We all have a picture in our minds of how we imagine our 'dream home' to look. Unfortunately, such dreams generally come with a steep price tag.
With escalating house prices and a slow economy, more often than not; the 'dream home' budget is blown before you've even picked up the keys. However, do not lose heart or give up on your aspirations. It's simply a case of prioritising and being practical when it comes to working within your budget.
Before you lose all faith, I have some good news. My philosophy is that creating a 'dream home' has nothing to do with finances. To me, it comes from imagination, passion and creativity. It is these three things that will make your home totally unique and that will enable you to create a home that not only has a place in your heart; but will resemble you and your personal style.
Follow my top tips below on how to create your 'dream home' without blowing the budget:
1. Be inspired by designer paints but don't pay the designer price tag. High street hardware shops can match up designer paint colours at half the price.
2. Work around the sales. Research when the sales are commencing and wait. This will save a huge amount of money, particularly if you are purchasing new kitchens or bathrooms.
3. Rather than spending the money on a new kitchen, give the current kitchen a makeover. This may be painting the units, changing the work surfaces or simply changing the door handles. You will be shocked at the difference that a face lift can make to a kitchen with little expense.
4. If you don't like the colour of the hard wood floors then paint them rather than replace them. These days, all the high street hardware stores do great flooring paints off the shelf.
5. Instead of ripping out hideously coloured bathroom tiles, simply paint them. Use water or oil based eggshell paint which covers a multitude of sins and which is ultra-hardwearing. You'll be blown away by the transformation of an unsightly bathroom by simply giving it a lick of paint.
6. Before you rip out all the carpets in your new home; get them professionally cleaned. It's amazing the difference that an intense clean can make to the colour and condition of a used carpet. It is possible that an old carpet can come up like new after a deep stream clean.
7. Designer wallpapers most definitely make a statement and reflect your personal style, but these can be extremely expensive. Instead of wallpapering an entire room, wallpaper a small area such a chimney breast. This way you'll get the same effect, but you'll only need to purchase one roll.
8. Before purchasing new sofas, look into reupholstering the ones you have. This is often a much a cheaper option and there is no risk of buying an uncomfortable replacement. Even better, buy some new cushions that you love; and use these to spruce up your current sofa and give it an entirely new look.
9. Spend time visiting car boot sales and charity shops for pieces of furniture which can be introduced into your scheme at little cost. Mixing old with new will give your home a funky eclectic vibe. I bought the sofas in my children's TV room from a charity shop as I knew they'd be abused. This saved us thousands of pounds and funnily enough, these are actually the most comfortable sofas in the house.
10.Upcycle and luxecycle. Putting your own stamp on items that you've picked up from junk stores, or pieces that have been handed down to you, will instantly give your home a personal touch and resonate your individual style. Use paint, wallpaper and spray paint to refurbish tired or unwanted pieces of furniture to give them a totally new lease of life.
11.Rather than buying entirely new lighting, simply change the lightbulbs and/or lampshades. You'll be amazed by the difference this will make to the feel of the room, as well as the quality of the light.
12.Try and buy items that have dual purpose. For example, buy a bed with drawers built in. This will save you space as well as money.
13.If you can't afford a new bed or a fancy headboard, create one yourself. Use wallpaper or paint to create a headboard on the wall and push the bed up to it. This will create the illusion of an upholstered headboard at a fraction of the price.
14.Rather than buying expensive art work from galleries, look for cheaper alternatives that will create the same effect. I have purchased canvas' from charity shops and painted over them using silver leaf to create abstract originals that have looked ultra-expensive. This way you can tie in the art work to your chosen colour scheme, and can create art that tells your story.
15.Display items around the house that you love and that resemble you. This is the easiest way of creating an interior that resonates your individual style. As an added bonus, it is a great way of saving money as you are displaying items that you already have; rather than buying new ones. I have my favourite shoes displayed in bell jars around the house, and I have the dress my daughter wore to her first birthday party hanging in a frame on my bedroom wall.