Beauty and the Budget

Beauty & the Budget: Project “tea, anyone?”

Beauty & the Budget…it’s been a while!  But don’t be alarmed, that doesn’t mean I don’t have some great tips to share.  :)

So, it recently it hit me that my baby was actually not really a baby anymore and the appliquéd quilt of farm animals hanging on her wall probably needed to go.  Sigh…they grow so fast!

In proper English fashion we decided upon a tea cup theme for her ‘big girl’ room.  On a budget, with hardly any space in the room to actually decorate, one might ask what could be done?  Ah, never underestimate the power of a few simple touches that can totally transform a room, especially a tiny one!  I hope to share more but for now enjoy this super simple project that took me about 15 minutes start to finish.

Classic. Sweet. Simple. Perfect!

Check out the graphics fairy’s (found here) enormous and incredible collection of vintage images.  All images are free to download and can be used on millions of fun D.I.Y projects!  I could spend hours upon hours on this site.  And if you don’t have any sort of design software, don’t fret.  Download something simple and free like Picassa (found here) and just open the images in there and add text at the bottom.  Super easy to follow the icons for adding text, etc.

Beauty and the Budget

Beauty and the Budget: Project Pillows II

I wasn’t planning to do a second post on pillows, but I couldn’t help but want to share what I did last week with our ‘not so hot’ seat cushions at our breakfast table.  (Haha…I just really wanted to write ‘breakfast table’ because one day I dream of having a smaller nook in my kitchen to have one..but to be real, I live in a tiny flat in Oxford and clearly only have one table to work with.)  :) We inherited some rather outdated and heavily worn seat cushions from our landlord and have been just ‘living with them’ for about a year now.  I don’t even particularly like the idea of seat cushions on chairs, but with our wooden Ikea table, we don’t really have a choice.  I have seen quite a few cushion options at shops and have been tempted to buy them.  However, with them averaging around £12 each, I just couldn’t bare to spend £50 on something that I don’t even really like to begin with.  So, I finally thought of a solution (shared below) and hopefully it will inspire you as well!

Beauty and the Budget

Beauty and the Budget: Project Framed Things II


Following Jill’s post on ‘framed things’, I’m excited to share a few inexpensive tricks from my own flat.

1)   So, I absolutely love it when I come across a series of prints that are similarly framed and lined on a wall as seen here.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore mismatched and funky frame arrangements as well (and many such arrangements can be found in my home) but something about the order and the stability of a few simple prints brings an element of permanence and consistency that is otherwise very hard to achieve.

While being on a budget, it is pretty much impossible (unless you strike gold at a charity shop or boot sale) to find more than one print/drawing and mat and frame that go together.  So, I decided to create my own series.  I am a huge fan of Picasso and Matisse’s sketches, so I decided to just copy some of their simple face images.  You could do a series of your own loose sketches, or even frame a series of fun, brightly colored paintings by your toddler…the possibilities are endless!

I bought 4 matching frames with thick mats at Wal-Mart (of all places) in the states for $10 each and proceeded to carry them back with me in my carry-on at Christmas.  You could also purchase the frames (like Jill mentioned) at some place like Ikea or Argos, here in the UK.  Although a bit more pricey than other tips below, the only costs involved are the large frames!

2)   Sticking with the idea of framing a series of similar items, you could choose to frame postcards, bar coasters from your favorite pubs, pressed leaves from your yard or any number of fun, colorful items that liven up your home.  I bought the below frames at Ikea for £3 each and the vintage postcards were found at the local market for 50p each.  I dug the bins and found some that had women depicted in different settings, clothing and doing different activities.  I have these in my bedroom and I love the feminine glow that they bring.

I also used the same frames to hang some pressed leaves in our living room.  Check out this link for a great guide to properly pressing leaves.  At my old home in DC, I even had framed pieces of flat coral and dried seaweed from a beloved beach trip and it looked amazing.  Be creative!

3)   My last money saving tip for lovely but inexpensive framed wall décor comes in the form of wrapping paper.   I cut out the little egg section below (actually used on a gift from my friend Sarah)  and popped it in this $3 frame that I found at a yard sale in DC.  I have the below map of England framed in our flat and it’s total cost was £4.  The frame was £1 at a local charity shop and the map itself is actually a sheet of fancy wrapping paper from Paperchase that cost £3.  You could find the equivalent at Papersource in the states.  I also have the adorable ABC sheet of wrapping paper up on the back of our nursery door to teach our daughter the ABCs.

More tips: Check out these gorgeous calendars which could be used to cut and frame.  In our daughter’s nursery back in DC, I found a beautiful old nursery rhythm book at a yard sale and I cut out pages and framed them to line her walls.  It was absolutely precious and  so original.  Be creative…the possibilities truly are endless!  Keep your eyes open and frame away!

Beauty and the Budget

Beauty and the Budget: Project Framed Things I

Written by Jill – a former graduate wife

I was a graduate wife for 7 wonderful years and I am now in my 6th year of hubby having a full-time job! YAHOO! Hang in there girls, it does eventually happen!

I have found, however, that some former habits die-hard…like decorating on the cheap…or sometimes not decorating at all (GASP!).

When we moved to England for full-time job #2, we found ourselves living in a gorgeous Victorian home with lots of character.  And bare walls.  Bare white walls with 12 foot ceilings! Lots of space. So much wall space that I found it completely intimidating. So my walls stayed bare for 18 months. Yes, 18 months!

After a trip to Ikea with a friend, I came home and announced to the family that I was decorating.  They told me I couldn’t decorate in the living room because it was the guy’s tennis wall!  Not anymore!

I am not an expert at decorating, but I can assure you that enhancing your space (even on a budget) is incredibly important and enriching. So here goes!


Step 1: Find something you want to frame.  If I were in America, there is no doubt there would have been pictures of my 3 kiddos in those frames. Case closed. But we live in England and family pictures just don’t normally grace the walls of your living room. So I had to find something else…and that something else had to be cheap! So I headed to my box of scrap fabric that just so happened to match two of our chairs.

*Other ideas of things to frame: pretty leaves from your garden or local park, cool wrapping paper (MC’s idea!), postcards from a place you love, trinkets, the ideas are endless! (MC is posting more on this next week!)


Step 2: Find frames.  The frames I used are from IKEA. I found matching frames in different sizes and made a little grouping on the wall (all for under 20 pounds).  Frames can be expensive. So if you have time stroll through local charity shops and yard sales…you may find a beauty!  It is nice to find frames with matting as well.


Step 3: Frame it! I cut out the parts of the fabric that I liked and taped it to the back of the matting. Simple as that!


Because the frames were all different sizes and I wanted them to look mis-matchy, there was no measuring and obsessing.  I just got out the hammer and started hammering!

I threw in a few more knickknacks (some bought, some hand-me-downs from friends) and voila! a wall

that is no longer suitable for indoor tennis!