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Wednesday 10 March 2010

Domestic Sluttery's Mums Take Over: Finding bargains for your home

For many reasons my mum is something of a mystery to me. She seems to know me better than I know myself ("Try that Alex, you will like it" or "I knew that dress would suit you"). I don't know how she finished a law degree and single-handedly raised three girls when I can barely keep on top of things working part-time. And I'm consistently surprised at how she's kept our house cosy and beautiful on a shoestring budget.

I'll admit that when I was 14 the last thing on my mind was the new wallpaper in the hallway or the kitchen flooring she'd spent days laying herself. But those things were important to her, and I love that she didn't let a little thing like having no time or money get in the way.

(Apologies for the lack of mother-daughter picture, but they're all tucked up in a photo album back home. But at least mum is wearing a hat and smile, just like me.)

So how does one get the house of their dreams (well, nearly) without spending much at all? Sounds obvious, but the best tip mum offered was keep your eyes peeled for a bargain. But if you're going down the never-paying-full-price route then you'll need to be patient and prepared to rummage.

Mum recommends making friends with the staff in your local charity shop. (Not shopping in a charity shop because you're embarrassed? You're missing out. And if anyone asks, it's vintage dahling.) She's something of a regular at the Littleover Village branch of Age Concern, and as a result they'll often put aside bits and pieces that they know my mum would love.

There's tonnes of lovely stuff from the charity shop in our house, but my favourite is this 17 piece teal tea set which was procured for £8.50. Unfortunately the milk jug was missing, but it had never been used before:

Sometimes sheer luck comes into it too. This vintage enamel sign was found in our shed - no idea how it got there. But other than a bit of rust around the edges, it was in good condition and went perfectly with the white walls in the kitchen:

Which brings me to a second top tip from Mum. If you're prone to getting bored quickly with your surroundings then keep the walls in your house white. That way if you fancy a change - from a new sofa or rug to set of cushions - your new furniture and accessories will always match the walls. After all, what clashes with white?

These gold hands are a one-off piece of art that mum found in the local charity shop. Being something of a statement piece, they bring the theme together. And the black statuettes were mere pennies from a market in Burton:

The gold border on one wall is a sticker (from a selection at B&Q) that can be easily removed once mum changes her mind:

And don't underestimate the power of the interwebs. Mum found two second-hand Chesterfield sofas in dove grey (one pictured above) from eBay, and paid £350 for both including delivery. Considering that vintage Chesterfields can start from £700, this was a bargain and a half - we didn't hear the end of it for weeks...

What hints and tips do you (or your mum!) have for kitting out your home on a budget?


  1. I really like that tea set. Clever your mum!

  2. I have to resist nicking it every time I come to visit :-)

  3. FAB post, absolutely love all the items in it too. Her advice is spot on too. And those sofas, for that price? Amazing!

  4. Those sofas took some hunting, but was worth it in the end. They're slightly battered, so very comfy :-)


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