The cosy home on a budget

Many of us list leafing through interiors magazines as one of our favourite guilty pleasures, enjoying both the sparking of ideas, and the glimpses into different lifestyles. While most of us can’t afford our own Tuscan villa or ski chalet, it’s possible to copy some of the furnishing ideas on a tight budget, by using a little creativity and imagination.

The secret to a successful result is to know when to spend that precious budget. Look out for odd tins of good quality paint on sale at a reduced price, and collect scraps of fabric where you can. Charity shops are great sources of vintage material, but check that there’s no mildew or damage on the fabric.

Trawl car boot sales, auction sites and charity shops for good quality furniture and accessories that are well made, and maybe just need a little updating, or can be plundered to add to other pieces.

Here are some ideas and inspiration for creating your own cosy home on a budget.

This chair was bought in a junk shop for a few pounds. As it had a nice aged patina, it was washed and treated with a coat of clear wax rather than paint.  The seat cushion was made from some cheap foam, cut to shape and covered with expensive fabric, bought as a roll end at a discount. Total cost – about £10.

A mismatched ‘set’ of these chairs would look great around a scrubbed pine kitchen table, and each one would be unique and personalised.

These ducks came from a charity shop, at 50p for the pair. They were originally stained with yellow stain, and wore glued-on gingham bows.  The ducks’ bows were soaked off in warm water, the wood was sanded down and they were repainted in Laura Ashley Eau-de-nil (left) and Fired Earth Stone (right).

The tin jug was a junk shop find, allowed to weather naturally until it started to rust attractively, then planted with lobelia.

Total cost of these garden ornaments (including the plants, but not including the paint which was left over from other projects), was under £2.

Never throw away a scrap of fabric, no matter how small – it can always be used for something, even if just for stuffing.  High end fabric shops often sell roll ends or oddly-sized pieces of material at a huge discount – if you see something you like, snap it up.

These lavender bags were made from scraps of fabric left over from larger projects, and hang from refurbished hooks painted an off-white colour. The paint colour was achieved by mixing cheap brilliant white wood paint with very strong black coffee.

Our motto is think twice before throwing anything away! Furniture may look old-fashioned or not fit in with the style of your home, but solid pieces can be worth saving, and can usually be sanded, stained, painted and customised into something you’ll love.

The pine chest of drawers above was saved from a house clearance. Once painted in a bright colour and the original pine knobs replaced with secondhand ceramic ones, it makes a great addition to a spare bedroom. The chest of drawers was free, the paint and handles came to around £20.

Another technique is decoupage – using clear varnish to stick photos and pictures onto a piece of furniture, resulting in a very personal piece.

This doorstop was made with a half-metre of fabric left over from the curtains. We sewed a simple bag (using striped fabric makes it easier to keep lines straight) and filled it with sand. We then folded the top of the bag into a point, and hand sewed it together. Another strip of fabric became a handle, which was run through the top of the bag and stitched into place.

By Sara Walker

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