On A Budget – 8 Cheap Ways To Jazz Up Your Living Room

So you’re a student,  live in a rented house, have a small budget or simply don’t have the time and energy to completely redecorate. Well the good news is that there are a host of things that you can do to make your living room more exciting, cosier or more attractive that don’t involve pots of paint or wallpaper and paste, and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

1)      Throws – tired furniture? Or just want a change? Throws have long been the worn out sofa’s friend and there are masses of them available now in a huge variety of colours and patterns, and there is one to suit every budget. And the good news is that you don’t have to confine throws to covering your sofa – throws with ethnic designs and pictures look great pinned to the wall too and can really brighten a room.  Good places to find throws are markets, ethnic stores, department stores, discount shops, charity shops, head shops, craft markets and Internet sites like ebay.

2)      Cushions – everyone needs cushions. You can buy ones that match your throws and furniture, or ones that contrast with walls and curtains. But there are also a host of funky and fun cushions available now to suit every taste. You can go for pretty much any theme you like from vintage or romantic to dinosaurs or insects. The sky is literally the limit design wise. And if you are handy with a needle you can source vintage or unusual fabrics and make your own. You can even make them out of old sweaters! Check out craft markets, fabric stores, and all the usual places. Remnants are often the perfect size.

3)      Mirrors – a large mirror can make a small room seem bigger and lighter. A mirror placed over a fireplace or opposite a window can really open a room out.  Check out charity shops, auctions, antique markets and the sales.

4)      Lighting – a change in lighting can dramatically change the appearance of a room. Gone are the days when fairy lights were just for the Christmas tree. Fairy lights come in all manner of shapes and materials now (chili peppers, fluffy hearts, stars, moons, animals, wicker, paper lanterns  etc.). Drape them round mirrors or hang over the mantelpiece to give the room a cosy, homely feel.

5)      Lampshades –it’s amazing what effect on a room changing the lampshade can have. I always used to buy plain paper globes because they were cheap, but these days there is an abundance to choose from at reasonable prices. Look for retro designs in charity shops, second hand stalls and ebay. Also check out discount stores and the sales.

6)      Curtains – more expensive to replace that throws and cushions. If you are a competent seamstress you can buy some attractive fabric and make your own. If not keep your eyes open during the sales, or check out second hand shops, the small ads or ebay. Keep your window measurements in your wallet and you will never miss a bargain.

7)      Clear clutter – sounds silly but this can really change the atmosphere of a room. Put clutter into drawers or stacking boxes and just keep out key pieces.

8)      Rugs – tired or stained carpets? Rugs can hide a multitude of sins and can make a room feel more homely. Choose from contemporary geometric designs, more traditional Persian type designs or more crafty types – like rag rugs.  Keep a look at in sales, auctions and thrift shops.

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Sam Wright is freelance writer working for HGS Painting and Decorating

Baby Furniture Guide For Expectant Mothers

Being an Expectant mother can be a scary concept, it’s a bit of a mystery to new mothers what will happen once your baby is born, and it can be a very worrying time. Not just physically but financially too. Having a child can really tighten up you’re budget as you will be needing to buy all kinds of baby products and furniture!

So what do you need to get? Well, there are all kinds of things needed to keep baby happy but I’m only going to cover the 3 most important. First off you will be needing a place for the baby to sleep, a cot can be quite expensive and you don’t want to sacrifice quality for price as these things need to be of a high standard. The second thing would be a changing table, a changing table will be perfect for.. thats right, changing your babies nappy. These tables are designed specifically for preventing your child from rolling off. The third and final thing i’m going to talk about it the push chair. You need to be able to leave the house with your child so buying a pram is a necessity. Prams can be extremely expensive and if you’re on a budget it might be best to get one second hand. Check first that the pram has everything in order and that it isn’t broken as it is extremely important for it to be safe.

So there are the most important items to buy for your baby. Don’t forget the hoards of other things too such and baby toys and mattress protectors. Let me tell you, you’re in for a fun ride!

Making Your Garden Beautiful

I’ve come across quite a few friends who are either too lazy or say that they don’t have the time to maintain their garden. I find that gardening can be a nice and relaxing hobby, I think that most people believe that keeping up with the gardening is a difficult and time consuming process when it isn’t. It’s mainly about keeping a schedule and making sure you don’t let it fall out of neatness. The lawn doesn’t need to be mowed every day for instance, you can get away with leaving it a week or even cut the grass on a biweekly basis. It can be a bit of a nuisance when the garden is not symmetrical, it can also be pretty annoying when there are hard to reach areas.

I actually have some friends who hire people to do their lawn care for them, Yes I know it’s pretty lazy stuff, but when you haven’t got the time, you haven’t got the time. I think they use Lawnmaster.co.uk but there are a few others around to. They will treat your lawn to keep or make it look luscious and full. I’ve had it on occasion where my lawn will look patchy and a bit rough, this is because I have a dog. Unfortunately a dogs urine is very acidic to the grass and can actually cause it to die. There are ways to fix this with chemicals that help the grass grow and you can also put new seeds down to get the grass growing a bit thicker through there.

I think I might try and introduce my friends to gardening, show them how long it takes me and then they can see how much cheaper it can be to have a nice garden ready for those summer BBQ’s.


Traditional Wooden Furniture

Traditional wooden furniture can look great in the home, modern furniture doesn’t seem to last whereas the older stuff is much better built. Old wooden furniture is making a comeback these days with people adopting old pieces into their homes left right and centre.

I personally like old furniture, it has a warm and rustic feeling and can really make people feel at home. When your looking at a house full of new plastic and steel furniture it just makes you think that it’s cheap. I don’t really agree with the whole modern artsy styled homes, give me shabby chic anyday.

My own home is full of unusual old furniture that i’ve picked up over the years, some of it isn’t actually that old it’s just built in a traditional style. Take my washroom for example, I’ve got a traditional wooden clothes airer in there from a website called pulleymaid. It drys my clothes on a pulley system that just looks brilliant, I can hike it up to the ceiling so that it doesn’t get in the way of anything and I think it just works extremely well.


So if you’re into traditional furniture and don’t have a tumble drier, why not pick up one of these examples of older styled clothes airers.

Getting Into The Construction Industry

Construction is an industry that features many talents and maybe you want your own talent to shine through.A Lot of the construction taking place in the UK today is for energy efficient homes. New homes are being built every day and aim to reduce carbon emissions drastically. Some of these ventures don’t just feature new builds, its also about re-modelling and retrofitting. So how do you get yourself a job within the construction industry?

Construction jobs do require a certain amount of skill, but not all of them require degrees or training besides basic construction qualifications or apprenticeships. What you have to look at is whether you want to take specialized construction training, this will most definitely improve your chances of landing a job and might be necessary in some fields. You have to take a look at what position you are going to be looking for, there are quite a few to choose from, here are just a few entry level positions:-

Insulation Installer

Home Improvement retrofitters

Construction Manager




You can take a look into the details of these positions and see if you want to take training any further.

So thats my little piece on getting into the construction industry. I hope that it helps you in your future endeavours.

Lowering Your Expense On A Home Redesign

Designing and moulding your home into your dream house can be very time consuming and expensive. Are there ways to avoid spending too much money? How can you complete your vision without going overboard? Well, here are a few tips to help.


Planning is key, adding up the prices of the labour, the paint, the decorations the furniture and the carpet BEFORE you buy is what you have to do. This will make sure that you know exactly what you are spending and that you can make room for overheads. Going overboard is one of the main problems of having work done on your property. Putting things in place to stop that are key.


Creating a budget is very important, but sticking to it is the hard part. See if you can create a separate bank account for your outgoings, this will give you a clear picture of how much money to spend and you will be reluctant to put more in. This will hopefully limit you to to your original spend and keep you going over.

Hiring The Right People

Hiring the right people for the job is something that needs to be looked after carefully. We don’t want you ending up with some cowboys doing a terrible job and then running off with your money.

There are many professionals to choose from, make sure they don’t ask for money upfront because people with a good record with their supplier can gain the materials and pay them back after a job is completed.

Buying Second Hand

Buying second hand is usually frowned upon because people want something that is their own. But second hand furniture can really be rewarding. Just look at some second hand home furniture, see if you can make it your own by sanding it down or upholstering it. There are many ways to personalise second hand goods.

So there you have it, these are just a few ways of saving money on having work done on the house.

Buying Second Hand Furniture in the UK

Second hand furniture is furniture which has been previously owned and usually previously used. Many people choose to buy secondhand furniture for their homes for a number of different reasons. There are many benefits to buying secondhand furniture over new furniture, including price, variety, style and uniqueness. Regardless of the reason for purchasing secondhand furniture, there are many places in the UK where you can find great pieces and great deals.

But first, let’s look at the reasons that you might want to buy secondhand furniture.


You may wish to buy secondhand furniture because you have a modest or limited income, but still require (or want) certain pieces for furniture for your home. Secondhand furniture can often be found with a great discount and often very limited drawback when it comes to quality. Experienced secondhand furniture shoppers often report finding secondhand furniture in almost new condition for half, or more, the retail price of the same furniture in new condition!

Furniture, especially good quality furniture, is notoriously expensive. However, we require furniture to store items in our home, to give us a place to sleep and sit, and so much more—this is why secondhand furniture is such a great choice, because you can purchase the furniture that you want without emptying your bank account. Let’s look at a few important furniture pieces and compare their prices new and used.

Blanket boxes are large boxes or chests which are primarily used for the storage of blankets, comforters and other bed linens. Blanket boxes are great ways to attractively store essential blankets and linens, but a sturdy good quality blanket box can be quite expensive. Although you can find cheap blanket boxes for around £70-80, these boxes are often made of inferior wood, particle board blends, and are not likely to withstand heavy usage or the test of time. A good quality blanket box will cost you around £400-500, without taxes. Unfortunately, this price is simply out of the range of many people’s budgets. Thankfully, blanket boxes of quality can be purchased secondhand for much more reasonable prices. Blanket boxes which cost about £400 new can be found for £100 – 200 used at online secondhand shops and marketplaces like Ebay and Vivastreet—if you’re an experienced secondhand bargain hunter, you can probably find an even better deal than this!

Variety, Style and Uniqueness

Another reason many people choose to purchase furniture secondhand is because there is a better chance of finding a wider variety and styles of items. Furniture stores which sell new furniture often sell the same types of pieces, sometimes factory made, over and over again. While these pieces may be of a good quality, they are often generic, boring, and overdone. Secondhand furniture can often be found in a much wider variety of styles because secondhand furniture comes from all over, not just one specific store.

Lounge furniture, primarily sofas, couches, chairs and other seating furniture often suffers from the aforementioned generic appearance. Many companies have one or two different styles of lounge and living room furniture, which may or may not be available in a few different colors, but that’s about it as far as style is concerned. Secondhand lounge furniture runs the style range from crazy retro 60s chairs to classy elegant modern tables, and there’s no limit to the amount of styles that secondhand lounge furniture comes in. This range of styles also applies to material and color. Secondhand furniture allows you to seek out truly interesting pieces which really suit your style, whether that piece is a secondhand blanket box or a secondhand lounge chair.

Who doesn’t love it when friends walk into your home, take a look at your furniture and say: “Wow!”? Secondhand furniture has the unique benefit of being able to be—well, unique! Because secondhand furniture can come from a wide variety of places, there’s no telling what you might be able to find. While your local furniture stores might sell the same-old same-old when it comes to home furniture, secondhand furniture you purchase might be from a store miles away, or even another country! You might find a homemade piece which no one else in the world has, or unique pieces which were locally made for only a few people.

For example, let’s talk about lamp tables. Lamp tables are tables which are primarily meant to sit in lounge rooms, dining rooms and offices and hold up table lamps. Lamp tables, at first thought ,may sound boring. In fact, the type of table that comes to mind is probably the generic four-legged wooden table which adds nothing to the décor of the room and is very easy to overlook. Secondhand lamp tables, however, can be found in such an amazing and unique range of styles that people won’t just be admiring your lamp—they’ll be admiring the table!

For example, you could just go to the local furniture shop and buy a generic lamp table for oh, £100 or so. The quality won’t be too bad, but nothing special either, and it is basically just a piece to rest your lamp on and forget about. Or, you could browse through a secondhand shop (online or not!) and find yourself unique retro bright orange velvet lamp tables from the 1970s which will pop in any lounge room or office space! And If bright orange candy retro velvet isn’t your style, you could always go for a secondhand Georgian style lamp tables, which add an impeccable touch of class to any room.

Buying secondhand furniture is a great choice, no matter your income. Whether you’re looking for a great deal on price or just something truly unique and fun to add to your home, don’t be afraid to pop into your local secondhand shop and take a look around.