1 June 2013

Room for Improvement Challenge

I got a new (well to me anyway) sofa recently.  When the new sofa arrived it made me longing to change other little bits about my flat.  On the whole I love my home but there are always little things you wish you could do.

So when Money Supermarket got in touch asking if I wanted to take part in their Room for Improvement Challenge I jumped at the chance.  The challenge: to improve a room in my house, anyway I liked, a whole new look, re-painting the walls, new art, whatever, but to do it all for £50! I'm always on a tight budget and living in a rented flat I am not really permitted to make massive changes, so I wondered if the £50 might stretch to make a few little changes, so why not I thought, challenge accepted!

Above and below are the 'before' photos of the main room in my flat, it is an open plan living, dining room and kitchen.  take particular note here of the sofa, the walls and the window.

I am sure some people may recognise the big artwork, it is a copy of an album by the band Korn, skillfully painted by my good friend Sian for my 21st birthday, I have had this painting up on my walls ever since and I love it, it is a masterpiece.  However I am slowly trying to go for a more coherent 'look' for my room and perhaps with the brown shades it doesn't quite go.  So the painting is now pride of place in the hallway and I have made some new art for this space.

I love having old family photos on the walls but this wall could really do with a re-vamp and I think it would be nice to have some new pictures here to look at.

The curtains you see in this pic were handmade by me, you can see the post about them here, but again they are dark coloured and I was never entirely happy with them.

So this is what I bought! And here is what I did with it all, ta da... the 'after' photos...

The red 'bathe' is destined for the bathroom, it was in the bargain bin and I couldn't resist it.  I have now painted it blue and I am hoping to do a full bathroom makeover soon, so I may blog about this too....

I used one of the creamy fleece blankets on the back of the sofa and one over the seat, these do a really good job to lighten up the sofa and I like having cosy fleecy throws to sit on and snuggle into.

You can spot the new light shade here too. I didn't have a light shade before, I took it off as it was making the room too dark, but I didn't really love the exposed bulb look.  This light shade is all just holes so lets out loads of light and makes the room look a bit more finished off.

The curtains are by far my new fave bit about the whole room. I wasn't sure what kind of curtains I wanted, just something a bit lighter. I had polka dots in my head (I always have polka dots in my head!), perhaps white with red dots... so I went with my Mum to the local market to the fabric shop to see what they had.  We both spotted the gingham and instantly knew it was right.  I love gingham, it is the exact material of the dresses I used to wear in the summer for school.  Polka dot curtains would be polka overkill, and I love mixing and matching different prints.    

Mum kindly made these curtains for me, she is so much better with a sewing machine than I am! Thanks Mum, I LOVE them, they go so well in my flat, they let in so much light and look like they were always meant to be here.

So next up was to replace the big brown Korn painting with something that fitted in with the room a little more.  I have liked these decoupage letters from Hobbycraft for a while now but never really knowing what I could do with them.  This 'home' wall art just came to me in a light bulb moment. It is just simple, gives me more of the wall so makes the room lighter but I think it looks really nice.  This was my first attempt at decoupage too, I simply ripped up little bits of red polka dot (of course) paper and glued in place with a PVA/water mix.  I had some leftover blue paint from my bookcase so painted the alternate letters with this.

Here is a detail of my new photo wall.  I like the look of different frames in different sizes and colours, I don't like things too matchey and prefer things when they don't look too polished and perfect (which I could never achieve anyway! haha ) I stayed to my colour palette of red blue and green in an attempt to make the flat have a coherent look. I simply painted over some old frames and painted the cheap simple wooden ones I bought with some paint I already had.  I got rid of the embarrassing photos of myself with red hair and replaced with nice family photos.  I had some photos elsewhere in the room but they are all now together on this one wall.  I am rather pleased with this now.

And here are a few final little details to finish the room off...

My strawberry doorstop.  The bathroom door is off the kitchen so this little strawberry actually sits in the kitchen.  I keep the door slightly ajar for Meg as her food is randomly in the bathroom!

Hurrah, I finally got a Jenny and the Magic feather Chicken doorstop! Ok so I spent no money on this, it was a gift, but it arrived at the same time as I was completing this makeover so have included it here.  Do go to Jen's blog to see how to make them!

No room makeover would be complete without a little crochet something... I made up this little woolly star from some scrap wool the other evening, so it now hangs on the living room door.

Here is the final costing run down:

Creamy fleece blankets - £3.50 each, £7 B&M bargains
'Bathe' - £2 B&M Bargains
Wooden frames - £1 each, £2 Wilkinsons
Light shade - £7 Dunelm Mill
Strawberry doorstop £8 Dunelm Mill
Curtain fabric - £10 local market
Curtain tape - 40p per metre, x3 metres £1.20 local market
Curtain red cotton - £2 Dunelm Mill
Decoupage letters - £1.99 each, x4 £7.96 Hobbycraft
Red spot wrapping paper - £2 Hobbycraft
Paint - already had
Chicken doorstop - gift
Star crochet hanging - wool already had

Total spent £49.16 - 84p change from £50, Challenge Completed!

I am so glad I took part in this challenge.  I often get put off by thinking that any makeovers are costly and will require paint etc which I cannot do.  I love shops like Wilkinsons, Dunelm, B&M Bargains and my local market as you can get really cheap and pretty house stuff.  This challenge has proven that you can make tiny little changes to a room on a very tight budget and they can totally transform it. I now look round my flat and I am so happy, the new curtains let in so much light, I am pleased with my new frames and artwork, I am so glad that I took part.

What little things would you want to change about your home on a £50 budget?  You can see the other challengees on the Money Supermarket Pinterest site here... 


  1. It all looks fantastic Jo! Well done on finding such lovely things on a budget.

    Claire x

  2. looks fantastic! what a cute flat you have, I love the shape of the roof! I especially love your red curtains and the "HOME" letters on your wall. i'm feeling very inspired now!!!! thankyou

  3. This looks great. You've done a good job of making improvements without touching the actual house - not sure I would have been able to do the challenge in a rented house, first thing I thought of was paint! You can see my attempts here http://www.sayitsays.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/room-for-improvement.html


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