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any frugal home decorating suggestions?

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It’s my birthday today, and to celebrate I’m redecorating my dining room/library. A bit sad, but the long weekend was too good an excuse to miss, and I’m tired of it looking shabby.

When I bought my house, and just before I moved in I decorated the living room and got some DIY bits and pieces and spent £300 (approx $600) at Homebase. This time round, I’ve hopefully got away with buying a couple of tins of paint, some new brushes and some dust sheets and masking tape. I went to the DIY store on Friday night and spent £50.

Now, there are a couple of ways I could have made this cheaper. Firstly to wash out the brushes properly so I didn’t have to buy new ones (in my defence, I thought I had). Secondly, if I’d wanted a less specific colour, I could have bought cheaper paint. Sadly (and as per usual) I knew exactly what I had in mind, a matt mid lilac shade - it turned out to be Dulux Lilac Love, own brand didn’t come in quite the right shade.

Anyway, I’m looking for all your frugal home decorating suggestions. I’ve got more rooms to do, and a limited budget, what tips do you have?

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17 comments for “any frugal home decorating suggestions?”

  1. Happy birthday, Plonkee! I admit, painting is not my favourite way to spend a day, especially a birthday…

    I think that you are saving a lot of money by going the DIY route. Other than that, I’m afraid I am not the best at frugal home decorating tips. I painted our basement when we refinished it, and I placed some photos on the walls, but that is about it.

    Posted by Patrick | December 31, 2007, 1:06 pm
  2. Happy Birthday!!

    Painting and DIY are two of the most frugal redecorating tips out there so you’ve got that part down.

    Without a photo of what your working with I can make generic suggestions like get some matching frames and put up photography or artwork in a funky layout on a wall.

    Bring unexpected pieces of furniture from around your house to the room and make them work. Add more splash of color with a throw rug. Hopefully one you already have!

    Have fun!

    Posted by Emily | December 31, 2007, 1:17 pm

    BTW, we just touched up some walls with a fresh coat of paint and the difference is refreshing! Good luck! :D

    Posted by Chief Family Officer | December 31, 2007, 2:05 pm
  4. Happy Birthday!

    Do what I did - get my partner’s dad to do all of the work - that cuts down on the cost of hiring painters and decorators by a great deal!

    You can sometimes finder cheaper wallpaper etc on eBay if people have some left over when they’ve finished their jobs, although I guess it depends if you can get enough of what you need.


    Posted by Rob Lewis | December 31, 2007, 3:12 pm
  5. Happy Birthday :-)

    Posted by Pinyo | December 31, 2007, 3:28 pm
  6. Happy birthday! I’m definitely not someone you should ask about decorating. My only suggestion is to find a few plants, preferably ones that are difficult to kill. Having something green and living is a cheap way to make a room look homier.

    Posted by E.C. | December 31, 2007, 4:17 pm
  7. Happy Birthday! One thing that I and friends have done is take our own pictures with a digital camera, print them at a cheap photo place, and frame them. You can swap them out periodically. Another option is to get scraps of fabric, stationary, etc, and frame that. You’ll still be spending on frames, but I like the option of being to swap things out often. :)

    Posted by deepali | December 31, 2007, 5:00 pm
  8. That’s a nice birthday present to yourself. Not just the house part, but also the feeling like you’re accomplishing something part. Painting is so rewarding because you can actually see the progress. :)

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | December 31, 2007, 6:50 pm
  9. P.S. You should see our flat. It’s frugal all right, but it’s not really decorated either…. ;) I say it’s ok because we’ve only been here 5 months.

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | December 31, 2007, 7:34 pm
  10. :-) One of my most successful low-rent decorating coups was to take a few very nice greeting cards (got them from a local museum store–botanical prints) and drop them into inexpensive small frames behind incredibly cheap pre-cut mats.

    This required runs on three different stores (purveyor of museum kitsch; Cost Plus for the cheapo frames; Aaron Brothers for the on-sale mats), but it was worth it. I expected tacky, ohhh tacky, but got a half-dozen “miniatures” that looked so convincing that one friend, an artist, thought they were real watercolors. Hee hee!

    Back in the Dark Ages, when we were young and moved around by gaslight, we used to stretch Marimekko fabric over oil-paint canvas frames. It’s easy: all you need is a stapler, the frame, and a half-yard of fabric. I understand Marimekko is back: it’s RETRO! Why not?

    Posted by vh | January 1, 2008, 3:22 am
  11. Paint is the best way to transform a room. I think you’re better off spending a little bit more money to get the perfect color (you’ll be happy with it for much longer than the almost right color).

    I also struggle with decorating a room…My best advice is to be creative. People throw a lot of stuff away…see if it can be rescued with a little paint. Keep your eyes open for things that would look good framed. I have a poster than looks amazing on my bedroom wall because I found a frame that makes it look great!

    Posted by SavingDiva | January 2, 2008, 2:59 pm
  12. Happy Birthday, plonkee. You have the same birthday as my nephew!

    I would suggest to make use of what is there already. Sometimes, something as simple as a rearranging the furniture, or a good of paint would really spruce things up. Best of all, they are quite cheap to do!

    Good luck and Happy 2008!

    Posted by tehnyit | January 3, 2008, 9:49 am
  13. happy day, plonkee!

    Agree with SavingDiva- it’s worth paying extra for something you love (and that lilac is to die for). It’s also likely that by paying more, you’re buying better quality, which will save loads in the long run (fewer coats + longer wearing). Do buy decent brushes which will last longer (do as I say, not as I do- I can’t bring myself to buy the sheepskin rollers which P&D mates recommend). Don’t buy oil-based paint (except for outside), it’s murder to clean brushes, and likely you’ll wreck them not doing so properly. Go for a uniform scheme- use a neutral paint in lots of places which you can then accessorise with more fun/expensive colours/textures, etc. Try not to follow fashions- eg laminate flooring was ‘du jour’ for a while, whereas real floorboards cost the same, and have ‘ageless’ appeal. Get stuff on ebay (but be sensible about real price- people go mad for IKEA, etc, branded stuff- to the point where people pay more for ebay than new in store) and DO join your local freecycle. As you’re on foot, be clever about scheduling works so that you can combine deliveries for several projects. Invest time in prep- a poor finish is unsatisfying, and will prompt you to change it again sooner. But DO accept that in your first (and 2nd!) house you’ll make mistakes, and there is a price on learning- don’t beat yourself up for them!

    Posted by Pippin | January 3, 2008, 3:29 pm
  14. One thing I’ve started is a notebook in which I write the measurements for areas of the house, doors, windows, bookshelves, future spaces for a chairs or a couch, etc. that I want to either change or add something to at some point, when I find a good deal.

    For example, I have two windows that I’d like to replace, but can’t afford new ones, so I measured them, wrote the measurements down in my house notebook, and take that notebook with me when I’m out and about. Particularly when I go to second-hand stores, reclaimed construction materials places, and big box stores like Homebase that will often sell returned merchandise at a significant discount.

    I also use Craigslist extensively, but I’m not sure how big it is internationally.

    Posted by metroknow | January 4, 2008, 3:32 am
  15. Cleaning brushes, ha, who does that any more. Change is like a holiday, and painting really makes a huge different, the colour sounds awesome and why save if it is what you want, its going to cost you more by choosing a new colour that you are not happy with and will be changing “shortly”. I see on BBC that paper for the walls is the thing is this true.

    Posted by K Gift | October 12, 2008, 8:07 am

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