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Making your home a perfect ten on a shoe-string budget

Design pros share tips on getting your place to have that modern Asian feel or ooze old English country charm

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Shirley and Ameet Soares say decorating your home on a budget does not involve compromise on aesthetics or quality.
Gulf News

Even with a very limited budget you can still make your home look like a million bucks. Many low-budget furnishing and decorating ideas can be created if you put your imagination to work.

Gulf News has asked the design pros to share a few guidelines on how you can attractively furnish your home from scratch with a budget of just under Dh5,000:

  • Get some inspirations from the pros without spending a dirham. Whether you want your home to exude a modern Asian feel or an old English country charm, there is a wide array of options to choose from everywhere.

"There are unique and creative ideas found online in various residential articles. Also, Dubai has some fantastic interiors from [the] Dubai Mall to luxury hotels. Take photographs of your favourite design and try to implement them into your space," advises Linsey Dolan Thomson, interior design lecturer at Heriot-Watt University Dubai campus.

Ola Al Kaltakji of Hyder Consulting Middle East suggests looking at decorating ideas blogs that are simple and easy to follow.

"They give tips on how to create things, how to change an old item so it fits a new purpose and directs to links to other blogs that give you great do-it-yourself ideas."

Cost: Zero

  • Once you've got the design in mind, make a list of all the things you need, budget for them and start working towards purchasing them.

"Start with the items that will take longer to get made or get delivered. Always assume there will be a time frame for delivery or installation as we all know, in Dubai, nothing happens overnight," Thomson says.

Cost: Zero

  • Keep your window treatments simple. Among the things that can easily bloat a budget is dressing up the windows, especially if there are many of them.

"I would suggest sticking to a simple curtain design, ie. eyelets, they require minimum stitching and are based on a rod with the metal rings," Al Kaltakji says.

Your best option, she adds, is to go to the shops in Satwa and Karama where you can buy some fabric with beautiful Indian embroidery and have them slightly tailored to be a decorative statement on your wall.

However, if you opt for the intricate fabric design, make sure the rest of the room looks neutral and simply add accent pieces in bold colours to compliment the colours in the main fabric piece.

Cost: Dh270 (This covers only the cost of a four-metre fabric for a small window and Dh150 for the curtain system)

  • Choose a focal point of your living room. It can be a sofa set placed against a lovely background such as a decorative paint. "Bold, bright colours are in at the moment. So, for example, you can have a deep-blue leather couch with a bright hot pink wall at the back," Al Kaltakji says.

"One can then add accents onto the couch through the use of throws and cushions. You can choose a different shade of blue with a different texture on the materials for a subtle look, or a blue fabric with some hot pink patterns on it to compliment the wall behind. The coffee table and the rug chosen would be a neutral colour so the masterpiece sticks out."

The sofa set would be your most expensive item in the living room, so opt for a second hand and have it re-tailored for Dh500, Al Kaltakji says.

Another smart option is buying a new sofa bed for only Dh800. Cushions can go as far as Dh15 to Dh20 a piece if you buy them in Satwa, Carrefour or Ikea, while adding some nice throw pillows for accents can cost between Dh75 to Dh150.

Cost: 1,200 (This covers the cost of sofa bed, cushions and pillows only)

  • For the dining area, buy a second-hand dining set and grab a simple art piece or a photograph from the store to spice up an otherwise boring space. If you search online, you can find a used mahogany, eight-seater table for only Dh800.

Al Kaltakji says placing an artwork behind your dining table can do the trick. If you choose to buy it from Ikea, it can cost Dh150. She says you can also head down to JamJar for a personalised painting experience that can cost you about Dh85 to Dh220. JamJar is a do-it-yourself studio that lets you rent a canvas, paint, easel and paper to produce your own artwork. If the artwork is not enough for you, add splashes of colour or pattern to the tableware and get some flower vases and chair covers.

"If the budget allows, purchase a single piece of coloured glass to cover your dining table," Thomson says.

Cost:Dh885 to Dh1,025 (for table and art piece only)

  • To furnish your bedroom, go for a basic bed frame that doesn't come with a headboard. Al Kaltakji suggests that you spray paint the frame with any colour you prefer.

"The headboard can be a large piece of wood that can be padded to appear as cushions stuck together, for example, with each section made up of different coloured fabrics for a Bohemian chic look or just plain leather fabric. For a more modern and slick look, highlight the stitching with a contrasting colour."

If you're feeling more creative, add some colour or pattern to a throw, Thomson says. Throw in some nice decorative pillows, artwork, bedside lights and tables to complete the look.

Cost: Dh1,200 (for bed frame, mattress and headboard)

Here's a quick look at the pros' budget decorating and furnishing tips:

  • Decide how much you can afford to spend.n Take a look at interior design catalogs, magazines, showrooms to get some inspiration.n Review your existing furniture and see which items are missing to achieve the look you want.n Experiment with your old furniture: give your sofa a classy look with a leather upholstery or dress up your dull headboard with a patterned or coloured fabric.n Prepare a list of stuff to buy and window shop first to compare prices.n If you're furnishing your home from scratch, buy second hand.n Choose a paint colour for the wall that complements nicely with your furniture.n To save money on paint, do it on your own or ask your supplier if they can give you a budget package that covers both the paint and labour costs.n Use art and decorative pieces to breath in life into your space.