For most families, wages are staying the same while the cost of living is going up. This means that there isn’t much left over for discretionary spending such as buying a new fitted kitchen, improving your bathroom, or re-doing the rest of the house.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t redecorate, though – it just means that you might need to get creative about how you do it, and perhaps do more of it in michael chudi ejekam style, instead of hiring in a carpenter or a painter to do the work for you.
The following tips will help you to save money without skimping on the important bits of your new design.Shop around
This might sound like an obvious tip, but it’s one many people overlook. You don’t have to go to the biggest carpet shop in town for your new carpets, and you don’t have to go to a huge department store for your wallpaper. Pay a visit to the local discount stores, and don’t turn your nose up at carpet offcuts. They may be the perfect fit for your room.
Most big cities have a local community these days, and people are giving away everything from computer desks to sofas. If you’re in need of some furniture or an old household appliance, check the local group to see if anyone is offering that sort of thing. Check the rules before you post a wanted ad, though – many groups ask for people to post an offer or two before they post a wanted ad.Prioritise
Think about your decorating plans, and consider what you really want, and what is just a “it would be nice to have”. If you have your heart set on internal oak doors, and the particular ledge and brace doors you want eat up a lot of your budget, what are you willing to cut back on to get them? Would you accept a fake leather chair instead of real leather? Do you really need the most expensive wallpaper in the entire shop?Get your hands dirty
How much of your budget is going on painters, carpenters, plumbers, and other tradesmen? Could you do some of the work yourself? Installing some internal oak doors doesn’t require a lot of skill – even ledge and brace doors are easy enough if you know which end of a screwdriver to hold. Hanging wallpaper is an exercise in patience more than anything else, and many plumbing jobs can be done by a lay person as long as they follow the instructions to the letter.
Of course, if you’re uncomfortable with performing a certain job DIY-style, then you should bring in an expert – especially if your concerns are safety related. However, if you can reduce your labour bills by even a few hours, that’s probably a fairly substantial financial saving. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to point to that little piece of decorating and say with pride that you did it yourself.
Whether you’ve just recently found a dream home that’s in need of a little renovating TLC, or your existing home needs a makeover, decorating or renovating can be a trying process. Thankfully, there are plenty of free online services to help make it easier for you, and we think they’re much more fun and interesting than calculators and apps for figuring out home loans and mortgages!
Here’s our top pick of 5 free online services to give you a helping hand when you’re decorating or renovating your home.
Ah, Pinterest. What can we say? Pinterest is the ultimate playground for interior design addicts (not to mention wedding planners, craft and DIY junkies, and those addicted to photos of delicious recipes – otherwise known as “food porn”). Before you start decorating, you may want to start off by gathering some inspirational pictures and links on Pinterest, and saving them to a dedicated “board”. Save bookmarks to your favourite interior design blogs, decorating stores, colour schemes or amazing photos of celebrity homes.
MyColour Visualiser by Dulux
Everybody knows that choosing a paint colour based on a tiny 2cmx2cm swatch of coloured plastic is the most impractical thing in the world. That’s why Dulux has developed their ingenious MyColour site, which lets you visualise what thousands of different colour combos could potentially look like in your home – without even having to do a single test swatch. Simply upload a photo of your room, and then test out the colours of your choice. It will even help you calculate how much paint you’ll need to buy to cover your desired wall space, and the site has plenty of helpful hints to keep in mind when the time comes to actually put those paint brushes to work.
IKEA Kitchen Planner
The kitchen is the heart of the home – or at least it is for foodies who love spending time cooking up delicious goodies for their friends and family. If you’re renovating your kitchen, IKEA’s Kitchen Planner is a must-see tool which allows you to build your dream kitchen in 3D. It allows you to work with the space that you already have, create detailed floor plans, and print out your design, drawings and products list for easy shopping when it’s time to actually buy your kitchen and install it. Even if you don’t end up buying all of your kitchen fitouts from IKEA, it’s still a great way to figure out what the essential features of your kitchen need to be.
Urban Barn’s The Make Room
The Make Room is an oldie but a goodie that’s become a cult favourite with design bloggers and interior decorators everywhere. The online service was created by Canadian homewares and furniture retailer Urban Barn, and lets you fit out an entire room with actual furniture and products available from their store. Even if you’re not in Canada and can’t buy the items directly from your floor plan, it’s still a useful way to start playing around with what kind of furniture, colours, textures and patterns you like to see in a room.Better Homes and Gardens Arrange-a-RoomSimilar to The Make Room, Better Homes and Gardens’ Arrange-a-Room lets you do just that – arrange a room. It lets you choose your room shape and choose the ideal furniture and decorations to fill the space. Colour-coordinate the trimmings and décor, and print or send your room to your partner or friends once you’re done. They’ve also got a range of handy videos, tips and articles to make arranging and decorating your house even easier, so it’s a great all-in-one tool for DIY decorators.What are some of your favourite online tools for home decorating or renovating?
Whilst celebrities are known for spending a lot of green for their homes, a select few actually choose to spend their money on a green home. Here’s a list of five celebrities who live in awe-inspiring green homes.Daryl Hannah
Daryl Hannah is first on our list. Known for her roles in the movies Splash and Blade Runner, she’s now more famous for being an environmental activist. Her home in the Rocky Mountains, whilst not as stunning a castle as we’re used to seeing, is almost completely self-sufficient. Practically all electricity is provided by a large array of solar panels that also serves as an awning. For cloudy times, the property features a biodiesel generator to temporarily replace or supplement the solar power. There also is a system for waste water recycling, as well as an extensive organic garden. The property also has a winterized barn that is made of reclaimed wood. To top it off, Daryl Hannah drives a car that runs on biodiesel. How green do you want them?
Daryl Hannah’s home
Not as green as Daryl Hannah, but green enough to make it on our list is Julia Roberts. Roberts spent an estimated AU$19.5 million for green renovations to the Malibu home that she shares with her husband Danny Moder and their three children. The renovation included recycled tiling and wood harvested from sustainable forests. Solar panels on the roof also harness the Malibu sun’s power. Roberts, famous for her leading role in the movies Pretty Woman, Notting Hill, and Erin Brokovich, has openly embraced the green lifestyle after becoming a mom. She reportedly used eco-friendly diapers for all of her kids and purchases green products with the advice from her friend and green lifestyle books author Sophie Uliano.
Julia Roberts’ home
Victoria’s Secret angel Gisele Bundchen> is another stylish lady who is also eco-conscious. Bundchen is active in promoting environmental issues that include clean water initiatives and the preservation of South American rainforests. She is now married to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the couple has an eco-friendly estate outside Los Angeles. Their luxurious home (or let’ face it, we might as well call it a ‘castle’) features solar panels, a rainwater recycling system, and is decked out with all energy-efficient appliances. Whether all these ‘appliances’ are really necessary remains a question, but we’ll give her points for the thought.
Gisele Bundchen’s castle
Bryan Cranston, star of the hit series Breaking Bad, is working on a project to remodel a beachfront 1940s era bungalow in Ventura, California into a net-zero home. The project takes a lot of care to ensure that the materials from the old structure are salvaged to minimize waste that would otherwise go to landfills. Like the other homes in our list, it also features rooftop solar panels, rainwater recycling, as well as high levels of insulation and other energy-saving features. Cranston and his wife are aiming to get LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification for their home. Kudos, Bryan.
Last on our list (and unfortunately without an image) is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whom most of us know as ‘Elaine’ from the hit ‘90s show Seinfeld or her more recent role in the acclaimed HBO show Veep. Another environmentalist, she and her husband actor/writer Brad Hall converted a 1930s era structure into a green home that can produce almost all of its energy by itself. Their green abode features solar panels on the roof, solar water heating, sustainable hardwoods and a “thermal chimney” that takes care of the hot air inside of the house. Like Cranston’s remodel project, the Dreyfus-Hall home salvaged a bulk of the material from the old home and incorporated it into the new structure.
These five green celebrity homes showcase what’s possible when building or renovating a property with the environment in mind. Whether starting from scratch or rebuilding an old structure, there are ways to make sure that your home can be good for the environment.