The cost-of-living crisis has made most people increasingly conscious about how they spend their money. But just because you’re watching the pennies, doesn’t mean you can’t still create stunning interiors that look more expensive than they really are. Whether it’s adding panelling, being clever with paint, or updating old furniture, there are lots of incredible interiors hacks you can do for less than £100.
Start with your local charity shop, eBay Link opens in a new window or Facebook Marketplace Link opens in a new window, all great places for finding pre-loved furniture, leftover paint, spare wallpaper and fittings at bargain prices. Just be willing to put in some time to searching for the right item and thinking creatively. “You really don’t need a lot of money to bring a big change to a room,” said one of our interior enthusiasts and these simple, statement hacks prove it so, go on, be inspired.
1. Transform old worktops with Fablon plastic sheeting
Total cost: £99.93
Sticky back Fablon Link opens in a new window, £6.99, Amazon
Wallpaper Link opens in a new window, £12.95, Amazon
Gold spray paint Link opens in a new window, £6.99, Amazon
Second hand mirror Link opens in a new window, £50, Facebook Marketplace
Paint Link opens in a new window, £23, Amazon
Sarah Rich, blogger at Mum Loves, transformed her downstairs bathroom Link opens in a new window from dated to designer with a few inexpensive hacks. “I wanted to change the worktop but didn’t have the budget, so used Fablon plastic sheeting Link opens in a new window to cover the worktop.” She found some with a marble effect off Amazon and knew it was exactly what she wanted. “If you’ve never used Fablon before, it’s a great choice to use on a budget renovation as it’s a cost-effective way to change any countertop. They have so many design choices and, if you apply it correctly, people will be so amazed it’s not the real thing.” She also sprayed the handles gold Link opens in a new window to match the new décor and added some statement wallpaper Link opens in a new window. “I had this wood effect wallpaper spare and used it to create a visual point in the bathroom to really draw the eye up and not down to the cabinets.” The final touches were a paint Link opens in a new window freshen up and a matching mirror that she found on Facebook Marketplace.
2. Add texture and new handles to old furniture
Home influencer Georgina Raine Link opens in a new window breathed new life into this old chest of drawers with a few simple hacks and a bit of creativity. “I used cheap strips of half dowelling pine Link opens in a new window, which you can pick up from any hardware store, and cut down and glued Link opens in a new window it onto the front of some old drawers to repurpose them.” She used mitre shears to do the cutting and then finished off the look with matt black, over-the-lip handles that she bought off Amazon Link opens in a new window. “It was a quick and easy way to make an old set of drawers look more expensive, as well as on trend with the fluted detailing. This method can be applied to lots of furniture to give it a new lease of life, be more sustainable and, of course, save money. Try different patterns, styles of wood or even paint the wood to add your own personality to any project.”
3. Add MDF panelling
Total cost: £62
MDF Link opens in a new window, £20, local wood yard but available at B&Q too
Decorative strip Link opens in a new window, £6, Wickes
Farrow & Ball paint Link opens in a new window, £31, Homebase
Decorators caulk Link opens in a new window, £1.15, Wickes
Instant Grab Link opens in a new window, £2.20, Wickes
Georgina Link opens in a new window also used MDF panelling Link opens in a new window around her bedroom, instantly giving it a high-end feel. “I sourced the MDF from a local woodyard and had the strips cut to size, saving lots of time and making the installation easier. Many hardware stores like B&Q also offer this cutting service for free.” She then drew out the panelling on the wall to ensure the measurements were correct and used a laser level to check they were straight before applying with Instant Grab Adhesive Link opens in a new window. “You can also use masking tape to map out where the panelling will go, which can be a really good way of visualising the end result before committing. If you have uneven walls, small tack nails are great, just use wood filler and sand over the top.” She then added a decorative strip Link opens in a new window on top and for a nice, smooth edge. Georgina used decorators caulk Link opens in a new window and then primed and painted the wood. “Our property is a newer build, lacking in character, so panelling is a quick, simple and cheap way to add depth to any space. Using it on a feature wall in a bedroom, and placing the bed in front, really focusses a room.”
4. Add an antique fireplace and freshen up the walls
Total cost: £90.99
Facebook Marketplace Link opens in a new window, £50, Fireplace and mantel
Hammerite paint Link opens in a new window, £10.99, Halfords
Valspar Almond Milk in classic Link opens in a new window, £30 for 2.5L, B&Q
Nicole Sage, who runs the Sleek Chic Link opens in a new window blog, transformed her living room when she bought an antique fireplace and wooden mantelpiece off Facebook Marketplace Link opens in a new window for just £50. “To bring it back to life we used hammerite metal paint spray Link opens in a new window and painted the mantel white with paint we already had (it was just natural pine before).” If you want to achieve a similar look, Nicole offered a great tip to make sure you bag a Facebook Marketplace bargain before anyone else. “You can set reminders for specific keywords, so you’ll know as soon as someone has listed, for example, a cast iron fireplace. Fireplaces are quite sought after, but don’t be afraid to haggle down the price!” Nicole then painted the wall around the fireplace with Valspar Almond Milk paint from B&Q Link opens in a new window. “Restoring the aged fireplace back to life has achieved a designer look, but on a serious budget. It’s also what would have previously stood in our Victorian terrace house, so it's brought period authenticity and timelessness back into the living room.”
If you have a bit more spending money, you could go on to add some alcove shelving Link opens in a new window, a storage cabinet, and new new flooring Link opens in a new window like Nicole, who tackled the DIY herself. “We’ve added value by building into the dead space. It’s created additional storage and the open shelving creates instant visual interest.” She finished off the look by adding some new flooring. “Laminate is much more cost effective than engineered wood flooring, but still gives the same aesthetic. The old flooring was a really tired, poorly fitted laminate and the new flooring adds such a warm, modern aesthetic to the living room.”
5. Use unusual and fun paint designs in kids’ bedrooms
Total cost: £88 (Get 2 for £88 on Farrow & Ball Estate Emulsion 2.5 Litre Paint at Homebase)
Farrow & Ball Oval Room Blue paint Link opens in a new window, £44, Homebase
Farrow & Ball Wevet Paint Link opens in a new window, £44, Homebase
It’s often difficult to get the balance right between stylish and fun in a child’s bedroom but At Home With The Raines Link opens in a new window, managed it with this stunning and inexpensive paint job. She used a laser level and masking tape to mark just below halfway up the wall - and then came the clever bit. “I made a semi-circle template from cardboard to draw around creating the scallop effect - anything like a dinner plate or saucepan lid works well to create the template!” When painting the scallops Link opens in a new window she made sure to use a small, angled brush with a little paint and pulled it down and around to create a sharp line. She used a roller for the rest of the paintwork. “Scalloped edges work really well, especially in children's rooms to add an element of fun, and can be done in any colours you like.”
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