Lockdown DIY Challenger speaks home design and office renovation

His sustainable #LockdownDIYChallenge went viral over the summer, and his Instagram channel charts his journey transforming a house. We caught up with Dan Lovatt, to talk all things house design and home office.

Hi Dan! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your Instagram Channel


I started my Instagram page 3 years ago after buying my first house, purely to document the renovation journey but then found it was a great way to share design ideas and connect with others. I have tried my best to be honest about renovating by not only sharing the wins but also importantly sharing the fails. It started out as a hobby, but has quickly turned into a full-time job – on top of a full-time job!


Sounds like a lot of hard work! What was the impetus to start this epic journey?


My background was in window dressing and after working in visual merchandising and design for years I already had a good understanding of projects from installs in retail spaces, so it was time for a change. I put my focus on changing my path onto something I really loved which was interior design.


From a young age, I was obsessed with makeover shows and was very observant to my surroundings, and as I got older it was retail spaces and interiors which made me tick. Reading about designers such as Kelly Wearstler and Karim Rasheed was just an eye-opener as to how people could apply their creative visions to all of these different fields and I knew this was the path for me.


So far I have worked on 2 houses, countless friends and family’s homes, and I have started to take client projects which have been a great experience. I think my end goal is to have my own design studio in the future, but more importantly, I just want to truly be happy.


So tell us about your first project


I’ve always wanted a period property for as long as I can remember, as the proportions are generous and they just have this feeling about them that tells a story once you begin to peel back the layers. It was an opportunity to breathe some life back into a building, learning about the history of the house and its signs that it needed some care.


The house is pretty unconventional, asymmetrical in shape but full of character. It’s a Georgian property and the building has changed over many years by people adding things or taking away which is a real shame. Every room here has potential so it’s just about carefully updating it as I can that is sympathetic to its history, whilst bringing it into the 21st century. Where original features once were I have tried my best to install them as they would be, but I am quite conscious of not playing to its era too much as sometimes it can look like a museum if every detail is of the same design style.


Tell us about what has gone into the interior design so far. Are there any common themes or styles you are working towards?


I adore the juxtaposition of old and new, calm and contrast, rough and smooth. I do really like futurism and a sleek, high tech finish but my heart also goes to the imperfectness of vintage pieces, things that have stood the test of time and come to you a bit battered and scuffed. I think the more layers your home has, the better story it tells. I also want to create a home that has items that have been collected rather than rushed out and bought from the same store.


I am very much a monochrome guy at heart and quite contemporary in style. I have kept the colours quite neutral for now, as I am always changing and restyling so it’s a perfect blank canvas to get creative.


This year has seen a lot of people spending more time at home than usual, with DIY and house projects a hot topic over the summer. Tell us about the #DIYChallenge you had running on your channel


When we went into lockdown, like many it was quite worrying as all of my projects and work stopped so it was very much ‘how am I going to keep myself sane throughout this?’ And the answer for me is always a project or DIY. I have a really great and supportive following online, and I started ‘#lockdowndiychallenge’.


The idea was to set yourself a task, you only had 3 hours to do it and you were only able to use materials you had readily available. This was to challenge people to look at materials differently, but also just get creative no matter whether you were painting a plant pot with the kids or something more elaborate. It was really well received and thousands took part, it was featured in newspapers and magazines so I was pretty overwhelmed!


More importantly, it was great to see people reusing and recycling as before people might’ve just thrown things away rather than look at it from a different angle. Breathing new life into a piece and making something tells so much more of a story, and you treasure things more when you know the work that has gone into it.


Plus, I hate the throw-away culture that we live in and it breaks my heart to see how much goes to landfill.


Read - MOB Kitchen talks sustainable eating and dynamic workplaces


Featured: HÅG Capisco Puls 8020, in Clay with Sprint Relay fabric by Camira | HÅG Capisco design by Peter Opsvik


Featured: HÅG Capisco Puls 8020, in Clay with Sprint Relay fabric by Camira | HÅG Capisco design by Peter Opsvik

It’s also been a year when the home office really came into sharp focus. Tell us about the home office workspace you have in your building


I had already been working from home 50/50, however, I realised I really needed a space which was my own and I could really focus. I used my favourite room in the house which is the smallest bedroom and it has a great view, but it’s just got this great feeling. My work varies from designs to content creation to DIY’s so it has to be quite versatile but also very practical.


I couldn’t find a desk that worked for me and I have always wanted to design pieces, so I had a prototype made from rolled steel which is the perfect size to do technical drawings on and functional for when I am painting and need to get messy.


I have kept the room monochrome with a hand-painted Kintsugi inspired pattern all over the walls, shelving for easy to reach materials and wall-mounted cabinets which hold my growing collection of samples. As I spend a lot of my time sketching and mood boarding, it is the perfect creative space for me to let loose but also somewhere which I feel is quite chic for when I have zoom calls. Can’t have a boring background now, can you?


You are using a HÅG Capisco Puls chair at your desk, how have you found it?


I have the 8020 model of the HÅG Capisco Puls, which comes with a full seat cushion for extra comfort, and it is in the clay colour shell with a white foot base - perfect for my monochrome tastes! I’ve been using it for nearly 3 months now, and I can’t tell you how perfect it is for how I work.


I was previously using a dining chair which was not very good for posture and gave me a right pain in the back. When I’m using a drawing board, it's perfect that I can elevate the seat higher so I am not craning myself upwards and the little petals are perfect for resting your feet on when doing research. But I do love how it reclines as sometimes I’ll roll the seatback, lean back and put my feet on the desk and have a little breather. Closely followed by spinning around because I’m still a big kid at heart.


Read More -The design history of the HÅG Capisco


Featured: HÅG Capisco Puls 8020, in Clay with Sprint Relay fabric by Camira | HÅG Capisco design by Peter Opsvik


Featured: HÅG Capisco Puls 8020, in Clay with Sprint Relay fabric by Camira | HÅG Capisco design by Peter Opsvik

What's next for you down the road?


I’ve always said I won’t leave this house until I have done everything I know it is capable of, and when I can do no more I think I will move on. Currently everywhere is going to have a refresh with a new lick of paint, and the kitchen needs some more work too so that will be a big project!


Wish me luck!


Thanks to Dan for speaking to us.


You can follow his latest projects and check out his DIY Challenges over on his Instagram channel @lookweboughtahouse

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