You can go the Ikea route, head for somewhere like Furniture Village or go for proper, grown up antiques. Alternatively, why not take a different attitude to home decor and upcycle old or cheap items to dramatically beautiful effect?
Here are four brilliant ideas for creating unusual, useful and seriously funky items for your home from stuff you’d otherwise take to the tip.
Paint, distress and decorate tatty old wooden furniture - Your bedside cabinets or occasional tables are horrid. Cheap chipboard veneer, on their last legs through wear, dull Ikea pieces or just downright ugly. But you can easily turn them into something special.
Clean the piece with warm soapy water and let it dry. Then paint it with a water-based eggshell paint.
Buy a pot of Scumble Glaze, which is basically just mucky varnish. Apply roughly with a kitchen sponge, let it half-dry and gently rub with a clean kitchen sponge or microfibre cloth for a highly fashionable distressed effect. It’s ridiculously easy because you’re actually trying your best to make it look messy and casual. And you’ll find full instructions, with a bit of luck, on the pot. Then embellish your piece of furniture, if you wish, using a decorative rubber stamp or template.
Washing machine drum seating and planters – If your washing machine dies, use the drum to make stunning stools or planters for inside and outside use. Or pick up some old washing machine drums at your local tip. To make stools, cut a piece of wood to cover the top end, paint it and make a circular cushion pad for comfort. If your drum has its existing top still attached, you won’t need to make one yourself.
To make a planter for indoors, fit a wooden circle to the bottom of the drum and stand your plant pots inside.
Instead of wood, you can always use a suitably sized metal tray. I found the perfect tray in a pound shop and because it’s shiny silvery metal, it blends right in and looks like it belongs there.
If you’re using drums as outdoor planters, just stand them outside as they are and plonk your plant pots into them. No extra work required!
Fab wall storage – Screw small metal window box planters, groovy plastic storage boxes, old wooden wine / veg crates or basket weave storage boxes onto the wall for an unusual and practical look.
Drill holes if necessary, use rawlplugs for strength and just screw in. Perfect for storing small bits and bobs in kids’ rooms, for the bathroom and bedroom. I sometimes use No More Nails glue, when I can’t be bothered with all that DIY stuff. It’s ideal for wooden and metal boxes. Here’s a photo, thanks to http://hometolife.co.za.
Accidental art – I was mixing paint for an art project on an old plastic lid from a broken storage box a couple of weeks ago. I left my equipment out overnight and turned the lid over the next day for some reason or other, to discover a piece of ready-made accidental art. How cool is that!
I’ve taken a photo, below, of my ‘masterpiece’ and the frame I’ll be putting it in.
You can also use glass, a fun idea if you have old picture frames hanging around with nothing to put in them. Don’t think about it, just blob your favourite colours onto the glass, mix them up a bit with a brush and take a look on the back to see what you’ve got.
It’s a good idea to do it in stages, letting layers dry in between blobs, to stop the whole thing ending up muddy brown. If you’re using glass and it goes wrong, just soak it in warm water overnight and the acrylic paint will lift off.
Kids are particularly good at this kind of thing because they’re not self-conscious about it, they just have fun. If you’re making a hash of it, let your children have a go!