Spending so much time at home, I think many of us are looking to take on some home improvements, or taking on upcycling projects. But, with limited budgets can you create your dream home? Caroline Bond of Kittie Kipper walks us around her upcycled home, and inspires us with her creative, affordable ideas.
“I have always loved a mooch in a charity shop. I love a car boot fair, checking the local ads for table top sales and snooping around salvage yards. Those old types of shop that have packed shelves and dark backrooms. The ones filled with books, mirrors, dusty old furniture, mothball scented clothes, lamps and glass from the Seventies. Affordable Upcycled Home ideas, the perfect way to buy items to express your individuality – without breaking the bank.
When I was a teenage “Grunger”, I loved charity shops for fashion. Our little seaside town was packed with them. I could kit myself out in Babes in Toyland and Courtney Love styles for pennies. Underwear-type slips, petticoats, with oversized cardigans, big boots, DMs and tights were available in every shop. So, my love of secondhand fashion and things, started relatively young – maybe aged 13. Something about being able to create my own style felt empowering at that age.
Affordable Upcycled Home ideas – where to begin?
I’ve been collecting bits and bobs that I like over the years. Coming up with Affordable Upcycled Home ideas, it’s been a real labour of love. I have amassed a collection of ceramics and artworks from different points in time. I collect bones and skulls too. Curiosities, beads, dug up glass bottles from Victorian bottle dumps and old clay pipes from other people’s mud larking collections.
You can create so much from things you find and the only limit is your own creativity.
Collecting as you go can mean that you are a bit squished, especially if you don’t have much room and no storage. But, with a little bit of visualisation and some sometimes very necessary measuring, you can make yourself lots of space by elevating things e.g. on shelves.
Making a house a home
We bought our seaside Seventies mid-terrace house in 2010. It has a lovely view out to sea which was the reason we bought this place. It’s not got “curb appeal” (as an estate agent would describe it) but it’s filled with heart and always seems to surprise people when they come in. I guess they have judged the book by the cover before even opening it up!
Max or Minimalist?
I am and always have been, a maximalist. It’s my belief that we imprint ourselves on our homes. And, if you put your heart into it, it’s possible to get a look and feel you want for a very minimal price. It takes patience and time but planning for affordable upcycled home ideas, it is doable.
I’m an artist, a hoarder and a minimalist’s nightmare.
Now we are all at home we needed to get some much needed space in the house. So the one job I’ve wanted to do since we moved in was to get some shelves up. We have finally put them up, and added the much needed storage this place has always lacked. Without storage we have been falling all over each other!
Most of our house has magnolia paint over the top of the original Seventies’ wallpaper. I wanted shelving that would look clean against that colour paint. The wallpaper is dated, wonky with raised designs. Some floral and some of it is that sawdust stuff that’s textured. I’ve never minded it to be honest, it’s a little quirky and with lots of hanging wall art you don’t see that much if it anyway. Paint is cheap from places like B&Q. So, painting the whole house with tubs that cost under a tenner was affordable.
On the Shelf
I looked at shelving brackets, (the parts of shelves that are attached to the wall). It’s actually obscene the price of some of these! Can anyone really afford to pay £15+ for one set of brackets? This is an area where you can really save money! We were going to have to hunt down a cheaper alternative…
With white brackets in mind, I looked at wood to go on them. Shelves were just as obscene in price as the brackets. We wanted 12, so to cut costs we bought basic gravel board at £7 a 3 metre length from a local timber yard. And found some basic Brackets from screwfix, at the grand price of 20 for £11.49. It was a massive saving on the cost of pre-made shelves and brackets! We borrowed a chop saw (a round spinning bench top one) from a relative and away we went, creating our new shelves.
Affordable upcycled home ideas – DIY Wallpaper!
Before putting up our shelves, I finished wallpapering the entrance hall, a half started job from years ago! I used old national geographic maps from the 40’s, bought on eBay (12 for £6), and a little bit of PVA glue.
Two of my bedroom walls are also mapped in this way. Using National Geographic maps from the same era, bought for a couple of quid from the local Cancer Research charity shop. The pastel colours in the maps pick out the magnolia of the walls and it looks great. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t take long, the corners roll down a bit in places, and that really fits well with the look. Nautical but not themed, colourful but not in your face and it’s a bit of design flair for what would started out life as a big creamy looking, dated box.
Two shelves in our sofa area means the giant wooden chest which acts as our table, is clear for the first time ever. The chest was given to me by a customer who no longer wanted it, and makes a wonderful table.
We popped the first two shelves in the tiny entrance hall. The entrance hall has always been a cramped and quite annoying area. Shoes fill the air with stink, coats, dog leads, tennis balls and of course bunches of keys. The keys constantly getting knocked off the wall.
I needed to rethink this space. A little behaviour change, (shoes off at the door, bring them in and put them in the understairs cupboard, with the coats going on a mixture of coat hooks collected over the years), meant the immediate space when you enter now only houses the dog leads and a beach clean bag. The bag hangs on one of those wooden mug hook things, (boot fair), and the keys hang on a handmade key hook, which I bought for 30p in a charity shop. We put the shelves up really high in this space, so a portion of my endless book collection now sits up on them.
Two shelves under the stairs now house my record collection and all our board games. The extra chair for when (very rarely) an extra person joins us for food, sits under there nicely. We popped another shelf above the door, my collection of small head busts sit up there now, out the way but on display for me to enjoy.
Our kitchen is actually quite big. Originally, when the house was built it had no conservatory, so this room would of been the hub of the house. It was the only room we have spent money on as the original kitchen was way beyond any fixing up.
With two of the walls completely free of storage of any kind, we wanted an extra counter top but didn’t want to fork out for a breakfast bar style thing. I didn’t want something permanent there jutting out like a pier.
We put together a butcher’s block by taking the doors off an old cupboard, removing the inside shelf and adding caster wheels. You can get wheels cheap online around £2 each, or you might be lucky to grab some from your local tip / recycle / refuse centre. Having the wheels means I can move it flat against the wall when we need space for stretching or exercising in the mornings.
To elevate and utilise space, we added two shelves to the kitchen meaning the assorted second hand pots and pans and mixing bowls are in view but not taking up cupboard space. A second-hand bread bin acts as storage and the jars of dry food are now all up and out of the way. The once stuffed cupboards are now much easier to use. This helps to make sure we don’t waste food by squishing too many jars in at the back and missing use-by dates. I found lots of different sized hooks around the house from the previous owner, so I collected them up and screwed them straight into the board. Hanging up stuff like the bigger pots and the enamel colander (50p from Help the Aged charity shop) has made more room in the drawers for the assorted tea towels I’ve collected.
I love a tea towel. Fish designs, boat tea towels… all thrifted or gifted and necessary because we don’t use paper roll in our house. I’m a spiller. They are necessary in their numbers. We now have an apron hook and a hook for the broom too. It’s functional design without the price tag from high street or internet shopping. And it’s more fun. Once you have your idea in your head you’ll feel like you’ve found treasure when you score a stone wear cooking pot for a couple of quid. Literal treasure hunt.
The downstairs loo needed a makeover. It’s another place for outdoor gear, wetsuits and warm stuff and as my family get bigger, so do their coats.
The £2 pot of PVA glue came into its own again as I wallpapered the walls in, thrifted 1950’s copies of Punch magazine. And by the looks of the content, the loo was most fitting room for them!
A big framed poster advertising London Zoo takes up most of the wall space and my assorted poison bottle collection sits along the wall.
Up cycling and using second-hand goods is the only way I’ve ever decorated. It has made our house a nice nest for us to live in. I didn’t spend a fortune in one go. The biggest outlay in one hit was the wood for the shelves, and we only bought that once we had run out of left over off cuts in our garage! We use the word rustic a lot round here.
It’s a far cry from the style that a lot of people go for, but sometimes I wonder if that’s more about people lacking confidence in themselves as designers ? Or them just wanting the same look as other people? I’ve never been scared of being bold in my house, bits of furniture have come and gone. Some things work and other things don’t.
Affordable upcycled home ideas allow you to be individual!
Putting your stamp on your home should be fun not stressful. Once, while on holiday I saw a sink which I loved. I kept it in my head and researched something similar when I got home. It turned out they were cheaper than a normal sink and it now sits on my mum’s old wooden telephone table. It looks mildly Scandi, which was a happy accident. So, don’t be afraid to look into things which inspire you. Even if you think they may be out of reach.
My top tip would be, think outside the box when sourcing things for your home. If you are considering affordable upcycled home ideas for your house, remember your local tip! They can be a goldmine for home furniture and especially garden chairs! You really don’t have to spend big – or at all – if you have some ideas, just don’t be afraid to be led by inspiration.
Your home is your space. Don’t imitate other people’s ideas. You are not a robot. Your style can be as individual as you are.
If you see a design you like in a magazine or when you visit somewhere, start thinking about how you might recreate a similar look. By upcycling and being mindful of your budget you could create the look at a fraction of the cost. So, what are you waiting for?
Follow Caroline on instagram @KittieKipper
Read about Caroline’s artwork here (previous incredibusy featured artist)
Watch her Ted Talk here