Six Top Tips For Buying Clever

Decorating your home the way you want can be a financial nightmare.  Instagram, Pinterest and home interiors magazines all gang up to make us want to have our homes EXACTLY as we see in their feeds and pages.  We all want someone to wave a magic wand at our bank accounts so that we can afford that Togo sofa, that original Tulip table and chairs or the midcentury classic furniture which now costs twenty times as much as it did when it was made.

After years (and I mean years) of pouring over copies of Livingetc and Elle Decor, I like to think that I might have cracked it.  I am the woman who owns a sideboard purely stacked with over a decade of interiors magazines so my commitment is strong.  Some things are worth the investment but many things can be achieved at a fair amount less than you think.  Here are my six top tips for buying clever.

Invest In A Huge, Permanent, Picture For Your Wall

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

I am the Queen of bargain shopping, but the one thing that I have always invested in is wallpaper.   I honestly think that if you are going to put your money into a home purchase, wallpaper is the way to go.  Good quality wallpaper lasts forever and has timeless appeal and style.  Cole & Son have a wide range of classics that never, ever date.  Trees is still one of my all time favourite prints and I first used that in my house ten years ago.   In our previous house, we had World Map wallpaper from Stanfords covering an entire wall.  I really miss this.  It was absolutely brilliant for the kids knowledge and also brilliant for guests to show off where they'd been when they came over for dinner.    Barneby Gates have an amazing selection of papers and Andrew Martin changed the face of wallpaper with their photographic logs and timber prints.  Dependent upon the area that you are looking to paper, it can be pricey but I truly believe it is worth the money and you won't tire of looking at it.  If you are going to invest in something, why not invest in something that you see every day?  I've used this justification for years with Joe and even he buys into it.

Bring In The Experts

When we sold our house ten years ago, I had decorated it myself - Farrow & Ball Old White was my paint of choice and it was slapped over at great expense from top to bottom.  I worked for an estate agent at the time and when he came round to take my house on to the market, he was absolutely appalled at my paint work and said he had never seen anything quite so badly done. In his opinion, my horrific painting skills had devalued my house.  Since then, I paint the upstairs rooms myself - there has to be compromise - but always have downstairs areas painted by a professional.  Find someone who you trust.  When we moved here, I found a local decorator whom I book in every five months to tackle an area.  He does two or three days work, is quick and efficient and makes my walls look a million dollars instead of like they've been decorated by a five year old.  Worth every penny.  NB:  If you take pleasure in your work, show attention to detail, undercoat, prepare and know how to cut in properly (i.e., not me), you can ignore this one.

Invest In The Next Big Thing

Gallery shops are a brilliant way of getting in early with low cost art investment.  I've bought many prints from Soma Gallery in Bristol who sell a selection of works to frame yourself by up and coming and more well known artists.  I have signed prints by Jody Barton and Anthony Burrill which I purchased from Soma which were under £30 at the time.  Museum shops are also a perfect place to find some amazing print and poster art.  Try the Tate Modern online shop.  Instagram is a hotbed of amazing talent - @patirobins and @dmkart are both artists who are now selling their work online.   It's a really economical way of buying something special for your walls  and there is something to fit everyone's budget.  This year on Valentines Day, I bought Joe limited edition prints from Stella Vine for £30 each and had them framed.  Side note:  Am a big fan of buying presents for yourself (also known as 'self presents') and giving them to your husband under the pretence they are for him.   On Joe's 35th birthday, I gave him a coffee table.

Artwork by  @dmkart

Artwork by @dmkart

Colour Match Your Paint

Okay, I'm going to get slated for this one.  But am putting it out there anyway.  I have three children who enter my house and literally throw their muddy football boots and clothes at the wall in an attempt to get to the X Box first.  Touching the walls with muddy hands?  Oh yes.  Kicking a football in the hall?  You'd better believe it.  My white staircase wall looks like there's been a dirty protest.  I know and you know that chalk paint is the best and the most perfect and that nothing can beat it.  But if you have kids, you need to be colour matching with a paint that is washable, hard wearing and you can brillo pad.  B&Q have the entire range of the most popular paint brand logged into their Valspar colour match computer.  You just tell them the colour and voila.  That's all I'm saying on the subject.  Don't hate me.

Find What You Want And Then Find It Cheaper

Often we see things in magazines and online that we immediately love and want to buy for our homes.  Unless they're a one off or handmade, these items are often from a main wholesaler and sold by several different stores or shops and so it's always worth Googling to see if you can find it cheaper elsewhere before making the decision to part with your cash.  Try the smaller, online stores rather than the big hitters.  The same applies to iconic furniture.  In an ideal world, we would all be buying original Eames Eiffel chairs to put around our dining tables.  The reality is that this would cost the same as a holiday for a family of five to Barbados.  If you have children, it's not really practical to have them eating their tomato sauced, furniture staining pasta on a chair in which you've invested £500.  Try online stores such as Cult Furniture for more of a budget style option.


Your Style Will Evolve - Buy Accordingly

We are all influenced by interior styles but over the years, our personal style evolves.  I have an obsession with kitsch sixties artwork.  I'm blaming Jamie Theakston personally for this after seeing his midcentury home in a magazine and loving it on first sight.  It was completely inspiring.  My walls were full of crying, wide eyed orphan children fishing in the river in their nighties, which unfortunately totally freaked my kids out.   These prints were all sourced via charity shops at very little cost so when I decided that enough was enough, it was easy to stick them on eBay and move on.   Low outlay, low expenditure and you can recoup your money to invest in your next collection or fad.  Everyone's a winner.  PS:  I still absolutely ADORE kitsch midcentury art, I just avoid the wide eyed children in order to keep the peace.

Jamie Theakston's house.  Totally to blame for years of kids night terrors.

Jamie Theakston's house.  Totally to blame for years of kids night terrors.

It's taken years for me to decide on my personal style.  When I met Joe, we walked into World Of Pine and bought an entire flat load of furniture without even thinking about whether we really liked it or not.  We needed it so we bought it.  Over the years I painted it, repainted it and lugged it round six houses before finally eBaying and buying more considered furniture that suited the style that I'd developed.  

Nowadays, as a vintage and bargain shopping obsessive, I like to think that I am far more buying clever  when it comes to furnishing my home!