Time for another instalment of my A-Z of decorating on a budget. If you haven't seen the other ones yet, just click on the "A-Z of Decorating" category at the bottom of the post and all previous posts will show up. You know, in case you're interested. Here then is the letter 'C'. 'C' stands for cash, obviously, but since this is all about decorating on a budget, let's leave out the big splurge items for now.
So, one of the first things that came to my mind for this letter is 'colour' which is strange, because I don't actually 'do' much colour. I'm forever faithfully wedded to neutrals: white, greys, black, some natural browns (i.e. where they naturally occur, like in wood or rattan etc.) and the odd bit of blue or green. So, when I'm talking about colour, it doesn't have to mean that I'm talking colourful in the rainbow sense - though if that's your thing then that's obviously fabulous. For you. Not for me. And that's the thing with colour: it's an extremely personal issue and the choices we make should reflect our personal taste.
I know paint companies can be as fickle as fashion houses and come out with new 'it' colours every season or year. I'm sure that's a great thing if you like to always be on trend and have the patience along with the budget to redecorate every season, but if you don't (or simply lack the will) then knowing what suits you best is key to a budget friendly colour scheme. The thing is, all the items that make up your room/home will most probably have been bought with great thought as well as attention to the colours in your house at the time of purchase. Now you have that great big cherry red sofa which always looked great against your grey walls. But hang on, somebody decides that lime green is THE colour of the season. You then have two choices: ignore it and carry on loving your sofa that goes so well with your grey walls or go with the trend, paint your walls lime green and then discover that your sofa looks hideous in front of the wall. This leads to another two choices: repaint the walls or replace/reupholster the sofa - both choices will cost you and there's no guarantee you'll still like it next season. I really get it, the desire to refresh our homes, go for something different, maybe a little bolder. What I'm trying to say, however, is that when it comes to colour and budget, stick with what YOU like, with what makes YOU happy, with what works in YOUR home as you won't be tempted to repaint once the 'it' colour isn't quite right anymore - which will most probably be quicker than you expected. For me personally, that means adding small touches (like that vintage plant stand that came in teal and actually works really well against all the rattan, wood and white) here and there which don't cost the earth and that can quickly be transformed with some leftover paint should I fall out of love with it. As for the big stuff (i.e. walls), your most budget friendly choice is a relatively neutral (this can of course mean any colour that is neutral to YOU and that you don't mind living with for a long time) backdrop to which you can add all sorts of small touches of colours like...
If I'm ever really tempted by colour (as in bold, bright colours) it's most likely to be because they've been incorporated in some fabulous cushion like the ones here which I shot for (and are of course available to buy from) Hide & Seek London. Cushions are like small pieces of magic, they're like handbags: they finish the outfit (your home) and they always fit, no matter how 'bleugh' you feel or how tired your home looks. See what I did there? Ok, so the thing with cushions is that they can be a fabulous, budget friendly way of giving your home a new look, bringing in some spring sunshine or a cosy feel for winter. Even just one special piece can transform the whole look of your sofa without having to spend a fortune on actually buying a new sofa. However, you should always bear something in mind: if, for example, your overall taste and home is natural and rustic, then don't go for the fancy silk-covered mid-century cushion just because it looks so utterly amazing in the shop (because we've all been seduced by things that looked out-of-this-world in a shop, I know I have) - it won't work. Always consider the overall look when buying a cushion even if it's cheap because buying something inexpensive will still be expensive if you end up not liking it and donating it to the charity shop a few months down the line. If you're in need of a whole pile of cushions, then consider buying lots of neutral, single-coloured ones which can then be offset with a few special pieces. Oh, and you should always try to go for natural materials as they're more likely to stand the test of time than some fancy-looking piece made from manmade fibres.
As a self-confessed
hoarder props collector, I'm all too aware that collections can be a) expensive and b) a pain to incorporate into my home. And yet, no matter how hard I try (ok, not really...) to me a minimalist, I simply can't walk past certain pieces. One of the things I've found over time is that I'm drawn to the same kind of items again and again and that this actually makes things a lot easier in terms of budget as well as display.
Unless you find yourself hankering after (and consequently buying) items that have absolutely no relation to each other (yes, I know, it's eclectic), I'm going to assume that most things you collect will somehow fit in with your general style and you truly love them. That's of course a great start for the budget conscious (unless your general style requires Fabergé eggs to make it look just so, in which case you might as well stop reading now) and will make it less likely that you'll waste money on things that simply don't work in your home. So, you probably won't need telling, but next time you see a trinket you like, just take a moment to think about which collection it might fit in with or at the very least visualise where it will work in your home. I sometimes find myself really liking something in a shop but when I do pause and think about where it would fit in, I realise that it probably won't work with any of the things I already have and despite having a (probably fleeting) crush, I know it's wiser and better for my bank account to not purchase it. On the other hand, I always keep an eye open in charity shops, car boot sales and markets for inexpensive items to expand on my existing collections.
The other thing about a well thought out collection is that it will make for very personal and interesting displays whether on a tray on your coffee table or on a shelf. If you have several collections on varying themes, then grouping each one together will give an overall tidy look as opposed to something more akin to a jumble sale. Yes, there is such a thing as 'ordered maximalism' that doesn't overwhelm the room and it's mostly about shopping wisely and knowing what items work together.
Oh, I do love a nice cotton branch or two...or three. They way those buds feel, the texture and colour and the overall natural look. They make beautiful and low (read: no) maintenance decorations. Once bought, stick them in a vase and enjoy. However, I'm also talking about cotton as in the fabric. I don't know what I'd do without all the cotton fabric I've used in my homes over the years. Yes, it would be lovely if we could all afford the most beautiful silks for our curtains, but more often than not that's simply not feasible. Especially when it comes to curtains because here's the thing: curtains look their best and most expensive when there's a lot of fabric. Nothing says "cheap" more than a curtain where you've skimped on volume because the fabric itself was so expensive to begin with. However, a curtain made from acres of inexpensive cotton fabric will look sumptuous and therefore much better. A flimsy curtain made from hugely expensive silk won't beat that. My favourite is (and will be until the day it's discontinued - may that day never come!) Ikea's Bomull which costs a mere £2 a meter and means I really can use as much of it as I need (want!) without breaking the bank. Oh, and one more thing: curtains should always be long enough to have at least an inch 'sitting' on the floor. And that's the law.
I hope you enjoy my take on budget friendly decorating and it might even be helpful.