bedroom. If so, we’ll probably follow the lead of most of our neighbours and do a loft conversion. For now, it’ll just be used for Xmas decorations.


There’s a few quirky features to the house including the diagonal doors that come off the hall and landing. We really like them as they make the hallway/landing spacious and light, plus it’s a bit different which adds to the house’s character.

Funky diagonal door set-up

There are original picture rails running throughout the house which make the ceilings feel high and provide a nice way to break up the wall. We’re planning on getting some picture rail hanging equipment to use these back like they would be 90 years ago.

The doors are also original and thankfully haven’t been panelled over like so many doors from that era are. They are, however, caked in loads of layers of paint which doesn’t look great.

Interior door

A big selling point for us was the amount of natural light throughout the house. The windows are humongous and because of the layout, light travels from room-to-room really well. We viewed similar houses with less light and they felt so gloomy compared.


The apple tree ❤

The back garden is probably what turned this place from a maybe into our first choice. The previous owner was a keen gardener so it’s been well looked after and has a lovely old apple tree at the end. I’ve not lived anywhere with a garden for 10 years so to have our own outdoor space is dreamy. One not-so-dreamy part of the back garden is the pre-fab pebbledash garage which is really useful space but bleak to look at. It’ll either come down or get a makeover.

Back garden from master bedroom

There’s a long, narrow drive down the side of the house which leads to the front garden and main road. There’s only practical space for one car so one day we’re going to do what the neighbours have done and take up the small patch of front garden to gravel it so we can get a couple of cars parked.

Front garden

And that’s about it. We could easily make do with the house as it is but it’s that classic cliché of wanting to ‘put your own stamp on it’. Plus, as it is, the house isn’t particularly future-proof. So with that in mind, we have a fairly big ol’ list of things to change.

DIY projects

DIY fitted wardrobe

I was very mediocre at DT at school so the idea of designing and building a fitted wardrobe for our bedroom was borne purely out of being a tight Yorkshireman. However, during the process I found that I love working with wood and it’s definitely the most rewarding thing I’ve done in the house. Paying for custom-built wardrobes would cost upwards of £2K, so you’ll be saving a heap of cash even if you have to buy all the equipment.

There are quite a lot of steps so for those who just want to dip their toe in, here’s a relatively brief summary. For the hard-core, follow the links for full details.

#1 | Planning

Who knew that designing a wardrobe could be enjoyable? Being able to fully customise the design is such a massive plus of DIYing it. For us, we wanted to fulfil our storage needs whilst matching the finish to the style of our 1930s interior doors. I spent ages sketching out different designs (unexpectedly fun) and once this was done, planned out the materials we’d need (also unexpectedly fun). I’d strongly recommend doing some market research at furniture shops so you can take measurements and get some inspo.

#2 | Framework

This is when shit got real. It’s all well-and-good sketching out the ideal wardrobe, but actually putting it together is a totally different kettle of fish. The trickiest part of fixing the framework in place was getting the shape ‘square’ because the height of the space varied by 2cm from one end to the other and the walls weren’t plumb either. Otherwise, this is a pretty easy stage and it’s really cool to see the space transforming.

#3 | Shelving

If you get the wood for your shelves accurately cut where you buy it from (B&Q do this for free), this can be seriously quick. It’s just a case of screwing in some shelf supports, plopping your shelves on top and voila!

#4 | Doors

It was all pretty plain sailing until this point… I decided to make some ‘faker shaker’ doors out of MDF and used concealed hinges for a neat finish. The end result was worth the effort, but getting the doors to fit tightly and look good whilst getting the hinges right took a looooong time. It’s possible to make this step a lot easier by buying the doors but that’s not proper DIY, is it? Also, taking the DIY route means you have 100% control over the finished look.

#5 | Hinges

Yeah, that’s right, a whole post about hinges. Settle down for an exhilarating read. Seriously though, doors aren’t much good without hinges so choosing the right ones and fitting them correctly is key. We went for concealed hinges and would strongly recommend them as they’re, well, concealed, so leave the doors looking really smart. There’s a few other reasons to choose concealed hinges that you can read about in the post.

#6 | Finishing touches

The final bits to finish included gluing the moulding around the framework to hide gaps, fixing some knobs on and a lick of paint. And just like that, many hours and £300 later, we had a fully-functioning and pretty handsome fitted wardrobe.

It was a really rewarding project which saved us a heap of cash and meant we could have exactly what we wanted. You don’t have to be a woodwork pro – the last thing I made was a shoe rack a couple of years ago and Haz doesn’t let me bring it into the house! If you fancy giving it a go, here are the links again. I’d love to see your DIY wardrobes so send pics to

#1 | Planning

#2 | Framework

#3 | Shelving

#4 | Doors

#5 | Hinges

#6 | Finishing touches

If you fancy reading about some other furniture projects, here’s a post about our DIY scaffold board dining table and another about how I made our decking with integrated storage seats.