A few years ago, I was working as an interior design assistant for a small but well established company who created interior schemes for the rich and affluent. The shop was one of those places that took your breath away when you entered it. Longer than it was wide, it was almost a corridor with a huge wooden table in the centre and shelving spanning both sides. Dark grey walls created an intimate vibe, and an enormous crystal chandelier hung low over the table. The shelves were absolutely crammed full of books containing beautiful collections of wallpapers and fabrics, some cutting edge and some many years old, that the owner just couldn’t bear to part with. The shop had been there for 36 long years, and I’m sure some of the dog eared, dust covered books were almost as old. It was haphazard and a hoarder’s dream, but had such charm and character, it never failed to draw you in.
This shop has a similar feel – photo Google images
Clients visited the shop to choose designer wallpapers, fabrics and floor-coverings from the plethora we had available, delving deep into their pockets to pay the sometimes extortionate prices for not only the privilege of our time and expertise, but also for the designer labels.
Now, don’t be mistaken, I believe there is definitely something exceptional and personal about bespoke products made just for you and for the helpful knowledge of an interior designer. I certainly took advantage of the trade price deal I had whilst working there, ordering cushions, curtains and a headboard made from beautiful materials from Casamance, Andrew Martin and Designers Guild. But these high end items are out of reach for so many of us – how does the average person create a beautiful interior on a budget?
Casamance has a sumptuous range of fabrics and wallcoverings
At the time I thought this was the ONLY way to achieve a stylish and sleek home interior – bespoke and high end. Surely my decorating budget which stretched only to high street buys, with the occasional splurge on a more expensive find, couldn’t get me the interior I desired for my own home? How wrong I was.
Since being made redundant from my job when the owner left those premises to set up shop in her own back yard, I have learned a lot, and a lot has changed.
High street home departments have become savvy to how large the home decor market has become. They understand our need to create a home which makes us happy, which we are excited to welcome guests into, and that is comfortable and personal to our tastes. They are aware of the current and future trends, and are all offering fantastic products which are affordable to us interiors enthusiasts. Some of my favourite places to shop are Sainsbury’s, H&M, Homesense, Flying Tiger, Ikea and Matalan, and if you take the time to really search for hidden gems, you will find you can create the interior you desire, without having to eat into your weekly food shopping budget!
I love my macrame mirror, speckled jar and spotty vase from H&M Home
To add to this, there are so many small businesses, with fantastically creative and well-designed products, which can add that je n’ais se quoi to your interior, to make it original and world’s apart from Mary’s next door.
I like to shop small and you can find unique products, such as this mud pot from ‘The Little Deer’
Here are some of my other tips for keeping costs down when designing your home.
Use trade paint shops to mix up colours from more expensive brand colour charts. This can make a huge saving, and personally I find the quality of the paint to be fantastic.
Go for the minimalist approach to decorating. This will save you money – why spend lots on clutter, when a few stylish, stand out items are all that is needed. Plus it means less cleaning time!
This beautiful space from Instagram page @half.done.houses shows that simple doesn’t have to be boring
Keep to a simple and cohesive colour palette throughout your home. This way, you can shop your home when you fancy a change – just play around with your accessories and move and arrange them in a different space.
A coordinated colour scheme throughout your home makes it easy to alternate accessories to create a fresh look. Photo credit Pinterest
Up-cycle. Buy from eBay, Gumtree, or charity shops and get creative with paint or inexpensive fabric to transform a pre-loved item, whilst making it your own.
Gemma from Instagram interiors account @caffeineandcacti used paint to successfully transform this second hand chest of drawers she purchased from Gumtree
Instead of wallpaper, choose self-adhesive wall decals to cheaply and easily transform a bare wall into something eye-catching. They are also easy to remove should you want a different look in the future.
I added triangle wall decals to my daughter Molly’s plain white bedroom wall
Shop around. If you find an item you love that is out of your price range, keep looking. I found a round mirror that was perfect for my dining room, but rather pricey, and just through a bit of investigation, I found exactly the same product on another website for half the price.
Do it yourself. Have a go at some DIY. You may not be the best painter, or seamstress, but there’s online tutorials for just about every craft. Take a moment, conjure up some self confidence and have a go. What’s the worst that can happen and you may just save yourself a small fortune. My husband happens to be a dab hand at DIY, and we have saved thousands on our home renovation through his ability to turn his hand to most DIY projects. This isn’t the case for everyone I know, but have a go at painting a wall, making curtains, creating artwork. You might just find you’re more able than you thought!
Until next time.