For the uninitiated, one of the scariest aspects of improving your home is the cost. You assume it must be very expensive to re-do your bedroom, so you just live with it (even though you hate the colour of the walls, your headboard wobbles and there isn’t enough space for your clothes). But you don’t have to live with it! With just a bit of planning, DIY can work into even the strictest budgets – so your dream bedroom won’t make you seek IVA help or advice.
Actually SET a budget This might seem obvious, but it is the most important step in any DIY plan. Think about how much you can afford and then sit down, research, and plan out everything that you need – and be realistic, or you are setting yourself up for failure! You may not be able to get everything done yet (that custom-made, walk-in wardrobe might have to wait), but if it makes you feel just a little bit more at home – it’s worth it.
Bonus Tip: When estimating the costs, always round up, and then add a buffer or a ‘things will go wrong’ pot. That way you are increasing your chance of coming in under budget. If you do, there’s nothing to say you can’t revisit the luxuries you left behind!
Get other people involved
They say a friend will help you move house, but a great friend will stick around and help with the DIY! Okay, so maybe they don’t say that – but the point still stands. Ask friends for their labour and their stuff. I can almost guarantee you that someone you know, or someone who knows someone you know, will have the perfect old coffee table that can be repurposed into your dream twin bedside tables. Grandparents are fantastic for this, they can have so much vintage ‘junk’ just lying around. If they aren’t using it, they’ll be glad it is being useful, while you get to make a heartfelt keepsake that will remind you of them forever – it’s a win-win situation!
Pick things off the street
A flatmate of mine did this, much to my initial dismay! She would find these old, tattered pieces of furniture that people had just dumped on the side of the road and bring them home. I was always convinced that we would get termites (and I flat-out banned soft furnishings). But, we never did. In fact, she made some of the best pieces of furniture that we owned. I would advise caution though, just because we never found anything awful, doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen to you. Check finds over carefully, and make sure they are actually free to be taken!
Embrace Poundland and Charity Shops
Poundland, and other discount, budget shops, can get a bad rep for being… well… cheap! But, plenty of great projects could use the cheap bits and pieces you can find (you’re only going to paint over it anyway!). Frames, wool, glasses, plates and fairy lights can all be used as part of a larger design. You can change them beyond recognition and then pretend you bought it from some high-end, custom-made, local designer.
Bonus Tip: There are charity stores that sell furniture! It is often very cheap and for a good cause – although you may have to make several visits to find what you’re looking for because their stock is only has good and regular as their donations. At the very least, you can keep them in mind when you are getting rid of your own old furniture.
Buy in bulk and become a hoarder
At the first stage in your planning, sit down and think about all the projects you would do if you had all the money in the world. Can you think of a lot? Then maybe you should buy some things in bulk, like nails and screws. Other things will depend on the person, for example, if you like floral patterns, then collect up cheap floral accents whenever you can (like wrapping paper, tape, cloth). This won’t help your first-ever project (and if you are a real beginner, you might want to see how much you enjoy DIY first) but it can save you loads in the long-term.
Last of all: Teach yourself new skills
This is the Y in DIY, so it might seem obvious. But many people still limit themselves to glue guns and caulk and think that metal work, wood work, or even plumbing is always going to be beyond them. But master the basics of these skills, and you will be saving yourself loads of money on all sorts of projects. Don’t get me wrong, if in doubt – call in a professional! But, investing time in comprehensively understanding a new skill could help you for years – it may even come in handy outside of the project, if your sink stops draining or your old bookcase falls apart!