iStyle: Chic on the cheap

A new design bible promises stylish interiors on a shoestring budget. Trish Lorenz takes a sneak peak

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The Independent Online

Improve, don’t move, seems to be the new British mantra. Research commissioned by Ikea this month as part of  its Life at Home report claims that 56 per cent  of two-person households have lived in their homes for more than 10 years.

If you’re one of those staying put and want to update your interiors but are on a tight budget, it’s worth checking out Thrifty Chic by Liz Bauwens and Alexandra Campbell, which is published in paperback this month.

As the title suggests, the book focuses on how to create an individual and stylish interiors without spending a fortune, with decorating ideas for each room, advice on key elements such as fabrics, paint and lighting and a selection of easy to make projects.

Budget decorating requires patience, focus and attention to detail says co-author Alexandra Campbell. “Thrift requires time,” she says. “You can’t expect  to sort it all out at once.  Don’t rush to buy the first thing you see; look around the auctions, garage sales and online to get a feel  for what you like.”

The secret to achieving a sophisticated look rather than student-style feel  is to give you home a sense of cohesion: find a colour  or era you like and reference it throughout the space.  It’s also worth splurging  on one key item.

“It’s good to have one extravagance in a room, a large, beautiful mirror or expensive wallpaper or a really good sofa,” Campbell says. “It will draw the eye and add that wow moment and you can decorate around it with simple, cheap pieces.”

And while auctions, eBay and garage sales are always a good source of bargains, today’s high street also offers affordable pieces. To make the most of a tight budget, take the time to scout around, looking at different brands and prices before you start to spend. “Focus on what you really need and don’t buy things just because they’re a bargain,” she says.


Get the look: five products under £50 that will jazz up your living space

A statement mirror can make an instant focal point. Freestanding mirror, £39,

Cushions and other textiles are a simple and effective way to update a room and you can find good selections on the high street for under £15, such as this antique floral print cushion, £12,

Good lighting can change the mood of a room at the flick of a switch and the high street has a broad selection of styles. BHS ( is worth a visit, as is Sainsbury’s for this Matilda clear glass ceiling light, £18.75,

Set a large bunch of flowers and quirky trinket on this round side table and you’ll give a room a focal point an interior designer would be proud of. Sapporo bamboo side table, £49,

Candles can be a game-changer come evening. Turn the lights off and light candles throughout the room for an instant atmosphere lift. Stockholm candle holders, £10 for three,