Uncovering an alcove hidden in your dining room may seem like a rather unusual birthday present to receive but for Abbigail McLean it was perfect.
Using a recycled gift bag as a tool box, Abbigail and her husband Aaron (plus their two beloved pet pooches and adorable cat) set out on their DIY journey to turn their period property in Mintlaw into their own sacred sanctuary.
With just a screwdriver to hand – and bundles of enthusiasm – the couple looked to the internet in search of ideas on how to renovate their character-filled Victorian home.
Inspired by the property pages she saw on the social media site Instagram, Abbigail set up her own online home décor diary, ‘The 18th Home on the Street’ where she shares the ups and downs of renovating their period property which dates back to 1906.
7,000 Instagram followers
Lighthearted, open and honest, Abbigail’s happy-go-lucky personality shines through her Instagram page as she shares useful hints, tips and DIY advice for her 7,000 followers and counting.
“It’s actually the house that’s made me fall in love with interiors because there was just so much that needed done,” said Abbigail.
“When we saw the period features of the home we had this desire to pull out every single feature that we could.
“Most of our alcoves were totally covered up and made into cupboards so they weren’t on display as well as our fireplaces.”
Love at first sight
It was two years ago when the the couple first set eyes on the striking period property.
“It was actually the very first house that we viewed and then we had a look round all the rest of them and I just kept saying none of them are comparing to the first one that I saw,” said Abbigail.
“My mum really tried to steer me away from period properties because she’d had one previously and said it was an absolute nightmare as there were jobs that constantly needed done.
“That wasn’t entirely a lie but I do feel that the hidden gems in the house supersede the money that needs to be put into it.”
Four-bedroom period property
Listening to their gut feeling, Abbigail and Aaron bought the four-bedroom detached house with an overwhelming yet exciting feeling about the renovation project ahead.
“When we got this house, I looked for home decor inspiration on Pinterest but it wasn’t what I was looking for,” said Abbigail.
“My sister told me about some home décor pages on Instagram so I had a look and I got totally inspired.
“My husband encouraged me to start my own page.”
From painting and panelling to sanding and upcycling, every picture on Abbigail’s Instagram page tells a different home décor story.
“At the very start, I didn’t want to experiment with a lot of tones and textures so I just went for white,” said Abbigail.
“Since then my period vibe has built up a little bit by introducing golds and brasses and trying to seek out some vintage ornaments.”
The couple have also dispelled the myth that panelling doesn’t work on sloping roofs.
“People who have sloping roofs in their properties tend to feel that panelling can make a room look smaller and pull the ceiling down,” said Abbigail.
“But actually it doesn’t, it makes the room look higher and it just shows that it doesn’t matter what size of room you have or how high up things are or how weird shaped room you have, you can add panelling to anything to make it look how you want to.”
Measuring tape in hand, the couple have spent the last few years restoring the property to its former glory.
“Our most recent project has been the snug,” said Abbigail.
“One of my dreams as a little girl was to have a library in the house because I’m absolutely obsessed with books.
“So AM Joinery who kindly did it for us and I absolutely love it.”
During lockdown the couple also turned one of their bedrooms into a candle studio to house their eco friendly candle company Soy & Stick.
“As a primary school teacher, I’d previously done a global warming topic with my class and I was just really saddened by the fact that we throw away so much,” said Abbigail.
“So the candle business stemmed from that as I really wanted to produce something that was eco friendly.”
And although social media can be a toxic place at times, Abbigail says she has received nothing but positive feedback to her posts.
“Followers are always really positive and helpful if I’ve got a question about something,” said Abbigail.
“I find it really helpful because a lot of my friends haven’t got period properties and obviously my mum had a bad experience in one so it’s really nice to speak to other people who have period properties as you can relate to them on that level.”
With their sleeves forever rolled up in preparation for their next DIY project, the couple always keep one thing at the forefront of their minds.
“Our favourite quote is ‘it’s always got to get worse before it gets better’, so that’s what we go by for the DIY,” said Abbigail.
For DIY hints and tips, check out The 18th Home on the Street.