WITH THOUSANDS OF Instagram interiors accounts at your fingertips, there’s absolutely no shortage of inspiration, especially in an Irish context. What can be difficult however is trying to recreate that style in your own home without a huge price tag.
That is, unless you’re willing to Do It Yourself. For those who are willing to put in a few hours at the weekend, you can create completely unique, inexpensive and often, sentimental pieces for your home. And you can get easily get your hands on everything you need at local DIY stores like B&Q.
So, what’s a good starter project then for the uninitiated and less nimble-fingered among us? We spoke to five DIY lovers about their easiest but most high-impact projects. Here’s what they recommended trying…
1. Make your own inexpensive art
- 1 1. Make your own inexpensive art
- 2 2. Create a unique new headboard
- 3 3. Turn any surface into a blackboard
- 4 4. Build your own affordable shelves
- 5 5. Turn your storage into a comfy seat
- 6 6. Give your old furniture a lease of life
- 7 7. Change your surfaces for less than €10
- 8 8. Transform your bathroom with paint
If like many of us, your current balance wouldn’t stretch to an original artwork, there are many affordable options. Sean McCarthy of interiors blog DIYnewb.ie uses free stock image sites like Unsplash.com. Darren Heaney of Old Victorian New prints his own phone-captured images of buildings and landscapes.
If you’d like something very meaningful, Alex Carberry (The Interior DIYer) suggests helping your toddler to create a finger painting placed in a fancy frame. If the frames you have are anything but fancy, you can customise them yourself with a little spray paint, says Eimear Hutchinson of DIY blog The Two Darlings:
I love to spray paint plain black or white frames in really colourful colours to house my favourite prints or pictures. It’s great to use lots of different colours to create a really colourful gallery wall.
2. Create a unique new headboard
Could your bedroom do with a bit of love? One of the easiest ways to transform it is by creating a new headboard, says Carberry who explains how:
With some wood cut to the same width as your bed, you can create an impactful bespoke headboard surprisingly easily. Fix it to the wall when it’s complete. Choose a wood stain or leave it ‘natural’ for a more industrial look.
If you already have one that you’re not exactly mad about, a reupholstering can do wonders for your bedroom, says Hutchinson:
An easy way to add a new burst of colour is to reupholster a headboard with a few metres of new fabric and a staple gun. You can make it look completely different for less than €20.
3. Turn any surface into a blackboard
Want an easy way to keep the kids entertained for hours for less than €10? Create a chalkboard table for them by using an old table and a lick of chalkboard paint, says Hutchinson:
I upcycled a plain white kid’s table recently by painting the top of it with pink chalkboard paint (it doesn’t have to be black). My girls have great fun drawing on it and it’s really easy to clean.
Similarly, DIY lover Saoirse Findlay (@shinnyscaf) suggests using it on the side of a chest of drawers in your kids’ bedroom, so “they have a place to scribble that isn’t your walls”. Or you can use it to create a family calendar, says Carberry. She even suggests a nifty addition that will allow you to easily stick things to it:
A chalkboard calendar on our kitchen wall would be perfect for our changing schedule and keeping track of activities. If you add a layer of metal paint underneath, you can also hang notes on it using magnets.
4. Build your own affordable shelves
When Darran Heaney of Old Victorian New completely renovated his period redbrick, he was left with a lot of old floor boards, which he turned into affordable storage for his home:
All leftover floorboards need is a sand and a wax. I bought wall brackets from a local DIY store and used them as open shelving in my utility room. Inexpensive, simple to do and really useful.
If you’re low on attic space and high on well, stuff, Findlay says that open shelving can make a huge difference: “It’s a great way to make use of vertical space, even in hallways. You can use baskets on the shelves (spray-painted if you like) to hide a multitude of sins.”
Even creating a simple shelf in the door of your larder or cabinet can make a big difference, says Hutchinson: “We built a spice rack in our larder so it’s easier to see and it was such a simple set of shelves to put up.”
5. Turn your storage into a comfy seat
As all parents will know, it can take a long time for kids to put on their shoes, so it’s worth creating somewhere comfy for them to do it. Hutchinson shares this as one of her “all time favourite storage tricks”:
Take a set of cube shelving like you might get in B&Q, turn it on its side and fit a cushioned seat on top. You can fit all the shoes and bags in it and the kids have somewhere to sit. In a bedroom, fill the shelving part with books so kids can sit on top and read.
6. Give your old furniture a lease of life
Have a dresser or cabinet that’s looking particularly well-worn these days? There’s no need to purchase expensive new furniture when it’s so easy to upgrade your old furniture, says Hutchinson: “You wouldn’t believe the difference paint can make. You can go one step further and add wallpaper or new handles but painting gives it a new lease of life.”
When it comes to paint, the options are endless says Carberry: “You can change a piece so drastically just from the kind of paint – shabby chic chalk paint, high lacquer finish, smooth matte finish…” Carberry adds that “B&Q have have a huge variety of drawer pull options as well as a wide range of tape you can use to create a perfect pattern.”
7. Change your surfaces for less than €10
One of the best kept secrets in the DIY world? It’s actually something pretty temporary that you can get away with even in rental accommodation, says Carberry:
I’m a huge fan of contact paper. It’s something people tend to think of for covering textbooks but it can be used around your home. I just covered the kitchen counters in faux marble to update our apartment.
You can also use it on dining room tables, coffee tables, shelves and containers to give them a luxurious look for a fraction of the price that real marble would potentially cost.
8. Transform your bathroom with paint
Recently, Heaney was asked to help transform his sister’s master bedroom on a pretty tight budget. It’s very possible to upgrade a bathroom if you invest in the right items, says Heaney, who shares his picks:
A fresh coat of paint makes a big difference. Fresh towels, some shelving and a new blind can give a whole new look. If your budget is very limited, changing taps and adding mirrors is the way to go.