It gets quite tiresome always counting the pennies and trying to work out how to do everything cheaply. I’d love one day to redecorate a room by simply walking into a shop and picking out what I want. How simple that would be. Instead, I trawl the internet, check the cashback sites, hunt for voucher codes and always visit every sale section in a homeware shop- just in case the perfect thing is waiting for me. With our current home I’ve been doing this for two and a half years, and am happy with the result. I am also left with a huge sense of satisfaction because I’ve put the work in, and I know I’ve not wasted a penny.
The process has proved to me that budget homes don’t have to look cheap, it’s just a matter of choosing the right things and using them in the right way: If you want a blush pink room don’t just buy up the blush pink aisle in the bargain shop, because the result will simply be a room full of matching tat and you’ll find yourself putting it in the charity bag in a year’s time. Fact.
So, below is a summary of my favourite tricks with some of the buys I’m interested in right now.
Buy a posh handwash for the bathroom or loo. There is always a huge choice in Homesense/TK Maxx so you can usually find one there to match your colour scheme for around £6. If your budget is really tight and you’ve managed to find a nice bottle (especially if it’s a glass one, extra points!) then refill it when it gets empty with a supermarket version. In our en suite I love our White Company handwash. It smells delicious and is narrow enough to fit on the little sink. I get this from the outlet shop for £8, look out for their seasonal sales otherwise and treat yourself to whatever’s reduced. They’re all good!
Find a beautiful vase and fill it with flowers. I know this is an ongoing cost because flowers need replacing, but really, what a difference they make! You can pick up lovely flowers nowadays for £2-£3 a bunch from the supermarket too. Aldi do great fairtrade roses, and you can’t go wrong with a few stems of lilies. Find a medium sized vase in clear/frosted white glass or a colour that suits the room it will always go in. I’ve found a few here.
Put a mirror on the wall. Either in the hall or the downstairs toilet if you have one, or both. Mirrors are a common designers’ trick as they reflect the light around the room and create an illusion of space. They are also very useful for checking yourself before you leave the house of course-many a time I’d have taken the kids to school with cereal on my face if it wasn’t for that final glance in the mirror. Thanks to the fantastic high street there is always a great choice, the current trend being for round or hexagonal mirrors suspended by chains or leather, but you don’t have to buy new. I just upcycled an old floral and gold one with a lick of chalk paint.
Frame a poster.
It’s possible to find just about any image online now in the form of a poster, usually available in a choice of sizes with prices starting at around £7. Pop it in a frame (if you can get one with a mount even better) and you’ve got yourself some instant wall art.
This set of prints in our hallway are from the Natural History Museum, unfortunately they don’t have a huge choice online. I’m lucky that after I fell in love with one in the museum shop my good friend bought me some for my birthday and sent them in the post, it’s one of the best presents I’ve ever received.
Sites I’d recommend for posters include:
Find a fancy throw. Or a blanket to drape artfully across your bed/armchair/sofa. I’m sometimes guilty of overdoing it and have to have the occasional soft furnishing cull, but I do love to sit under one on a chilly winters evening (or spring for that matter, what is up with this weather?!) Just try to avoid materials that will bobble quickly, or that look shiny because frankly they just scream poor quality so really what’s the point?
Upgrade your bathroom accessories. Sometimes we get so used to living with the everyday things around the house that we stop really seeing them for what they are. Look at your home with fresh eyes and you might well notice the rusty bits on the shower caddy or the grime around the toothbrush mug. It doesn’t cost much to buy a new matching set for the bathroom-not forgetting the loo brush. I always seem to find something I like at Matalan. If matchy matchy isn’t your thing, improvise with a pretty saucer for the soap (mine is from a Chinese supermarket) and a glass or mug for the toothbrushes. The finishing touch is a container for cotton wool which can be anything from a dainty drawstring bag to a jam jar. I found a Kilner style one in the sale section because it was missing a lid and it now houses our cotton buds and cotton wool pads perfectly.
Paint something. Most of us have an item of furniture or an accessory that is useful yet unattractive, so we just tolerate it. Buy a pot of paint (tester size will do for something very small) and paint it, sometimes the transformation is quite surprising and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. It doesn’t take great skill and often is a quicker job than you’d expect. I painted this little wooden cupboard (originally meant for a hallway I think) for the bathroom with one coat of bathroom emulsion and swapped the glass in the doors with plastic mirror tiles.
Create groups of three. It’s a classic design trick to display items in odd numbers, because things just look better in threes or fives. You’ll notice it in everything from toothpaste adverts to showhomes once you start to look. So, find three items you like around the house, like a vase, jar, figurine, candle, plant…and display them as a set. Something like this:
In an instant, a few unremarkable items become a focal point. Simples.
Happy homing everyone, I’d love for you to let me know if any of my tricks worked for you. But for now it’s time for me to climb out from under this cosy blanket and into bed.