Thrifty tips for first-time buyers

01 October 2018

We've teamed up with award-winning blogger Cheryl Lumley, to put together a special blog for cash-strapped first-time buyers. Cheryl has some brilliant ideas on how to save money while decorating your new home... 

Buying your first home is probably one of the most stressful largest financial decisions you’ll make. Once you’ve decided to buy your own home, saved up the deposit, considered mortgage rates, incentives and shopped around for the best deal, you will probably spend every penny on your deposit buying the best house you can afford, but what about the interiors?

Getting the keys to your own home is probably one of the most exciting things in your life. Decorating it, however, can be a daunting one. Some people embrace the DIY, some get help in. We went the DIY route as we didn’t have any funds spare. This is where my obsession with upcycling began. I was lucky enough to get on the property ladder 20 years ago but it was also in the days before Gumtree, Preloved, Freegle, Ebay or Facebook selling groups, so I raided skips, took hand-me-downs from family and took advantage of interest free options for some larger items.

With any home we want to put your own stamp on it, it’s rare that you walk into a house and don’t change anything. I’ve pulled together a few ways to save money when you buy your first home. These are easy diys for even the most novice of novices.


Floors are a huge expense and there are ways you can save. If you have an older house, check the floorboards out. If they’re in good condition and you want that look, then the best way is to hire a floor sander. It will cost you around £50-60 a day to hire, then you’ll need sandpaper and varnish, but this will be a lot less than a good carpet.


Top Tip - hire on a Friday night and you may not have to take back until the Monday for the same cost.

If you don’t want a bare wood look, then painting them is a good option. There are paints out there for anything these days and you can get some lovely colours too. Stick to nice neutral pallets of white and grey and you won’t go far wrong. 

If you really want carpets or the boards just aren’t good enough then shop around for end of line stock or carpet remnants, you can often find pieces big enough for individual rooms at a really discounted rate. 



Not many people walk into the kitchen of their dreams, and it’s doubtful you will be able to afford a new kitchen when you’ve just spent all your money on the deposit. The simplest way is to repaint the cupboards and even the tiles. 

You can buy specific cupboard paint, or try the vast range of chalk paints that are out there, even chalkboard paint works well. However you do it, always make sure you prepare the surfaces well and finish with the recommended top coats, whether it’s a varnish, lacquer or wax, kitchens take a lot of hammering so the finish needs to be robust. 

In our flat we painted the cupboards, radiators and the tiles and done properly they can last for years



This is where you can save so much money. Charity shops, Gumtree, Freegle, your local facebook buy and sell groups are a great starting point for any first-time buyer. You can pick up some real bargains. If you don’t like the finish of a piece then think about painting it or getting a chintzy sofa recovered. 

Pine bed frames, dark wood drawers, mismatched picture frames can all be painted the same colour to pull together as a scheme, look past the colour and finish of second-hand items and look at the shape and size. If you’re not keen on second-hand then you can even get thrifty with a few inexpensive flat pack buys and IKEA hacks. There are some great plain drawers that you could add your mark to. 


Be creative

This is where charity shops are fantastic. You can get so many bargains that will all be pretty unique to you once you add your own twist. It’s about pairing unusual items together or repainting or recovering. For lampshade try wrapping with wool, stripping the fabric off to reveal the bare frame, recovering with fabric or papers, you can really have a go at anything. The best thing about any of this is you haven’t spent a lot of money in the first place so it’s not a major problem if it goes wrong, just repaint and start again.

Find more inspiration on my Pinterest board.

Disclaimer, most images are sourced from Pinterest, others are my own.

Cheryl is a graphic designer, upcycler and blogger and spends the majority of every day being enthralled and inspired by good and bad design. Passionate about interiors and upcycling, she runs creative workshops showing people how to repurpose, revamp and upcycle. Her blog All Round Creative Junkie has simple project how-tos, interior inspiration and upcycling ideas for all ages.