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.


Karen L R said...

post cards in small, inexpensive/thrifted frames, grouped together with a theme (or not) make affordable wall art.

a big piece of paper (from a roll, or paper bags cut open and spread flat) taped (with masking tape) onto a wall, with colored markers nearby is irresistible. invite friends and family to write favorite quotes, doodle or draw on it. change it up with the seasons, or special occasions.

hang quilts, old or new, on walls, in doorways, as colorful backdrops. or frame a map of one of your favorite places.

hang strands of origami cranes, fish, boats etc and use as a screen, or focal point in a corner.

group collections of similar things on simple as pebbles/rocks/shells or bouquets of twigs or vases full of wine corks or a jar full of lovely chopsticks....

willywagtail said...

This is real decorating on a budget, real life as so many people live even in this rich country - not at all like the 'budget decorating' spoken of in glossy magazines. And the quality of your goods is often better secondhand than you could ever afford to pay new. It makes me happy to know that others are not ashamed to live like this and be happy to! Thanks

Bel said...
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Bel said...

Gorgeous Eilleen! What you've done so far looks fantastic, and the bargain prices amaze me, well done!

For our boys' room at the old place I needed a bookcase. Couldn't get one anywhere so bought some metal bolt-together shelves from the hardware store quite cheap. Fantastic for books, little boxes and crates of toys with small pieces, etc.

Op shops are often great for curtains. Drawstring bags made from leftover fabric from curtains, hung from strong hooks at child-height are a fun storage option too.

Magnetic boards, blackboards, corkboards and whiteboards are all great fun and really flexible. We've made lots of blackboards and use some lovely Lyra chalk to draw and write on them.

Happy decorating!

littleecofootprints said...

Totally agree with plants being a great frugal decorating option. I bought three indoor plants last weekend - ourposely selecting plants that could be easily divided to create more plants. I seperated the plants and now have 12 plants from the initial 3. They have added so much to the house.

Little Terraced House said...

I think you are making a great job of re-doing your home, it looks great and the fact that you have been able to save money and recycle so many things adds to the individuality of it. I was in a similar situation to yourself some years ago and the self satisfaction of a job well done, on a tight budget is good for the soul as well as the wallet. Well done to you !!


linda said...

If you're willing to spend a little bit on electric lamp fixtures and know how to drill holes in multiple materials, old vases make great lamp bases as do wooden boxes, old bottles, paper mache hat boxes stacked together and if you have the patience, a stack of vintage books would work too (been dying to try that one out). I've seen books stacked up and used as coffee table bases too.

Mia Goddess said...
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Mia's Boys said...

So inspiring! I love that you did it all frugally, and I love it even more that if you hadn't mentioned how thrifty you were, you'd never know it from looking at the pictures of your home! Everything looks cozy and pulled together, so much thoughtfulness in all the details. Great ideas in the comments, too!

Anonymous said...

second hand works fine in cities. but in rural areas its slim pickins'

earthmotherwithin said...

I love this post - it is so encouraging! I am one of those who wants to live simply, but it still needs to look OK and not like I am living in a junk shop.
Congratulations on your achievements.

One tip I would offer is that we should not be afraid to learn to repair things. Your simple upholstery is a case in point.

This weekend we are replacing the wooden slats on some outdoor furniture we have had for years and years. It is the kind with cast iron bases. A few hours will fix it up again and make it useful for years more.

The things people are giving away or freecycling are often in need of only small repairs.

blondeoverboard said...

when it came time to change some things in my house, a box of sheet rock mud and a can of primer turned my 1960's paneling into walls with character. next time i have some time off i'll give them a coat of milk paint

Mindy said...

Loved this post, Eilleen ~ your home is just lovely!

nicola said...

wonderful post! most of our home was thrifted, gifted, or trash picked. i have blogged about it as well. love posts like this!