10 cheap ways to make a house a home


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When I purchased my first home, I couldn’t wait to decorate it, replace the kitchen and bathroom, and then fill it with furniture and knick knacks to make it look lived in and cosy. What I didn’t anticipate was just how much I would spend on kitting out my home.

Back then, I bought everything new: kitchen; bathroom; nice TV; matching toaster and kettle; cutlery; stylish sofas; expensive pots and pans; bedspreads; curtains and much more.

I might also add that I couldn’t actually afford all this stuff, but that’s a story for another day. Anyway, I was happy with the way my home looked but over time, things wore out or got broken. My cats destroyed my fabulous chocolate ostrich leather sofa and my cream leather chairs that went so perfectly well with my glass dining table. I forgave them though in time!

When I ended up moving house and had more rooms to fill and things to replace, I realised that I simply couldn’t go out and spend several thousands of pounds on home furnishings.

So I looked at other options such as getting hold of cheap second hand furniture and making my own furnishings. This has meant that getting the stuff I wanted for my home has taken time but I appreciate what I have got now so much more than before.

Here are 10 ways you can make your house a home on the cheap:

1.    Restore and recycle what you’ve already got

Before you decide to throw out those worn old sofas into the nearest skip, have a think about recovering them. Even a simple throw blanket makes all the difference but if you’re any good with a staple gun you could try your hand at re-upholstery. Tired old lampshades can be decorated with buttons, jewels or even painted. Old tables or chairs can be stripped back for re-varnishing.

2.    Buy second hand furniture or electrical items

Local auctions, car boot sales, eBay, Gumtree and Freecycle always have a range of second hand furniture and electrical items on offer for cheap or even free of charge. It’s just a case of looking around and perhaps waiting a while to find exactly what you’re looking for.

3.    Spruce up some rooms with cheap paint

DIY stores such as B&Q, Homebase and Wickes often have bargain basements and as well as finding cheap treasures such as screws, lamps and even furniture in such places, you may also find some cheap paint. People often buy custom mixed paint only to find that when they get home the colours aren’t what they thought they were. This is a great opportunity to find some paint which can spruce up your rooms for a fraction of the normal price.

4.    Repaint your kitchen cupboard doors

A new kitchen can cost anywhere between £1,000 to £20,000, depending on the size of your kitchen and the type of design. Keeping the original carcasses for the kitchen cupboards and just buying new doors is a great way to save money. Better still, repainting doors and replacing handles can give your kitchen a great value facelift.

5.    Make your own curtains, blinds or cushion covers

You don’t need to be a sewing expert to make your own soft furnishings. If you have a sewing machine (or know someone that does) then such tasks will be easier and curtains, cushion covers and roman blinds are pretty simple to make. Here’s an easy tutorial on how to make some fabulous curtains!disease-called-debt-1

6.    Fill up your home with car boot sale items

You never know what you might find at a car boot sale. That old cliché – one man’s junk is another man’s treasure is true. From trinkets to ornaments to furniture to fabrics: you can buy pretty much anything at a car boot sale. There are lots of them all over the UK mostly during the Spring season right through to Autumn.

7.    Create your own wall art

Decorating your walls can be an expensive task particularly if you like fine art. However, you can create your own bespoke wall art like this one I made earlier! I stapled a sheet of cheap material to a plywood frame to make this fabric panel which complimented our internal décor. It cost around £10 to make and it still looks as good as the day it was made. I’m going to be making another one soon seeing as I’ve recently had to sell a beloved painting and need to fill the space!

8.    Strip back carpets and sand floorboards

If you’re lucky enough to have wooden floorboards under a tatty old carpet and battered underlay, why not make the most of them by sanding and varnishing them? They should be easy to keep clean and they make a lovely original focal point for the home.

9.    Make your own rugs

Rugs can be really expensive! Yet it’s possible to make your own rugs without shelling out a small fortune using your old t-shirts and duvet covers. Yes, it’s a long task but thoroughly enjoyable and there will be no other rug out there like it once you’ve finished. You can learn rag rug making by taking a few classes. Check out these rag rug making courses to see if there’s one near you.

10. Use fresh flowers

Fresh flowers can add a splash of colour and beautiful fragrance to your home. Flowers can be expensive and seasonal depending on your taste, but you could always go out and pick local growing wild flowers such as daisies, daffodils and poppies from nearby parks and fields. Just don’t steal them from your neighbour’s garden. You could even grow your own flowers from seeds each year.

Have you spruced up your home without spending a fortune? What would you add to this list?

Author bio: Hayley is a personal finance blogger currently documenting her journey to debt freedom over at her blog A Disease Called Debt. You can also follow Hayley on Twitter.

12 Responses to 10 cheap ways to make a house a home

  1. FI Pilgrim says:

    We’re currently working on sprucing up our kitchen by adding some PolyShade to our cabinets. It’s like tinted polyurethane, it bonds to existing finishes but adds some color as well. By changing the hardware from brass to nickel it will be a quick, cheap makeover!

  2. I love your tip about making your own wall art! I’ve done that before- the greatest part is you can literally pick out materials that go with your home decor. So you don’t have to shop for pre-made items that match!

  3. I love the tips especially regarding making curtains, rugs etc. But I’m not that creative I love to see the before and after results. I have no problem hiring someone to do the work for me.

    • Thanks Lorillia – I imagine getting someone who loves crafts to make a few of these bits might not be all that expensive, especially if you source the materials yourself. The best bit is that you’d be getting something really bespoke for your home!

  4. I used to be so concerned with buying things to make my house feel “homey”, now I’m just trying to get rid of things. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, or if it can’t hang on the wall, I don’t want it in my home creating clutter.

  5. Hey Hayley and thanks for the nice selection of home imporvement tips on the cheap!!

    I also love the wall art idea and of course anythign second hand or repurposed is great in my book!! I was looking through Craigslist free section and you could literally furnish a small home or apartment with some nice stuff without spending any money…except for the gas (petrol) it would take to pcik up the furniture.

    Also, as usual I love your English vernacular, so tell me please, what does kitting mean?

    Thanks again and take care. My best to all.


    • Hi Lyle! Really nice to ‘see’ you here! Great suggestion re Craigslist – I really need to get onto that site and check it out a bit more. Thanks for asking about the term ‘kitting’! By this, I just meant ‘kitting out’ as in ‘stocking up’ my house with homely goods. 🙂

  6. Yeah, I am much more likely to re-purpose and re-work things than I was when I first started out. I too wanted everything new and beautiful. I never got to the bedroom set though, so I am in the middle cobbling together and re-painting some old pieces to at least have a common theme in there.

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