How to decorate on a budget

Updated on 08 October 2012

We show you how you can reinvent your living space on any budget.


No matter how ambitious your plans might be, you don’t need to undertake an extreme makeover of your house to make a difference.

Putting in a brand new kitchen or a bathroom could set you back around £5,000 and if this isn’t in your budget try smaller updates such as painting a wall, or changing the wall decoration.

New door handles, tiles or a sink can update a kitchen or bathroom and will cost well under half the price of a whole new room installation.

Kitchen or bathroom units you might not be able to stand initially can come to life with a little imagination (order plenty of worktop and tile samples to help you picture how it will look), a good scrub and a few new finishing touches.

Part-decorate (while you’re at it)

Instead of painting the whole room in one colour or spending days wallpapering it, why not create a feature wall. This is a lot cheaper and means you can use a more expensive wallpaper as you won’t be using as much of it.

For something less permanent and if you’re feeling indecisive, wall stickers like these are a clever temporary way to bring rooms to life. They’re easy to apply and as soon as you get bored you can peel them off and move them to another room. 

Use the internet

When it comes to home decorating, never underestimate the power of the internet. If you spot something you like in an expensive design shop, instead of handing over a credit card, take a photo of it and note down the materials. When you get home search online and you’re more than likely to find a cheaper version.   

Take this pretty Wedgewood cake stand for example, in John Lewis it’s £60 but a search on the internet and I found it for £48.75. It’s still expensive for what it is but I’ve managed to save more £11.25 on it. 

Use the same tactic for big ticket numbers, like new shower fittings, taps or large electrical items. You can easily source quality brands for far less.

Be creative

Get crafting and make some new things to put around your house. I’m not talking about becoming the next Cath Kidson, but a few simple additions, such as covering a plain table in photos or using old wallpaper to line wardrobe panels can make a big difference.

Re-upholstering old furniture is another easy way to change how your home looks, or creating new cushion covers, and it’s half the price of buying these things brand new.

If you’re stuck for inspiration there are lots of craft blogs on the internet and Pinterest is also full of ideas from fellow crafters around the world to get you started. Some of our favourites which are always packed full of inspiring but relatively easy ideas are Kath's Blog, So I Married a Craft Blogger and Lisa's Craft Blog.

Shop around

Using a price comparison tool such as; Kelkoo or Price runner, is an easy way to get the best deal. There’s always cashback websites which will pay you for shopping through them and supermarket loyalty schemes.

For example, if you’re decking out your garden at Homebase, it makes sense to use a Nectar card as the points will quickly rack up if you’re buying a lot from one shop.

Original items

Want unique and individual pieces for your home that won’t break the bank? Head straight to Etsy or Not On The High Street for crafters, designers and more. It’s packed full of  original and quirky pieces, including original typography prints at just £12 and retro cushions made from otherwise costly Sanderson fabric for just £15.

This route does take some time, and there is definitely a lot of trash on both sites, but it’s worth the effort and you’ll then get the added satisfaction of not just saving money but also knowing you’ve bought a one-of-a-kind.


Instead of paying someone else to do a job, or buying something brand new, why not arm yourself with these skills. There are thousands of classes, from basic engineering to making a cushion, available and even a one-day class can give your the training to make something on your own from scratch.

This is a great way to start making and reparing things on your own and also saved you money as you're not having to pay someone else to do the hard work every time. 

But not always

There are some simple house jobs that you can do yourself and are practically no brainers for saving money on - like painting walls white (you can’t really get it that wrong) or, say, hanging up picture frames.

But at other times, it really does pay to get the builder, plumber, electrician or decorator in. Cutting corners is a total false economy so even if a job’s initial quote sounds pricey, it’ll still be far less than you making a mistake and then having to pay twice the money to get it fixed again.

Before you take this route get several quotes from tradesman and ask around for recommendations so you don’t end up being ripped-off by a dodgy builder.

Update your outdoor space

Although we spend most of our lives inside the house, making sure it looks nice from the exterior will make a big difference. Instead of painting all the walls and replacing the windows, you can make small changes such as painting just the front door.

Window boxes and hanging baskets also help reinvent your living space and these can easily be sourced from a local hardware store. When filling them, check your local council’s website as most will have gardening schemes where you can buy essentials such as compost at a greatly reduced price.

Buy and sell second hand

There are lots of websites around for clearing our your stuff (before you start) and buying new stuff (to fill you’re decorated rooms).

Ebay, Freecycle, Gumtree and Snaffle Up are all worth visiting but make sure you check any listing or collecting fees before agreeing to a transaction.

Charity shops are also worth a visit and some specialise in second-hand and refurbished furniture. Try and visit these early and during the week (if possible) to secure the best bargains and don’t be tempted by a cheap price. If something is beyond repair – or you’ll never get around to re-upholstering it – it’s not worth buying.

Got any tips of your own? Please share them other readers using the comments box below!

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