When Aleasha and Ben Mawhinnew started renovating the spare room of their New South Wales home in early 2020, they had no idea it would soon be named one of Australia’s best DIY projects of the year.
After their six-year-old son Nate outgrew his nursery, the couple from Shellharbour, south of Wollongong on the NSW South Coast, decided to convert the space into a luxurious ensuite.
The result is a hotel-style bathroom – complete with a double shower, monochromatic tiles and a marble-top vanity – fitted with bargain buys from Kmart, Target and Bunnings that cost just $3,700 for everything from toilet to tapware.
Bunnings has featured the Mawhinnews handiwork in its roundup of ‘Australia’s best DIY projects of 2020’, which recognises the country’s greatest home transformations ‘from simple makeovers to full-on renovations’.
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New South Wales couple Aleasha and Ben Mawhinnew transformed the disused nursery of their Shellharbour home (left) into a luxurious, hotel-style ensuite (right) for $3,700
The renovation completed by the Mawhinnews (pictured) has been named one of ‘Australia’s best DIY projects of 2020’
‘It’s everything we dreamed it would be, it says ‘us’ all over!’ Ms Mawhinnew, a 31-year-old childcare teacher, told Daily Mail Australia.
She said the project took roughly six months to complete, with most of the work being done on weekends as the couple held down full-time jobs while chasing two lively children around.
‘Two kids, work and life in general made it to tricky to complete,’ Ms Mawhinnew said.
Some of the heavy lifting was done with help from friend Jimmy, a plumber, and Ben’s ‘handyman’ father Mark, but Ms Mawhinnew said her 32-year-old cabinet maker husband deserves credit for ‘nearly all’ of the renovation.
The couple’s budget breakdown
Hexagon tiles, grouting, shower head and tapware, toilet, hand towel ring and toilet paper holder – $2,500 from Bunnings
Rectangular wall tiles – $300 from ColorTile Port Macquarie
Fan, wall light, hook and shower screen – $550 eBay
Linen and soft furnishings – $200 from Spotlight
Bathroom accessories and toiletries – $50 from Woolworths
Laundry basket – $50 from Target
Miscellaneous accessories – $50 from Kmart
Vanity – secondhand from Facebook marketplace (repainted)
Budget savvy Ms Mawhinnew spotted a secondhand vanity (left) for sale on Facebook marketplace, and revamped it with a coat of forest green paint (right)
The couple bought their toilet, tapware and hexagon tiles from Bunnings
‘Ben has literally made my vision come to life and I am not only lucky to have such a hardworking husband and father to our kids, I’m so proud of what he has done,’ she said.
Ms Mawhinnew was instrumental in the project too, finding a secondhand vanity for sale on Facebook marketplace and revamping it with forest green paint.
Over on social media, people were amazed at what the couple had achieved with such a reasonable budget.
Cabinet maker Ben Mawhinnew (pictured) was responsible for ‘nearly all’ of the incredible renovation, his doting wife said
Shelving and toiletry baskets were bought from discount retailers like Kmart and Target
Every step of the renovation
1. Marked out the area, framed up and installed new window
2. Sheeted the walls and ceiling
3. Concreted the hob and niche/shower seat
4. Waterproofed the two walls and floor
5. Tiled and grouted floor and walls
6. Installed marble stone
7. Painted and installed skirting
8. Wired lighting and fan
9. Revamped and installed the vanity
10. Plumbed the room
11. Added finishing touches like shelves, hooks, mirror and lights
12. Installed the shower screen and slider door
Photos showcasing the transformation drew gushing responses with comments including ‘that’s awesome’, ‘absolutely genius’ and ‘brilliant job’.
‘I saw your fabulous bathroom renovation in the Bunnings magazine. You are so smart it looked a winner, well done,’ one woman said.
Another joked that Ms Mawhinnew should ‘rent’ her husband to other women who are looking for help with home upgrades.