Saturday, 25 April 2009

Some ideas for frugal decor...

by Eilleen
Consumption Rebellion

Regular readers of my personal blog will know I'm currently on a frugal decor spree. My circumstances changed dramatically a few months ago resulting in me having to pretty much start all over again in terms of furnishing and decorating my house.

...and you know what.... I'm having FUN! I am loving the process of slowly, bit by bit, room by room transforming my house into a home. I am also getting a lot of satisfaction in sourcing my stuff second-hand and learning new decor skills along the way.

To date, I have now furnished and decorated 80% of my house (only the bedrooms to go!) and so far, I've only spent a total of AUD$527 (US$380). This includes the purchase of major furniture, appliances, household tools, gardening equipment and kitchenware.

So my tips for frugal decor?

Keep your design theme simple.

I don't think I could've kept my costs low if I had a complex design theme. In my case, my design theme was "white". Which means that in each room, I had at least one (or more) feature pieces in white.

Get everything second-hand.

Freecycle, local classifieds, garage sales, op shops/thrift shops, second-hand shops, deceased estate auctions... the list of second-hand sources of goods and appliances can be huge! And don't forget friends and family! When my friends and family found out I needed to furnish my house, many used the opportunity to declutter and offered me some much needed items.

For appliances, its important to read when it was purchased (if paperwork is still there), whether it was serviced regularly and how it is still working now. I bought my fridge, washing machine (both about 5 years old) and microwave (3 years old) from a deceased estate auction. I turned up early so I can review the paperwork and ask the people to turn it on for me and in the case of the washing machine, run a rinse cycle and for microwave, to heat a little wheat bag.

For me, its important to make sure that furniture has good clean lines and that the overall structure is still sound. Once you have the furniture you can then do lots with it.

Do it up yourself using second-hand or remnant supplies

For me, every step of "doing up" furniture meant having to learning how to clean it up (bi-carb and vinegar pretty much works for everything but I did refer to this site for the harder stuff) and screw it tight (my 2nd hand screwdrivers have been the most used tools so far!)

Once preliminaries are done, I've enjoyed painting quite a bit of my second-hand furniture. I found my paint under the house when I moved in but I've since seen some leftover paint up in Freecycle - or you could always put up a wanted ad for it in your local classifieds.

In terms of painting, I've found that I could get the "distressed" or "shabby chic" look by just applying one coat of paint and then letting it absorb into the wood. One coat of paint also meant that I'm using less paint.

(Craft desk ($10) - bottom half painted distressed white)

If you can't move those stains, and you don't want to paint it, then you can either cover it up with rugs or shawls, slipcovers or go ahead and learn how to re-upholster it.

(Chair (free) - hand-reupholstered using remnant upholstery fabric, upholstery thread from op shop and an upholstery needle.)

Some other simple and frugal decorating I am planning to do:

- sewing a bunting for the children's bedroom, using fabric scraps.
- applying a fabric feature in my bedroom, again using fabric scraps.

Plants as decor

Indoor plants are probably the best form of decor there is. I got my little plants by separating them from friends' larger plants. Hopefully they'll recover soon and take to their new environment. (They're looking a little sad at the moment but its only week 1!)

And of course, flowers from the garden brighten up any room.

Then there are the exceptions:P

So while I have been using second-hand furniture and second-hand supplies most of the time, I have to admit I have bought one brand new item to decorate my paper.

I enjoyed making a wall decal using contact paper (also called "self-adhesive book covers). For the size of the decal that I wanted, I would've ended up paying over $100 from a shop. Instead, it cost me a mere $5 and about 1 hour of my time cutting different pieces out.

(Bamboo wall decal ($5) using the "rattan" look contact paper - ugly on roll but great on my wall)

Oh and for those who may want to do the same thing, contact paper is a fantastic wall decal because it peels right off without damaging walls (I tested this to make sure).

Anyway, so those are my frugal decor ideas. If you have any more ideas, I would love to hear from you! I am still after more ideas for the bedrooms!

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend.