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?

The power of warm curtains

Brrr, it’s cold out there! Well, it is by my standards…we only have a light snowfall and I know it’s much worse in other areas so I’m not really complaining. However it does feel much colder.

A cheap but thick pair of curtains can help keep in the heat

Last year the little room we used as a dining room (now our lodger lounge) was so cold we simply stopped going in there until the spring. For a small room there is a lot of glass: some old French doors that need replacing, a front door, a back door and a small window too. It got so cold and damp in the room there was mould around the windows and behind furniture.

Warm curtains really work

This morning it was really cosy. The curtains have made a huge difference. I bought quite cheap ones, £20 a pair, but they are a heavy cotton with thick linings. I had intended to buy some additional thermal linings but they aren’t really necessary.

The other measures we have taken to warm things up have helped too. Regular readers may remember the blood, sweat and tears that went into thermal lining the walls! We also put some insulated foil behind the radiator. But it is the curtains that make the biggest difference. I feel it if I forget to draw them each evening.

So if you can afford nothing else, a decent pair of thick, warm curtains or even a blanket up at a chilly window could make you feel much cosier and maybe even lower your heating bills.

I hope you aren’t under 3 feet of snow and keeping warm and cosy!

Frugal DIY: Shoestring Cottage presents …

Frugal DIY

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. Our frugal DIY efforts have paid off and it is ready for a lodger.

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!

A weed free gardenFrugal gardening too

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 …

Anyone else got the frugal DIY bug?

Frugal DIY (Blood, sweat and tears)

We are getting there with our frugal DIY efforts. 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!

We have managed to do this on a tiny budget – we are great at frugal DIY!

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 – although you may have been doing your own frugal DIY. Back to reality and work tomorrow 😀.

Frugal DIY: Slowly but surely gets the job done

frugal DIY - thermal lining paperWe 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!

frugal DIY

Before…

frugal DIY

…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!

 Frugal DIY: Project lodger

Frugal DIY with thermal wallpaper

Well, we would choose the hottest week of the year to decide on a bit of frugal DIY! Exhausted already but we need to get the rooms done so that we can advertise for a lodger.

So far we have removed all of the old wallpaper, repaired the walls, painted the ceilings and pulled off the rubbish old skirting boards. This prep time takes so long.

A work in progress

We need to make the room much warmer so have decided on thermal insulating wallpaper. We met a lady in B&Q as we were buying it. She said she had tried it and it worked well, but it was easily damaged once up and you only had to lean against it to leave a mark. I am worried about this now, but more about the cats scratching it up the moment it is in place! We are going to put protective Perspex near the back door as this is where they really like to scratch. However, there will be some time when it is drying and then when it is painted where there will be no protection. I will be very annoyed with them if they wreck it immediately!

If the wallpaper works it will be a proper bit of frugal DIY. It’s not expensive to buy and will save money on our heating bills, hopefully.

In other news

We are still eating from the fridge, freezer and larder. I have bought cat food, bread, ham and fruit this week but very little else. I am quite pleased that after a day doing DIY we haven’t given in to a ready meal or takeaway. It would’ve been so easy to do it.

Yesterday we had Quorn bolognese (not the best – I’m not a big fan of Quorn but it needed using up) and today we had Jamie’s Hit and Run Chicken Tray Bake, which has become a favourite (recipe here). Tomorrow will be omelettes and chips with a tomato salad  as they are now coming thick and fast in the greenhouse. Thursday will probably be chickpea curry.

I will eventually go shopping but as I spent a lot of money in B&Q today I will try to put it off for as long as I possibly can!

Making do and mend: the kitchen gets a make over at last!!

I am exhausted! We have spent the past three days painting and repairing our kitchen. In an ideal world we would replace it, and we are saving towards that. However, until we have the funds we will make do and mend. It all looks much fresher and cleaner.

I have been buying a few nick knacks over the past six months to create a colour scheme of green and pink and it is starting to come together. I bought a few more inexpensive bits on eBay this morning and I can’t wait to get them in place.

I couldn’t afford a blind for my huge window but I don’t really need one. I got some pretty bunting instead!

We had to wait until we were between language students to do it but now I hope we get offered another soon to go towards my savings.

A make do and mend inspiration

I am currently listening to the marvellous blogger Ilona from Life After Money on the Jeremy Vine show, hosted today by Vanessa Feltz. She is an inspiration, thrift personified, and certainly a fan of a make do and mend approach. She shows that you can have a good and happy life on very little money by being resourceful and creative with the funds she has. What more could any of us need?

Budget DIY 

In my dreams, my kitchen DOESN’T look like the one on the left, but rather is a serene green country cottage type affair, like the Flowerpot Cottage one.

Budget DIY

Our kitchen  looks ok at first glance, but when you live with it day to day you realise it was put together by a one eyed monkey who had lost his spirit level! I have made it a bit worse by splodging bits of paint testers here and there to see what might work. What would work would be to rip the whole darn thing out and start again, but sadly the Shoestring Cottage purse strings won’t run to that right now.

The one at Flower Pot Cottage is a beautiful kitchen – this is what I will have when I win the lottery….

If you have Instagram check out @flowerpotcottage on. She has the most fabulous house, the epitome of good taste. Hers is pretty much my dream kitchen.

Back in the real world, I am making plans for a frugal renovation of my kitchen that will involve some paint, repairs and a nice new blind. You can make a huge difference with a bit of budget DIY.

 

I will probably need to wait until after Christmas but in the meantime I will be collecting bargain accessories to get the look I want.

Any hints and tips? What is your advice for budget DIY on a shoestring?

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.

image

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?