A few weeks from now, I’ve got builders coming in to replace my ancient kitchen and put new flooring down in my flat.
It will give me the opportunity to redo the sitting room while I’m at it. You should see the place right now — it’s full of boxes and bubble-wrap!
As many as 43 per cent of us won’t be able to move over the next five years because of the cost of living, so 63 per cent are planning some home improvements instead, according to research by airtasker.com.
And — perhaps unsurprisingly — of those who are thinking of a spruce up, 92 per cent want to keep the costs as low as possible.
What I’d really like to do is to hire the interior designer Kit Kemp to make my flat look fabulous. I love the interiors she has designed for her hotel chain, Firmdale Hotels. But just looking at the prices of some of her lovely furnishings (firmdalehotels.com/shop-kit-kemp) gives me palpitations, so I’m going to have to work out the design myself . . . on my budget!
Don’t underestimate the power of a good clear-out
Happily, I’ve managed to get some tips from some interiors specialists, such as TV’s Linda Barker, who has her own range of curtains and bedlinen with Terrys Fabrics. ‘The computer is your best friend,’ she says. ‘There are lots of discounts to be had. Go for ex-display furniture where you can.’
She also advises to not just click on the first few results that come up on Google. ‘Look at page two and page three as there are often good deals to be had.’
She also recommends looking for discounts on soft furnishings now, as retailers often drop prices on these products in the summer to boost sales as demand is higher in the winter.
I’m a big fan of colour so I’ve also been looking at Designers Guild, which specialises in fabrics in bold designs (designersguild.com). Their website has a section that shows you how to create a ‘mood board’ for a room.
Designers Guild consultant Emily Ratcliff has some thirfty tips on pepping up a room on a budget. ‘Go to charity shops and find cheap items there that you can upholster yourself,’ she says. ‘There are videos on YouTube that show you how to do it.’
Jamie Robinson, interior designer with Value Doors, agrees. ‘You can easily sand down and paint an old bookshelf or dresser in a trendy colour like navy blue or emerald green,’ she suggests. ‘You could also get creative and reupholster an old chair with a fun patterned fabric to create a statement piece.’
Actually, speaking of old furniture, you’ll remember I’ve mentioned auction houses in the past, and the amazing bargains to be had. If you have the time, it’s well worth attending a few sales at your local auction house to see what you can pick up and, possibly, upcycle.
The last time I went to one they had a set of lovely oak dining chairs that went for just £10 each — and that was in London.
Linda Barker is also a fan of re-sale site Rehome (rehome.co.uk) for cheaper kitchens.
‘They’re good at recycling and refreshing and repurposing,’ she says. ‘Often the kitchen units they have are not even that old and they are removed very carefully from the previous property.’
If you do use wallpaper and have some left over, use the off-cuts creatively too
She also recommends the Seagulls charity in Yorkshire (seagullsreuse.org.uk) which recycles paint. She explains: ‘They make use of paint that would otherwise be taken to the recycling centre or dumped in landfill. They look at it all, grade it and remix it so you can buy from them at a fraction of the cost. They can even mix bespoke colours.’
Emily Ratcliff has suggestions on how to be more creative with colour on a budget. ‘Keep walls plain, but accessorise with colourful cushions and a rug.
Also, if money is tight, just splash out on one feature wall. You can go for wallpaper or a more expensive paint because you only need a smaller amount.’
If you do use wallpaper and have some left over, use the off-cuts creatively too, suggests Danielle Bayliss from flooring specialists Tapi, who says: ‘Add wallpaper into panelling to create pops of colour and pattern on your walls. Wallpaper is also a great way to update furniture, it can be used to line drawers or even to decoupage furniture to create a totally new look.’
And don’t underestimate the power of a good clear-out. Catharina Bjorkman, Scandi interiors expert at Contura stoves, says: ‘In order to create a space that promotes wellbeing, you must first declutter it. If you’re struggling to decide what items should stay or go, think about whether they conjure up a happy memory. If the answer is no, then it needs to go.
‘Often, once we have removed the clutter it’s easier to see how to create a room that we will love to be in.’
After the builders have put down the floors and sorted the kitchen, my next job will definitely be to chuck the clutter. It’s going to be quite a project!
Make cash renting out your charger
Anyone I know who has an electric car, or has hired one, complains bitterly about how difficult it is to charge it. There can be many miles between charging stations, many of them don’t work and if they do you have to have the right app to use them. Nightmare!
However, if you have an electric car and an electric vehicle charging point in your drive or garage, you could make thousands over the year by renting it out to other EV owners.
There are more than 780,000 fully electric cars on the road in the UK, according to Zapmap, which means that there are a lot of other drivers looking for charging points as they travel.
Typically, an electric vehicle only needs charging twice a week, so that means the charging point is free for most of the time. According to leaseelectriccar.co.uk it costs, on average, £17 to charge an electric vehicle from ‘empty’ to 100 per cent using a charger at home.
The rest of the time that charging point is sitting there not being used. So why not hire it out? You can earn £25 a day for a full charge or offer an hourly rate (£4-£5 is the average) to someone in your area who needs to top up their vehicle.
You can offer your EV charging space through Just Park (justpark.com/ev) and at CoCharger (co-charger.com) and Book My Charge (bookmycharge.com).
Typically, an electric vehicle only needs charging twice a week, so that means the charging point is free for most of the time
If you’re at Boots this Tuesday, take a look at their ‘£10 Tuesdays’ offers. Every Tuesday the store offers a wide range of products at just £10 — and some items are discounted up to £30. So it’s worth a look to see if there’s anything you were going to buy anyway that you could get for a decent discount. Find more at boots.com/tuesday-offer.
Father’s Day is coming up on June 18. If you buy any selected ‘Dad’s’ products at Superdrug in the run-up to the big day, you can get triple points on your purchases. Buy in-store or online at superdrug.com/shop-fathers-day-gifts/c/fathers-day-gifts to collect extra points.
If you work for the NHS or a charity you could get free tickets for theatre, comedy, music, sport and all sorts of entertainment, with just a £3.95 booking fee to pay. The website ticketsforgood.org costs nothing to join if you qualify and there are free and discounted tickets for events all over the country.
Paleo Ridge (paleoridge.co.uk), a raw dog food company, has launched its Essentials range which allows owners to feed their dogs the high-quality food for £2.19 per 500g pack. Until the end of the month, you can get an extra 20 per cent off if you use the code JASMINE at the checkout.