Budget DIY: Home is Where the Heart is


We love our house. We sometimes sit at the bottom of our large, slightly unkempt garden and feel so happy and fortunate to have a place to call our own. Except that most of it belongs to the bank!!! We would love to be free of the mortgage, but the reality is that is not going to happen any time soon. The aim of our scrimping and saving is to make the mortgage payments every month in order to stay here. So, we am in the same boat as many people and far luckier than others.

Budget DIY

It’s no castle, just a modest ex local authority semi. These houses were solidly built with big gardens and lots of space around them so we aren’t overlooked and it is very quiet and friendly. Unfortunately for us, the previous owners were of the bodge it and hope for the best school of DIY. They painted just the side of the door you could see and also around furniture, which was something of a surprise once their furniture had been removed! They used bits of old rough plank for skirting boards, the bath was broken and the boiler didn’t work. The kitchen was fitted by someone with a sense of humour and no spirit level. The whole place needs work.

We had a little spare cash to use on decorating when we moved in a couple of years ago, but by the time we had paid for the new boiler, there was no money left for fancy wallpaper, plasterers or new carpets, so my partner and I have had to be creative! It is definitely a work in progress and budget DIY is the name of the game.

Making the best of what you have

In truth it isn’t about having a house suitable to grace the pages of Ideal Home magazine. It is about making the best of what you have. I buy solid bits of furniture from charity shops and eBay, then paint them to suit my décor. I have curtains, bedding and kitchen equipment from Freecycle. Most of my crockery is old and mismatched but I have a lovely old fashioned 1920s Royal Doulton set that my Mum picked up for a song from an auction that I bring out when I have people round.

I am lucky to have a partner to help me who understands the make do and mend philosophy. He rarely throws anything away that might come in handy, mends saucepans with broken handles, used bathroom sealant to repair the hole in my watering can (1 year on and it’s still going strong) and didn’t laugh when I potted up my daffodils in my old leaking wellies.

A shoestring revamp

My next challenge is to revamp the hallway without spending any money. We probably have enough gloss in the shed for most of the woodwork. The current wallpaper will have to stay so the walls can just be painted. The ceiling will need some work as there are signs of an old water leak, and inexplicably half of the skirting boards have been removed so they will need to be replaced.

The stairs are currently painted a migraine inducing red. I can’t afford new carpet at the moment so will keep an eye on Freecycle to see if anything comes up that could be used. I already have a pair of cream linen curtains in place that came from Freecycle four years ago and are still good. I have a few pictures for the walls and will add some family photo montages.
It will be a labour of love. Watch this space…