Glasgow woman saves thousands on rapid home transformation by teaching herself DIY hacks

By Kate Harrold

This woman has transformed her home in just nine months after teaching herself to build furniture simply using wood and a drill saving her thousands.

Just nine months ago, graphic designer Susie Lachlan, 32, from Glasgow, had never tried her hand at DIY but she soon began to tire of taking her morning coffee on the backstep of her two-bedroom ground floor Edwardian period flat.

As such, Susie began to scour Etsy for a custom-built garden bench but with each option costing several hundred pounds, Susie decided to have a go at making one herself.

Susie's completed new bed (Mediadrumimages / @girlandadrill)

Fast forward several months and the self-taught DIYer has transformed her flat including making a custom bed, transforming an old boiler room into a linen closest, and building an entryway unit.

By sourcing materials both locally and second-hand, Susie has managed to keep costs down and swears that the best way to learn is to get stuck in.

A new king-size bed could set you back upwards of £350 but Susie's cost just £170 and she even saved an extra £50 after selling her old bed on Gumtree.

The build required locally sourced timber (£112), bed legs which were purchased from Etsy (£30), plates to fit the legs ( £12), and wood treatment ( £16).

One of Susie's favourite creations is her entryway unit which cost just £63 to build providing valuable storage and decorative appeal - all whilst covering a gas pipe box situated on the wall.

After carefully planning her design, Susie purchased strip wood to make the doors ( £4), timber ( £9), handles ( £3), cane webbing for the doors ( £43), and paint ( £4) in addition to also using some wood from an IKEA CD shelf she had lying around.

One of Susie's most budget-friendly projects has been installing new wardrobe doors. A ready-made shop example could cost you around £200 but Susie found reclaimed louvre doors at a local car boot sale ( £12) and purchased some strip wood and hinges ( £17) to construct the frame.

Susie stood in her self-refurbished home in Glasgow (Mediadrumimages / @girlandadrill)

With the ongoing lockdown keeping us at home, Susie has no shortage of projects to be getting on with. She soon plans to create a built-in wardrobe, a dining table, and a double-length desk for her and partner Derek to work from home on ` all whilst sharing her hacks and tips with her followers.

"Every morning since I bought this home three years ago, I would sit on the back doorstep with my morning coffee," Susie said.

"One day last April, I realised that there was enough space for some outdoor seating. I started looking on Etsy for a custom-built garden bench, but they were coming in at a few hundred pounds which I wasn't willing to pay.

"Looking at the photos, I thought, 'I could do that,' and that's how it all began.

"The only time I had done woodwork before was what we called 'techy' class in secondary school where you build a simple wooden box to give to a parent.

"Initially, I wanted to learn because I knew it could save me a lot of money but when I got going, I realised I loved the process of creating the piece.

"I also enjoy problem solving ` when I figure something out after getting it wrong a few times, it feels like such an achievement."

Susie carefully plans her designs, so she knows exactly which materials to buy.

"My entryway unit was my second ever project ` which is quite ambitious in hindsight, but I learned so much from the project," she said.

"I always do a plan first and sketch what I want to build. That helps me visualise any potential problems.

"I then write a cut list, so I know exactly how much timber and materials I need and at what size.

"I always get quotes from a couple of timber yards. It might seem convenient to visit a big brand hardware store but shopping local saves me a lot of money, plus it supports my local community.

"I'm a huge advocate for reusing when I can.

"Every project has its hurdles and that's one of the things I love most about building things from scratch. I've never been great with maths or numbers, but that's one of the fundamentals of making my projects work.

"Every time I solve a problem like that, I get better. By doing things myself, I've spent way less than I would if I'd hired tradespeople to do it for me."

Susie is keen to encourage others to have a go at creating their own DIY project.

"You will absolutely surprise yourself if you give it a try," she said.

"Remember to shop local for timber. Also, buying materials in bulk works out cheaper ` you can cut them down later.

"When it's safe to do, thrift and buy second-hand. Visit your local charity shop and car boot sales to find pre-loved gems you can breathe new life into. Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree are also great for this.

"It can be incredibly daunting to pick up a power tool for the first time, but the only way to learn is to dive right in.

"Make all the mistakes, and there will be a lot of them, but learn from it and you will get better every time.

"For me, I have a walk-in closet that I'd love to create some built-in storage for. I've also been decorating my hallway and installing wall panelling and I'd like to build a radiator cover.

"Me and my partner both work from home so creating a double-length desk would also be really beneficial for us.

"This isn't our forever home, so we'd like to maximise its potential.

"That way when it comes time to sell, we can hopefully make a profit."

To follow along with Susie's projects, visit @girlandadrill.


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