“How I transformed my bathroom using items leftover from renovating other rooms”

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Abi Hugo, the content creator behind home reno Instagram account @thewhitethistle, shares how she transformed her bathroom using paint and wood left over from renovating other rooms in her house. 

When content creator Abi Hugo and her partner were house-hunting at the end of 2020, she wasn’t set on buying a fixer-upper. “We looked around new builds and homes that were completely finished, and because of the children I was really tempted,” she tells Stylist. Brand new homes are known more for their immaculacy than their individuality, so she was interested in the challenge of adding character to a pristine space. 

But when it came to it, the thought of paying for decor that wasn’t exactly to her taste dissuaded her. “In the end, I just couldn’t justify spending the money on something that was technically finished and perfect but not the way I wanted it. Why would I spend top market value when it wasn’t my design or ideas?”

Abi says that the desire for a space she could put her spin on, combined with the view – “because we are on a hill, everything behind us is just fields and fields of greenery. The sunsets here are incredible” – convinced her to take her renovation project. 

It’s clear she loves taking something others might overlook and transforming it; one of her favourite hobbies is upcycling furniture and she shares the results with the 114,000 followers of her home reno IG account @thewhitethistle. She’s taken the vision needed for upcycling and applied it on a larger scale around her home. One of the best examples is her bathroom, which she recently overhauled with leftover wood and paint from other renovations in the house.

Abi explains that she wanted to do the makeover quickly and cheaply while waiting for a more permanent transformation. “We are saving up for a bigger renovation but that room just bugged me – it had half-painted walls, exposed pipework everywhere and no floor, just concrete. And one day I just got fed up. I didn’t want to wait another six months to a year for a nice room. So I just thought, let’s do what I can with what I have lying around the house. I started painting the pipes black and one thing led to another.” 

Here’s how she did it.

Abi Hugo is working with independent door retailer Leader Doors.

The leftover materials used for Abi’s bathroom overhaul

Abi used wood panelling to make a feature of her bathroom mirror

Abi describes her interiors style as a “modern twist on a classic style” and this takes the form of “neutrals but adding contrast with black accents”. 

Maintaining this style in her bathroom not only helped it flow with the rest of the house, but also meant she saved money on paint for the walls and metalware. She explains: “[The makeover] was basically free; I used leftover stuff from the other rooms that I upcycled in my house, so that includes leftover wood and paint.”

She used Beige 02 from Lick for the walls and tapped into the trend for black bathroom accessories at a fraction of the price by painting her radiator and pipework in Loof from Frenchic.

The leftover wood, 12mm x 44mm timber from Wickes, was used to create a panelling effect on one wall, providing a characterful backdrop to the bathroom mirror.

The one item Abi bought for her bathroom makeover

Stick-on tiles transformed Abi’s floor for around £30

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While most of Abi’s bathroom overhaul was achieved with leftover items, she did buy one item. However, true to her thrifty style, it was still a budget hack. She explains: “The only things that I bought were the peel and stick floor tiles from Dunelm, which were £14 a pack and I bought two, so just under £30. I am all about the budget renovation!” 

The stick-on tiles create the impact of a patterned tiled floor without the expense and in a fraction of the time. No tiling expertise is needed, either.

How to get the work done in one sitting

Abi’s bathroom makeover took just 24 hours

Something that can put many of us off attempting DIY is the time commitment involved. But Abi managed to complete her bathroom makeover in just one day. “The whole transformation only took 24 hours, because when I get hooked on an idea and I see it in my head I just have to get it done. It just started with me painting the radiator, seeing how it went and then one thing led to another.”

While she admits to staying up till 2am to finish the transformation, she does have some tips for how you can keep motivated and ensure you get your DIY wrapped up in time for bed.

“Find a solid chunk of time and schedule when you will do the work – there is nothing worse than being interrupted every hour by someone or something – that is the fastest way to end up with an unfinished project. Make sure you actually know when you will get the bulk of the work done.”

Abi updated her radiators and pipework with black paint

Another thing that helps Abi keep going when she finds herself flagging is focusing on the finished product. “Keep visualising what the end result will look like. The thing that spurs me on is [that] I want to see it all come together and figuratively touch the image that has been in my head. The excitement always gives me the energy to keep going.”

The other essential ingredient for a successful speedy DIY project? “Snacks – if you’re going to do a project quickly, you need lots of snacks to keep your energy levels up,” Abi says.

If, however, something does get in the way of wrapping up your project in one go, Abi recommends planning when you’ll get it done and blocking out that time in your diary.

The products Abi used to overhaul her bathroom

  • Floorpops stick-on tiles

    Dunelm stick-on tiles in situ

    Shop Floorpops stick-on tiles at Dunelm, £14


  • Wickes 12mm x 44mm timber

    Wood from Wickes for panelling

    Shop Wickes 12mm x 44mm Timber, £4.60 


  • Lick paint in Beige 02

    Lick Beige 02 paint

    Shop Lick paint in Beige 02, £42


  • Frenchic paint in Loof

    Frenchic paint in Loof

    Shop Frenchic paint in Loof, from £9.95


Images: Abi Hugo/Leader Doors/Dunelm/Wickes/Lick/Frenchic

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