Getting Pretty on the Cheap

This afternoon you’re in for a treat readers. Kimberly is back and with a bang. Her home was a huge hit when it was featured on FF a while back but now you get the real scoop, how she got it that way and without splashing too much cash. Thanks Kimberley!

Why hello gorgeous Florence Finders! I’m Kimberly from Swoon Worthy and I’m more than thrilled that Rebecca has asked me to fill in whilst she’s off on her travels. I’ve had the privilege of hanging out with you lovely lot in the past when Rebecca shared my home in progress a few months ago and I’m back again to share with you one of my most favourite topics: how to make your home gorgeous without spending bucketloads of cash.

It’s easy to think that in order to have a beautiful home, you have to have loads of money to throw at it. But who wants to spend more money than you have to? Why not save that cash for globe trotting, pretty shoes and going out with your mates? (See, when I put it like that, it sounds so much more useful, doesn’t it?)

In the last 2 years of owning our home, we have stretched every last penny out of getting this place up to scratch (and still going). We have bargained, searched, learned loads of new skills and made bargain hunting into an art form. So I’m here to share with you my Top Tips for Getting Pretty On the Cheap. Let’s get started, shall we?

eBay’s “Saved Search” is Your New BFF

This is by far my top tip. Thrift shops around my way aren’t too great although you can of course find bargains if you persevere. Personally, I like to shop from the comfort of my own pyjamas and home, and the beauty of both the eBay website and the eBay mobile app is that I can do it anywhere. Learn what you are searching for and then don’t assume that everyone knows how to list items properly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen things listed as ‘Shabby Chic’ that weren’t even REMOTELY in that genre. Consider searching common misspellings as well – so if you are looking for a chest of drawers, be sure to search ‘Chest of Draws’ as well!

Now, eBay has a little feature called ‘Saved Searches’ so if there’s something in particular that you are looking for, set one up. It will email you every day that there are new items listed that meet your criteria. I always have about 4 or 5 big ticket items that I’m looking for at any one time so it’s much quicker and more efficient to have eBay do the work for you and you’ll learn not only how often these items come up but also how much the going cost is.


I scored the vintage coffee table and white cowhide rug using Saved Searches and saved 50% on the cost of the rug (it was new) and only paid £30 for the coffee table.

For furniture, be sure to set your search results so that it only shows you items that you can reasonably drive to to pick up. If you know you won’t drive from Portsmouth to Leeds to pick up a tulip table, there’s no point in the search results bringing these ones up. Create your search specifically to your needs. At a bare minimum, be sure to enter Location (25 miles to my postcode works for me but you can go as near as 5 or 10 miles away) and the maximum price you are willing to pay. No point in the search bringing back items far above your budget and you’ll be less tempted to spend more than you intended.

Understand the Power of Paint

You’ll never feel more immediate gratification than painting a room. The impact a tin of paint can make is far greater than any cost to you. Bear in mind one thing however… cheap paints are a false economy. Spring for good quality paints and you can finish a room in two coats. Avoid the single coat stuff, it’s usually very thick and gloopy and it just doesn’t have the coverage nor does it go as far as the normal stuff. I tend to use Dulux the most often – it’s not as cheap as some of the own-brand paints and not as expensive as some of the higher end ranges but it gives brilliant coverage and Dulux will colour match to anything at all. The range of existing colours is truly never-ending.

The bathroom went from boring white to peacock blue – it’s saved me a bundle because I originally wanted to rip the whole thing out but this has bought me time to save before I look at a complete remodel. The full ‘makeover’ cost around £50 including the new hooks.

Learn How to Wield a Spray Paint Can

Spray painting is the perfect way to enliven any older piece or give something a new lease on life. I use it for any small projects, especially on those where I don’t want to see any brush strokes. Pretty much anything can be spray painted although bear in mind you may need a primer coat for things like plastics or anything with a glossy finish. In terms of technique, stand about 20cm back from your object and using steady strokes, move spray back and forth across the object, never resting it on any one place. A single thin coat is MUCH better than a single heavy one (think drips) so let it dry between coats and try at least one or two for even coverage. My go to spray paint? Montana Gold. It comes in lots of colours and is actually cheaper than the stuff you get in B&Q or Homebase. It also gives fantastic opaque coverage.

My vintage faux bamboo chairs were another eBay bargain – just £90 for four of them. They were an ugly dark green with beige seats when I found them but spray painting and recovering them gave them a new lease on life! The mirror was originally a grey wrought iron. Spray painting it gold and giving it an antique finish now makes it stand out on the bedroom wall.

Learn to Sew in a Straight Line

I know a lot of people are scared of sewing machines but honestly, with a few basic skills you can make so many things. Cushions, curtains and table runners? No problem. If you have a friend or relative that sews, ask for them to show you some tips and then just practise. There’s really something very satisfying about sewing your own soft furnishings and it’s not difficult at all!

After failing to find nice cushions in my red and white palette, I decided to simply make my own. Cost? £10.

Learn how to paint furniture

An old piece of furniture from eBay or a hand me down from a relative can be completely revitalised with a bit of paint. There are a million tutorials for painting furniture online, no matter what kind of a finish you would like. Do a search on Google or You Tube for lots of tips from lots and lots of bloggers. Preparation and oil-based primer is your friend here. Look for items that are in good overall condition and have good lines.

This chest of drawers total cost was around £55. It was originally an orange-y brown eBay find for £30. Painting it cost me another £25. The sideboard cost me £50. A coat of oil-based primer and a couple coats of white paint gave it a much-needed refresh.

Get Comfy With Basic DIY Skills

If you are not afraid to wield a tape measure, a hammer, a screwdriver and a drill, you’ll be fine. Depending upon others just doesn’t do in this age of women being able to do it as well as the guys. Again, if you are unsure, check out tutorials online – there are video tutorials and brilliant blogger step by steps everywhere if you look. Most importantly, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Honestly, if I can tile a kitchen, anyone can do it.


My boyfriend learned to plaster, lay underfloor heating and install lighting via the internet.

Flower Power

Don’t be afraid to scatter cheaper blooms around a room. I always have fresh flowers and have no problem buying £3 packs of roses or carnations from Tesco or Aldi – single blooms work better so you can throw a few blooms in various containers and group them randomly. Fresh flowers just add a natural touch, colour and texture that simply can’t be replicated any other way. Ever better? Grow your own and during the spring and summer, you won’t have to spend a dime!

All these flowers were from my own garden and the ‘vases’ are simply empty alcohol, vinegar and oil bottles! Cost? Free.

Give Yourself Permission for 1 Splurge Per Room

If you fill a room with only cheap disposable things, you may be less inclined to truly take care of it. Save your money for the really special stuff and when you are ready, go for it. There are certain things like sofas and bed linens that are a false economy. Buy the best you can afford and take good care of it. It’ll make a room that much more special to you.


The sofa has been our biggest splurge to date but after 2 years, I am still utterly and completely in love with it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my top tips today! Now it’s your turn! What are your best bargain ideas? Have you got a great eye for a bargain? Any favourites in the list I created? Anything you feel I’ve completely missed out on? I would love to hear your ideas for Getting Pretty On The Cheap and keep the blog warm for Rebecca while she’s gone.

Remember, if you want to follow along our adventures for Getting Pretty on the Cheap, come pay a visit to Swoon Worthy, it would be lovely to have you! And thank you, Rebecca, for having me!

PS Like the cushions? You can buy them here in Kimberley’s shop – Swoon Worthy Homewares

11 thoughts on “Getting Pretty on the Cheap

  1. What a fantastic post and I couldn’t agree more with updating thifty finds with paint and spray paint! Beautiful home too with some lovely unique vintage wall art and mirrors x

  2. Love the tips AND your house!
    I braved painting a set of drawers / change station last year before my daughter was born and Ive yet to see one in the shops that I prefer more!
    With another one on the way I’m looking forward to using your tips to make some eBay finds that bit nicer.

  3. I’m so looking forward to when our garden can provide most of our flowers, hopefully each year there’ll be a few more home grown ones.

  4. greetings to the one galivanting in Cali!

    swooning. swooning. fabulous advice, and you and i are keeping eBay in business, methinks. it’s pretty much my favorite, and i have had some luck selling too!

    ooooh, and i like the one splurge allowed thing. what a brilliant way to ease the conscience!

    smiles.

    michele

  5. Brilliant tips Kimberly and duly bookmarked as I’m in the process of a few renovations myself. I especially love spray paint….chalkboard paint too has helped me personalise a few items. from making my own chalkboard wal planner for the kitchen (painted down the side of my kitchen cupboards) to making labels for glass jars of rice and pasta. This weekends task is painting a LOT of bedroom furniture. Thanks for the tips xx

  6. Love the decorating on a budget tips – I’m off to set up a saved search for a console table on ebay!

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