For Adam Kelly and partner Emma Hay-Higgins’ DIY renovation has yielded their ideal first home – a light, bright two-bed flat – within a modest budget.

“We were first-time buyers trying to purchase our first property in what was a competitive Aberdeen market,” begins Adam. “We were looking for somewhere we could enhance — in particular the opportunity to add value through creating an additional bedroom.”

They eventually found a one-bed flat, with a separate living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Their plan was to open the spaces up as far as possible and completely strip out the tired interiors as part of their DIY renovation.

  • Homeowners: Adam Kelly and Emma Hay-Higgins
  • Project: Victorian flat renovation
  • Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
  • Size: 50m2
  • Build time: Aug 2015 – Mar 2017
  • Flat cost: £140,000
  • Build cost: £20,000
  • Value: £180,000

The couple created a new open plan living space by removing an internal wall and remodelling the existing rooms.


The new kitchen (from Howdens) has been relocated to the open plan living space. The room occupied by the former kitchen has become the study/second bedroom.


Creating a Second Bedroom

“When we moved in, the flat was very dark and the kitchen was separated from the living room. It also had a massive U-shaped hallway that took up so much space,” explains Adam, an architectural technologist.

Adam and Emma recognised that there was unnecessary circulation/hall space that made the rooms feel dark and unconnected.

As such, they decided to remove one of the internal walls to create an open plan living area as part of their DIY renovation. The kitchen was relocated into a newly formed open plan living space; the much-needed second bedroom/study was created from the former kitchen.

The previous living room now features the main bedroom.


The master bedroom has been relocated to the former sitting room. Adam built the bed himself


The former kitchen is now the second bedroom/study. Adam designed and built the shelves and desk from plywood, with help from a local joiner, as part of this DIY renovation project


A DIY Renovation

“We used our savings to pay for the main aspects of the renovation, such as the new kitchen and bathroom, and installing a new boiler, which involved appointing professional contractors,” says Adam.

However, Adam and Emily took on the remainder of the work on a DIY basis. “The whole renovation took approximately one and a half years as we chose to take on a lot of the work ourselves to save money while managing full-time jobs.”

The couple stripped out unoriginal joinery such as internal doors, skirting and facings as well as removing built-in wardrobes and a non-loadbearing wall to decrease unnecessary circulation space. “I removed the wall myself with a hammer and a crowbar,” says Adam.

Adam even built much of the furniture himself, using inexpensive materials such as plywood and OSB (oriented strand board).


 The existing bathroom suite has been stripped out and replaced, but this room remains in its original location. The all-white bathroom is tiled to the ceiling in utilitarian tiles (from Tile Giant), and complemented by a silver towel rail and grey accessories

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