How to buy savvy for your home…

Image via Holly Marder for Avenue Lifestyle

A few people have said I have a good eye for interiors. Which is lovely but not really 100% true. I actually just scour and screengrab Pinterest and then try and recreate everything on my own budget.

Saying that though, I have learnt a few tips along the way that have helped hone my skills.

Our ensuite in our last flat, read the full blogpost here.

If in doubt: go monochrome.

Obviously, minimal monochrome interiors happen to be in fashion, but I’ve also learnt that if you’re not 100% sure on your style or whether you’ll go off bright colours in the future: stay neutral. I was very into bold colours and logos when we first moved into our flat but by the time I moved out 6 years later, my taste had evolved so much, pretty much the only things I still loved were the more classic pieces. I also think colours like grey don’t date so easily and you can get away with ‘cheaper’ items in these colours.

If you love the pink sofa and know it will work: go for it. But if, like me, you know you’re a little fickle and won’t be able to afford a wrong decision in a few years time: go for the grey version and add some pink cushions which you can swap out when you fall in love with the next Pantone colour of the year, instead.

La Redoute interiors is every stylish person’s secret weapon.

Some time last year, La Redoute became the fashionistas’ go-to store, not just for cool slogan tees and the perfect chunky knit, but suddenly for interiors too. I mean, the famous Kilim style rug even has its own instagram account! I have bought a few items (including my marble console table) and I’ve always been so impressed with the quality.

La Redoute inside Ropes of Holland’s home

Ikea sells great plants

Plant: Ikea. Chair: £339, Hay. Cushion: £52, Atelier Buffo. 

Case in point. I’m by no means a plant expert but I love a bit of green in my home, especially as I don’t have a garden (our last place was a flat and this house’s garden is 100% charcoal currently). I’m not really one for flower markets, but picking one up amongst my monthly trip to Ikea with my sister (we love going – it’s almost a tradition!)? I’m sold.

Plant: Ikea. Concrete planter: £10, Monpote. Bowls: £1.30, Ikea. 

Look for interest-free deals

I have fallen in love with a midnight blue velvet sofa from sofa.com. But it ain’t cheap. Someone on Instagram mentioned that they have Interest-free deals, you just pay 15% up front and then the rest over 6,12 or 24 months without interest.  So it’s definitely worth asking if companies offer this before splurging.

Revisit eBay

I must admit, I’d fallen out of love with eBay for a while but after seeing a few friends’ homes, all with fab buys from the auction site, I’m back on.

Make-up artist Lisa Valencia’s amazing bathroom.

Lisa Valencia’s home is also used as a location house, it’s so lovely – and she bought most of her furniture via eBay:

“Doing up a house is expensive enough, and the only bit I really got excited about was the filling it with my favourite things. Whilst my husband would be pricing up hardcore, I would be scrolling through eBay, looking for stylish furniture without the huge price tags. I tend to browse through Interior magazines and Pinterest for my inspiration and then just put search words into eBay, for example I love marble, and was able to find my marble sink, complete with gold taps, I just painted the mahogany legs with Farrow & Ball ‘Downpipe’. I love the fact that you can pretty much find anything online, and don’t be afraid to ask auction sellers for a better price”.

Lisa’s house actually has its own Instagram @E4kitchenlocation where it can be hired out for filming & shoots .

Don’t be afraid to do supermarket

Erica Davies of The-Edited, says “I don’t rule anywhere out for interior inspiration and have actually been really impressed by the range in many of the supermarkets.  I bought a gorgeous metallic star print dinner service in the Sainsbury’s sale, which gives a real wow factor. It’s simple but really chic and adds a bit of glamour to dinner with friends – even if it’s a takeaway. But my major bargain of last year has to be my industrial copper and marble floor and table lamps, which I discovered in a trawl around Aldi and paid £39.99 for the floor lamp and £19.99 for the table lamp! If you follow your gut reactions to things rather than judging them by where they’re from, I feel it creates a much more exciting, inspiring home environment! And it’s always lovely to say you found a bargain!”

Erica’s fabulous light from Aldi, which caused a huge stir on Instagram.

Anything can be Art

I used to think you had to buy paintings to hang in rooms, but actually – anything goes. We’ve bought maps for $1, records for $5 and framed Fashion Week invites with frames from Wilkinson. I love the idea of framing memories in a home, not just Art. And all mixed up in a collage? Even better.

Fill your home with eucalytpus

My sister, Nicky, swears by eucalyptus in her fabulous home (see the original post here). And it lasts and lasts, such a good alternative to flowers. “I am eucalyptus obsessed, not only do they suit every room in the house but they smell amazing at a fraction of the price of normal bouquets. I pick up two bunches every other week at £6 a bunch and fill the house, small vases with sprigs, strands hung on the wall or wrapped round metal hoops or fill a huge vase for a more dramatic effect”.

Eucalyptus, and my nephew, on Instagram

18 Comments

  1. These are great tips. My current dilemma is our rented flat is furnished but we want a new sofa and mattress, but the landlord won’t take away the old ones… how am I supposed to live it my Pinterest dreams with dodgy furniture!

    Also, I can’t believe those lamps are from Aldi! They are perfect, what an amazing find.

      1. If they are in good condition and still have fire safety labels you can donate to British Heart Foundation – they will come and collect for free!

  2. Yes to La Redoute! And to eucalyptus! I actually dried mine out by following a tutorial online and my bunch from early December and it still looks good! I also would recommend trying eBay warehouses from your favourite stores – I fell in love with a sofa.com sofa too (well several) took home some fabric swabs, and then after a few weeks of obsessively checking their eBay store (where they sell returns, display and sofas from shoots) I found my dream sofa, brand new for £1200 rather than £3500! I am still as over protective of tipsy people drinking red wine on it (ie me) as if I had paid full price though.

  3. Brilliant post Alex. You have got a brilliant eye for interiors and I really appreciate learning where you find all your gems. You have given me so much inspiration over the years and I love the way you make everything so accessible. Thank you x

  4. FANTASTIC tip about Ikea for plants!! the Ficus tree I was bought as a present last year has just died 🙁 and I’m devastated, but finding out I can easily get something else to cheer up that empty corner of my living room is a real help!!

  5. I love all of these tips and use so many of them myself. I’ve bought so many fab homewares at M&S and Ocado, buy plants and orchids whenever I go to Ikea (when the orchids have lost all their flowers, I put them in an out-of-sight windowsill and they come back to life a couple of months later with twice the branches and flowers), and vintage treasures on eBay (I bought an incredible antique dining table on there for £20 including delivery – because it was so cheap I didn’t feel bad sanding it and painting it Farrow and Ball grey).

    For pretty much everything else I wait for a good deal (West Elm, Anthropologie, Made, H&M and John Lewis always have promo codes) and adopt a similar approach to my wardrobe: a mix of high-end, high-street, vintage, and things collected on my travels (homewares always make the best practical souvenirs).

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