Is there any better feeling than walking in and feeling truly at home? Perhaps you are moving soon and your new abode has a completely different layout. Or perhaps you are just bored of staring at the same furniture, in the same spot for the past couple of years. Whatever your motivation, we are here to guide and inspire you on how to improve your nest without breaking the bank. Time to get those creative juices flowing, we’re about to start operation: Home Improvement!
Determining your budget
Determining your budget is, of course, hugely important. It’s certainly not the most exciting part of the project but having clear boundaries and plans will ensure that you are able to complete the project successfully and without financial strain. How much money do you have to spend? Do you only want to redecorate and refurbish or are you contemplating having some renovations done too? The answers to these questions will have a massive impact on your costs.The four main financing options for renovations are:
- A second mortgage
- Taking out a personal loan
- Taking out a loan with family or others
- Investing your savings
You can find more information about these financing options on the homebuilding.co.uk website. If you are planning on renovating it is crucial to plan and manage your budget from the start of the project. Even if you are only planning on redecorating, budget planning is still important – you don’t want to blow all your money on the kitchen but have nothing left for the living room! Once you have set (and committed to) your budget the fun can begin!
Before you let loose and start buying furniture, decorations and ornaments, it’s highly recommended to find inspiration first. There are countless places to look and explore for inspiration. Take a closer look when visiting a friend’s home. See which spaces make you smile. There are many free home decoration and design magazines to page through, some even available at your local coffee shop or charity shop. Chances are a free IKEA guide has crossed your path recently. Or there might be something waiting on your doorstep already. If not, you can always check out IKEA’s online guide for free.
Inspiration aplenty! Next step would be to collect and collate your thoughts and ideas. Consider creating a mood board. Cut out the pictures and arrange them in terms of themes, colours and styles. We prefer the old-school approach of cutting and pasting but if you prefer to do it online a very popular tool is Pinterest. Mood boards are fun and provide a great opportunity to be creative and test what works together best without spending a dime.
The best free online interior design apps
We have discovered a plethora of various free apps for those of you who would prefer a more technological and modern approach. These are the ones that we would recommend:
- Room Sketcher
Room Sketcher is a great tool to plan and visualise the different rooms in your home.The basic version is free to use and explore.
- Palette Cam
Palette Cam helps you choose the right colours for your room, with this app you can compare different colours in your room in a splash Simply upload a photo of the room and Palette Cam will recommend the best suited paint colour.
- Home Design 3D
Home Design 3D is suitable for people with big dreams. This app goes beyond a new coat of paint or the digital viewing of an interior – it can create 2D or 3D floor plans. You can even add doors or windows. It also provides the possibility of playing around with refurbishing or redecorating ideas.
Creating a floor plan
Creating a floorplan is not as easy for everyone as it may seem. However, it is often necessary. A floorplan is like a jigsaw puzzle that will help you understand the space better. You can easily determine which items of furniture will fit in where best and which layout to opt for without having to move everything around physically first. We found the following free apps to help with understanding the spatial layout.
- Home By Me
Home By Me is a great tool to design your own rooms, you can even look and see what other users have designed to get some different ideas. You can choose to design a 3D floorplan or upload a photo of the room.
- Home Design 3D
With this app you can easily create, design, furnish and decorate your own home. Are you keen to design or make your own alterations? With Home Design 3D it’s super easy. You can draw room in both 2D and 3D. Handy when making a floorplan! Once you’ve drawn the room you can furnish and decorate to your heart’s content- this app allows you to choose from more than 1,000 different pieces of furniture and accessories. The next step is to explore your creation further in 3D to see if the results are satisfactory. A unique feature is that the apps make is possible to view your design by day and night – a compass function shows you exactly how the light falls at different times of the day.
Creating your own floorplan has never been easier! With magicplan you can create professional floorplans by simply taking photos of your current space. The app creates the floorplan within minutes and offers the possibility of adding objects. If you want to buy the plan, however, then you have to pay for it, a floorplan costs around €2,99. Not a bad investment.
Floorplanner, as the name suggests, is a website where you can draw floorplans for free. Within no time you will be able to draw your desired floorplan with their basic drawing programme. The website also contains a library with furniture and decorative objects to allow you to give the room a new and fresh look. You can then view the result in 3D. Designing your first house is free, which should be sufficient. However, at a cost of €9,95 per annum you can design up to 5 houses.
- Navigram 3D roomplanner
Navigram is a website with which you can draw living spaces yourself. It is very similar to the aforementioned apps and websites. However, what distinguishes this website from the other tools is that you can also design gardens with Navigram.
Visit all the recommended sites and see which one you prefer!
Does your living space require a bit more than just redecoration and refurbishing? Do you feel that some proper renovation work is needed? Below are six tips to keep the costs as low as possible.
- Request at least 3 quotes
If you plan on outsourcing the work then you will have to find some decent quotes. We recommend comparing at least three companies. Do a proper price comparison review so it is clear which company is offering you the best deal. One company might appear to be the cheapest but it could be that the other companies included paint and wallpaper charges in their quotes. Or perhaps they budgeted less labour hours in their quote than the other companies. Additional labour hours might be exorbitant – so keep a lookout for that. Make sure you understand the different payment terms too. Often, once companies realise that you are comparing the market they are more likely to offer you a better deal in order to secure the new business. When renovating there are almost always unforeseen costs that arise during the project, the rule of thumb is to budget at least an additional 5% to 15% of the total renovation costs for unfortunate extras.
- It’s not just normal to negotiate, it’s expected!
How badly do you want that beautiful new kitchen and bathroom? Then it’s time to negotiate. You could save yourself up to 30% of the original quote.
- Do not pay the full amount upfront
Putting down a deposit before works start is considered normal (materials have to be bought, wages have to be paid) but always make sure you only make the final payment once you are satisfied with the end result.
- Enquire at the housing association
Are you a member of a housing association? Then you may be in luck. Some housing associations offer professional DIY services to their members. Contact them and they can advise you further on the costs involved.
- Some municipalities offer free volunteer projects by tradesmen
If you are fortunate to live in such a municipality you can have your house renovated for free – you would have to cover all the costs for the materials, of course.
- Do the renovations yourself
You might be thinking, “I couldn’t possible do all of that by myself”. But think about your circle of friends, surely there are some who would love to jump in and lend a hand? Make a list of potential helpers and lure them in with a promise of a hearty meal and a big bottle of something cold once the job is done.
Saving money by renovating
Renovations cost money, there’s no getting around that, but what if the renovations enable you to save money in the long-run? Well-thought-out remodelling can increase the value of your property. This is especially true for renovations which create more living space – more space generally results in higher value. This is also the perfect opportunity for some necessary maintenance work on certain “weak” spots or neglected areas that could cause costly damage if not taken care of – for instance your boiler . Certain remodelling endeavours might qualify for subsidies or you can even save on your monthly electricity bills. For example, improving the insulation in your home dramatically decreases energy consumption.
- Check out our 101 tips for saving
In this article we share general savings tips including tips on how to save money at home.
Once you have enough inspiration and a good idea of what the possibilities are then it’s finally time to start collecting furniture. A fun activity that, with our 10 useful tips listed below, does not require much financial output.
- Explore the basement or attic for old treasures
Time to unpack and move around those old boxes and rediscover items that can be repurposed. Be careful with lifting and moving items. If it’s time for a proper clean up Hippo, can help.’
- Junk collection day
In many communities residents are permitted to throw out old furniture for collection on certain days. Make sure to take a walk around the block to see if you spot anything you like.
- Go bargain hunting at second-hand shops
Cheap furniture in good condition can easily be found online (like Facebook market or Gumtree) or in many neighbourhoods at the local charity or thrift shop.
- Shop at affordable home furnishing stores
Just because it’s cheap doesn’t means it’s bad quality. Don’t be afraid to look around, especially when a sale beckons.
- Be cheeky
We can’t emphasise this enough: NEGOTIATE, NEGOTIATE, NEGOTIATE! As mentioned previously, clever negotiating could decrease renovation fees by up to 30%, imagine if you extended these tactics to your entire refurbishing/redecorating project.
- Rethink the way you look at rubbish
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Look at items in a different way, don’t be afraid of being creative. On the photo below an entire garden set has been made from pallets, built from scratch. Are your hands starting to itch yet?
- Rejuvenate your current furniture
Look at what you already have, if it’s in good working condition it might just need some restoration and TLC. Perhaps having a comfortable sofa reupholstered or giving the dining room table a fresh lick of paint is all that’s needed. If the sofa is fine but dull, a beautiful throw and some decorative pillows will make the world’s difference. Creative, colourful and cheap.
- “Free” is our favourite word
Getting good furniture at a cheap price is great, but getting good furniture for free is even better. Often people have already bought a new replacement furniture item and don’t have the means to dispose of the current item. They will be eager to get rid of it as soon as possible. Check out the “free for collection” on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and other websites.
- Ask about the showroom models
Some furniture outlets sell their showroom models at a hugely discounted price. Have you recently spotted a beautiful item that would look great in your new space? Ask the shop assistant about when they expect the new season’s stock to arrive, perhaps they’ll be willing to call you when the showroom model is replaced.
- Keep an eye our for sales
Prefer to buy new furniture but have a limited budget? Not to worry! Retailers are forever trying to keep up with trends and new seasons, therefore current unsold stock go on sale all the time. Cuckooland, lampandlight and Mattress Next Day are all bound to have a good bargain waiting for you! Sales are normally coordinated across a certain region, if you find that something is already sold out, ask the customer service department to look on their system to see if it’s available at other branches. Click here to see current promotions running at home furnishing stores.
Furnishing and layout
Now that you have managed to find your dream furniture, the next step is to figure out exactly where to place what. Earlier, under the heading “Creating a floorplan” we recommended some very useful tools such as Home Design 3D, Floorplanner and Navigram 3D. These tools are super multifunctional but we have managed to find another 3 tools that are particularly useful when it comes to home decoration.
- Ikea online planners
Ikea offers a diverse range of online planners that enable you to design your own living room, kitchen and other tricky spaces. Have you managed to design your perfect space yet? Print the design and head over to your nearest Ikea, Ikea staff will help check your design to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Most Ikea planners provide the option of designing your own furniture should you choose to do so.
- Villeroy & Boch
Now we know they are more on the pricier side but Villeroy & Boch has a great online tool to design your own bathroom for free. Definitely worth having a look at.
Tips for decorating your rooms
On our quest for inspiring interiors we came across the following tips that we would like to share with you.
- Choose your colour scheme
A little bit of colour can really make a big difference to your living room, bedroom and office space. Choose a colour that cheers you up and makes the space cosier.
- Keep it simple
Congratulations on finding the right wallpaper and a perfect paint colour, the key now is to not overdo it. There might be a wall that is beautiful and rustic and would actually look better by being left alone. Look at the picture below to see what we mean. Lovely and inexpensive!
- Your personal touch
No one enjoys walking into an impersonal room that looks as if it was merely replicated from the shop’s display window – give your room some character! Go visit those old boxes in the attic or basement again and see if there are any items that can be used to add a personal and authentic touch to the space.
- Visit thrift stores or even the local dump
Vintage is hip! With some determination and a spirit for adventure it’s time to set out and hunt for bargains. It’s amazing what households and companies throw away for free – keep an eye out and don’t be afraid to ask for discounts. Fashionable and good quality furniture can be found at thrift stores and charity shops, sometimes people don’t even realise the value of the items that they are throwing away.
- Use vibrant colours
Use vibrant and energising colours. A vibrant splash of colour could be all you need to get you motivated in the morning. A bright blue or dazzling green might look great on one of the walls, but don’t be too overzealous– the bedroom is, after all, your place of rest and relaxation. If painting one of the walls seems too adventurous for you, brighten up the room with some colourful blankets, pillows or blinds.
- Stay in touch with nature
Introducing some elements of Mother Nature in your bedroom might be just what you need to help you relax and recharge after a tough day. Keep it simple and subtle. Think of natural colours and perhaps some plants that complement the surroundings.
- Create a tropical experience
The tropics may seem very far away but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a tropical experience at home. A wooden floor or a wooden bed will make a huge difference to the atmosphere in your room. Once again, consider some greenery. Who wouldn’t want to wake up every day feeling like they’re on vacation?
- Practical layout
Clutter creates chaos – something best avoided in the kitchen. Our aim here is to create more space. After all, once you get busy with cooking a complicated dish, the countertop is bound to fill up in no time. Fortunately, the images below will demonstrate how you can easily expand your countertop and create extra seating space. The kitchen becomes multi-functional with a simple adjustment.
- Dare to explore with colours
A fresh coat of paint can transform your kitchen into a warm and inviting space, it won’t even take up an afternoon.
- Keep it sleek, modern and simple
A sleek, modern and simple kitchen is easy to keep neat and clean. Think carefully where you place the lighting – make sure it’s practical and looks good at the same time.
- Use elements from nature
When nature calls, why not surround yourself by nature? This can be done simply and easily. The image below is a prime example of how you can combine elements of nature in your bathroom. A few plants can make a big difference.
- Create some colour coordination
An easy and super effective way to create a theme and make your loo look super classy is by introducing the same colour scheme with your towels, hand towels, shower curtain and floor mats. Check out Bed and Bath Emporium for some ideas and great offers.
- Make use of mirrors
Most bathrooms are rather small and cramped. An old, yet handy trick is to add a nice, big mirror. Mirrors reflect the rest of the bathroom which in turn creates the illusion of a bigger space.
- Decorate your office with things that inspire you
Working isn’t always fun but it is an integral part of life. Decorate your office with items that inspire you and cheer you up. This trick will help you stay positive and (hopefully) motivated while working towards meeting that deadline!
- Keep it simple
Clutter will make it impossible to concentrate and only lead to distraction. Remove unnecessary objects to create a peaceful environment that is conducive to working. A clean and clear setting will lead to a calmer you.
- Introduce some plants
An ongoing theme in this article. Not only are plants lovely to have around and have a calming effect on humankind but they also provide us with oxygen. It’s a great feeling to nurture a plant and watching it bloom, we suggest you try it! If you like some greenery in your home office but it’s just not practical, check out Bloom for some alternative options.
Now you know how to transform your home into your very own special sanctuary at an affordable price! We hope you feel motivated and confident to take on this exciting project. Good luck and have fun!!