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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

  • Claire Douglas

Real home tours: Sandra's stylish seaside sanctuary

Updated: Jun 11

decorative vases on window sill
Image credit: Sandra Czachur

What better way to launch the 'real home tours' series than with the stunning home of my lovely Insta-friend Sandra aka @homesweethomedale. You're in for a treat, this characterful property is full of colour, personality, and original features. Sandra has done a wonderful job bringing this grand abode back to life, a fact she was recognised for last year when she won BBC Wales ‘Home of the Year’ for the North Wales region! Let's get started with the tour...

Sandra @homesweetholmedale
Image credit: Sandra Czachur

Tell us a bit about yourself...

I’m Sandra Czachur and I’m 64 years young! I have 5 adult children who have flown the nest. I’ve been a PA to University Vice Chancellors, a childminder, a Tesco assistant, and a busy Mum on all the committees you can think of! I have owned a therapy business and an Ayurvedic skincare range, been a volunteer and now find myself an influencer!

Tell us a bit about your lovely home...

Large welsh seaside property with red bricks
Image credit: Sandra @homesweetholmedale

Our home was built in 1870 and the moment I stumbled across it I fell in love. She is a grand detached property in a Welsh seaside town far away from our previous home in Manchester. That was 5 years ago when we made the rash decision to upsize from our home in Sale to live by the seaside, bearing in mind we had only just downsized! I live here with my husband Kevin and one of our daughters has recently moved in temporarily with her girlfriend, we have 4 cats and one dog… The energy in this house is so welcoming and although she had been neglected over the years, we could see the potential on the first viewing. Lots of the original features were still here and there was plenty of space for our children to visit, the mammoth task of bringing her back to life did not deter us – the offer was made and accepted.

Describe your interior style.

Grand kitchen with black built-in oven and kitchen island
Image credit: Sandra @homesweetholmedale

I would say I am a maximalist, maybe a bit traditional? I love dark colours and I am gradually going through the house changing the décor. I love greens and earthy colours which I have used in several rooms, and black features quite a lot too. I love velvet and linen so I will try and use those where I can, textures and colour can totally transform the ambience in a room. I want to feel cocooned when I come home, to feel safe and comfortable after a busy day.

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

green interior wall with chair and window
Image credit: Sandra @homesweetholmedale

Two months from the day we got the keys we had a wall knocked down between the kitchen and the dining room. We are a large family and have been known to host 25 at Christmas so we needed a large space to accommodate us all if needed. We repurposed and painted the existing kitchen, had a cooker surround built and an island installed – can you believe the kitchen didn’t have a sink in it? We have mostly just decorated the internal rooms and had damp patches and behind-the-scenes work done. We had work done on the roof and some of the windows too.

Last year we had the render removed and reapplied on the back of the house, which was no mean feat in itself, we had scaffolding up for months whilst the work was being done and a whole new patio area built with steps onto the garden. It has totally transformed the garden.

Have you done any DIY or upcycling?

pink chair with cushion in front of green wall
Image credit: Sandra @homesweetholmedale

I love an upcycle and the kitchen was the biggest upcycle – we moved cupboards from the wall we knocked down and moved them to the opposite wall. Painting all the doors made a big difference. I have painted lots of furniture throughout the house too. DIY is usually done by our fabulous builder Dave; he has played a big part in all the transformations.

What are your favourite features in your home?

One of the first features you first see are the hallway tiles as you enter, if I’m honest once I saw them on that first viewing I was hooked. I love the kitchen now that we have changed it around and the bathroom painted all one colour is just beautiful. I do love the office mural too.

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

neutral bathroom with freestanding bath
Image credit: Sandra @homesweetholmedale

We have a downstairs shower room that has never been used so I would like to rip out that room and put the utility room in there – then where the current utility is I would make it a bootility room! And there’s also a little room off the kitchen with a sink in that I would make into a larder cupboard and move the Belfast sink into the utility. I am currently designing my dressing room – for five years I have been using rails for my clothes, so I think it's about time, but it’s such a big expense, I’m working on it though. The front of the house needs painting and some window repairs so maybe next year we can do that. Oh, and a Jack and Jill bathroom on the top floor would be nice…

Where do you get your interior design inspiration?

brown bedroom wall with pink linens on bed
Image credit: Sandra @homesweetholmedale

If I’m honest, the reason I set up my account was because I looked at Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration and so decided to set up my own account to log our renovations. I still get lots of inspiration from social media now, so many lovely accounts to follow. I love Abigail Ahern and love her home too. I read magazines and watch ‘house’ programmes – in fact I won BBC Wales ‘Home of the Year,’ last year for the North Wales region!

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

green home office with patterned wallpaper and black desk
Image credit: Sandra @homesweetholmedale

Although I have listed all the things I would like to do in our home, there is no rush, our home is warm and cosy, has everything and more that we need so I have learnt with age that there is no rush, it will get done when the time is right. I’m currently on a decluttering mission which is working well and freeing up space for more renovations and decorating though… so watch this space!

To see more of Sandra's home and life pop over and give her a follow on Instagram...

1 Comment

Eddy Smith
Eddy Smith
a day ago

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