Opinion

Stacey Solomon is not afraid of having a go. She even makes DIY look easy

Stacey Solomon – the woman with such inspirational qualities she makes grouting look like something I could do

Stacey Solomon's Renovation Rescue. Image: Matt McQuillan / Channel 4

How do people stay interested in the whole tedious, soul-crushing process of home renovation?  

I mean, it’s all very exciting when you’re drinking red wine and drawing up grand plans at the kitchen table. You sit there saying grandiose stuff like “We could knock this wall through and extend the bathroom” despite not having a single molecule of a clue how to do it and £500 to your name.

For that moment though, buoyed by the ambition of your singular vision and dreaming of Kevin McCloud talking to camera, you feel like you can achieve anything. Even though all you’ve done is sunk half a bottle of Jam Shed and drawn a wobbly rectangle on the back of an envelope.   

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But what about when the diggers turn up, and the rain, and all those other Channel 4 TV presenters? How do you keep going when you’re halfway through the project and you realise you’ll be in debt for the rest of your life? What happens when you have to admit to George Clarke that you’ve gone £300k over budget because you bought a downpipe from Sweden that will be stuck in customs for two years?  

The fact is, there’s only a very, very small percentage of people who will remain excited about renovation for long enough to convert a water tower in Barnstaple into a four-bedroom luxury family home. Most of us would give up and buy a new build after a week. Anything to avoid learning about cladding.   

I can’t even watch one of these shows without becoming immediately discouraged. To get through even the edited version of renovation hell, I need more than Kevin’s architectural lyricism, or George’s goggle-eyed excitement, or Kirstie and Phil’s stiff upper lips. What I need, it turns out, is Stacey Solomon. 

I know I’ve written about Stacey before, but she’s never off our screens these days. She’s become the queen of decluttering, dubious country crafts, homemaking and generally jolly modern housewifery. She even has her own range of homewares at Asda. But even if you were being generous, I don’t think you could say that she has any impressive practical skills, beyond making a passable pinecone wreath or a Christmas decoration out of coat hangers. In fact, I can easily imagine her having a full-on breakdown on day two of a home renovation and booking herself into the Travelodge.  

The thing is, though, Stacey’s got something the renovation big boys haven’t – chutzpah. In Stacey Solomon’s Renovation Rescue she makes Kevin look like a wistful sixth form poet and George a teeth-sucking naysayer. She brings her have-a-go-attitude to a variety of depressing building projects gone wrong, and do you know what? She almost makes me believe that I could renovate my own house. Me, who once cried while trying to put in a rawl plug.  

How does she do it? Well, she seems to have developed an impressive knowledge of waste pipes and chasing in cables since I last saw her on BBC One, but it’s mostly the fact that she wholeheartedly believes that people can do It themselves. Nothing phases her. There’s not a hole in the ceiling or a damp patch in the world she won’t attempt to tackle.

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She comes in wearing her fluffy lavender cardigan, rips up carpets and then leaves again, but somehow, she makes you feel like you can do anything. She’s the red wine and the drawing on the back of the envelope in human form – and when she comes along, all the walls come tumbling down, both literally and metaphorically.  

In the first episode, she helped a woman who had never done any DIY before grout some kitchen tiles, and for some reason it felt like an important feminist triumph and also, dare I say it… easy? I’ve never experienced this feeling before in my life. “I can use an angle grinder! I found myself saying at the dents in the wall.” “I can grout tiles!” I mean, I can’t, and I won’t, but maybe I COULD. And let’s face it – how hard can it really be?  

Stacey Solomon’s Renovation Rescue is on Wednesdays on Channel 4.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy!

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