Having a house is one thing, but making a house a home requires something a little special. While home design and interior magazines showcase some stunning scenes we'd all love to recreate in our front rooms, they're unrealistically over-budget for the majority of us.
No matter - there's something to be said for making something out of nothing, and I'm here to show you that with a bit of rifling around, creativity and boundary-pushing, extraordinary doesn't have to be expensive at all.
1. Fix a reasonable budget
Sorry to ruin your visions of grandeur so early on, but a bit of number crunching before you begin your project is important to prevent you going unnecessarily overboard - you really needn't spend a fortune, trust me. While your preconception may be that budgeting and creativity don't go hand-in-hand, a tighter budget will actually make you more resourceful and creative, which may even render better results that opting to go straight to the shop for your decorating needs.
Find out what you can afford to spend on your project, then what you're willing to spend. Why not even knock off an extra bit and set yourself the challenge of doing the transformation at a lower cost?
2. Don't be too ambitious
Now you've got your budget, you need to make sure you stay within it, and the easiest way to do that and avoid disappointment with the achievable results, is to be realistic. There's no point trying to transform your whole house for £200, because - unless you have an incredible connection with some seriously good DIY stores - it just isn't going to happen. Prioritise what needs to change, what you'd like to change, and what you're happy to leave as is, and allocate your funds accordingly.
I get it, DIY can be scary, but there are so many benefits of doing things yourself. Not only will you save on time (trying to source workmen/shopping) and money (cost of buying new), but you'll also be able to produce something that's entirely personalised and suited for your space.
If you really are terrified, there are plenty of guides out there to make DIY as easy as ABC - a personal favourite of mine is Pretty Handy Girl. Brittany's blog literaly has every tutorial and project you could ever need to completely update restyle and renovate your home. Easy to follow and fuss-free, she'll turn you into a DIY pro in no time.
4. Work with big items
With your budget tight, you want to make things as easy as possible for yourself. If your staple items (sofas, tables etc) are in good nick, there's no need to replace them and you should use them as a starting point for your colour theme. Opting to go for vibrant pink when you have red sofas is only going to make life more difficult for yourself and your money stretch less far, so take inspiration from what's around you, and go from there.
5. Move furniture around
Your room may look a bit sparse in its current state, but before heading straight to the shops, consider having a move-around. Swap furniture from a different room if appropriate, and have a general rejig in the rooms to see how the layout looks with things elsewhere. You may be surprised how a living room side table really fills out an empty corner in the bedroom, or how much better the hallway tapestry rug looks in the lounge. Play around before you reach for your purse.
6. Shop online
If you are in need of some new furniture, there's really no need to go spending hundreds of pounds on brand new items. In fact, these days you can often get more for your money when you opt to scour online. While this may take time, on sites like Gumtree, you can pick up big items less than a mile from your house for very reasonable prices - could it get any easier? Even if things aren't in perfect condition, someone else's seconds provide a great base for a gorgeous upcycling project.
7. Customise with spray paint
The prospect of painting and potentially destroying your home can be a scary thing, so if you'd rather not risk it, spray paints could be your new best friend. It's quick, easy and produces amazing, high finish results. A perfect example is this gorgeous clock refresh by Style Made Simple. Taking a cheap, high-street buy and spraying on a layer of rich, rose gold paint, she made it unrecognisable. It's definitely got the wow factor and just shows what you can do with paint in a can.
A perfect example is this gorgeous clock refresh by Style Made Simple. Taking a cheap, high-street buy and spraying on a layer of rich, rose gold paint, she made it unrecognisable. It's definitely got the wow factor and just shows what you can do with paint in a can.
8. Upcycle your furniture
Upcycling is a massive trend among bloggers and homeowners alike, and for good reason. With a bit of sanding, a lick of paint and the optional addition of other bits and bobs, you can take the dullest looking cabinet into the 21st century with a creative and personalised makeover.
The beauty of upcycling is that it's extremely budget friendly, allowing you to fit your existing furniture into your new colour scheme, or even give it a new life as a statement piece. So before you throw out the old, consider getting your hands dirty and turning it into something new. You'll save money, and be blown away by what you can do.
9. Shop at home
Loft, shed, garage - if your place is anything like mine, these will be so full of boxes, it'll be a struggle to even get inside! For once, you'll be glad of that, as you turn to your junk for interior inspiration. From old cushions you thought you'd never use again to antique ornaments and picture frames, some of the best stuff to glam up your home with can be found...in your home!
10. Prioritise spending on statement items
With a stretched budget, it's important to shop strategically. Small, delicate items may look very pretty in their tens and hundreds on shop shelves, but they're unlikely to make a comparable impact once they're stuck on sparse shelves at home. When you're spending money on new home items, you want to get as much impact for your money as possible, so go big, and go bold. Choose to spend more on a few, knock-out items than a collection of nondescript 'clutter' for your project.
11. Hunt at charity shops & car boots
No treasure was ever uncovered without a good hunt. A great place to do some discovery of your own is at local charity shops and car boot sales.
My favourite is Oxfam, as they have such a great selection of quality items and everything is always organised and presented so well. Buying from Oxfam won't just improve your home, but help towards fighting poverty, too. In the last 15 years alone, extreme poverty has been halved, and by supporting Oxfam, you can help them improve this figure even further.
Whilst a marbled, greyish vase may no longer be desired in one household, it could be the perfect accessory to complement the mustard feature wall in another. You needn't take more than a tenner to come home with a bag full of goodies - if that isn't money saving, I don't know what is!
12. Fabricate a feature wall
If you want to completely transform your room but don't want to spend a fortune, a feature wall could just be the answer. While the classics are done with a lick of paint in an eye-catching, contrasting colour, don't be afraid to think outside the box. Patterns can be added with wall-stickers or hand-drawn detailing, and magazine rippings stuck on with a watered down glue solution can create an edgy, stylish focal point.
13. Open up hidden storage
All these modern 'storage solutions' have made having our items on show somewhat taboo. However, when done right, open storage can be a truly beautiful thing, so don't knock it till you've tried it. All those bright coloured books, DVDs and CDs could come together to create a fantastic, rainbow focal point bookcase, showcasing some of your favorite literature, songs and movies. Use your everyday items wisely and tastefully, and they can become personalised pieces of art in their own right.
14. Decorate with your own artwork
Whether you've got children yourself or not, chances are you still have a collection of 'artwork' you did as a child stored somewhere. While these are unlikely to rival any world-renowned paintings, they can make for interesting and conversation-starting wall-art.
If you still fancy yourself as a bit of a creative, why not entertain the Picasso in you and get drawing again? Even if you're not particularly gifted, everyone can manage a few dabs here and there, and 'abstract' these days is all the rage.
15. Get crafty
You really can make something out of nothing, and being open to getting crafty will help you make the most of anything you find on your home decorating mission. A few spare piece of fabric from a dress-making project you never got round to making could help you pimp out your dull leather sofa.
Cushion cover making is one of my personal favourite ways to save money on decorating, as they're inexpensive and much less permanent than paint. This tutorial by Hey There Home is perfect, even for the complete novice, so there's absolutely no excuses why you can't make one, too.
16. Add greenery with flowers & plants
Breath life into your home by bringing the outdoors inside. A selection of household plants and flowers can add a well needed lift to dark and dismal rooms, not to mention keep air fresh with all that extra oxygen!
Flowers are another wonderful way to bring contrast and a 'lived-in' look to your kitchen and living room. You don't have to spend loads, opt for colour and size as opposed to flounce and fancy for big impact results.
17. Take opportunity of hand-me-downs
Two words: grandma's house. This loveable old lady is full of stories, history and character, and it's likely her home is too. Just like yours, her attic will be jam-packed full of delightful goodies and treasures, so why not pop over and ask to have a hunt? She'll be more than happy to reminisce over vases gifted to her as a 'young'un' and will be delighted to have her redundant items resued in your home.
Don't shy away from her old, vintage items, as these can often be the most beautiful when mixed with new. If you don't believe me, head on over to Eclectically Vintage's website for some breathtaking proof.
18. Get inspired
When confronted with your tired and characterless home, it can be hard to get inspired. Luckily for you, you don't have to look far to find the biggest source of home decoration ideas and examples ever: the internet. A quick search will bring up millions (literally) of wondrous and wacky home-creations from around the world.
So whatever your style, desires and budget, your best friend, the internet will have something to offer you. Take heed from what you see and note down ways of working things that catch your eye into your own project - in just half an hour you'll be full of ideas and full of excitement to get started.
19. Be brave
One of the main hurdles you'll have to jump over when decorating on a budget is the fear of playing safe. Step away from the neutrals, and into the unknown.
Don't be afraid to play with the rainbow in ways you never have before - when you start experimenting with colour combinations and being less strict with your 'theme' or colour scheme, you'll be surprised what works. Teal blue, faded yellow and rose petal pink can come together as one to create a harmonious and unusual result that will have your friends' jaws dropping. This insightful guide by Jackie from Teal + Lime will show you how to create a whole new colour scheme through your house that flows.
If you're worried about choosing colours, this insightful guide by Jackie from Teal + Lime will show you how to create a whole new colour scheme that is easy to incorporate through your entire house, giving it a flow throughout.
Just remember, you house should be a home, and a home is something unique to you. So don't be afraid to use personal items, unusual pieces and even car boot buys to create a living space that is as individual as the people that live there.