Couple transform 'dirty' council flat into dream home for £6,000

Care worker Abby Dunsmure wants to scrap the stigma of living in a council home.

When she and her husband Stuart, 25, moved into their flat in Helensburgh, Scotland, six years ago, they couldn’t afford to buy a fridge and soon found themselves in mounting debt.

But slowly and steadily, the couple have managed to transform what was a ‘dirty’ and bare property into their dream cosy home – for a total cost of just £6,000.

Abby, 25, began renting the council flat after a period of homelessness.

The couple moved in with just a bed as their furniture and had to take out loans to get the essentials.

The property wasn’t in great shape when they arrived.

‘We applied to the council for somewhere to live and we got the flat the very next day,’ said Abby. ‘We didn’t have any money and moved in with just a bed. It was pretty dirty.’

Soon after, Abby secured work as a cleaner, meaning the pair would no longer need to live off just Stuart’s income.

Abby set to work on transforming the flat’s ruined tiles and outdated kitchen, bagging bargains from TK Maxx and Dunelm while gradually scraping together money for pricier items.

Over the course of six years, the cleaner was able to transform the flat into a cosy abode, and has won fans online as a result.

Her followers have praised Abby for showing that you don’t need to spend a load of money to make a home your own.

‘There’s a massive stigma with council housing and people being on benefits,’ said Abby.

‘Me and my husband both work full time now, it’s just we were in an unfortunate situation at the start.

‘It angers me when people judge council houses. I’ve had a few comments because of where my flat is – it’s in the worst area in Helensburgh.

‘I’ve had people say to me “you live in Junkieville”. Because it carries a stigma, I’m painted with the same brush, even though me and my husband work.

‘I’ve built [the flat] up over the years and made it into the home it is today, after a few decor changes.’

Abby hopes to inspire others to do up their homes on a budget – and to give council properties a chance.

‘I loved taking something from what we had at the start to what it is today – a diamond in the rough,’ she said.

‘I love transforming things and I’ve always had a good eye for design. I used to be a cleaner as well so I’m quite particular in the way I like things.

‘If there’s been council workers coming in, they see a huge change to some of the houses they do go in.

‘I live in quite a rough area so not many of the flats look very nice, but they come into my flat and say it’s a whole different world to what they’ve been working in.’

Now the pair are both working and scrimping, they are managing to save up an impressive £2,000 a month.

They hope that by 2023, they’ll have enough money to buy an ex-council property of their own.

‘We’re saving to buy a house just now,’ Abby added. ‘My husband especially is working over 70 hours a week at the moment.

‘Me and my husband aren’t wanting to get a mortgage – we want to cash buy a house which is why it’s taking so long.

‘I pay full rent as we’re working full time – it will take three years in total for us to cash buy.

‘In December 2023, we will have the £90,000

‘We wanted to buy our house outright so we have security in the long run and no one can take it off us. We’ve been made redundant in the past.

“Things that have happened to us in the past are why we’re making these decisions just now. It’s made us savvy with money.

‘We’ve never claimed any sort of benefits and we’ve not received any family help at all.

‘I know people can be judged wrongly, but we’ve got this far and saving to cash buy on our own.’

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