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Affordable Interiors: Chapter 1: To Paint or Not to Paint?

by - Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Home-making on a Budget
As you all know, (especially if you follow me on Instagram) P and I have just moved in together into a post-war house that hasn't seen a decorator in quite some time. We're slowly doing it up, and turning it into our home, but I've been thinking recently about where I'm getting my inspiration from. I'm an avid reader of Homes & Antiques Magazine, and if another home or garden glossy grabs my attention, I'll have my paws on that equally as fast!

Despite loving flicking through these magazines and being inspired by every single page, I also sit in envy reading about the renovations that have cost thousands, plus the occasional arm and leg. I've always felt a little sad when I see the prices, or the size of the homes that quite frankly, I can only dream of. It tends to make you wonder how people are able to afford all of this in such a tough economy.

And then it hit me.

I'm in the exciting process of homemaking, and although, yes, I'd love a bigger budget, and I'd love to not be renting, I've been making the most out of what we've got and at the moment, that's enough for me. I have to plan out each month what I can afford to spend on the house, and I've realised that I'm definitely not the only one here. So, I don't think it would be out of place (or unappreciated) to write about how I'm doing a home-makeover on a rather tight budget.

Yes, it's a slow process, but it does mean that I appreciate every little detail when I create something new, and I still have the time and freedom to change my ideas as we go along. So it's not all bad, it's just slower than hiring in men to do it all for me. But where's the fun in that?

So, I've decided to run a series of guides, right here on badgertails, each about it's own topic on turning house to home within a budget. So welcome to the first post of my new 'Affordable Interiors' guide! (It will be quite likely that once the weather brightens up it will feature gardening as well, but right now it's too cold to talk about that!)

Affordable Interiors: Chapter One: To Paint or Not to Paint?

That really is the question.

My opinion of it is, if you're painting a bit of furniture, that you would take with you if you moved house, then it's a good idea to invest a little more in a longer lasting paint that will see it through to the end. If you're in rented accommodation like me, and are planning on painting the walls, there's not a lot of point in using expensive paints as you can't take them with you if you ever go. This is a big something to remember when planning out your renovating, as it will make you think about just how much you need that fancy paint. Similar shades can usually be found for a fraction of the price in a different range, so when choosing a range, it just depends on what you want to paint, rather than what colour.

P and I are very lucky to have such a friendly landlord that is relaxed about decorating. Besides, he knows we're not going to make the place worse, right!? The photo above is what our lounge looked like originally, although this was taken mid-carpet cleaning so everything is rather shunted about.

When I moved in, we wanted to make a cosy retreat where we could cuddle up after a long day and just enjoy being together. So we said a very happy goodbye to the dank terracotta walls and revamped the space completely. As we're renting, we couldn't change the carpet or fireplace, but we painted, put up shelves, bought new furniture and hung new curtains. It completely transformed the space. Below is a photo taken just after we finished moving all the furniture back in the room, so there I am on the right, all worn out but very, very pleased!

Obviously this is looking a little empty, I hadn't officially moved in at this point so there was a lot (really, a lot) of stuff to be given a home. You'll find the most recent photo of the lounge by scrolling down...

So having transformed this room completely, and being in the middle of changing most other areas in the house at the moment, I can start my first hints and tips about painting here:

Where to buy?
The main saviour for all the D.I.Y work we've done so far has been Homebase, mostly because it's the only D.I.Y shop in town that's open on a Sunday, when we have the time to do the work. They also quite often run 15% sales, which always helps. Homebase stock a wide variety of paints, from their own Home of Colour range, right through to the lovely Farrow and Ball.

As much as the me from 5 years ago would hate to say this, Ikea have really been great for our needs. I've always felt that their furniture lacks character and would definitely prefer to pick up something second hand that had age to it and a story to tell. Although the latter still very much applies, and the former only slightly, we've found that every time there's been a gap to fill, we've trawled the web and subsequently ended up back at Ikea. I'm not saying it even comes close to vintage finds and family hand-me-downs, but it has had practical solutions when we've needed them most. So it is one that I must recommend.

Some bits around our home have, of course, come from our travels to various places, including Poland and the French countryside. So, although I can't recommend any particular shops, bringing home tricks and trinkets will always make your space feel special.

Testing, Testing...
I've found that I can get away with renovating old furniture with Farrow and Ball, purely by using the tester pots. (£3.99 each) F&B honestly have the most fantastic range of whites and off-whites if that's your thing, and using these testers is not only purse friendly, but is also very adaptable to any decision changes you may have with the colour, as you haven't committed to buying a whole tin. We painted our feature chimney breast purely with Homebase Home of Colour Tester pots - a mix of 'Proud Peacock' and 'Teal.' That's the other great thing about testers - you can easily make up your own shades to achieve not only the result you want, but one that is completely unique to your home.

A Changing Space
Below are a couple of up to date pictures of our lounge. It was my birthday at the weekend so that explains the cards, and I've also started to make our large coffee table into my seasonal feature. At the moment, it's a cross between Easter and birthday bits, and I'm in the process of making some darling bunny bunting to hang up too. The little glow in the right corner is our fish tank, housing two lovely speckled fan tails, but we have yet to name them. Suggestions are welcome!

How to pick a theme...
That's always a tough-ie. P and I couldn't stop bickering on which colour to choose for this room, and we didn't know where it was going to end up (or when). He wanted a nice sunny yellow, I wanted white. (of course!) He hated the idea of white, saying it would look cold (despite me arguing that it's all about the way you light it - I am a photographer after all!) and I was rather against the idea of being stuck in a yellow room that I would struggle to accessorise.

Then it all came together one day in a curtain shop.

We were looking for cream curtains for the bedroom when we came across the mustard and teal pair that you can see above. The colours, along with the leaf pattern, felt very 60s (perfect) and they were even in the sale (even more perfect). We snapped them up, and the rest just fell into place from there. Feature fireplace (teal, not mustard, it just felt right), dark wood furniture (that we already had), and white & cream sofas (one we already had, one that we bought from a hospice as I put my foot down with wanting a white sofa! - washable covers, of course). And the rest is history! Slowly but surely we've developed it, and without me really noticing, it's suddenly the cosy retreat that we wanted right at the start. It's warm, welcoming, and with the picture rail of fairy lights, cosier then you could ever imagine.

So, Finally...
If you're stuck picking a colour theme, start thinking about how you want it to feel in the end, and see if you can take inspiration from any of the main furnishings that you have / want. I know it's been a big one today, so if you've made it down this far, you are very special to me. Thank you for being so committed!

I wish you the best of luck in picking colours / renovating your home, whether it's a complete overhaul or just a revamp of a tired table. I'd love to hear about your projects, or if you've got something for a future chapter, feel free to comment.

As always, thanks for reading. You truly are wonderful.

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