Design: The savers' style bible

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Britain's top interiors experts tell Kate Watson-Smyth how to spruce up your house without breaking the bank

The credit crunch is really beginning to squeeze now, and many of us have spent all our money just getting on to the housing ladder, or are stuck in a slightly dilapidated house we can't afford to decorate. But your house need not be a carbon copy of Ikea, or kitted out solely from a charity shop. In the spirit of thriftiness, some of Britain's top designers and interiors experts share their tips for decorating on a budget.



Emily Todhunter

Interior designer

If you have an old sofa that has gone manky, buy a throw from somewhere fabulous like The White Company (0870 900 9555; www.thewhitecompany.com) and sling it over the back, tucking it in slightly behind the cushions to make it look like you meant it to be there. Also, you don't just have to use pictures of your family on the walls. Go to a photo library (such as www.istockphoto.com) and choose a series of pictures – grasses, shells, ferns, anything you like – and print off lots of them. Hang, say, six across and three deep, or four rows of two – be bold. Use plain frames and hang them so close they are almost touching. That will make a real statement.

Emily Todhunter: www.todhunterearle.com



Emily Dyson

Owner of Couverture

It's great if you can sew – invest in a sewing machine, source vintage fabric and turn it into floor cushions or poufs. You can also make your own duvet covers. I once made some curtains out of old linen sheets with thread-worked borders. Use vintage wallpaper to cover small areas (try www.vintagewallpaperonline.com). Painting makes for dramatic change – floorboards, basic wooden furniture, even a border in a darker shade if you can't afford a skirting. Or recycle wooden wine crates (ask your local wine merchant) and stack them to create shelving. Collections of similar things look great – inexpensive pieces en masse (eg ceramic jelly moulds).

Couverture: 020-7229 2178; www.couverture.co.uk



Allegra Hicks

Lifestyle designer

Get the shell of the room right, then add to it later when you have more money. A rug makes a room: you can get lovely funky designs from Ikea and Habitat that don't cost much. (Indian rugs are beautiful too, but don't buy a new one that is pretending to be old.) Keep it simple. You don't need pelmets on the curtains. You will always look good in a beautiful dress – it doesn't need an amazing necklace as well. Start off with the thing that you love best and work around that. When I lived in a shared room in New York, I made it my own by adding throws I loved – perhaps a piece of Indian material or my own candles. It's the little touches that make the difference once you have the basic structure right.

Allegra Hicks: 020-7235 8989; www.allegrahicks.com



Lawrence Baker

Managing director, The Holding Company

Antique markets in small towns can be a haven for bargains. Use your local auction rooms, and do buy on eBay – especially for branded items. Don't spend too much on fitted items – you can't take them with you. If you can't afford new kitchen cupboards, try using open chrome shelving, which is very stylish. Fill them with baskets and hang pots and pans below on old meat hooks. Clothes storage is a perennial problem, but in my first flat I knocked 16 nails into a piece of wood and fixed it to the wall as a tie rack. I had winter jumpers in plastic boxes under the bed and shoes in old cardboard boxes with pictures on the front.

The Holding Company: 020-8445 2888; www.theholdingcompany.co.uk



David Oliver

Managing and design director, The Paint and Paper Library

Paint is an inexpensive way to make an impact, and it's also the only thing people tend to remember when they leave. Choose colours that you like to wear. In Georgian times, society hostesses would paint their rooms to match their eyes. Pay close attention to areas where the hand and eye are naturally drawn: door handles, cutlery, banisters or taps. Or add a splash of vibrant colour to the inside of the cupboards. These are the bits that people will remember even if the rest of the room is rather dull and neglected. Years ago, I had a hideous brick wall that I covered in hessian for about £18. Buy the cheapest fabric you can, then get a sofa cover made by the best upholsterer you can afford, and decorate with a bit of ribbon. Spend the money on the people doing the work.

The Paint and Paper Library: www.paintlibrary.co.uk



Neisha Crosland

Textile designer

Make sure the fixtures and fittings are the best you can afford. Details like radiators and light fittings make all the difference; wooden flooring need not be expensive. Plain walls and curtains can create a low-cost blank canvas, and you can add impact slowly with cushions and lamps.

Neisha Crosland: 020-7584 7988; www.neishacrosland.com



Alan Hughes

Vice-principal, Inchbald School of Design

Budget for a few key pieces, then combine with more economic elements. Keeping lighting consistent will look considered no matter what the cost of the shade. High-quality wallpaper combined with a simple wash taken from a colour within the paper can look effective. Make dress drapes in something luxurious with a plainer, more budget-conscious draw curtain. Frame all your pictures the same size regardless of the size of the artwork and group together in the same frames. Buy cheap wardrobe doors and drop in glass panels and paint with high lacquer for a smarter look.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Suggested Topics
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk