The new series of DIY SOS finds Nick Knowles and the team helping out a family in need in Epsom. When we heard the story of Ben and Sam Laws, a pair of paramedics with incredibly stressful living conditions, we were only too happy to provide some of our much-loved splitface mosaic tiles. In case you missed the episode, here’s the story…
Ben and Sam Laws are a busy working couple who have dedicated their lives to helping others. They’re both paramedics for the London ambulance service, and are out daily, saving lives. But when they get home, the caring doesn’t stop.
6 years ago, after the birth of their first child Olivia, baby Ewan was born. But the new arrival came with some devastating news. The doctors described it as a massive brain trauma. Later, little Ewan was diagnosed with quadroplegic cerebral palsy, which limits his movement, speech and development. Despite this, Ewan has grown to be a friendly, cheerful boy.
Because of his limited mobility, Ewan constantly likes to know that his parents are around. He spends a lot of time in the living room watching TV – so he often calls out for his mum, when she’s in the kitchen. He can’t see her because of the walls in the way – thus, knocking them through to create an open-plan downstairs living area would be a life-changing improvement.
There is no mobility access to the garden, which is reachable only by steps – so the outdoor space is off grounds for Ewan, who is therefore mostly confined to the house. He doesn’t get to experience the outdoors and nature.
Ewan is starting to get too big for them to carry him around – but for now, the Law parents still have to lug him upstairs to bed each night. To reassure him when he’s sleeping, Ewan sleeps in the double bed wit either Sam or Ben, who take it in turns to sleep with Ewan whilst the other sleeps alone in the single bed. The last time the couple shared a bed was six years ago.
The DIY SOS designer, Oliver, wanted to introduce a natural theme into the décor scheme. Ewan’s mother, Sam, spoke about how she sometimes felt imprisoned by their living conditions. To counteract that, Oliver wanted to introduce a theme of natural harmony. Therefore, he decided his wall and floor coverings would mostly consist of natural stone and wood effects; some gorgeous, defined natural textures.
When it came to planning out the living area space, he took on board the comments that Ewan felt distressed when he couldn’t see his mother from the living area. Therefore, Oliver decided to rip out most of the walls – creating a huge open-plan space – just leaving one wall in place to help section off the living area a little – a wall you can walk the whole way around, with a fantastic log burner sitting in the middle of it. This wall was coated front and back in our black slate splitface tiles – adding a defined, characterful look whilst injecting that all-important natural appearance into the lounge (and the kitchen/diner area behind it).
Outside, the DIY SOS team built a ramp leading from the raised decking at the back of the house, down onto the ground level; allowing Ewan to get into the garden in his wheelchair. Oliver, the designer, also had the Laws’ old shed moved, to be used as a playroom for the children.
Dozens of workmen teamed up to build a timber-framed extension on the side of the house. Into this, they were able to relocate Ewan’s bedroom from upstairs to downstairs, meaning his parents will no longer have to lug him upstairs every night for bedtime. Not only this, but they also get their own bed back after sleeping apart for six years. Furthermore, the team were able to create an accessible downstairs bathroom / wet room area for Ewan; kitted out with stylish hexagon mosaic tiles.
In Sam and Ben’s bedroom, sticking with the natural theme, Oliver had a gorgeous wood effect backing fixed to the wall behind the headboard – reaching all the way up to the ceiling – once again injecting that wholesome, soothing, natural feeling. To create this look in your home, try using Oak Tiles.
When Ben and Sam opened their eyes are were faced with their new open-plan downstairs area (with splitface-laden divider), they were beyond words; a speechlessness that continued as Nick showed them around the house.
The team provided the couple with a tablet – connected to which is a camera in Ewan’s room – meaning they can keep an eye on him whilst relaxing together in their own room. The newly-built wet room was another highlight for the couple; meaning that, in time, Ewan could have some independence. Outside in the garden, Oliver the designer had an external kitchen area fitted; meaning the family could cook, eat and entertain outdoors in the summertime; embracing the newly-accessible garden that the whole family can now enjoy.
Once again, Nick and the DIY SOS team have excelled at rapidly improving the lives of a very deserving family. Not only will the transformation improve the lifestyle of a severely disabled boy, but it will also help to renew the couple’s distanced marriage.
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