Renovating a house brings up all kinds of small and big troubles as well as questions with it. Renovating it on a budget even more so. I'm loving the challenges, big and small, the transformation that takes place with even small details changing and the process of creating something truly personal. What I'm loving just a little less are the financial restrictions. Let's be honest, we're not all in a position to be able to throw tens of thousands of Pounds at the process of decorating which means that the money we do spend needs to be considered wisely and that in turn means that we might have some restrictions in what we are able to do. So, whilst I know that our kitchen transformation will cost us (quite literally) tens of thousands of Pounds in builders' bills alone, I have no intention to add to those costs by choosing expensive cabinets. I'm carefully navigating where it's wise to spend our money to avoid future costs and where I can make substantial savings. I guess it's just as well that I've never been a fan of super-sleek, high-end, built-in kitchens...
Anyway, going along updating all the rooms (a very slow progress), forming a strange attachment to my power tools and looking into all the pieces that are necessary to complete the puzzle, I've started thinking about everything I'm taking into consideration, where I'm spending our money and where I'm saving. Decorating on a budget as it were. So, I thought I'd share my thoughts, ideas and findings with you in my personal 'A-Z of decorating on a budget' mini series. I will try and go through each letter of the alphabet touching on subjects that are coming up not only during the renovation process but also with regards to all the small touches and how to make your home cosy, stylish and personal on a budget. I hope you'll enjoy it.
If you already own your home then this point is probably redundant. Same goes if you have limitless funds enabling you to turn a medieval castle into a high-tech, modernist home. If, however, you're looking to buy and have to consider your budget then paying attention to the architecture is a good idea. Of course you can turn a Victorian property into a sleek shrine to modern design, remove all original features, add a cool extension and replace anything "Victorian-frilly" with minimalist elements, and it can look fantastic. This will most probably not be very budget friendly though. It would make far more sense to buy a modernist building in the first place and save yourself a lot of the building work and therefore money. We bought a Victorian property exactly because of the original features, the wooden floorboards and the bay windows and whilst we have to spend a substantial amount on updating it, actually gutting it and changing it completely would be far more expensive.
Art in your home should be what you like. Whether that's paintings of flowers or portraits, pastel prints or charcoal drawings, the most important thing is that you love it and that it gives you pleasure every time you look at it. That doesn't mean it has to be super expensive though. You can pick up pieces of wall art that "speak" to you pretty much anywhere. A good place to start are markets or charity shops. Even if the piece comes in an ugly frame, if you like it then the frame isn't a big problem as it can be changed. Check out websites like Artfinder where independent artists sell their pieces. For really inexpensive prints take a peek at Ikea. Postcards from museums are another money-saving way to have a whole collection of small pieces.
Apart from the obvious high-end antiques, these markets often have a huge selection of pieces that are less valuable - in monetary terms at least. It's really worth taking half a day to explore those markets (Sunbury Antiques and Spitalfields Antiques & Vintage are favourites) and unearth some unusual pieces which nobody else will have. Set yourself a strict budget though as temptation is never far away and don't go with extremely fixed ideas of what you're looking for as that will only lead to disappointment.
Speaking of 'pieces nobody else will have': Stay true to what is you, what you love and what makes you happy. We're being bombarded with new trends on a daily basis and it can be tempting to buy into one too many. Of course there will be some trends that you really love, in which case there isn't a problem. But if you're painting your walls 'blush' just because it's THE colour, then you'll only spend money on redecorating once the next IT colour comes out. Don't be tempted to go all 'crimson' if your internal default mode is white. Being authentic means (to me) being true to yourself. Keep that old sofa that's so comfy and makes you happy and update it with the blanket you fell in love with whilst traveling. The mix of the two will be authentic and you won't feel the need to update it and spend more money in a few months time.
This is it for the letter 'A'. Next, of course, will be 'B' which stands for black - one of my favourites.