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Home improvements and DIY on a budget

At this stage in our lives, most people I know are either only just stepping on to that first rung of the property ladder, or ploughing all of their disposable cash into savings in order to save for a deposit and realise their dreams of owning their own home.  For most people, when you do finally get the keys to your first home, you've probably been scrimping for the months preceding just to afford all of the many costs of moving, solicitor's fees, and everything else involved in finally being a homeowner, so the idea of having a big budget for doing DIY, decorating and buying furniture and accessories is something that is out of most people's reach.  When we moved into our house in 2011 we actually took out a slightly higher mortgage just to be able to afford to get some of the basics done, as there were things that came up in the survey that needed fixing immediately.  When I owned a flat prior to that I had about £100 to get everything I needed so I went on a huge Ikea spree and just accepted that I was just going to have to live with a £4 coffee table until I could afford something a bit better!

Luckily I think there is actually a lot you can do to make home improvements or undertake DIY on a fairly small budget.  Our latest project, for example, is that we recently redid our fireplace and mantelpiece in our living room.  Tom had the great idea of finding an old scaffold plank and renovating it to make it into a really unique mantelpiece to go above our new electric fire.  We went to our local salvage yard and there were absolutely tons there, mostly under £10.  Tom found one for £6, measured and cut it and then used the offcuts to make a support for the mantelpiece.  Here it is finished:

Mantelpiece Mantelpiece

Here are five more of my tips for home improvements or DIY if you're on a budget...

001. Check out 'hacks' sites where you can find ways to change up Ikea furniture or make budget versions of West Elm homewares (I am obsessed with West Elm at the moment, but so expensive...) I also love this Ikea Hacks for Spring post - so many things I want to try! 

002. Pick up magazines like Style At Home magazine for lots of budget ideas and home inspiration. Their website also has loads of tips, videos and house tours.

003. Find eBay bargains using the local eBay deals mapper to find things going cheaply, or listings ending near you with no bids.

004. Freecycle is also great for picking up local freebies that you can then upcycle.  Our local dump/household recycling centre also has a little shop where you can pick up things cheaply that were heading for the bin - check and see if yours also has this facility as it's a great place to find bargains.

005. Pick one thing that will make a big difference.  A feature wall of pretty wallpaper in a bedroom, or a gallery wall in a lounge, will make a big impact for a fairly minimal cost.  Invest money in one thing that will really make a room stand out rather than spending lots of money on little knick knacks that will fade into the background.  I love the wallpaper in our spare bedroom:

My house

... and the 'gallery wall' in our lounge...

My house

What are your budget decorating tips? If you're thinking of undertaking some home improvements and don't quite have the budget for them you could always check out the TSB Loan Calculator for a little extra help.

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