How do you furnish your living space with just £500 to spend? Sounds impossible! Well, influencer Kelsey Heinrichs took on the challenge to mark Shared Ownership Week 2021 and shows just how this can be achieved with her savvy tips and tricks to style your dream room without breaking the bank
Kelsey Heinrichs has always been passionate about interiors. Her parents owned an antique shop and as a child she was interested in colours and how to use them and had a natural knack of knowing how to put things together to create the perfect space.
Kelsey has been a graphic designer and photographer for more than 15 years, and has now branched out to become a blogger and influencer, sharing her stories and ideas on Instagram.
She said, “I was challenged to transform an empty space into a cosy and chic environment while keeping to a budget. More often than not, when you move into your new place, there isn’t much money left in the pot which you can dedicate to decorating. Often, first time buyers will go for months on end using camping chairs, picnic tables, crusty cabinets and hand-me-downs until they can eventually afford to upgrade. However, the good news is that you can still have fabulous furnishings on move-in day – with a little interior innovation and guidance.”
Antique adds character and a profit!
It goes without saying that if you buy secondhand you’re bound to save money, but what about actually making a profit on an antique piece of furniture?
If antique furniture is looked after properly, most antiques appreciate in value and often you can even make your money back on an item. I came across this mid-century G Plan coffee table on Facebook Marketplace for only £30! Searching on eBay and Etsy for G Plan coffee tables, I found the exact same model that was selling for over £300.
Tip: you can set up a notification alert on Facebook Marketplace for key words such as “mid-century” so that way you’ll be notified as soon as a new listing goes live, as when it comes to bargains, time really is of the essence.
Save on brand names
Unlike antique furniture, modern furniture from IKEA, for example, almost instantly devalues as soon as you’ve checked out. You can find items for IKEA for less than half the retail price on Facebook Marketplace. When searching for a dining table & chairs, I found this IKEA Gamlared/Stefan dining set which retails for £129. It was only four months old, so it was practically brand new and in perfect condition and I managed to get it for £40.
The same principle goes with saving on designer furniture; try searching on Facebook Marketplace and eBay for brand names such as MADE, Dwell, Loaf, Swoon and Heal’s – I did just that and managed to find this stylish Swoon TV unit for £50 which originally retailed for £329 and it was in amazing condition. I also picked up a massive 2.5m x 3.5m woven rug for £50 (originally £300 from IKEA). Don’t be afraid to haggle on Facebook Marketplace especially if the item you’re interested in has been listed for over two weeks, as usually by that point the seller is willing to accept a reasonable offer below their asking price as they just want the advertised item gone.
New does not equal expensive if you know where to shop
Not everyone has the time to scour secondhand listings and drive miles to pick up furniture, however it’s definitely possible to buy brand new furniture and get it delivered to your doorstep while sticking to a budget. There are a few pieces I bought new for this living area makeover, including this £20 stylish matte black lamp from Habitat, a £29.99 bookcase I ordered from eBay with free shipping and a modern scandi-style sofa I got for £175.99 from Amazon, which arrived two days after I ordered it. This sofa is very versatile as it folds down into a bed which means there’s no need to buy a blow-up mattress for when guests stay over.
Another way to score affordable new furniture is to shop the sales, duh! One of my favourite interior brands, La Redoute, regularly has huge 40-60% off sales, so make sure you subscribe to the newsletter so you don’t miss out on big savings. H&M notably has a free-to-join members club with a rewards system where you’ll get sent £3 vouchers, which can definitely add up to a decent discount.
DIY Artwork for less
Filling a blank wall in your home can often seem overwhelming, and my go-to recommendations are usually decorative pieces like mirrors or clocks or gallery walls but they are usually quite expensive to source. If you’ve got time on your side, I highly recommend getting creative and making your own DIY masterpiece on a budget. I was able to recreate two artworks that would have set me back £300 to buy but only cost me £15 in materials.
Two A2-sized stretched canvases set me back £12 from my local art store, or you can also buy canvases online from The Works or Hobbycraft. You can pick up cheap paintbrushes in Wilko and if you visit your local B&Q store they usually have a discounted table full of paint samples for 50p and £1 a pop. Before you start putting paint to canvas, go online and find some inspiration on Pinterest or from art print stores like Desenio, Junique or the Poster Store. Find a style you love and is realistically achievable (abstract lines and shapes are a lot easier to paint) and you’ll soon have a unique masterpiece at a fraction of the price.
Shop the high street for affordable home decor
It’s the small details that really bring a room together. In fact, it was these woven placemats from Dunelm that helped me decide on the black and beige colour theme. At Dunelm, I was able to source on-trend decor pieces for less than a fiver, including the white tealight holder for £3 and a black candelabra for £4.80 which I’ve used as a centrepiece for the dining setting. At Primark, I found a huge woven storage basket for £8 and a rattan glass jug for £8, which I’ve used as a flower vase. From H&M you can always find affordable textiles like the beige £2.99 seat cushions, which give a contrasting look to the black dining chairs and the olive green, £2.99, cushion covers which add a pop of colour to the sofa.
£500 cost breakdown
Dunelm white tealight holder — £3
Dunelm black candelabra — £4.80
Dunelm placemats — 2 for £6
H&M 2 x twill seat cushions — 2 for £7.98
Primark woven storage basket — £8
Primark jute glass jug — £8
H&M cotton canvas cushion cover — 3 for £8.97
Dunelm black vase — £10
Dunelm table runner — £12
DIY canvas art — £15 for 2 canvases & paints
H&M fringed blanket — £17.99
Habitat Morlie floor lamp — £20
White ladder bookcase — £29.95
G Plan teak coffee table — £30 via Facebook Marketplace (sells for £200-£300)
IKEA Hellested 2.5 x 3.5m rug — £50 via Facebook Marketplace (originally £300)
Swoon Mabley TV unit — £50 via Facebook Marketplace (originally £329)
IKEA Gamlared/Stefan dining set — £40 via Facebook Marketplace (originally £129)
Modern three-seater sofa bed — £175.99
TOTAL COST = £497.68