Property transformation of 19th Century home earns Northern Ireland DIY expert legion of fans

A Co Armagh woman has gained a legion of fans online as she documents a DIY transformation of her 19th Century home.

Aislinn Higgins, who bought the Lurgan home with husband Seamus, has been busy renovating the property which was built in 1876.

Aislinn said: "It was actually Lord and Lady Lurgan, who own the castle round in Lurgan - they're on the deeds, who built it for the church so it was a manse until the 60s... and we're the new owners of it!"

And the property is steeped in history, right from the very entrance to the home.

Aislinn explained: "When I first moved in, a little bit of the front door had fallen off so it was sitting on the windowsill for ages and when I went to put it back on, I actually thought it was rotten but it was in two pieces so when I took them apart it said Joseph Hull 1876 so I did a bit of research and there was a guy in the town that had a yard and a shop who was the local carpenter so he actually made the door..."

Part of the front door of Aislinn's home.

Learning about the home and transforming every room has been a real labour of love for Aislinn and that's one reason she has built up a dedicated Instagram following.

She said: "Every waking minute that I'm not working I'm doing something in the house. I absolutely love getting the overalls and boots on and just doing a little bit.

"I try to do something every day - whether it's changing a lock or changing something, it doesn't have to be a big, big job but you just have to keep on ticking away at it because it is such a big project."

And as Aislinn explains, there's a real family connection when it comes to her love of DIY.

She said: "My granda, who sadly passed away at the end of 2020, was one of those men who could just turn his hand to anything and he passed that to my dad and growing up I just always kind of followed the two of them about.

"I just give it a go, what's the worst that could happen? It's my house, if it goes wrong there's always a way to fix it."

Aislinn loves to get stuck into some DIY.

One of the rooms Aislinn has transformed is her living room which suffered severe damage before she had even moved in.

She said: "When we first bought the house sadly it was broken into - two teenagers, long story.

"They set it on fire so this room was totally destroyed, the windows were cracked, there was a hole in the floor and the fireplace was burned so we literally had to bring it right back to the brick."

All of Aislinn's hard work documenting her home's dramatic change online has secured her an award.

She said: "I can't believe it, I am the Home Influencer of the Year for the NI Social Media Awards.

"Honestly I have never been so shocked in my life because I was up against accounts that had 150,000 followers so I genuinely was totally shocked.

"It gave me a real push to keep going because it is like another job now, you have to put so much time into it but I just love it, I just get so much joy from it."

But when does a project of this size finally come to an end?

Aislinn said: "Hopefully never! It's one of these houses that'll never be done...

"I hope all the hard work will be done in about two years in terms of the garage, the roof, the windows and everything and then I'll just be constantly doing it up.

"Next thing we will be out into the garden, landscaping it and I think I'll always be doing it, I'll probably be doing it until I'm about 90..."

Over the coming weeks UTV is hosting a special digital series on some of the top Northern Ireland influencers. Just follow UTV News.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.