Five frugal things for a budget lounge revamp

Five frugal things….

Five frugal things I have mentioned in previous blog posts that we have been carrying out a bit of budget DIY. Not surprisingly my five frugal things this week are all related to this!

I am not a fan of DIY. It’s not the process, but the time it takes. The mess and disarray start to make me twitch after a while.  But we are getting there.


Because we live in a cold house we take every opportunity to heat it up. We have lined the exterior walls with polystyrene, then papered over the top. This is an old fashioned yet simple idea to create an extra layer of insulation. It really works!

We did the same trick with our freezing cold back room last year and the results have been amazing.

I won’t lie to you, it is a faff. It means papering the same walls twice. The polystyrene is quite delicate and easy to damage too, but ok once the wallpaper is on top.

Reflecting the heat

Another very effective way to keep your house warm is to slide some reflective foil behind the radiators. We have done this in the sitting room too.

This was tricky as we didn’t want to take the radiator off the wall but we managed it with the help of some canes from the garden. (And quite a lot of swearing on my part!) So that is the first of my five frugal things.

New to us curtains

five frugal thingsMy mum is insisting on buying us some new curtains. I would rather buy great quality second hand ones than inferior new.

There are some great pre-owned curtains on eBay, and I have purchased a beautiful pair. They are long Marks and Spencer curtains and look like excellent quality.

Adding a bit of colour

We turned to eBay again to add a little colour to our neutral colour scheme. I would love some original Art Deco tiles to put around the fireplace but they are such a price!

five frugal thingsI had a search on eBay and there was a guy selling some decent reproductions. They were much cheaper than we have seen elsewhere.

I will leave the tiling to Mr S though. He is the expert in that department.

Bargain paint

We popped in Homebase to get some cream paint. We like their own brand range. It is much cheaper than the branded stuff and the quality is very good.

However, this time we bought some Dulux. It was massively reduced so it was actually the cheapest. I think it must have been end of line. We bought two 5 litre pots for just £14 each, reduced from £26. It is called barley white, which is still cream, as I can see! Bargain!!

Frugal food

I guess this is number six in my five frugal things list, but who’s counting? I have saved us some money since we started our DIY by planning really easy dinners, like omelettes and jacket spuds.  On days we have been on the go all day I have also defrosted some of the veggie curry I batch cooked.

Usually, when we are doing DIY we cave in at the end of the day and grab fish and chips or a takeaway. Not this time!

We still have a little way to go as we only have one day a week to get on with it. However, we are winning.

So, these are this week’s five frugal things. I would love to hear about yours.

I’m linking up with Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s Five Frugal Things I’ve done this week linky. Pop on over to add your link if you are a blogger, or just to check out how other people save money.


24 thoughts on “Five frugal things for a budget lounge revamp

  1. Yes, it’s better to buy quality items 2nd (or many-hand as in the case of genuine antiques) than interior new, Jane. How I agree with that!
    One thing concerns me, though: the polystyrene lining on the walls. Wouldn’t this make the walls more flammable in the event of a fire? Just a thought. I’m only asking, not saying that it does make the walls more flammable, but it’s something I would look into before lining the walls with polystyrene.
    I LOVE those tiles! They are GORGEOUS! Yes, they will add a splash of colour. Ooh, your sitting room is going to look lovely.
    We – well, husband, I mean – have always be DIY-ers. We simply couldn’t have afforded to have people in to do all the things my husband has done over the years (including building a room on in our previous home.) He’s done all the maintenance, all the decorating, the building of the garden and the gardening, the building of our summerhouse, constructing (from his own designs) bookcases and bookshelves, and a lovely wardrobe in our guest room. He must’ve saved us zillions over the past 53 years and still he does all the decorating. The only things we’ve had to get someone in to do is some electrical work, and painting the gable end wall r our house – I don’t want husband going up a ladder any more now he’s in his 80s, although he’s fitter than many chaps 20 years his junior. But I accept that it often takes longer when you do it yourself, but IF you are able to do it yourself, there is also the satisfaction of a job well done.
    Margaret P

  2. I dislike all the hassle and upheaval with decorating too, but once we have a plan and deadline in mind I just want to crack on and get it done.
    Which is why I’m finding it particularly frustrating that in the 3-4 weeks since second son moved into 3rd son’s room so we could gut his, I’m the only one who has actually done any work on it – in spare moments between all my other daily duties, while the (retired) hubby surfs the net!!
    3rd son will be home from Uni for Easter in just over a month and won’t have anywhere to sleep at this rate!
    It’ll be nice when it’s done though – I hope! We painted DS3’s room before Christmas, going for a light grey on the walls, but it looks more of a disappointing pale blue to my eyes! 🙁

  3. Decorating does take time, especially if you want what I call a ‘proper’ job and not just a smartening-up lick of paint. When we ‘did’ our sitting room, hall, staircase and landing in 2002 it took from May to September! But the end result was worth it. Husband changed all the doors from those awful plain brown monstrosities from the 1980s to panelled doors which we painted (four coats either side) and all new brass door furniture. There were nine doors to replace (we didn’t replace the small glass paned kitchen door), a lot of fitting and painting. He also replaced all the skirting boards in these rooms and also took the staircase balustrade apart and painted every post separately before putting it all back together. But having made a good job of all this (I’m not boasting, just telling it how it is) the rooms have looked good for the past 16 years. So always do the very best you can – if it takes s a bit longer and you have muddle for several weeks rather than just a long weekend, it will be worth it, believe me. It was a muddle here for four to five months, but as I say, the result was worth it.

      • He actually enjoys it, Jane (really!) He was an engineer (a mechanical engineer in the electronics industry) in his working life and takes pride in his work, whether it’s painting or making something for our home, such as all our bookcases and the wardrobe in our guest bedroom. I really do appreciate having a husband who is actually good at such things, mending, building, decorating, and so forth. As I say, he must’ve saved us zillions over the past 53 years.
        Margaret P

  4. Jane, good on you with your decorating. It’s been decades since I sanded, painted, scraped wallpaper, hung wallpaper, made curtains. I remember what a mammoth job it was, but so rewarding really, especially when finished. It’s more of a home when there is more of oneself in it.

  5. Oh ye gods after talking to a fireman friend new polystyrene is no better than the old!. Fire wont get you wont drip fite,
    but breath in twice and fumes will!. Stripp it out!.

  6. Oh ye gods after talking to a fireman friend new polystyrene is no better than the old!. Fire wont get you wont drip fite,
    but breath in twice and fumes will!. Stripp it out!. Better to be cold !. Also said you can not sell a house legally now with polystyrene roofs or walls!.

    • I’m sure this isn’t the case. We did a bit of internet research before we used it the first time including a discussion on a fire safety forum which suggested it contained a lot of fire retardant material and is probably no more flammable than most of the other contents of a room. I can’t see that reputable companies like Homebase and B&Q would sell it if it was illegal. I know the old polystyrene ceiling tiles were terrible but I am pretty confident that this is safe. It’s only on the external wall too and makes a huge difference. It stops the terrible condensation and mould we struggled with before. I don’t feel like it is any more risky than the foam in the furniture to be honest, Kirrie. Hopefully we will never need to put it to the test though!

  7. Jane to put your mind at rest phone your local fire station, they will do escape route plans from every room!. Put up fire and carbon dioxide alarms in every room free!. I had mine done!. They even put in a rope ladder as my bedroom is over the conservatory.!. Bit of peace of mind!.

    • Actually looked at that fire safety forum again and found this about tiles and rolls of polystyrene. We have used the recommended paste and sealed with emulsion so I am not worried: Polystyrene tiles and roles are now produced with a fire retardant additive and have been tested by the Home Office and Fire Safety Agencies and are deemed safe and not a fire hazard.

      But they must put up using the correct adhesive (wall paper paste is suitable) and the whole tile or whole sheet must be covered with the adhesive (do not just use the old 5 spots method) so that the complete surface is stuck to the ceiling.

      Also the tiles must not be painted with gloss paint which will cause them to be flammable, they should only be painted with emulsion or fire retardant paint.

      So, the “new” (this has been the case for several years) style polystyrene tiles are SAFE.
      Phew! I did think it was ok.

      • When my dad self built an attic conversion in the 1970s with bedrooms for my brother and I, he used polystyrene tiling on the roof! He was so cross when the first thing we did was stand on a chest of drawers and poke smiley faces in them! 😀 😮

  8. Totally agree about buying quality second hand rather than inferior new!

    Thanks so much for joining in with us this week – I loved reading about your frugal week x x

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