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Monifieth photographer Emilie puts ‘heart and soul’ into renovating one bed flat

Photographer Emilie Gray, 29, recently sold her flat in Monifieth after transforming it. She told me her story.

Emilie Gray in her renovated flat with her cocker spaniel Honey. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson
Emilie Gray in her renovated flat with her cocker spaniel Honey. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

I got the keys to my first home – and my first renovation project – in December 2021.

The ground floor flat in Monifieth was exactly what I had been looking for.

Located on Maule Street with stunning views over the beach, I could picture myself taking my dog Honey for walks along the waterfront before I had even moved in.

With an open plan kitchen dining room, one bedroom, one bathroom and a conservatory, it was the perfect size for just me.

Although the property was in good condition, it was pretty dated and desperately needed modernising.

I was excited to make it my own.

Emilie recently sold her Monfieth flat after renovating. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

I lived with my mum and dad in Broughty Ferry while carrying out the works, which took about one year.

I was lucky to have a lot of help from my family with renovating.

First of all I upgraded the central heating system with a new gas boiler and new radiators.

Then we moved onto the bathroom.

The flat was previously owned by an elderly woman, so it was a wet room with a disabled access shower.

Before: The bathroom needed updated. Image: Emilie Gray
After: The beautiful new bathroom. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

My boyfriend’s sister’s partner, Ryan Hillis, who is a tiler, put a new one in for me.

He removed an interior wall and we discovered it must have been a kitchen at one time because we found cooker switches.

We also found a window behind the plasterboard, which he was able to turn into a shower shelf.

Ryan also built a cupboard around the new boiler, with shelves for towels.

He then tiled the room and put a new suite in.

The conservatory offers beautiful views of Monifieth beach. Image: Emily Gray
Emile built seats with storage in the conservatory. Image: TSPC

Modernising the kitchen on a budget

Ryan also built a window seat with storage in the conservatory, which has a great view of Monifieth beach and is the perfect place to relax.

After stripping the walls throughout, I got a plasterer in to plaster the living room kitchen and bedroom.

My dad then created wall panelling for me and did the skirting boards in both rooms.

We decided to upgrade the kitchen instead of replacing it to save money.

We just painted the cupboards and replaced the handles – it looks completely different now.

Before: Emily wanted to modernise the kitchen. Emilie Gray
After: Emilie painted the kitchen herself. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

Renovation project a family affair

There was a tiny room between the bedroom and bathroom that we transformed into a walk-in wardrobe and dressing area.

We used Custom Workshop, local joiners, to build a custom wardrobe.

They also hung my mantlepiece for me.

Then my boyfriend’s dad painted pretty much the whole flat for me.

Finally, when it came to making decisions around decorations, my mum and sister were on hand to help.

It was a true family affair!

Before: The flat was dated. Image:  Emilie Gray
After: The Monfieth flat has great views of the beach. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

In terms of the aesthetic I was going for, I wanted it pretty neutral.

I’ve always liked black, so I painted my kitchen black and included elements of black elsewhere – like my shower and my bed.

I wanted the colours to tie in seamlessly throughout the house because it is a small flat.

I also really like touches of leather, such as a the sofa in my living room.

I think in my next house I should probably go for more colour though!

Emilie says she wanted to keep the flat neutral. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson
The kitchen and living room space. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

Where did I get my inspiration from?

I’m a wedding, family and new born photographer so I took a lot of inspiration from client’s homes.

It was always interesting to see how they decorate their homes.

I also got a lot of my ideas from Pinterest.

The biggest challenge I faced while renovating my flat in Monifieth was definitely the age of the building.

Because the building is at least a couple of hundred years old, we ran into a lot of little issues I don’t think we would have found with a newer build.

And obviously money is a big thing – it was hard covering the cost of everything on my own.

Everything is so expensive.

Emilie’s dad created wall panelling in the bedroom. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

That is why I would tell anyone else who is consider a renovation project to rope their friends and family in to help.

Bargain with them if you have to.

I would get my brother to scrape walls for me and then pay him in food!

Doing as much of it yourself as you can helps to save money as well.

How Monifieth flat renovation resulted in quick sale

I’ve recently decided to sell my flat and move into a larger home with my boyfriend.

Although the renovation was hard work, I would definitely say it paid off.

It ultimately increased the value and appeal of the property, which led to massive interest.

The flat, which was advertised on TSCP’s website, went on the market on March 1. A closing date was set after just five days and an offer accepted on March 8.

Unfortunately, this fell through, and the property was remarketed on March 18, but a second offer was accepted the following day.

The walk in wardrobe. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

I will move out of my flat at the end of this month.

I’m going to miss it so much – I feel like I’ve put in my heart and soul into it.

I will especially miss the conservatory as it’s just like a sun trap and is amazing in summer.

I’ve always felt safe here and the neighbours are also so lovely.

Time for a new renovation challenge

But I’m glad it’s going to someone who I know will appreciate and look after it.

Thankfully, I won’t have too much time to pine, as my boyfriend and I’s new house also requires a mega refurbishment.

When I finished renovating this property I said I would never do it again – but now it has been a couple of years, I am excited to do it again.