Ten years ago (and before the arrival of children), we bought a decent sized three bed semi into which the two of us and our joint belongings fitted just nicely. Jump forward to today and three children later and it has become a much ‘cosier’ fit, in fact you could say we’re overspilling!
Not entirely surprising then that we recently took the big decision to put our beloved home on the market with a view to moving our little family somewhere more spacious and better suited to our growing needs. So, as well as being engulfed in the process of constantly tidying and prepping the house for prospective buyers, I’ve been busy viewing potential properties to buy. Well… it’s certainly been an eye opener for me as to how many perfectly good houses out there are in dire need of a little time and love to bring them bang up to date. A lick of paint here and a declutter there would not go amiss yet many people simply do not realise that giving your home a simple refresh will not only in all probability increase their home’s overall market value, but more importantly, will make it a much better place to live.
Anyway… looking at houses and preparing my own home for sale has made me think a lot about how we can easily and effectively update our own homes within a budget. Making those little changes that renew our love for a space we spend so much of our lives in.
So…… we’ve decided our home needs a little TLC to bring it back into this century – these are the best ways to do just that and prove that being frugal doesn’t necessarily correlate with cheap and nasty decor.
I know, I know, it’s an obvious point to make, but never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned clear out! It gives a new lease of life to your living space and makes you feel fantastic for having accomplished it. Go through each room and reassess which items you want to keep, which need to go into storage (seasonal clothing, toys etc), those that can be donated to charity or sold and objects for the trash pile. Keep an eye out for things that can be potentially up cycled or reused again in another fashion e.g. pretty fabric suitable for covering a cushion or glass jars and baskets for storing small items.
I must add here that the purpose of this particular post is not to delve deep into the finer details of how to effectively declutter but simply to realise that it is an absolutely necessary and sensible starting point in the process of freshening up your home. No amount of repainting or papering will hide the daily disorganised mess if it hasn’t been tackled upfront. I will be writing posts in the future on how to organise certain areas of your home but in the meantime, there are a multitude of decluttering guides on the Internet and whole blogs completely dedicated to home organisation as well as inspiring links and images of beautifully organised rooms on sites like Pinterest and Houzz. Use them!
Walls and Floors
It’s amazing how sharper and clean a room looks when the walls and floor have been well maintained. If you have carpets, give them a professional-looking clean either with soapy water and elbow grease (research has shown that this method fares better than many branded carpet cleaners) or hire a carpet cleaning machine for the day if you want to cover more area. Giving wooden floors a thorough sanding and resealing brings noticeable results in refreshing a room and making it appear bigger. Similarly, using good quality floor paint can really add interest and atmosphere to a room. Think chalky white floorboards and soft wool rugs in the bedroom.
By all means give your room a refresh with a lick of paint, but how about painting one wall or section of room a deeper shade for instant impact and depth? Painting a darker shade behind bookshelves can also really help to make a shelf display of striking ornaments or a vase collection pop out. And you don’t need to buy expensive on-trend chalky paints to give your home that muted elegance of a period property. Many paint suppliers such as Johnstone’s are happy to colour match to your favourite Farrow & Ball shade and the difference is frankly negligible. If you prefer wallpaper, stick to one wall in the room for added impact but keep the rest of the walls neutral, be that in off white, grey, green, blue or beige hues.
Source: HGTV Canada
If you’re able with a needle and thread, scour local charity shops, car boot / yard sales and eBay for remnants of fabric that you can make blinds, simple curtains or cushions from. Large-sized shirts and knitted pullovers can be turned into quite unique cushion covers with just a little imagination. Don’t be afraid to ask in fabric retailers and warehouses for end of roll and last season remnants which often come cut price. Or what about those plain yellowish curtains that you have really grown to dislike? Cotton curtains can be dyed in your washing machine quickly and safely with modern machine dyes such as Dylon and can dramatically change the look of a drab room. Check out eBay for one-off fabric pieces to reupholster and add a new lease of life to chairs and stool seats.
A very simple yet effective feature can be made of a standard bookcase by grouping the books along the shelves in blocks of colour. Play about with the arrangement until it looks right. Ornament collections can be grouped in this way too. Team this with a painted backdrop to the shelf and you can create some stunning displays.
Source: Ben Terrett via Flickr.com
Weary and outdated lampshades can be easily replaced with inexpensive ones. Try BHS for replacement shades in an array of colours and styles to suit your personal taste. Existing light-coloured lampshades may also be recovered with relatively small lengths of fabric but be sure to use a fire retardant fabric spray to finish.
Kitchen and Bathroom Updates
Modernising a kitchen doesn’t need to be costly. Even dated pine kitchens can be brought bang up to date with a little time and patience. If the cupboard doors are in good condition, they can be sanded, primed and hand painted in the colour of your choice and the handles and knobs replaced. Make sure to use a good quality paintbrush for the job rather than a roller which leaves marks. Check out Fired Earth or The Little Greene Paint Company for their beautiful paint palettes to get your creative juices flowing. Open shelving is becoming popular not only for display purposes, but to make your kitchen feel more personalised, lived in and easier to use. Try the likes of Ikea for a varied range of cheap shelving options. Visit local thrift stores and markets to source funky accessories and vintage homewares to add your own personal touch to your kitchen space. Paint a wall with blackboard paint which, although a striking feature in itself, is incredibly useful for noting shopping and to-do lists. Or take an old picture frame and paint the glass insert with chalkboard paint instead.
Source: Little Greene Paint Company
Bathrooms can be freshened up with very little financial outlay. First and foremost, clean or replace grouting between tiles and replace shower curtains for an instant refresh. Hang a pretty vintage mirror, use old jam jars for storing cottonwool pads and soaps, set out wicker baskets to hold flannels and loo rolls. A moisture loving plant in a big ceramic pot will thrive in the bathroom environment and the luscious green foliage will soften and add contrast to the hard, shiny tiled surfaces. On the same note will fluffy white towels. These can be found inexpensively in large homeware stores yet exude a feeling of luxury remindful of a spa retreat or hotel bathroom. Other simple additions such as candles in pretty glass votives or paper wrapped soaps can add colour and interest. For candles and votives, I have recently discovered Homebase has a very good selection on offer.
Finally, make use of local craft classes and workshops to hone your DIY skills or learn new ones. From reupholstery to removing wallpaper, there is a plethora of college classes out there. For a quick online video tutorial Youtube is a must-visit. And of course I will be writing lots of posts on how to upcycle objects in your home so keep checking back!
So what creative ways have you improved your own home on a budget? I would love to hear from you!