A social worker has revealed how she transformed her ‘dirty’ two-bedroom council flat into a cozy home after saving money for important purchases.
Abby Dunsmure, 26, moved into the flat in Helensburgh, Scotland, six years ago after a spell of homelessness, with husband Stuart, 25.
At the time, they relied only on Stuart’s, had no furniture except a bed, and had to take out payday loans to buy important items like a refrigerator.
Now Abby and Stuart both have full-time jobs, pay the rent for their flat and have spent a total of £6,000 to improve their home.
They modernized the bathroom for just £60, gave the kitchen a £40 spruce up and invested in pieces such as the £1,000 sofa and £350 coffee table, while picking up accessories from TK Maxx and Dunelm.
Bedroom in front: Abby Dunsmure, 26, moved into the flat in Helensburgh, Scotland six years ago after a spell of homelessness with her husband Stuart, 25. The only furniture they had was a bed, pictured, which was in a dingy room with a broken floor
Bedroom after: Over time, the couple has been saving to improve their home, making it more cozy and inviting. Abby and Stuart have added a plush carpet and elegant bed to their bedroom
Bathroom earlier: The bathroom floor was stained and dirty and did not create a feeling of relaxation. Even then, Abby was looking for homey touches like the chest of drawers pictured
Bathroom after: New floors, under-sink storage and a fresh coat of paint transformed the bathroom. Abby and Stuart have received praise on TikTok for how they’ve transformed the flat
Living room before: The couple relied on one income when they first moved into the flat and initially didn’t have the money to improve the walls or furniture
Living room after: The couple added a new carpet, painted the walls and decorated with classic, comfortable furniture that gives the room a sophisticated look
Slow and steady: Abby and Stuart, pictured, both now working full-time, renovated the flat by replacing the vinyl tiles, updated the bathroom floor, and decorated with bargains from stores including TK Maxx and Dunelm, all while saving money for large buys like a coffee table
Abby showcased the makeover in a TikTok video that has garnered more than 123,000 views and 13,500 likes, with viewers cheering her on for portraying social housing in a positive light.
Abby said: ‘There is a huge stigma attached to social housing and people on benefits. I got my flat a few years ago now and I was homeless at the time. I considered myself quite young on my own.
‘My husband and I both work full time now, only we were in an unfortunate situation in the beginning. Many people have said bad things about town halls, but the people who live there aren’t bad. Some of them are just in tricky situations.
‘It irritates me when people judge town halls. I’ve had a few comments because of where my flat is – it’s in the worst area in Helensburgh.
Kitchen for: the kitchen of the municipal flat was simple but livable before the transformation
Kitchen after: a crisp white color scheme, new floors and swish handles lift the room
“I’ve heard people say to me ‘you live in Junkieville’. Because it carries a stigma, I painted with the same brush, even though my husband and I work.
‘We are all lumped together as drug users or junkies when we are not. A few people I know myself have said that. They simply assess which building we are in.’
Abby explained that when they moved into the flat, they were dependent only on Stuart’s income. He found himself in debt after taking out personal loans to finance essential purchases.
She continued: ‘But I was able to get a full-time job and that made it easier. He paid off the debt and we were able to build the flat, make it more of a home.
Bare: the bedroom before that had a brown carpet, plain walls and minimal basic furniture
Chic: Abby has been working to save money on luxury details like this dressing table set
Cozy: At Christmas, the room is decorated with festive red accents and a plaid with tartan
“I would definitely say that buying cheaper, as we used to do, is a waste of money because it doesn’t last long, so we built up savings and bought most of the furniture.
‘I have found my style. I loved taking something from what we had in the beginning to what it is now – a diamond in the rough.
‘I love to transform things and have always had a good eye for design. I used to be a cleaner too, so I’m quite picky about the way I like things.
“When council workers come in, they see a huge change in some of the houses they enter.
“I live in a rather rough area, so not many of the flats look very nice, but they come into my flat and say it’s a very different world than the one they worked in.”
Small details: Abby and Stuart have used neutral tones to create a cohesive whole throughout their home. Pictured, a stylish mirror in a corner of their bedroom
Now the couple, who pay full rent because they work full-time, are saving to buy their own home.
“My husband and I don’t want a mortgage – we want to buy a house with cash and that’s why it takes so long,” Abby explained.
“We wanted to buy our house outright so that we have long-term security and no one can take it away from us. We have become redundant in the past.
‘We want to buy a building from the municipality. Council homes are much better standard than new construction. You get much bigger gardens.
‘We have never applied for benefits and we have not received any family help at all. I know people can be misjudged, but we’ve come this far and are saving to buy cash ourselves. Stuart works 100-hour weeks including his sleepovers.’
The pair has been praised by TikTok fans, with one writing: ‘Absolutely gorgeous girl! I lived in a council flat for eight years before I bought it. Absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.’
Another said: ‘Some town halls are nicer than bought houses because people look at them snobbishly. I’ve seen some nice town hall bills here.’
A third added: ‘I grew up in a town hall all my life. My parents worked so hard and had no money. It taught me to appreciate everything. Your house is beautiful.’