When Fiona Anderson and James Davies managed to furnish a rented house for under £100, they got the bug for bargain hunting.
The couple were determined to maintain their thrifty approach to interiors when they bought their first home together just over a year ago.
Rolling up their sleeves to save money through DIY, they tackled jobs with the help of YouTube and scoured bargain corners and charity shops for furniture.
A year on and the results are spectacular, with a sophisticated, modern interior created on a shoestring budget.
Fiona (26), a senior account executive with Morrow Communications, and 27-year-old firefighter James reckon they furnished almost every room in their three-bed house for less than £2,000.
Their sterling efforts, largely carried out throughout the Covid lockdown, have been followed every step of the way by friends, family and decorating fans through Instagram.
Holywood woman Fiona and James, who is originally from south Wales, became friends after meeting while on holiday in Tenerife in 2012. They kept in touch after the trip and started dating four years ago, with James moving to Northern Ireland in 2017 and the couple setting up home in a house in Holywood which they furnished for less than £100.
"We eventually wanted to buy a place of our own and were saving for a mortgage. We didn't have a whole lot of cash, so we had to be thrifty," Fiona revealed.
"We furnished it with charity shop finds and did it all for around £100 - and that was including a dining table, bed and sofa.
"The biggest bargain was a brand new luxury bed with a memory foam mattress and base from the East Belfast Mission for £50.
"It made us realise you don't have to spend a fortune to have a lovely home, especially now that money is so tight because of Covid. You just need to be prepared to make the effort.
"I follow Pinterest and I love to replicate the interiors I see on there at a fraction of the price."
The couple bought their first home, a 1990s three-bedroom semi on the outskirts of Holywood, knowing it had to be renovated from top to bottom.
The outdated property needed a new kitchen, new bathrooms and new flooring, as well as a cosmetic makeover.
The couple got stuck in and, 18 months down the line, are reaping the rewards of all their hard work with a chic, cosy and contemporary interior.
They tackled most jobs themselves, learning to install flooring from tutorials on YouTube, ripping out the old kitchen and saving thousands by installing a new one themselves.
"The house hadn't been touched in years and it was all very outdated. We decided to tackle it ourselves and we started by painting all of the rooms," Fiona told Sunday Life. "I choose Farrow and Ball colours but got them mixed up with Johnstone's paints to save money.
"My colleagues in work used to laugh because I would have been up painting until 1am and then I would have turned up to my desk the next day with paint in my hair.
"All the old carpets had to come up, so we went onto YouTube to learn how to install laminate flooring, which we did together in the hall, the kitchen and the living room.
"We also replaced the kitchen. James's dad is a carpenter and he came over from Wales for a couple of days to give us a hand, but James did most of it after watching tutorials on YouTube.
"By going directly to a kitchen supplier, we were able to get a great deal on our kitchen and we saved on labour by fitting it ourselves.
"Our worktops came from Ikea's bargain corner and we shopped around for the best deal on our appliances and tiles.
"The kitchen would cost around £17,000 to buy and install, but because we did it ourselves, we reckon our total cost was around £6,000.
"We are fortunate that James is pretty handy and was able to teach himself any additional skills that we needed from videos online, including painting, fitting skirting boards, tiling, electrical work, changing all our light fittings and joinery."
Ikea's bargain corner turned out to be an Aladdin's cave for the couple who, because they live nearby, are frequent visitors to the store.
As well as cheap worktops for their kitchen, they snapped up modern blue-gloss doors for £5 each which James used to create sleek storage cupboards in their living room.
When it came to the all-important finishing touches, Fiona was in her element, scouring buy and sell pages on Facebook and local charity shops.
Every item in the house is second-hand, except for the new sofa and living room armchair, which were their only indulgences and came at a cost of £800 from Next.
"My favourite find is a Welsh dresser I bought on Facebook for £40 and upcycled myself," Fiona said.
"I've always wanted one and, with James being from Wales, it meant even more to find it.
"Another favourite piece is the headboard on our bed. I saw these beautiful oversized padded headboards on Pinterest, but they were around £700 to buy new. As a house-warming gift, my dad made us one using foam, MDF and fabric from Ikea at a total cost of around £30. It is just glorious. I love it."
Another bargain buy was a Persian rug for the living room. Usually retailing from around £500, Fiona kept her eye on buy and sell Facebook pages and managed to pick one up for a mere £30.
"With buy and sell, you have to get in very quickly. I had wanted a Persian rug for a long time. We were so lucky because the woman selling the rug just wanted rid of it," she said.
"I also got a beautiful upcycled sideboard for the living room on Facebook for just £70."
Fiona made the home cosy by dotting it with some of she and James's most treasured possessions from childhood and their travels around the world.
She also has a passion for collecting blue and white china, which takes pride of place in the property.
Because her family couldn't visit the home during lockdown, Fiona started to blog about the renovation on Instagram, where she quickly amassed more than 1,500 followers.
"We wanted to share our home renovation journey with our friends and family, which was why I shared it all on Instagram, but people seemed really interested in it, so I continued to post updates," she explained.
"Over lockdown we did a lot of work on the house and garden and, because loved ones and friends couldn't visit, it was a nice way to show them what we were up to, particularly with James's family all living in Wales.
"The garden is also important to me and it proved a real solace during lockdown. It was therapy for us being able to spend time in it during that tough period."
With only the main bathroom left to renovate, Fiona and James are enjoying the fruits of their labour while continuing to scour shops and websites for ideas and bargains.
"I feel the house is modern and I would like to think it is stylish," she added.
"I think you get even more pleasure from it when you know you have done a lot of the work yourself."
Check out the couple's renovation journey by following @fionaanderson on Instagram