Mad About . . .

Decorating on a Budget and How to Plan Kids’ Rooms: Podcast Notes

21st March 2019

This week on the podcast we discussed whether Instagram is simply the 21st century version of Keeping Up With The Jones (you can listen here) and then we moved on to talk about quick budget home updates and how to decorate kids’ rooms, which I have written about below for listeners who like to read a summary and readers who don’t like to listen but might find the information helpful.

painted furniture by Annie Sloan styled by Marianne Cotterill

painted furniture by Annie Sloan styled by Marianne Cotterill

All I would say on the instagram chat is that figures from our sponsors DFS found that 12 per cent of people admitted to decorating their homes according to things they saw on social media (and I bet there are a lot more who didn’t own up to it!).

So, budget home updates. Of course there’s no doubt that a tin of paint is the cheapest and most transformative thing you can do – especially if you do it yourself.

Howdens kitchen cupboards with customised mdf doors by Sophie Robinson

Howdens kitchen cupboards with customised mdf doors by Sophie Robinson

We discussed painting half walls, and ceilings and painting different shapes on the walls as well as painting floorboards, which if they aren’t good enough to leave bare, can be a good way to hide mismatching ones. Then you can throw a rug over the top.

Rugs can be expensive, so what I have done on a couple of occasions is buy a piece of carpet and have the edges hemmed. You can just see in the image below that is what I did there. I also bought these cheap trestle legs from Ikea and painted them pink to make the desk look a bit more interesting.

pink fireplace and trestle legs image by James Balston

pink fireplace and trestle legs image by James Balston

We also spoke about painting furniture (which I wrote about in full here) and sourcing it from ebay, auctions and even freecyle and gumtree. That way you can save something from landfill and create a completely bespoke piece of furniture for yourself. You can buy chalk paint, which needs no prep from Annie Sloan.

Zoe Pocock, of Muck N Brass, creates wonderful furniture by wallpapering it and also uses old shop mannequins to create hooks (these ones below would also work as great hooks in a dressing room) and plant stands.

hand wall lights by mucknbrass £70

hand wall lights by mucknbrass £70

When it comes to kitchens you can do as I have done in the past and Sophie has done now and buy cheap carcasses (I went to Ikea and Sophie to Howdens) and add your own MDF doors. However, be warned, this may be cheaper but it can be quite labour intensive with all the painting and sanding and prepping.

We agreed it’s hard to do a bathroom makeover on the cheap although you can make cosmetic changes with shower curtains and paint and I did once cover a horrid tiled floor with cork tiles. Cleaning the grout will make a huge difference to this room even if you can’t change the decor.

mannequin plant stands by zoe pocock of mucknbrass

mannequin plant stands by zoe pocock of mucknbrass

I have never been terribly good at DIY but we spoke about Pati Robins, who lives in a rented house and has made enormous changes on a budget including making these cushions from ikea rugs. She has a tutorial here. Grillo Designs also lives in a rented house and creates many Ikea hacks.

diy cushion from signe rug by pati robins

diy cushion from signe rug by pati robins

Now when it comes to planning the kids rooms, there are two main things you need to remember. One it’s impossible to keep the same decor from 8-18. So this is the room where sticking to a budget is necessary as there will be changes. And the other is that it’s a good idea to allow your child some say in how the room looks as they will feel ownership of it and may even keep it tidier.

Sophie’s son’s bedroom is below and it’s painted in Atomic Red by Little Greene. Arthur chose the colour but Sophie provided him with an edited list of reds that she had pre-approved. I did the same with the 18yo who wanted a lime green bedroom when he was 11. We went for a non budget Zoffany shade because I couldn’t live with any of the more affordable (and more neon) options. He painted only one wall and when he was 15 he painted over it in white. I tried to link but I think it’s been discontinued.

atomic red walls by little greene in the home of sophie robinson

atomic red walls by little greene in the home of sophie robinson

Another key thing to consider is the flooring. Small kids spend a lot of time on the floor but a carpet will get trashed. Sophie has put down seagrass with a large (cheap) Ikea rug over the top to protect it. I bought cheap carpet and replaced it after a few years.

We reckoned that, on average, you would want to change a kid’s room from birth to about 4/5 (starting school) then again at the end of primary (this can be a small tweak and may just involve removing some of the larger toys and changing the storage) and then again at 13 when they go to secondary school – this one, if done right, can last until they are 18.

With that in mind it’s probably not worth spending huge amounts of money on nappy changing tables and specialised nursery kit although it’s tempting – especially when it’s your first child. A chest of drawers that you can lie a baby on to change it with the equipment stored works perfectly well. I used a table that later became my desk with both mine.

paint effects and wallpaper ceiling in the home of erica davies

paint effects and wallpaper ceiling in the home of erica davies

Now this isn’t an exhaustive list of what we talked about – as I say you can listen to the podcast here – but I hope if gives you some food for thought. If you would like me to expand on any of the subjects I have touched on here then let me know. I think I did promise to do a piece on children’s rooms so let me know if you would more on that.

With thanks as ever to DFS for sponsoring the podcast for the last two series and also happily for series 3 allowing us to carry on. We will be having guests too so if you haven’t already subscribed then please do so so you don’t miss an episode. 

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  • Katie 23rd March 2019 at 11:54 am

    More on children’s rooms and playrooms in particular would be great. We are about to decorate our playroom and want something that will be adaptable as they get older. All the examples I find are very geared towards under 5s and ours are just leaving that age bracket. Absolutely love your blog and the podcasts; they make me giggle on my commute which gets me some funny looks from other passengers!

  • Caroline R 22nd March 2019 at 11:57 am

    Lots of children’s room tips would be appreciated as well as hacks on painting furniture. I have lots of Mamas and Papas gloss off-white furniture that I want to freshen up but don’t know where to begin with regards to sanding etc.

  • Clare 21st March 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Yes I would love more ideas on childrens rooms.. the more hacks and budget cutting ideas, the better 😉

  • Anna 21st March 2019 at 11:13 am

    A couple of comments. I am surprised to read Howden carcasses were used and then other doors were chosen. There are cheaper carcasses and Howden’s supply attractive doors on their units, so shop around if you intend to replicate Sophie.

    I have learnt that we greatly influence our children’s tastes in decor. No doubt Sophie’s son will always love lots of colour. Starting from our son’s red, black and white bedroom age 7, he moved to black and white at 14. Then to white and deep aubergine when he had his first flat. Now he and his family live in a period house with most of our furniture!!

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