This post comes with a warning. In that it’s not for the faint-hearted or anyone who favours a hands off approach. This isn’t an ideas board for someone who likes to have a space done in a click and a whistle or achieve the end goal immediately. This is for those who have the big visions but the small budgets. For the daily thrifters, the upcyclers and the shoestring shoppers.
The realm of budget decorating is so vast and the ways to improve your home numbering so many, it was difficult to narrow it down. Within each of the categories I could ramble on for days, but here are my top five favourite tasks to make a difference in your home.
Upcycle, Sleep And Repeat
If you like to change things up, you love unusual pieces but your wallet isn’t infinite then you’re probably an old hat at hunting down treasures in second hand stores. Thrifting is a faffer’s best friend. Her big sister is, of course, upcycling. This is when you take those bargains you’ve found, pull out your bag of tricks and flip them into statement pieces.
A bit of paint will work wonders and sometimes less is more. But with anything I like to envision the absolute best a piece can look. So before you start consider every detail. Distressed or sleek? Original handles or new? Your overflowing hoard of wallpaper and fabric off-cuts can finally make themselves useful and when in doubt, stick a plant on it.
I picked up a set of dreary old, cafe style tables at a local thrift store many moons ago and with a quick spray of gold paint and a haphazard covering of marble-printed vinyl paper they were transformed into elegantly luxe side tables. Stuck a couple of plants on it, pretended I have time to read and voila!
Make your own art
I can already hear the ‘But I’m not creative!’ cries from here. I assure you, you are. Enough to knock up a couple of basic prints anyway. I have the bonus of having a hunter’s bohemia stockroom at my disposal so self-made art is everywhere you turn in our house, but it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. A couple words scribbled on a crisp, white page and framed looks effortlessly cool and an abstract design painted on a huge canvas can make an epic impact.
For any parents out there and, of course, depending on your interior style, why not enlist the help of your littles? Find an extra large canvas, pick a colour palette you’re happy to go wild with and collaborate on a sentimentally special piece of art that will make your heart happy every time you see it.
Smoke & Mirrors
A deceptive title in that this has nothing to do with smoke or mirrors although that’s a concept I’m willing to explore. Another time. This time it’s all about the kitchen. One my favourite rooms in any house and long heralded as the heart of the home, this is where decor can get expensive. When it comes to worktops and wall tiles nothing is cheap. So what happens when you want the luxe look but are just about scraping the barrel for the basics?
When we extended the kitchen last year, I was off work on my second maternity in three years. (Not just the oven that was cooking in our house for a while.) But that meant by the time we had installed off-the-shelf cupboards and low-key appliances the fun pot was empty. We bought clearance worktops and left the walls bare. Fast forward eighteen months and with no sign of a Quartz slab or zellige tile in sight, my creative side was getting impatient.
After a successful upcycle on the tables above, I stocked up on my favourite marble vinyl, bought a tile stencil on eBay and two days later the kitchen was a new place. Again. It’s amazing what a little texture and a cross-eyed, zombie mama can do. Are the painted tiles perfect? No, but I’m going to pretend that was the intention as they work an absolute treat. Even my very handy father-in-law thought they were real. Now, nobody tell him where his glasses are.
There are so many ways to make your empty spaces speak volumes and let your individuality shine without having to spend a fortune. I have a full article brewing on this topic in its own right alone but this is my current favourite.
Half painted walls add a fresh feel to a space, especially when you pair polarised colours. It’s not a new idea but rather a new take on an old one. By omitting the rail traditionally used to cover where the two colours meet and moving the join to the half way point you create a modern alternative. And the best thing about it? It’s only paint. Whether tomorrow or in ten years, you can always change it. So be brave!
One of my favourite aspects of this treatment is that the top half feels like a huge, open frame. So you budget-lovers can fill that space with another statement piece like the wall hanging above made from a foraged branch, old Christmas decorations and wool tassels.
IKEA, IKEA, IKEA
I love the Swedish giant as much as the next Joe Scandi. It’s an event, a family afternoon out, a meatball feast for four for under a tenner. It might as well be National Trust at this stage. But more importantly, it’s the simplest way to inject some instant mid-century modern into your home without having to splurge on a branded design classic. But there’s a reason that alongside this mainstream mecca, there exists a sub-culture just as popular. The world of Ikea Hacks. I don’t need to shout from the roof about this – it speaks for itself with over 100,000 posts to the Instagram hashtag – and if you’re into interiors it’s highly unlikely you’ve landed here without stumbling via a Pinterest plethora of repurposed £3 wall brackets or built-in Billy bookcases.
We want to be able to afford stuff, but we don’t necessarily want that stuff to look the same as everyone else’s. IKEA hacking bridges that gap in the most convenient way. Google will show you the way but just to prove I’m well aboard the wagon I’ve got a double whammy example from my own bedroom. A nice-but-blah £5.50 blanket draped to high heaven with soft Arran wool tassels on top of a Moroccan inspired, fringed rug that is actually nine £1.90 Signe rugs sewn together. Not to blow my own trumpet, but toot toot!
I’d love to hear how you’ve gone big on a budget and see your own sneaky tweaks. Come find me on Instagram and say hi! And if you enjoy my blog I would so appreciate if you’d take a moment and vote for me in the Amara Interior Blog Awards. I’ve been nominated in the Lifestyle & Interior category and would love a chance to be shortlisted in front of an incredible panel of judges. Love you guys!