A North Belfast woman who landed her dream role as an interior designer after renovating her home has shown off the impressive transformation.

Sinead Garvey, 36, lives with her husband John Cullen and their two dogs, with the couple undertaking their first project more than a decade ago.

They bought a repossessed property and gave it a facelift to rent out in 2011.

They have now completely transformed their own home – Sinead now having clients and clients of their own due to their eye for interior design.

Sinead told Be: “We bought the house in 2017. It came up for sale online, we were both living in London at the time but needed to get home.

“I only saw a picture of the exterior. John came home to view the property and we decided to buy it without me seeing it in person, so it was a very trying time for John before so that I don’t see her.

“There were three bedrooms, a bathroom and a very small kitchen.

“We made it three bedrooms, three bathrooms, two reception rooms and extended the rear of the property for a large open plan kitchen and new utility room.”

The 36-year-old interior enthusiast told us all about the property’s makeover.

Why did you decide to renovate?

We bought the house knowing that it needed a major renovation.

I had fallen in love with the original features of the house. It’s the Artdeco period and we knew we could restore it to its former glory.

The house was damp and would not really have been habitable. We redid the electrical, plumbing, windows, doors, floors, garden, driveway…just about everything.

When did you start and complete the process?

We started in 2017 with a planning request for our rear extension. John did the drawings and the plans and took care of all that.

I don’t think we’ll really be done. Right now we are painting the third room for the third time. We’re transforming it from a make-up room into a home office, but I’ll tell you about that later.

What work did you do yourself and was it daunting?

We did everything we could ourselves except for the plumbing and electrical work. We hadn’t really planned on doing this ourselves, but realized upon getting quotes that we didn’t have the budget for it and there are a lot of people who charge too much because the construction industry is so busy.

It wasn’t really intimidating at first. John has degrees in construction, engineering and management and he started out as a site engineer which gave him a solid knowledge of building technology. He then moved on to site management and more recently project management. However, doing the work physically was a first for him but I trusted him completely.

I learned so much in the process and really challenged myself in ways I didn’t think I could.

What are your favorite pieces?

We both agree that the kitchen is our favorite room. We love light and the space it gives us and being able to update the house with modern appliances allows us to cook and entertain with family and friends.

What were the hardest parts of the renovation?

The hardest part was the financial side. It is very difficult to borrow money to renovate. We had our own savings, but it allowed us to do so many things at once.

Another difficult aspect is giving up so much free time and every vacation period to be busy working at home.

Doing a home renovation will also involve a lot of blood, sweat and a few tears too when fatigue takes over.

What are your tips for others considering a renovation?

Try to get money online in advance. Set a price and be prepared to do whatever you can on your own.

There are also thousands of decisions to be made every step of the way.

As for the design, I would always suggest staying true to the history of the property and celebrating it by restoring original features and adding modern moving parts that you can revamp over the years. Prices around all home items.

How would you describe the ambiance of your home?

Our home is Artdeco with modern touches. It feels relaxing with mostly neutral tones on the walls. Our ambiance is welcoming with a touch of glamor in every room.

Do you have any money saving tips for those remodeling a property?

Shop around and never get just one quote. Make sure everything is written down when you get a quote. The sad reality of the world is that people will try to charge more than necessary.

John didn’t tell the people who came in to assess the work that he was originally a project manager in construction and that some of the things the companies were trying to tell him had to be done and the prices just weren’t not true.

An example was a quote of £900 for the roof of the small side extension. He needed fancy plywood, fancy felt, etc. and by the time John hung up the phone with the roofer it was down to £300. John ended up covering it himself…he felt £250 was enough to do the job.

Is this now your dream house?

We had never done anything as extensive as this. When the 70 year old wallpaper came off we knew we had a big job ahead of us.

Our house turned out better than we could have expected. We are very lucky to have had the opportunity to do so, but John and I know this is not our forever home.

We would like to do a next self-build, ideally by the sea, but for now we love our house and its location.

Explain your love for interiors!

During the renovation, I decided to create an Instagram account (@lifeoverthehedge) for the build – so I could follow our progress and keep friends and family up to date and to help explain why I didn’t see them as often…

Thanks to the Instagram account, I have met so many wonderful people.

I also met Outhaus NI, an interiors company in Portadown. I bought as much as possible from the two owners Neil and Thomas. They saw the house in a magazine and thought I had a good eye. Surprisingly, they took a chance on me and offered me an interior design consultant role with their company.

Interior design is something I’ve always been passionate about, in fact, it’s the one thing I’ve ever felt was my dream job. However, I thought that door was closed for me. I worked as a regional manager for a large beauty company and thought the ship had sailed.

I can’t believe that thanks to a house renovation and a social media page, my dreams are coming true. I recently reduced my hours to part-time in order to pursue my passion.

I now have my own clients, and do you remember me telling you about the third room that would become an office? Yeah this is my new interior design office, pinch me.

Take a look at Sinead and John’s impressive renovation in our gallery below!