DIY SOS The Big Build - Monmouth
We have always loved the concept of DIY SOS. The fact that total strangers gather together to help people in need is such an incredible thing, and something we were very keen to get involved with. When we found out that the programme was going to be helping a family in Monmouth, we contacted them to offer our services.
Rob, Charlotte and their twin boys really needed their home to be safer and less cluttered. Charlotte is recovering from a stroke that she suffered giving birth, which left her with brain damage, speech loss and partial paralysis. After months of intensive rehabilitation, she was back home with her husband Rob and their sons. But, their home needed adapting to her condition and we were keen to help in any way we could.
We were excited to receive a call from Gordon, the off-screen designer on the show, who was trying to source items for the build. He needed a bed, and possibly some bespoke ironwork, and was keen to work with two of our clients Saymor Beds & Furniture and Oldfield Forge. He also said we could be useful if we could help with design/painting/general labouring, which of course we said yes to immediately!
The build started at 8am on 5th April. We were fully prepared to turn up to a morning of scene filming and waiting around, but were pleasantly surprised to find that this is a totally genuine show - there are no re-takes or artificial ‘goodbyes’. Rob and Charlotte came out of their house, said hello to the crowd of builders, decorators, and helpers, and then got in their car and left. Nick and the DIY SOS team gave a quick talk about the plan for the build, the reason for doing it, and general health and safety rules, and then everyone set to work.
As the first few days were mainly structural work, we were able to get started on a lovely project creating a height chart ruler for the kitchen. One of the carpenters on site, Stuart, gave us the most beautiful piece of oak that he had planed and shaped to look like a giant vintage ruler. We spent two days painting the details onto it by hand, which was painstaking but so worth the effort.
By day three of the build we could get much more stuck in - Ewan painted all the fence panels using our awesome paint sprayer (literally the best decorating tool we’ve ever bought), and Bekki set to work on a Scandi mural on some beautiful ply sliding doors for the kids’ playroom/physio room.
There was much controversy throughout the build about designer Gabby’s choice of black for the fences outside and grey for the interior, but it was clear from the start of the project that the design was going to be brilliant. The team runs like clockwork, Gabby and Gordon make the perfect design duo, and the ‘purple shirts’ are genuinely the nicest people.
The last day on site was a hive of activity - it’s just the most amazing atmosphere. Trades are starting to wrap up and go home and as it gets dark there’s a big push to clear up outside, get rid of all the unnecessary clutter, and get out of the building ready for the designers to move in and start dressing the house. Bekki was able to stay and help in the evening - the mammoth task of peeling labels off all of the new accessories was first on the list! It’s crazy how long it takes to remove sticky label marks from hundreds of vases, candle jars, and pieces of crockery (a team of five for two hours it turns out)! Slowly the house emptied of people until only a few were left, including Gabby, Gordon, a handful of producers and buyers, some other volunteers, and Bekki.
Throughout the evening (and early morning) the team dressed the entire house, working room-by-room until everything was perfect. Bekki styled the playroom/physio space, and picked up some cool TV styling tricks (they peel onions so they look better on camera, and they NEVER put toilet roll in the bathrooms!!). Saymor had kindly donated the bed for the spare bedroom, which looked beautiful with geometric cushions and a lovely mint throw, and the Forge had made some beautiful hooks for the cloakroom, personalised with the initial of each family member.
The next morning, Rob and Charlotte came home with their beautiful boys. It was incredibly emotional, and they loved the house. We gathered at the front of the house to welcome them back in classic SOS style, welling up with tears and beaming from ear-to-ear. Rob and Charlotte are a truly lovely couple - we hope that their new home will help Charlotte recover quickly, and will bring them years of happiness as a family. It was so great to be involved, and we would encourage you to volunteer if the team are ever working near you.