A disabled women has shared how she transformed her entire home and added £70,000 to its value while dealing with crippling symptoms of her chronic illness.
Vic Au-Yeung, 42, from Herefordshire, West Midlands, revealed how she spent just under £15,000 over the course of five years to renovate the £230,000 four-bed detached property she bought with her husband Shawn, 42, five years ago, adding an estimated £70,000 to the value of their home.
Vic, who was born with Klippel-Feil syndrome, a rare bone disorder where two or more bones in the neck are fused together, uses a wheelchair, but didn’t start showing severe symptoms until she was 35.
As a result of KFS, she has also developed dystonia, a chronic condition in which muscles contract involuntarily, causing repetitive or twisting movements. Her health woes have meant Vic needed to make her home more accessible to her needs also.
With a keen passion for upcycling and DIY, Vic has shared how she decorated the home she shares with her husband and their 15-year-old daughter Jazmyn – even making her own furniture.
Vic Au-Yeung, 42, from Herefordshire, West Midlands, revealed how she spent just under £15,000 over five years to renovate the £230,000 four-bed detached property she bought with her husband Shawn, 42, five years ago, adding an estimated £70,000 to the value of their home. Pictured: the dining-room after the makeover, with a scenic white and navy table with a bench, laminated wooden floors and a gallery wall
Before, the dining-room had traditional wooden furniture, lime green walls and a white ceilling. The couple kept the original floors but repainted the walls
Vic, who was born with Klippel-Feil syndrome, a rare bone disorder where two or more bones in the neck are fused together, didn’t start showing symptoms until she was 35.
Vic, who has more 42,000 followers on Instagram (@our_home_in_kingstone), has also made incredible pieces of furniture out of pallets and apple crates.
The mother-of-one and her husband began renovating their home immediately after they bought it.
Two years into the project, Vic’s condition started to worsen, resulting in her leaving her job and having to also make the home more adaptable to her needs, because she needs to use a wheelchair to move around.
In the kitchen, which took just £50 and four months to revamp, accessibility is key with an open-plan design. The rustic-chic interior has greenery draping from the ceiling onto the wooden-panelled breakfast bar.
When the couple bought the house, the living-room was painted lime green and white. They also got rid of their former sofa, which was L-shaped and made of brown leather. They kept the bay-windows but covered the heater
The couple went for a cosy and rustic atmosphere with woolen throws and wooden furniture and a two grey sofas, including and L-shaped one for Vic, right
Outside, further greenery fills the area which is complete with dim lighting on a wooden pergola and various patterned pillows that sit upon the comfy sofas.
In her daughter Jazmyn’s room, striking green walls are accented with minimalist artwork, a fluffy pink stool and a sign which reads: ‘Wake me up when I’m famous.’
The dining room, which cost just £20 to transform, is the definition of Scandi-style with white chairs coupled with a fluffy rug, which sit in between dark navy and gold storage units.
‘We started redecorating immediately as we wanted to make it into a home and put our stamp on it,’ Vic said.
Before, the entrance way was large but lacked personality with magnolia walls and brown carpet. The decoration was nearly inexistent and instead, several plugs and the Wifi router were on show
Vic made her entrance way homely with lots of plants and a gallery wall going up the staircase, which is now equipped with an assistive chair and a railing
Vic painted the staircase and the house’s lobby white, apart from a neutral grey wall where she hung art and photographs. She also added some green touches with house plants
‘I love the industrial and upcycled look; my coffee table in my living room is even a cable reel.
‘I also have a huge passion for plants, they have become a huge part of my décor.
‘With soaring prices on everything I think a lot of people will definitely be able to relate [to taking things slow and on a budget].
‘My favourite compliment I always get is when people say they can see so much personality in my home.
‘Whilst I’m always getting inspiration from others, I would hate for my home to look exactly the same as anyone else’s.
Before, the kitchen was functional but did not reflect Vic and Shawn’s taste. They modernised the cupboards, changed the handles and added some shelves and décor
Vic in her new kitchen, which includes a breakfast bar, left, and white cupboards and a wood finish. Vic uses a stick to reach the upper cupboards
The couple did not change the layout of the house, and the kitchen still opens to the dining-room like it use to before they started the renovations, pictured
The family’s dog on Vic’s wheelchair by the breakfast bar. The mother-of-one covered the ktichen floor with a raffia rug and added some colour with house plants
‘I think it makes you appreciate it more this way as we’ve put so much hard work into it.’
Speaking about the adjustments the couple have made to the house to make it easier for Vic to move around, she added: ‘Once I began needing my wheelchair, my husband built two ramps, one for me to get outside into the garden and one in the garden to access the higher part of it.’
‘I’d been scouring a new stairlift months and just had to wait for the right one to come along.
‘Once it did, I painted it black and, again, having that mobility aid meant freedom.
‘Not having to crawl up and down the stairs like I had for years was a real treat.
Before the couple renovated it, the bathroom looked functional. It includes a bathtub. Vic and Shawn got rid of the cupboard around the sink
The couple spruce the bathroom with accessories and included handle to make the loo more accessible to Vic. They also added plenty of plants
‘I [also] don’t really leave the house much anymore, partly [because of] Covid and partly because I need someone with me to put my wheelchair into a car.’
Two rooms that the mum has spent extra time on are the couple’s bedroom, which triggers mixed feelings due to her disability, and her daughter’s room.
Vic said: ‘In my bedroom I’ve gone for a boho look. Now that I spend a lot of time there I’ve worked hard to make it look nice.
‘When you spend a lot of time in just one room, you want your surroundings to be beautiful and to make you feel safe.
‘I have a love-hate relationship with my bedroom; whilst I love how it looks, sometimes when my health is really bad it can feel like a prison, albeit a beautiful tropical looking one.
‘I recently did my daughter’s bedroom. It took me about six months in the end but I did it.
‘I definitely pushed myself too hard but the sense of achievement once finished was an incredible feeling.
‘I’ve also built tables, stools and even a bed for my daughter.
‘I don’t mind being asked if I need help but it’s incredibly disheartening when you say “no thank you” and then you’re ignored.
Before the makeover, the teenager’s looked dated because of its magnolia wall, beige curtains and glass chandelier. It also had a leather chair and a steely bedframe
The creative mother painted the wall of her daughter’s bedroom white and drew the outlines of several faces to add some modern flare. She also got Jazmyn a new bed and some extra furniture
The mother bought a desk with a fluffy pink stool and storage for her daughter’s room, left. For her own room, right, she bought a stylish egg chair and created a sitting corner with pillows and house plants
Before the makeover, Vic and Shawn’s room was painted in red and was furnished with an imposing wooden bedframe and a brown built-in wardrobe with mirrors
Vic painted her bedroom in a shade of forest green – she painted the door blue to match -and opted for a new grey bed. She furnished with an ikea bedside table and plants
On the other side of the be, she create a sitting corner for herself with a cute chair covered with a throw and an antique table, left, and a comfortable grey sofa, right
Pictured: creative mother Vic, left, with her 15-year-old daughter Jazmyn, centre and Vic’s husband Shawn, 42, right, during a car ride
‘Ableism is everywhere. If I’m in a shop or coming down a path, people either literally leap out of my way or completely ignore me.
Klippel-Feil syndrome, the rare bone disease which affects the spine
Klippel-Feil syndrome (KFS) is a rare skeletal disorder which primarily affects the union or fusion or two or more bones of the spine within the neck.
It was first identified in 1912 by Frenchmen Maurice Klippel and André Feil.
Depending on people, it can affect the length of the neck, which then appears abnormally short.
Some people have restricted movement of the head and the neck because of the condition, as well as a low hairline at the back of the neck.
The condition is congenital, meantime people are born with it. Some mild cases can do undiagnosed until later in life when it gets worse of symptoms become apparent.
In some people, the condition can cause several issues with the development of the spine, including scoliosis and/or vertebral instability, spina bifida occulta, raised scapula (Sprengel’s deformity), absent rib(s) and other rib defects.
Other conditions including skeletal malformations of the ear, nose, mouth and larynx including hearing impairment and cleft palate.
In some cases, the spinal issues can have an impact on a person’s brain function.
The condition occurs in one in 42,000 to 50,000 births worldwide and is more frequent in female than male.
The cause for the condition is unknown but is believed to be down to a genetic mutation.
There is no cure for the condition, however, specific symptoms can be treated when appropriate or when they become too painful.
The life expectancy of people with the condition is good, but they need to be monitored throughout their life to make sure no complication from Klippel-Feil occur.
‘It’s generally always one or the other.
‘I’m very confident in asking for help when I do need it, I’m often met with surprise as to what I can do.’
As for their budget, the couple have kept costs very low, sourcing products and materials from Facebook Marketplace – including the stairlift – or high street shops.
They’ve also received donations from companies like B&Q.
In her bedroom, Vic spent around £300, while her daughter’s room transformation cost £200.
The living room costs were kept low with £30 on paint and some cheap eBay finds to decorate with, while the kitchen set them back £50 and the dining room cost just £20 to revamp.
Aside from the furniture and decoration, they’ve spent £15,000 on DIY revamping their humble abode and believe they’ve increased the value by £70,000.
Vic said: ‘The only problems I’ve encountered with decorating my home is a non-existent budget.
‘With me giving up work, there hasn’t been an awful lot of cash spare to spend on our home.
‘We’ve not spent a lot of money on anything really, except the garden.
‘That’s been a labour of love over the past five summers, we’ve only been able to do it bit by bit each year.
‘We were incredibly lucky in that B&Q donated all the materials.’
For other disabled people who are struggling with accessibility in their homes, Vic recommends contacting the local council, speaking to occupational therapists and applying for grants.
And for any DIYers, she has one top tip: take it at your own pace.
She added: ‘There’s lots of grants available that many of us are unaware of so always ask.
‘When decorating on a budget, the best advice I can give would be to try and not compare your home to others.
‘Keep taking a step back and appreciating how far you’ve come, don’t let yourself get bogged down [about] how far you’ve still got to go.
‘Don’t be afraid to try new things when it comes to DIY.
‘Somewhere on YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and even TikTok now, there will be instructions or tips to help you achieve what you want to do, just get stuck in.
‘The sense of achievement when you’ve done something you never thought you could is an incredible feeling.’
Before, the house’s garden offered plenty of space, a trampoline and a gazebo, but lacked decorations to make it an enjoyable outdoor part of the house
The large garden, which is surrounded by green space, holds a lot of potential for summer entertaining and a family came enjoy the sun all day.
With materials donated by B&Q and some upcycled palets, Vic and Shawn created a dream gazebo for entertaining, which they decorated with throws, pillows and more
Before, the handles of the sideboard were navy like the rest of the piece of furniture, and the top was also navy
Savvy Vic upcycled an old side board which has become a centre piece of her dining-room by addint gold hardware
Mother-of-one Vic in her kitchen. The creative DIY whiz also has a tea-towel decorated with a drawing of the late singer Amy Whinehouse’s portrait, left