Shoestring decorating

Decorating is a snooty old business, who knows why but it is. From experience the snootier the attitude the more uptight looking the space which is great if you want that sort of thing but I tend to run a mile. The good news is if you haven’t got tons of cash to spend on your project not to give up and settle for second best. Go into it thinking you are going to make your pad the coolest, edgiest place on the planet. Here is how:


Look at vintage fairs, flea markets auction houses, thrift shops and online sites like eBay and Preloved. When you’re hunting for secondhand pieces, you need to be able to see past ugly finishes or problem patches, and look at the overall shape and sturdiness. If it’s a cool shape and in good nick, there’s so much potential to revamp – you can spray paint, lacquer, or reupholster outdated old furniture. It takes a bit of time and commitment searching, but there are tons of great bargains to be found out there, from super glam vintage French headboards to cool sideboards and cocktail cabinets.



If you’re on a budget, who says you can’t have a superluxe headboard or gallery wall? I say this all the time, but thinking outside the box a bit will always give you the coolest decorating ideas and it’s so liberating too. A blanket, cool flag or rug pinned to the wall can make a fab oversized headboard. I’ve seen this done with old shutters and huge artwork too – anything goes! I’ve put heaps of tips about cheap art up on the blog before, but it’s also worth saying again that you don’t need to fork out a ton of money getting everything professionally framed. Just pin it up and voila you’ve got a gallery wall. You can also get creative with your wall coverings. Bin ends and odd rolls of wallpaper can give a really cool mix and match effect, or even go for old newsprint and book pages. Once you start thinking differently, everything can be repurposed, from using a vintage scarf as a table runner, to putting your magazine collection to use as coffee tables and consoles. You should also know when to fake it – I have championed fake flowers for years and years, and now our fauxs are bestsellers around the globe!



If you’re hands on or arty, you can save a ton of money by getting a bit creative. There’s a massive neon light trend at the moment, but a custom made neon sign can set you back thousands! You can get a similar look with a simple string of rope lights, and shape them to your own message. Using cheaper materials is a great way of getting a look on a budget. I’ve recently seen a really affordable pendant simply made from scrap paper. I personally don’t like DIY projects to look homemade, if that makes sense – I want the results to be  luxe so this is fab.Even if you don’t think you’re particularly arty or hands on (me, I have to confess!), there are still a load of easy cheats you can do. Upgrade a cheap and basic mirror by putting a vintage frame around it. Fake a gilt or brass finish on a coffee table with spraypaint or a dab of goldfinger paste, and swap out hardware to instantly make cheap cabinets or wardrobes look more expensive.


This is the best shoestring idea, because it’s completely free! When you get bored of your furniture or think that a room could do with a bit of a lift, check what you’ve already got before you run off to the shops. Something that you’re sick to death of in the living room might be exactly what your kitchen needs. You could use a side table or coffee table in the bathroom, use your accessories and favourite outfits as a wall display, or plonk a console in the kitchen.

This is something that I do all the time. I hardly ever get rid of anything, but things move around from room to room all the time. This is an old pic of my studio, and it’s gone through a complete overhaul since. None of those pieces still live in the same place, but I love them so haven’t got rid of them. The painting has gone upstairs to our bedroom, the lamp is on a console by the window, the chairs are perfect for a new oval dining table, and Notorious B.I.G. is hanging out in the kitchen. I also bring outside furniture and ornaments inside and vice versa. It’s one of the best ways to give your pad a new lease of life without spending a penny.

Hope that’s helped you get stylish on a shoestring. Share your best budget decorating ideas in the comments!

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