Really useful tips for decorating on a tight budget

Interior designers share their tips for updating your space when you don't have a mountain of cash to splash

Bring In light with neutral colours

Repainting is always a good way to refresh your home, but do choose an eco friendly paint brand and think carefully about colour. There's been a resurgence of enthusiasm for darker colours for walls and furniture, and for darker woods. But if your home isn't flooded with natural light, too much dark paint can make interiors depressing in winter. So aim to go for lighter, more neutral hues for large expanses of wall, which will lift spirits and work as a canvas on which to display artworks.

Reuse what you already have

Sometimes moving key pieces of furniture around in different combinations is enough to change the function and the mood of a particular room.  Sitting room or through lounge too crowded?  Try moving a chair out and into a bedroom to create a quiet nook for sitting and reading. 

Scour charity shops and online second-hand sites

If you're after a specific thing, such as a side-table, sofa or chest of drawers, your local charity shop may well have just what you need. Crisis, for example, sells upcycled furniture and many of their customers will further upcycle the item once they get it home by giving it a coating of chalk paint or a distressed wax finish. Likewise Freecycle is brilliant, as people are giving things away.   


Don't fill up your space with wall to wall furniture. If you're buying a new piece, is there something you can give away/sell to make room for it? And keep on top of stuff by doing regular clear-outs and taking it to the recycling centre or to charity shops. 

Multi-purpose accent pieces

With a neutral backdrop, it is easy to change a room with accent pieces. These can be cushions, rugs, vases, flowers, pottery... express your taste and style and remember to change things round every so often so you don't get bored.

Plants and flowers to mark the season

Houseplants make great accent pieces, as do flowers. provide an accent without too much work. Whether or not you have a green thumb, it’s a good idea to buy one or two vases you love to fill.  You can always opt for these affordable fresh flowers to brighten your home.

Check out local auctions

You'll find auction sales will take place in your locality very regularly. They can be great places to snag bargains on antiques, paintings, porcelain and a host of furniture. But do explore the auction catalogue before you go and be clear in your mind about the top price you'd be willing to pay for something. Sticking to your budget is very important at auctions.

Wait for the sales

Like the joke about the man who paid full price for a DFS sofa, the smart money waits for the sales. For white goods, January is usually the month when things go on special offer, after the Xmas sales. Do due diligence.. just because a sale tag is applied to something doesn't mean it's a good price. When going to the sales, look for the best quality items. A luxury mattress, for example, could be £1,000 cheaper in the sales, in which case, go for it, since a good mattress is always worth investing in. Bedding and household sales tend to happen throughout the year and it's good to stock up when prices are low. Keep an eye out for TVs which doubles as digital frames. They may be a bit expensive now, but the wise money is on prices coming down in the next year or so. They are a perfect way to display your family photos and digital art. 

Pull it together with accessories

Mirrors, pictures, as well as flowers and cushions..these are the things that bring a room to life. The feature wall is a bit tired now, so hang a large mirror in the centre of a wall to act as a focal point. And small pieces of seating such as pouffes, floor cushoins and ottomans are a good way to inject a sense of change into a room. Look for furniture made in the UK or EU to keep those freight miles down. 

Redecorating needn't cost a fortune. The key is to do things well, whether it's painting walls and woodwork or choosing quality products even if things are second hand. A good Ercol dining table found in a charity shop, for example, will be a great buy and gives you a piece of mid century modern design. And remember less can be more so don't over-buy or over-decorate.