Beautify Your Home on a Budget

Spiderweb door
This door in Montmartre Paris could disclose a delightful domicile or a hideous hovel. Do you dread turning your door handle?

Do you look about your domicile and feel depressed?

Do you wish for a little more pizzazz in your parlour, or colour in your kitchen?

“Absolutely!” I hear you cry…”but I lack the funds to reinvigorate my residence.”

Well despair no more dear reader.

I will be unfolding on a regular basis some simple designer tricks that any savvy person on a limited budget may consider to transform their home from “hum-drum” to “YUM!”

Having had 5 kids on a single income but longing for a more luxurious lifestyle than the old purse could stretch to I have learnt many tricks that can give your place a great look without having to employ designers and fork out fabulous sums for light fittings and designer furniture.

pearlware plate
No sooner had I arrived at the Oxford Antique Fair when I secured this 18th century chestnut basket dish for a mere two pounds. You don’t have to go to Oxford to find something lovely though!

Having been fortunate to spend substantial time in France and Japan I have picked up a number of ideas that came in handy around the home and helped me to transform a bland 1980s house with low ceilings and exposed brick walls into a quirky residence that is fun and friendly. I have amassed a great knowledge of antiques, design and decorative styles over my 47 years that has given me an appreciation of the potential of objects around the home to make a positive space that you can enjoy without necessarily spending a fortune. It has also taught me that your “style” is what you will love and enjoy. Be it spartan or sumptuous there is a chance for anyone to live as they like.

So where do you start?

Tip 1: Don’t worry about what you don’t have, look at what you have got.

Turkish tiles
We use these affordable turkish tiles every day to place our oil containers on. I love the designs and colours.

Most of use get to the place where we are a little stuck with what we have. Things seem to “live” in certain spots and, as we pick up things on life’s journey, the space gets added to but not rearranged necessarily. You may already have a number of things lying around in cupboards and corners that would actually be perfect in another place or used in a different way. If you are on a budget the first thing to do is to assess what you have (please don’t think “I only have junk”). Junk can be amazing if you use it well.

hand made green glasses
A close up view of some hand made glasses transforms them into strange amorphous forms. Many wonderful modern design items are found in thrift stores for a song.

So why not take the time this week to really look around you as you move about your soon to be “bijoux residence” and ask yourself, “What here do I really like or could not do without?” If you like making lists write down 10 to 15 items that you really want to keep and enjoy. If you don’t like lists, just spend a week admiring the things you really like. If you hate everything then wait and see if later posts help you to look at things in a different way.

Next Week: How to get started on turning a room from “squat” to “hot”!



  1. Fabulous post, TJ!! Thanks for encouraging folks that style is “not about the money”. I’ve always been in the low-income bracket, and lived in small apartments–I like things that way πŸ™‚ I enjoy rearranging furniture and items–and feel that my place conveys hominess and a contented soul. Can’t thank you enough for reminding me that I have 2 thrift stores not far from me–and there may be colored glass pieces or odd china just waiting for me to scoop up. I dislike the term “shabby chic”, as it reflects an unlovely attitude, I believe. There are treasures to be found in linens and glass/dishware that people have given to charity–and it doesn’t take a genius to combine them attractively…according to the homemaker’s taste, not to impress guests πŸ™‚ Last February I purchased a 3-drawer chest online, advertised as “distressed”–a decorating term which amuses me, since I’m usually “delighted”. Anyway, this piece has a reddish drawer, a teal-green one, and one that’s kind of “antique cream” (the top is distressed brown, the rest is what I’d call “charcoal”). Because I always need more book space, I stacked a number of volumes on top–a red Bible and green concordance among them. I added a cut glass (clear) salad bowl filled with large pine cones–and truly it all looks as impressive as what I’ve seen in pricey magazines. And here’s the best part: I have a 55-year old 5-drawer wood dresser (since I was ten!) that’s been painted and repainted dozens of times–the last was when “antiqued blue” was in style. Talk about “distressed”, it certainly is–but it fits perfectly with the new piece, as though it was waiting for its soul mate πŸ™‚ I love the 3-drawer chest so much, that I’m going to buy a companion piece next–same style and coloring, a 2-door cabinet! And the price has dropped significantly–yeah baby! I love the company that manufactures these items–good workmanship, decent prices, and they’re delivered with no assembly necessary (a must, since Mr Perfect-Invisible is not especially handy πŸ™‚ ) I’ve now used up all your commenters’ space, so edit if you need to πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh ahh! You already sound like an accomplished interior designer. I love the sound of your drawers. I love “distressed”, it goes with my personality πŸ™‚ :). A few well chosen books and natural element with the pine cones. Who needs upmarket shops with their upmarket prices! I hope the cabinet is still going down in price!


      1. Distressed personality–I’m not laughing at you, but with you πŸ™‚ You’ve really inspired me to go visit the thrift shops next month–I haven’t been in years, so I’m excited to see what I’ll find.

        Liked by 1 person

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