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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

Real Home Tours: Lauren's Perfect Pad

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

Real Home Tours: Week 3

lady leaning over kitchen counter
Image credit: Lauren Gilbey

Welcome to week 3 of Real Home Tours. In week 1, we visited Sandra in her Welsh seaside sanctuary. From there, we hot-footed it to Hythe to stop in on interior designer Lisa, who gave us a tour of her beautiful home.

This week, we're in Essex to see Lauren, who runs the popular Instagram account @the_cubbyhole, where she regularly inspires and encourages people with her brilliant home updates and styling tips. You might recognise Lauren from the cover of November's Your Home magazine.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

green wreath with neon 'The cubbyhole' sign in the centre
Image credit: Lauren Gilbey

"My name is Lauren, 31, living in Essex. I am a full-time content creator for my interior and lifestyle account @the_cubbyhole and a part-time seamstress for a local shop & bikini brand. I love everything home Interiors and have done since I was a child. I took a completely different path working in childcare for 12 years, but after a leap of faith quit my job to focus on my passion! I am currently studying for a diploma in Interior Design with the British Academy of Interior Design and have just started to offer E-Design (£80 per space for styling & £125 per Room design) and Home Styling (£180 per area & £225 per room) services. I’m currently offering free consultations for both services, and you can get more information via my interior design Instagram account @tchinteriors"

Tell us a bit about your lovely home.

Bright airey hallway with stair runner
Image credit: Lauren Gilbey

"I live in a three-bedroom semi-detached. I live with my fiance, and we’ve lived here for two and a half years. I love our home because it instantly felt like home. It’s light and airy, spacious and has a really welcoming feel to it, which was something we both felt on our first viewing. We also loved how the house had potential to extend and the potential to renovate and transform."

Describe your interior style.

wooden dining table in dining room with panelled wall and chandelier
Image credit: Lauren Gilbey

"I would say my interior style is modern country with some traditional elements. I love neutrals and greens, especially sage - it's a big part of my current interior. I always find neutrals are a great backdrop for all interior styles and seasons. It can take you from Spring to Winter all by just adding different home decor pieces. I’m also drawn to natural wood tones as I love the warmth they add. I also think you can never go wrong with a pure brilliant white! My most ask question on my Instagram is the colour of my pure brilliant white walls! (in kitchen and our previous home's living room)."

Have you done any work to the house since moving in?

Light airey wc with tiled floor and wall panelling
Image credit: Lauren Gilbey

"We built a single-story side extension, which allowed us to get a downstairs shower room, utility cupboard and extra kitchen space. We knocked down two existing walls to create an open-plan kitchen across the back of the house, installed bi-folds and built a stud wall to create a smaller snug living room. The whole house and garden has been renovated (we still have two rooms to do). There isn’t any room that hasn't been totally transformed. We fitted a new kitchen, new bathrooms, new flooring, fitted panelling (my favourite thing ever!), new carpets and new flooring."

Have you done any DIY or upcycling?

"We have both been a huge part of many projects around our home to save on costs and money. We have fitted all the panelling around our home ourselves, learning as we go. We recently built our decking and entertainment unit in the garden, again learning as we go and taking our time on each next step. I have bought many items from Facebook market place, some I have upcycled – including our hallway mirror using Frenchic paint and browning wax."

What are your favourite features in your home?

Light airey kitchen with green lower units and off-white upper cabinets
Image credit: Lauren Gilbey

"I love our open plan kitchen/ dining space that we added to the house – I particularly love the high ceiling at the extension side of the kitchen, it’s a lovely feature and we have a skylight that lets in lots of sunlight and natural light. I also love the kitchen design we went for (infinity plus shaker style range from Wren kitchens in thyme and polar white). I love the two-tone. Bifolds – we added – There is nothing better then opening them up on a beautiful day. I love our tv/media unit on our living room. We had it custom-built for the space and it not only looks aesthetically pleasing but also works as storage!"

Are there any features that you don’t like or would like to change in the future?

"The only thing that I wish we had thought of is how to get a seating area in our kitchen/diner (even a 1.5 seater snug sofa). We had our lighting put around where we wanted our dining table, which has now caused us an issue with being able to reconfigure the space. The lighting would need to be moved in order to do this."

Where do you get your interior design inspiration?

white panelled bedroom wall behind bed and wooden bedside cabinet
Image credit: Lauren Gilbey

"I get lots of inspo from all of the beautiful home accounts I follow on Instagram. I also love Pinterest. Interior / property programs are my favourite, so I’m forever looking at different styles, projects etc."

Anything else you’d like to share about your home…

bathroom with white and green tiled walls. patterned tiled floor.
Image credit: Lauren Gilbey

"The renovation continues with two more rooms to complete!"

Where next?

Click the underlined words to go straight to the relevant page!

Shopping Page - Curated shopping guides and shoppable mood boards.

DIY tutorials - Step-by-step tutorials on DIY projects for your home

Seasonal Styling - Interior styling tips and tricks to get your home looking its best, whatever the season.

Online Courses - Self-paced, affordable online courses on DIY, Home styling, upcycling and styling with flowers and foliage

Foraging - Guides to help you save money by foraging for flowers and foliage to style your home

IKEA hacks - transform basic IKEA flatpacks into bespoke-looking furniture to elevate your interiors

DIY Kitchen makeover on a budget - money-saving DIY and styling ideas

Real home tours - take a tour of a beautiful home and get inspired by reading the owner's story.

Home organisation - tips and tricks for organising your home with minimum fuss & maximum impact.

DIY tips and tricks - Advice to save you time and money and reduce the chance of mistakes on your DIY projects.