The Homemade Home

Some homes can be real money gobblers. We save and save to afford them in the first place. And, the costs don’t end there. We move in, paint the walls, lay new flooring, tidy or redesign the garden. Sometimes we have to hire people to do professional jobs, other times we have to make do by ourselves.

From the price of getting the place looking right, to the cost of maintenance. There may not be any way around it, but there are ways to lessen the blow. Getting homemade at home is a sure way to cut your living costs. Not to mention that it allows you to get your house how you want it. Since moving into our new home, we have done most of the improvements ourselves. We have lived here now for 7 months and nearly every single day at least some of the time has been spent improving the property and its garden. There is a huge sense of pride knowing how hard you’ve worked, especially when you start to see it all come together. If you’re interested in turning your hand to home improvement, here are a few things to consider.

My kitchen curtains. Classic 1960's flower power. £3.50 charity shop. I have a blue table cloth to match.
My kitchen curtains. Classic 1960’s flower power. £3.50 charity shop. I have a blue table cloth to match.

Furniture

No home can function without furniture. Well, it can, but it wouldn’t be very comfortable! Without the addition of furniture, your four walls just become an empty box. When you’re starting out, though, furniture is a significant expense. There’s so much to get! That’s why it’s worth turning your DIY skills to furniture making first. There’s no need to skimp on quality, either. Buying good quality materials is still going to save you a lot of money. Find out what you need, and make sure to buy the best materials possible. They may not be the cheapest option, but you’ll be able to rest easy that your furniture will last. Make sure, too, to use proper adhesives when joining. A company like this Henkel distributor offer adhesive options that you can rely on. Make sure, too, to learn what you need to do before you get started. If you’ve never made furniture, research can tell you everything you need to know.

If you don’t fancy having a go at building your own furniture, why not visit some local charity shops or re-use barns in your local area. Keep your eyes peeled on Facebook, Gumtree or Freecycle for free items that you can have a go at upcycling or restoring yourself. It’s great fun, you can learn a new hobby and if you enjoy it so much it may even become a little business venture!

Decor


Once your furniture is ready to go, it’s time to turn your attention to decor. This may not be as necessary, but it’s the best way to add personality to your home. You can have a lot of fun with this. Make blankets and cushions to include in every room. You can match them to the decor in each space to ensure they work well. You could also get crafty by painting pictures for the walls. Why not go all out and make curtains? There’s no limit to what you can do. You don’t have to wait to find the perfect piece for each room. You can make it instead!

My home is very much a 1930’s -1970’s inspired home, mainly focusing on the 1930’s. Many of our items are original pieces that we have collected over the years. Our fireplace, armchairs, hanging paintings and even a complete Kitchenette are all lucky finds. I have also learnt to crochet and created a few throws and blankets for the house. YouTube has some fab videos to get you started and once you learn the basic’s, it can become very addictive!

Whipping up an Aunt Ruby’s pudding on the #vintage kitchenette. #1940s #retro #cooking #baking

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Find your style, play with it, tweak it and see what works for you. What I love most about having a handmade home is looking around and seeing items that are made by myself, or unique to my home. I don’t like having generic Ikea furniture that (it seems) nearly everyone else owns. I love having a story to tell about my items and people love asking about them too.

Upcycling

As I briefly mentioned above, it’s also worth mentioning the value of upcycling in your home. This is the perfect way to incorporate everyday items into your décor. Old jars, for example, are fantastic for storage. They can also make excellent vases- one of my favourites is an old coffee jar that now displays my cut flowers. I’ve done nothing to it, other than remove the label. If you have any wooden pallets, think about how you could incorporate those (we used some to make our own large compost heap for the garden) Or, you might want to use them as a base for house plants. Don’t be tempted to grow veg in them though, as some pallets have been treated with chemicals that can leach out into the soil and into your veg. Check the serial numbers (google can help you with this) if you really want to do so.

How about making some cushions from old t-shirts? Using this method will save you loads of money. Plus, you’ll have some truly unique pieces for your home! I have recently seen some fab cushion covers made from old men’s shirts. These make lovely keepsakes and the kids will enjoy cuddling into them at night.

I’m currently making a rag rug for our home from old bedding. I’m simply cutting the bedding into strips and circular crocheting with a big hook. Again, YouTube is amazing for tutorials and it’s a new skill that can be picked up very easily. Start saving your old bedding, t-shirts and curtains for this (or ask your family and friends for donations) and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your own rag rug can be made!

My rag rug made from scraps. Great fun and a new skill to learn.
My rag rug made from scraps. Great fun and a new skill to learn.

 

Cut Your Home Living Costs With These Easy Changes

Having a family can be pretty expensive, and the bills just seem to rack up sometimes, especially throughout winter. It’d be good to have a bit more money in the bank, though. Compromising on treats isn’t necessarily the best way to pull that money back- but believe me it definitely works. But there’s more to saving money than cutting back on bottles of wine and expensive puddings! Cutting living costs and seeing the rewards all starts at home. If you’d like a bit more in your bank account at the end of each month, give some of these great money saving tips a go.

Go energy efficient

Switching from generic halogen bulbs to LED light bulbs can make a significant saving. Obviously, the upfront cost is a bit more, and the bulbs themselves are a tad more expensive, but the benefits outweigh this by far. LED bulbs last for years longer than halogen bulbs, and they take significantly less energy to work, and they even light the room more brightly, so you require fewer of them. In the long run, LED bulbs are a great investment.

We’ve started swapping the bulbs in our home with LED versions. The brightness is extreme, which I’m not a huge fan of. I chose large lampshade to dull the brightness down a touch. A small price to pay for long lasting results.

Don’t let the heat escape

In the winter months, we pay hundreds of pounds to heat our home, only for some of that heat to escape into the atmosphere. This expenditure is obviously completely unnecessary and is significantly cut by improved insulation. Better sealant around windows can account for huge savings, as can new loft insulation. Stopping heat from escaping through roofs is really important. Conservatories with corrugated plastic roofs are particularly prone, so replacing it with something like these Guardian Warm Roof styles solid roofing can make a huge difference. If you’re paying for the heat, you might as well keep it in your home for as long as possible after all!

You can read my full blog post about keeping heat inside of your home here.

Unplug unused electrical items

It’s a common myth that electrical items have to be in use for them to draw electricity, but actually they can be using small amounts, even when they’re on standby. Mobile phone chargers are particularly bad for this, and could be hiking up your electricity bill even when there’s no phone plugged in. Turn off any appliances which aren’t in use and see how much your bill drops by. Just one little red standby light needs power to stay alit. Turn it off when it isn’t needed. If you’re off on holiday make sure you turn everything off. Things like Wi-Fi and ovens all take electric (oven clocks I’m on about here) even when not in use. It will also reduce your risk of a house fire.

Lower your hot water temperature

Many of us have our hot water set to a temperature which is far too high, meaning that our boilers have to go into overdrive to heat the water, using energy as it works. Turning the thermometer down by just one degree could save you 10% on your heating bill, so it’s totally worth it.

Bulk cook meals

We have to feed our families, that’s a given. But cooking a fresh meal every day can be time-consuming, energy-consuming, and costly. Bulk cooking huge meals, such as chilli con carne, hearty winter stew, and spaghetti Bolognese can save you loads on your weekly shopping bill, and a whole lot of time as well. A slow cooker is the ultimate investment for bulk cooking – you’ll never look back. Also keeping your freezer fully stocked with quick and easy pre-prepared dinners, keeps your freezer working effectively. An empty freezer has to work harder to keep cool!

Cutting living costs doesn’t mean freezing in the cold days of winter, or cutting out all the fun things – just a few choice changes can do the world of good… and save a few pence too!