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Alcoves can be tricky when it comes to finding storage to fit in a living room, and no one knows this more than keen DIYers Jessica Lloyd-Bate and partner Eric, who are renovating their 1940s house in the West Midlands.
Fed up of having an empty space in the living area, Jessica decided enough was enough and planned to have some made-to-measure storage put in. 'We had a lot of wires, plugs and TV boxes in the alcove that just couldn't be hidden behind furniture safely,' she told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk (opens in new tab). 'Eric and I decided that a cupboard was the best option, practically and visually.'
Armed with a £40 budget, the pair got their thinking caps on and decided that rather than calling in a professional carpenter, they'd have a go at making something themselves. The results speak for themselves – and now instead of an empty corner with no real purpose, the pair have an elegant storage option for a fraction of the price.
Made-to-measure DIY alcove cupboard
The wasted space at the side of the fireplace was home to nothing but wires before the couple decided to make their cupboard from scratch. 'There wasn't any real planning behind our cupboard design,' says Jessica. 'I'm very spontaneous and I just decided one morning that I wanted to go ahead and make it ourselves. Within a few hours, we were building it!'
Having browsed social media, Jessica already had an idea of the look – modern with traditional touches, to match the decor in the rest of the house. 'The alcove wasn't high up on our list of priorities, so the only way we were going to get it done was if we found a way to do it for a minimal cost,' she says.
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Building the frame
Buy now: Magnusson Torpedo spirit level, £6.98, B&Q (opens in new tab)
The first step was to get the wood to make the cupboard, so Jessica and Eric had a quick search online to find out what materials they'd need, before heading to B&Q. 'There's an off-cuts section there where you can get wood-trimmed down to size,' Jessica explains.
'We were very lucky that on the morning we visited there were some large off-cuts of MDF that were ideal for the fronts and tops of the cupboard. It cost just £2.50 in total, although we also had to buy the wood for the frame, plus the hinges, handles and magnetic strips to keep the doors shut when closed,' she says.
Once all the pieces of wood were cut to size, the couple used wood glue, tack nails and screws to fix everything in place. Finally, they cut the skirting board with a multitool to allow the cupboard to sit flush against the wall.
Buy now: Gorilla wood glue, £4, B&Q (opens in new tab)
Adding the mouldings
After the doors were fitted, Jessica and Eric added some decorative moulding to give the cupboard the traditional look they wanted. A lick of paint and some antique-look gold handles finish it off perfectly.
The new cupboard fits the alcove like a glove – and the top of the unit has given Jessica another display space to style with her favourite accessories. 'The lamp is from The Range and the vase and pampas is from a shop called Willow Box Interiors, in Shropshire,' she says. 'The plant and pot are from HomeSense, which is my absolute favourite shop!'
Buy now: Smooth Natural Pine Astragal moulding, £4.15, B&Q (opens in new tab)
The pair couldn't be happier and still can't believe it cost them less than £40 to make. 'There are a lot of things in our home that we have turned to professionals for,' Jessica says. 'You pay a day rate for most tradesmen, regardless of how long it takes, so based on other works we've had carried out I expect this would have cost us £400-£500. '
'I love a challenge and we both really enjoy doing as much DIY as we can,' she continues. 'If you're looking to do a similar project, picking up some off-cuts like we did is a bonus, and even if you need to buy the materials new it's cheap overall.'
You can see more of Jessica and Eric's renovation over at @midlandsrenovation on Instagram (opens in new tab).
Are you tempted to go bespoke with your next DIY project?
Laurie Davidson is a professional stylist, writer and content creator, who lives and breathes interiors. Having worked for some of the UK’s leading interior magazines, styled homes up and down the country and produced sets for TV shows, adverts and top brands, it’s safe to say Laurie has had a pretty exciting career. Find her on Instagram at @lifeofaninteriorstylist or over at lauriedavidson.co.uk
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