Frugal DIY: sprucing up without spending a fortune

frugal diy, budget diy, saving moneyOur new lodger arrives next weekend so we are doing a bit of frugal DIY to brighten her room.

When walls start to collect marks and the paintwork is chipped it is tempting to redecorate. This can cost so much, however – not to mention the investment of your precious time.

Frugal DIY with your paintbrush

Assuming your walls and ceilings are sound, all you really need to smarten up a room is a quick paint job. A refresh of the woodwork by itself can make a noticeable difference. Gleaming white doors and skirting boards make a room look clean and attractive.

Light coloured, plain painted walls provide a neutral backdrop. We are painting all of the walls cream apart a feature wall with patterned paper. This is there already and is good enough to stay.

frugal diy, budget diy, saving moneyYour colour scheme can be changed any time with the addition of some cheap but colourful soft furnishings. We will be popping down to B&M to look at some of these. I would make my own, but frankly have neither the time nor the talent!

If you do have wallpaper, it is a good idea to keep a roll or two safe somewhere to make repairs where necessary. There were a couple of areas where small sections of paper had started to come away. Because the damage was so minimal, we sorted these out with a glue stick.

We have found that buying really cheap paint and brushes is a false economy. You end up having to apply more coats of the stuff and picking bristles off as the brushes disintegrate!

Own brands

We like Homebase’s own range of paint and brushes. They are cheaper than branded products but just as good quality.  For the woodwork we chose their one coat brilliant white gloss and classic cream emulsion for the walls. Perfect for our frugal DIY efforts.

I won’t have time to clean the carpet and cannot afford to replace it, so a nice fluffy rug from B&M will add a touch of glamour to the floor. I think these are excellent value at £14.99.

The last major DIY we did was this transformation. It took ages! At least this is a quick fix.

Do you have any ideas for frugal DIY? Where do you find home decor bargains?

And finally …

We finally put the finishing touches on our little second sitting room at the weekend. I am really pleased with it. It is clean, bright and feels so much warmer. 

I still need to complete the downstairs loo. I am going to try to make time to do a bit on Saturday morning, continuing my little and often approach to life! 

We also spent a lot of Sunday weeding and tidying the front garden on Sunday. It was a beautiful sunny autumn day and great to get out in the fresh air. It is looking a bit smarter now but there is still so much to do. I want to make it much more low maintenance so I am planting shrubs and grasses and mulching with shredded bark to keep the weeds down. 

I will do a few hours whenever I can to get it tidy for winter. We will get there …

Blood, sweat and tears

You wouldn’t believe the amount of work that went into making this:

…look like this:

Just a plain little cream room. It looks as if we have simply applied a bit of paint when in fact we had to sort the electrics, rip off and replace the skirting boards, pull off the old paper , paint the woodwork and ceiling and, the bit that took all the time, put up the thermal lining paper. The best part was painting the walls at the end! 

I need to get the curtains and thermal linings and some suitable curtain poles. Mr S will put these up and the shelves will go back on the walls. Then we can advertise for the lodger. 

This is what the cats did to the last lot of wallpaper. If this happens again I swear I will cry! We are going to put some plastic panels on the walls to protect them, and in the meantime have piled some paint pots against the corners they like to scratch.


We still haven’t finished the toilet. We thought we would and could have done it today but we really needed a day out before going back to work tomorrow. Will report back on that! 

I hope you had a lovely bank holiday if you are in England. Back to reality and work tomorrow 😀.

Slowly but surely on our DIY journey

We are making slow but steady progress decorating the lodger’s sitting room and downstairs loo. It has been exhausting in the heat this week. 

I finally started papering the walls yesterday whilst Mr S fitted the new skirting boards. The papering is taking ages and is so hard to do! I am using a thick thermal wall covering. It is great when you have a flat wall with nothing to cut around. However, I started with the loo – a tiny room with toilet, sink and lots of pipe work. What a nightmare! You cannot cut the paper to shape in situ as you usually would. This stuff bends, creases and breaks if you attempt that. You have to measure every obstacle and cut it too shape before you stick it to the wall! No mean feat. I would have ripped my hair out if it wasn’t covered in wallpaper paste!

Add to that the feeling of working in a small oven due to the heatwave and you get the picture!

Before…

…and after!

On the plus side it really covers all the lumps and bumps and the walls in there are really terrible. The improvement is remarkable. I still have a bit to finish today then I can get on with the big room, which should be a lot easier and Mr S will be able to help me today. 

Hopefully when the winter comes we will reap the rewards of our hard work with warmer rooms and no mould. 

We were so exhausted at the end of the day that Mr S treated us both to fish and chips with a huge mug of tea. I needed it. Back to the grind now. We will get there!

Spring has sprung!

imageSpring has sprung! All the windows are open at Shoestring Cottage, the sun is streaming in and the washing is on the line. I love being able to get the laundry outside rather than having it drying all round the house. Isn’t it amazing how a bit of sunshine can lift your mood?

imageWe moved the newly refurbished dresser out of Mr Shoestring’s workshop and into the kitchen this morning. It makes the decor look even more tatty. I hope to get some painting done but we have two language students coming over the next month so we will need to wait for a clear spell before we create mayhem and upheaval!

imageThere is so much to do in the garden. I will drag Mr S out there tomorrow and get cracking, although I think the forecast is for rain at some point. My bulbs are looking promising. I can’t wait to see their lovely colour.

Once all the cleaning is done today I intend to get back in the gym. I have been coughing all week so didn’t get to work out as much as I had hoped but I am feeling refreshed and energised by the fantastic weather.

Here’s hoping you are having a bit of sun wherever you are this weekend.

Let’s get physical! Again …

 

 

imageI was so proud of myself this morning – up and straight in the new gym. I was shocked to realise how unfit I am at the moment. Now that I have a mini gym in the house hopefully I will build up my strength again. I am flexible as a yoga teacher but strength is important as well.

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imageMr S was flexing his muscles as well last night. He jemmied out the big ugly breakfast bar that was in the kitchen ready for us to decorate. The space seems so much bigger! The newly refurbished dresser will fit against the wall now.

I have sold five things on eBay this weekend and have several others listed. I am also still buying items for a song where I can and reselling them. Hopefully I can start to build a regular extra I come doing this, although it does, of course, all take time.

So busy as usual. Any exercise or DIY for your weekend?

Vegetable bake and a good day’s work

Before...dirty and rather tatty
Before…dirty and rather tatty

I had the day off today to start the refurbishment of an old dresser. My parents had it made in the seventies and gave it to me when I bought my first house. Back then honey-coloured pine was all the rage – I remember this dresser in the family kitchen with its matching table and benches. At some point I painted it blue, but for the past 3 years it has been at the back of Mr Shoestring’s workshop gathering dust.

 

It is a cute little dresser and is the first part of our planned redecoration (on a shoestring, of course) of our kitchen – Mr S is going to remove the ugly breakfast bar to make space. We chose a chalk finish pale green. Today I sanded it, washed it thoroughly and applied the first coat. It is looking very encouraging so far! Hopefully I will get the final coat on tomorrow and will wax it over the weekend.

Mid transformation!

Mid transformation!

Because I knew I probably wouldn’t fancy cooking when I got in, I prepared the dinner before I went, a very simple veggie bake based on Delia’s  Leek, Carrot and Potato Pie which features in my original copy of Frugal Food. It was perfect after my day freezing in the workshop – warming and comforting. I used tinned potatoes to save time – they are 15p in Aldi and I couldn’t buy fresh for less – and also a packet of bechamel sauce that cost 10p from Approved Food. Half of the leeks were from the garden – the last of them – and the other half came from Aldi this morning from their Super Six range and cost 59p.

200g carrots, chopped ( I don’t bother peeling them)
2 x 420g tins of potatoes
50g butter
100g mushrooms
500g leeks, washed and chopped
1 small onion
1/2 pint white sauce
150g cheddar, grated
2 tbsp breadcrumbs, made by whizzing up half a crust of bread with my hand blender
2 pinches cayenne pepper

veggie bakeCook the carrots in boiling water until cooked but still al dente. Sweat the leeks, onion and mushrooms in some butter until soft. Season well to taste. Drain the carrots, reserving 1/4 pint of water to make up the sauce, then follow the instructions on the packet but replace half the suggested milk with this water (or make a bechamel from scratch so that it can be gluten free if necessary). Slice the potatoes. Arrange the vegetables in layers in a deep casserole dish, finishing with a layer of potatoes, seasoning as you go. Combine the breadcrumbs with the cheese and cayenne and sprinkle on the top. Bake in a medium oven (180C) for about 40 minutes until the topping is golden brown. Serve with a green vegetable and enjoy!tinned spuds

The girls complained at the lack of meat, but since they both presented me with clean plates I don’t think they suffered too much 🙂

Making extra money

Our nice French student went home today. He was a lovely guest and it was a real pleasure to have him. We make so many friends and find out about different cultures by hosting foreign students. It is a very enjoyable way to make extra cash and I recommend it if you have a language school nearby.

I am hoping it is a busy year for students as it helps so much with our finances.

This weekend will include a tour of the charity shops. As DD3 has had no luck finding a part time job to fit around college we thought we would search for bargains to resell on Depop to make her a bit of cash. I am stunned at what you can flog at quite high prices if it can be classed as vintage! We may not be able to get going properly on this until the boot sale season begins. Wish I had kept some of my ugly 80’s clothes!!

More cupboard decluttering is required now; I am starting on repainting the dresser for my kitchen this week and then will repaint the kitchen itself. I want the kitchen as ordered as possible before the chaos starts.

Any interesting plans for the weekend?

 

 

Everybody needs a Mr Shoestring!

King of the world!

King of the world!

image

Poor Mr S is in an exhausted heap on the sofa. I think the week up on the roof in the cold wind sorting out the leaks has taken its toll. It was in a pretty poor state. I guess the whole thing will need serious work at some point, but this repair should last a few years.

There were some serious holes. On one side all of the concrete seal where the roof meets the gully had perished and some of the tiles had slipped and were broken.

imageimageHe had to drive round Essex to source tiles to match, get the scaffold up, clean all the moss and broken concrete off, cut the tiles and fit them, then concrete them into place. Not to mention running up and down the ladder and having to conquer his fear that he might fall off or go through the roof! What a hero!

All sealed up and water tight

All sealed up and water tight

He had a good view of the garden while he was up there too.

It has rained a couple of times in the last few days and no leaks!!

 

 

Sometimes you just need a break

We had intended to continue with the decorating yesterday but neither of us could face another day of it. The house was covered with dust and grime, there was laundry everywhere that I couldn’t get outside to dry because of the wet weather and the general cleaning hadn’t been done either. We decided to start afresh next weekend.

Instead I spent the morning giving the place a quick going over and organising myself for the coming week. I feel so much better when I am in control and on top of things!

We took a drive to Brightlingsea in the afternoon and had a walk. It was very windy and certainly blew the cobwebs and decorating dust away. Sometimes the simplest things can make a difference and we felt much better for some fresh air and a change of scenery.

I have bought very little of anything

Getting blown away in Brightlingsea!

Getting blown away in Brightlingsea!

this month, although I have spent quite a lot of money on paint! About £100 I reckon but that’s not much to spend to decorate a room. I am currently saving my pennies towards a carpet to complete the job.

If you have any advice on the best place to get a bargain throw it my way :-).