Armed with imagination, inspiration and just a very small amount of cash even the most hideous dwellings can be transformed into gorgeous loveliness!
These are my top tips for basic home decor on the cheap.
As the biggest surface, the colours of your walls are pretty important. Some options:
- Choose your favourite colours, however strange!
- Base your rooms around an object, like a favourite cushion, to make choosing colours, patterns and shades easier.
- Paint your whole flat white to make it seem big, clean, fresh and modern.
- Forget about colour schemes completely and just chuck in whatever you like and hope it works together!
If painting every wall is beyond your budget, how about making a feature wall in each room?
- You could use paint other people have left over and paint a wall plain, striped, patterned, spotty…
- Paint a mural! You don’t have to be Michelangelo - they can be as simple as this tree and still look amazing. You can use stencils or go free hand. If you can get your hands on one, use an overhead projector to trace your own design onto the wall.
- You could make a wall of clocks! Look out for interesting ones at charity shops and jumble sales for cheap. You could use other collections too, like postcards, photos, quirky plates, hats…..
- Tack a big piece of material to the wall or even better, use starch. It lets you peel off the material without ripping off the wallpaper or paint underneath when you’re done! There’s a simple tutorial here.
- Buy a roll of cheap wallpaper, or use a friend’s left-overs to cover one wall.
- Use cool gift-wrap cut into shapes and arrange them on a wall. You could draw around various plates for lots of different sized circles!
- Make your own wall graphics from contact paper or paint them on. Check out Blik for inspiration.
- Create a huge arty version of a good photo at THE RASTERBATOR
(BEFORE YOU GET CARRIED AWAY…If you rent, you may not be allowed to do any of these! Check first. If Mr Landlord says no, you might have to work with what you‘ve been dealt).
Ask around family and friends to see if anyone can donate stuff to you, go “Dumpster Diving” with a friend and trawl the second hand shops, jumbles and garage sales for cheap-as-chips furniture. The key is to see shapes, functionality (is that a word?), character and potential in ugly looking furniture! You can always make minor repairs and repaint things if you don’t like the colours.
- Tasteless sofas can be hidden under throws (painters sheets, patch-worked scraps of material, dyed bed sheets, etc) and cushions (make them yourself out of old clothes and embellish with buttons, fabric paints, simple chain-stitch doodles…). Same goes for beds!
- Cover big tables with gorgeous tablecloths.
- Little coffee tables can be tiled with broken dishes!
- “Decoupage” is fun! Sounds more posh than it is - basically cutting and sticking pretty pictures to stuff then varnishing it. Try magazines for cool images - space them out or just cover the whole thing in a big kind of montage. I actually covered a babyish wallpaper border like this a few years ago and it looked awesome!
- You can also paint wooden shoe racks, shelves, etc.
- Find new uses for things! A lot of people are using trunks as coffee tables as it looks good and stores stuff at the same time. Stack vintage suitcases to raise the TV, a big pile of books can hold a lamp…that’s me out of ideas but I’m sure you can think of some!
When you have a tiny home (I assume you do as we’re all poor here!) you can’t have separate rooms for separate things (dining room, living room, study, bedroom, music/craft/art studio) but you can create areas!
- Group furniture together to make areas for all the things you like to do at home like reading, writing, drawing, chatting on the phone, strumming your guitar, hanging out with friends, watching TV, whatever!
- Put things at an angle to make little nooks and crannies that will give the place some character. Fill the areas with necessary “equipment” i.e. Books and magazines in the reading area.
- Define the areas with rugs and maybe room dividers made from sheets, beaded curtains or weird things strung together like AOL CDs, postcards or board games!
- This is a completely new concept to me, I admit. This post about a cosy corner and activity zone from B.Shigley’s blog showed me the error of my ways!
Some random ideas:
- Cardboard boxes covered with gift-wrap (also work as wastepaper bins!)
- Spray painted wooden fruit crates
- Old food jars washed out (cover lid with a square of fabric and elastic band)
- Clean food cans of all different sizes covered with any paper (use label as template).
- Cute felt boxes using this tutorial.
- Personalise walls with framed postcards, photographs, artwork the kids have done, and pictures from the internet and magazines.
- Create your own canvas photo.
- Makeover boring frames and mirrors with paint, glitter, buttons - anything small!
- Look for natural things that don’t cost a thing like shells, driftwood, branches, pine cones, picked flowers and clumps of lavender.
- Cover old lampshades with material you love.
- Make everything all cosy with fairy lights, blankets, candles, plants, and squishy cushions!
- Make your own bowls to scatter about (Ideal for holding fruit, snacks, cotton wool, coupons, keys, etc).
I hope you've found some ideas to work with in your own place!