Quite a transformation (Image: mediadrumimages/@madaboutcushion)
A couple have shared how they turned to DIY to take their minds off a shock cancer diagnosis – and built a chic outdoor kitchen for just £1,500.
Shaz and Martin Cooper, both 43 and from West Sussex, met at university when Shaz moved to the UK from Malaysia.
The couple have always loved DIY and renovated their kitchen in 2017 — but when Shaz was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, the couple decided to really get involved.
“We started when we bought this house six years ago, but we took it one step at a time,” says Shaz.
“Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, so I underwent treatments and was off work for a year.
“When I was diagnosed, I was confused, sad, angry and most of all afraid of the future. I am so fortunate to have an amazing husband and family and friends who have supported me throughout the treatment.
This is the area in the garden that has been given a culinary makeover (Image: mediadrumimages/@madaboutcushion)
“To be honest, during the treatment I thought I wasn’t going to make it – it’s been the most difficult and challenging journey of my life – but there were a few others who went through it worse than I did and that really grounded me .
“After the treatment I was so grateful and relieved.”
To take Shaz’s mind off her illness and the grueling treatment, the couple began planning a home makeover when she was better.
“It really helped me focus on something to look forward to after treatment,” she explains.
The idea of building an outdoor kitchen came from Martin’s love of cooking – and a desire to keep the interior clean.
Arrival (Image: mediadrumimages/@madaboutcushion)
“During my treatment, Martin did a lot of cooking, and some of his specialties are BBQ and pizza,” says Shaz.
“We really love having an outdoor space to cook in so that there is no chaos in our main kitchen.
“We also love entertaining friends and family, and with the pandemic hitting right after my cancer treatments, we decided an outdoor kitchen would be a perfect addition to the home.”
The couple say they use their new outdoor kitchen almost every weekend from spring through fall.
“We thrive on pizza and grills during these months, and in the winter, since the kitchen area is covered, it becomes our outdoor furniture storage area,” says Shaz.
The kitchen consists of a small sink, BBQ area, portable pizza oven and plenty of work and storage space.
It cost the couple £1,500 to create and took around three months over weekends to complete – but Shaz says the couple has since taken on even more DIY.
They use it every spring and summer weekend (Image: mediadrumimages/@madaboutcushion)
“We were actually a little bit sad after we finished it because we really enjoyed the process, something that we find very therapeutic,” says Shaz.
“But overall we were very happy with the result and every time Martin bakes his pizza, we’re looking forward to the fact that no more flour gets mixed up in the kitchen.
“Our garden isn’t big, so we pride ourselves on being able to do this even with limited space.
“Aside from the outdoor kitchen, we’ve transformed our ensuite and family bathroom into three rooms – small ensuite, bathroom and home office – all with Martin’s clever DIY skills and my design.
“I learned how to lay tiles and Martin picked up new plumbing and flooring skills. The next projects on our list are our utility room and driveway.”
The couple decided to share their DIY projects online to follow their progress.
“In the beginning it was just our job to document our renovation journey,” adds Shaz. “We never thought anyone would care about what we do and follow our journey. Everyone was very nice and supportive.
“Our advice to people looking to DIY their own is don’t be afraid to try, practice makes perfect, play with colors and stay true to your style.
“If you’re just starting out in DIY, start small and move on. Also know your limits.”
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