Furnishing your property needn’t cost the earth

The recycling revolution is sweeping the UK and the home furnishings sector is no exception. This is thanks in part to the television programme Kirstie’s Fill Your House for Free, in which Kirstie Allsopp helps people to furnish their houses whilst paying little or nothing for the privilege. Gone are the days when we were all happy to buy cheap, flat pack furniture. We are starting to realise that furniture can be bought to last and that new isn’t always best. Here are a few of our own tips on the best way to save money and furnish your house for free.

Perhaps it is a sign of the times that we are no longer in a position to spend a fortune on buying new furniture when we purchase our first home. These days, couples live together before getting married so furniture doesn’t tend to feature on the wedding list. However, the biggest factor is that saving up for a deposit on your first home is a big deal. When you scrape together the last few hundred pounds and head for the estate agent, you don’t always consider the huge cost of white goods, furniture, soft furnishings, cutlery and all the other items that are crucial to make your house a home.

Luckily, it’s amazing what you can do with little or no money when it comes to furniture, especially if you’re a little bit creative and have plenty of time, patience and elbow grease. One of the most exciting trends to have crept into home furnishings is making things from discarded wood. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds.

Next time you’re heading to the beach, spend a bit of time walking up and down the sand, looking to see what the tide has washed up. Driftwood is one of the most characterful, versatile, easy to use materials around – and it’s free. There’s no need to spend time making driftwood smooth, ageing it or trying to give it character. Just cut it to shape and add some glue and a little varnish and you could have a truly unique piece of furniture. If you are lucky enough to find a large piece, you could create your own coffee table, stool or even armchair. These are the sort of things that designers will charge you a small fortune for so they’re worth the time and effort. With smaller pieces you could create frames for mirrors or pictures, or make a unique vase or a fascinating set of coasters.

If beach combing isn’t your thing, why not turn to the trusty pallet? Both indoors and outdoors, people are stripping down pallets to create individual items for their homes. Outdoor picnic benches, chairs, tables, shelves, headboards and stair gates – you name it, you can make it from a pallet. As with driftwood, it’s naturally worn and full of character. You can do anything you like with it and it’s totally free.

If you prefer to go for something ready-made, you’ll love the charity furniture shops that are starting to pop up around the country. You can pick up wardrobes, chests of drawers and tables for the price of lunch. They tend to be sturdy and well made but often need a little bit of TLC. After all, flimsy new furniture never stands the test of time so it stands to reason that things you buy second-hand will be better quality. The need for TLC is just an opportunity to make a piece of furniture your own. Paint it to fit into your colour scheme, age it for an unusual effect and if it all goes wrong, just buy another one next time you’ve got a spare £10 to donate to charity.