Carrying out home improvements can be expensive, but there are ways you can spruce up your space for less.

Whether you want to change the whole look and feel of your home, or simply replace a particular item such as a sofa or dining table, there are plenty of options that won’t break the bank.

Here’s our round-up of ways you might be able to revitalise your home for as little as possible.

1. Use online forums to find free items

Use online forums to find free items

People are always looking to get rid of items they no longer want, so the chances are that if you look hard enough someone might be giving away exactly the item you’re after.

Four of the most popular websites for people giving away items for free, or for very little money, are Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle, Preloved and Gumtree. They’re all free to sign up to and let you see what is available in your local area. You can also expand your search to further afield if you don’t mind travelling to pick up an item. 

It’s also fairly common for local areas to have a forum or arrangement where people can post items to buy or sell, or things that people are looking for. For example, the Nextdoor app allows you to connect with other people in your area to buy and sell items. 

A word of caution, however, is that while these websites are popular, they are also often targeted by fraudsters, so make sure you have your wits about you when you’re using them. Remember, never share your bank account details with anyone online, and if you are paying for something, don’t hand over the money until you’ve seen the item in person. It can often be safer to pay in cash for anything you buy from any of these sites as an additional safeguard.

2. If you can’t get an item for free, buy second-hand

If you can’t get an item for free, buy second-hand

Buying second-hand furniture and homeware is a great way to get hold of high-quality items at bargain prices. There are a number of charities such as The Red Cross, Emmaus and The British Heart Foundation that specialise in selling second-hand furniture at reasonable prices. 

3. Don’t pay full price for paint

Don’t pay full price for paint

If you’ve ever painted a room or even an entire house before, you’ll know it can be a challenge to judge exactly how much paint you need. The benefit of this is, though, that it’s common for people to have paint left over. Rather than see this go to waste, organisations such as Community Repaint take donations of surplus paint and resell it to individuals, groups and organisations at affordable prices. They make sure the quality of the paint is up to scratch before they sell it, so your end result shouldn’t be any different than buying it brand new.

One thing to be aware of, however, is that your colour choice might be limited. Then again, this might not be a bad thing and may encourage you to get creative with your decorating by branching out from traditional colours.

4. Sell old items to fund the cost of new ones

Sell old items to fund the cost of new ones

One of our Rest Less members suggested that if you want to buy new things, but they aren’t within your budget, then you might want to think about selling old items to fund your new purchases.

Most of us have items. such as old lamps or pictures, hanging around at home that we no longer use or want, so rather than letting them sit gathering dust, it’s worth seeing if you can sell them at a car boot sale or on a site such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace. Besides, if you’re in need of a new sofa, for example, you’ll have to get rid of your old one, so why not sell it? Find out more in our guide How to make money from your clutter.

5. Get hacking

Get hacking

One of the most popular suggestions you’ll find online when furnishing or redecorating on a budget is to ‘hack’ products from affordable furniture stores to make them more unique. 

Sometimes known as upcycling, you can hack pretty much anything you put your mind to. This may involve, say, repainting a bookcase, replacing handles on a chest of drawers, or repurposing a bedsheet into cushion covers or curtains.

This option often takes a little skill and patience, but if you want to give it a shot, why not do a google search for the project you want to take on? Or alternatively, sites such as IKEA Hackers have a huge number of projects that you might want to try.

6. Don’t pay for expensive tools

Don’t pay for expensive tools

If you need to buy an expensive tool for a particular task, consider borrowing or hiring instead of buying it.

Unless you are a keen handy person, there’s probably little point in buying a power tool that you won’t use again, but chances are you might know someone that has what you’re after. It’s always worth asking friends and family to see if someone has the tool you’re after. If not, then hiring out the tool you need is probably your next best option.

There are lots of places you can go to hire tools for a fraction of the price of buying them. Most major DIY stores such as B&Q, Jewsons and HSS, offer tool hire, and while they aren’t the cheapest, if you want a top-of-the-range tool, hiring is still cheaper than buying.

If you really don’t want to spend much on hiring tools, then you might want to look at your local area to see what other tool hire is available. Platforms such as Fat llama allow people with tools or kit to hire it out. This is a much less formal arrangement than hiring from the likes of Jewsons or HSS, but it also comes at a fraction of the cost. Bear in mind that Fat llama only facilitates the hiring of items, and doesn’t accept any liability if things go wrong, so make sure you’re comfortable with the ts & cs before committing.

7. Rearrange and reorganise

Rearrange and reorganise

Many of us are creatures of habit, and can get very comfortable with how things are, but moving your furniture around can be an easy and free way to change the way your home feels and looks.

You may be tempted to buy new things to fulfil your aims for a revitalised space, but just moving things around can make a huge difference. If moving large items of furniture feels daunting, start small and try reorganising your bathroom cabinets. When you’re ready, you could really go to town and map out a new layout for your living room. There are plenty of free apps that can help you create floor plans for your room, such as Room Planner, which you can download on iOS or Android, or magicplan, but even sketching out your vision on a piece of paper can help bring it to life.

8. Rethink artwork

rethink artwork

Putting up photos or artwork can be one of the quickest ways to make a house feel like a home, but it doesn’t necessarily come cheap.

Taking a creative approach to artwork could save you a lot of money. You don’t need to buy an expensive print to hang on your wall. Instead, why not frame things that mean something to you, whether that’s a postcard from your latest holiday destination, a photo of your loved ones, or you could create something yourself? Sites such as Etsy also have printable art which you can pay a few pounds for and print off at home.

Frames can be just as expensive as the artwork itself, and modern ones aren’t always the best quality. One tip for finding high-quality frames is to buy framed pictures from charity shops. While you might not love the picture that’s in there at the time you buy it, it will usually take seconds to replace and the frame may be better quality than buying a new budget one.

When looking for frames, it’s useful to think outside the box too. Consider the size and shape you broadly need, and be ready to do some work yourself. If you don’t like the colour of the frame, for example, you may be able to repaint it. If your image is too small, you could use a mounting board, which is fairly cheap and instantly makes your picture appear more expensive.

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