DIY SOS: The Big Build is the BBC’s flagship home renovation programme and I’m so thrilled whenever I get invited to design for them. The show has been running for 20 years, and attracts up to 5 million viewers per episode in its prime time slot on BBC One. It’s won a stash of TV awards, presented by Nick Knowles and his team of Billy, Mark, Chris and Jules, takes on extremely Big Builds across the country in just nine days which is honestly unbelievable and the energy on site is just like nothing I’ve ever experienced. If you ever get the opportunity to be involved, then do! It will fill your heart up with goodness that you can then live off for months. We completely rely on the support and generosity of the local community of tradespeople and suppliers to carry out the work, to help transform the lives of truly deserving families. I’m always blown away by peoples generosity and love the opportunity to ask for donations from some of my favourite retailers, artists and designers. Their unbending generosity really make the whole space feel like home long after the builders have moved out. I’d love to thank Nicole from Impact photography for taking these pictures of the reveal, so I can share them with you on the blog.
In this episode we meet Hairdresser Johanna (34) and support worker partner William (27) who live in a small terraced home in Bromsgrove on the outskirts of Birmingham. Johanna is best friends with her younger sister Karis (27), who lived in Stourbridge with their mum, but Karis has Cerebral Palsy, uses a wheelchair and is in need of constant care.
Before the DIYSOS team arrived Mum Karen was Karis’s carer, but her own health had reached a crisis point. The threat of her daughter needing to move into residential care was very real and Karis was terrified of this happening too.
Johanna dreamt of being able to care for Karis at her home – she’d saved a small amount of money by running her hairdressing business from home, and also managed to get planning permission to extend. But the urgency had dramatically changed, and there just was’t the money to stop the inevitable from happening, which was leaving her and Will heartbroken. Back in Stourbridge, mum Karen was falling on a regular basis due to her own condition. At risk of further accidents whilst caring for her daughter, social services recommended that Karis be put into residential care. Which is when the DIYSOS team and its band of local supporters stepped in!
The family needed a two-storey side extension to allow space for Karis’s wet-room and bedroom, as well as a through-floor lift. The new downstairs will have an open-plan living space and kitchen that Karis can access and use to gain independence. On the ground floor, I went for a dark and dramatic scheme to really add impact. Jo’s hairdressing business is called the black Pearl and indeed her own wedding had pirates of the Carribean theme. This along with her signature bright purple locks gave me the confidence to do something really bold for her. Her home was in danger of looking like a disabled hospital due to all the equipment that Karis’s condition required. I wanted this young couple to still have a vibrant and cool home which they would feel proud to entertain in. For Karis, it was really important for her and her vibrant personality that she didn’t drag her sister down and could feel like one of the gang. Karis and Jo have a strong bond and both have great personalities and I wanted the interior design to reflect that. So I went big and bold!
The open plan living space took up the entire floor plan of the house’s footprint. This was so Karis can use her motorised wheelchair with ease. I went dark on the walls in order to create a snug and dramatic look and as the open-plan space was so big, I feel the dark colour really helps stop the space looking too vacuous. A velvet sofa in Jo’s signature purple really stands out against the dark scheme.
I love this dramatic stripe up the stairs and onto the landing. Black and white is a thread that helps unify every room in the home and without a hallway, the staircase is pivotal to the cohesion of the whole house. You’ll see a little bit of black and white in every room and I love how this patterned carpet connects the downstairs and upstairs.
A gallery wall of artwork gives a sense of home. Jo had a canvas of a skull in her home set pride of place in her home before we arrived and Karis told me she loves unicorns. I used this as inspiration when choosing alternative art for her new home. The collection of frames also help break up the dark wall colour which is really effective.
The LVT flooring is a really durable option and works especially well with Karis’s wheelchair. We had a patterned tile inserted to act like a rug under the dining table. With open-plan spaces it really helps to zone the areas, so the patterned floor area, couples with a really large pendant light, helps to create a different zoned area, away from the kitchen.
The neon light we had made for Karis and Jo especially sums up the sentiment behind this build. Again it looks really striking when switched on as it pops against the midnight wall colour.
With all the essential equipment installed to help keep Karis independent was discussed by all the glamorous and quirky accessories we put into the space. This feather trimmed pendant light was central to my design as it’s both flamboyant and glamorous.
Dark grout lines and a Crittal style shower screen add an art Deco glamour to the shower room.
Karis’s bedroom was my biggest challenge in this project. I altered my scheme quite close to the wire to give Karis a light and tranquil space where she could spend a lot of time relaxing, inviting friends over or writing her blog.
Karis’s love of pastel shades is really indulged in this bathroom with coordinating mosaic tiles and jazzy wallpaper.
The dedicated team helping me finish off the dressing while watching the world cup final!
A special thank you to Nicole at Impact photography for taking these pictures for me to share and to the design team at DIYSOS Stephanie Williams and Cora McClean.