GEMMA Bird bought her first house at 23 and, even on an income of just £12,000, she managed to transform it into a plush pad that featured all the latest interior trends.
Since then the super-saver mum, 39, has added two more properties to her portfolio, each with a decor to rival a Real Housewife.
But Gemma, who has never earned more than £25,000 a year, isn’t shopping in Selfridges or Liberty, oh no, she’s achieved her envy-inducing home style on a budget.
In the fourth of her exclusive six-part money-saving series with Fabulous, she reveals how YOU can make your home look like a boutique hotel – without the price tag.
Gemma, who lives in Billericay, Essex, with husband Adam and their kids, son Brody, eight, and two-year-old daughter Bronte, says: “My favourite homeware shops are Homesense, Ikea and The Range.
“I thoroughly believe that you don’t have to spend more than a tenner to instantly update any room in your house and I hope Fabulous readers will love my thrifty tips.”
Steal other people’s looks for less
All of my home inspiration comes from Instagram. I follow people like The Real Housewives who live in million-pound mansions and I will basically copy their decor on a budget.
There’s no way I can afford £10,000 for a designer vase so instead I will hit local car boot sales and find pieces that look the same for a couple of quid.
I also spotted some amazing wallpaper on someone’s Instagram that I loved but it was £300 a roll which is outrageous.
So I headed to Homebase, and found the exact dupe for just £10 a roll and now my living room looks Insta-ready.
These rich people will have had interior designer input so nick their ideas because a professional has done that research for you for free.
Don’t fork out for fancy paint
I painted my whole house myself because that way I saved hundreds on hiring professional decorators.
I was quoted £1,700 for my halls, stairs and landing, so I set about doing it on my own and in a matter of days I had finished for a fraction of the price.
Some people will spend hundreds of pounds on fancy Farrow & Ball paint but I think you’re better off saving your money.
I love Dulux, it’s fantastic, it’s cheaper as it costs just £12 for 750ml compared to Farrow & Ball’s £28 and it’s just as good as the fancy brands.
Equally, interior trends are forever changing. I know that in four or five years I will want to update my paint colour so I am never going to spend a lot of money on it.
‘Redecorate’ with pictures
If you’re renting and are limited on what you can do to your home, there are some very cheap and easy ways you can refresh it.
Framed pictures and prints can really spruce up a house and they don’t have to cost the world.
I love websites like Desenio and Fy!, the prints cost as little as a fiver and they really make a statement.
Pick up a frame in Ikea or Homesense and you instantly add a bit of character to your walls for under a tenner.
You can always change the print inside after a few years to give you a fresh new look.
Tweak don’t refit
We all know that fitting a new kitchen is an absolute fortune, but there are simple ways you can instantly refresh your space.
Painting the doors, changing the blinds and replacing the handles on your units can completely change the look of your kitchen and even add value to your home.
You can pick up everything you need in places like Homesense or The Range which are both extremely budget friendly.
If you are keen to replace your kitchen, but you’re on a budget then why not look into replacing your cupboard doors or your worktop to lower the cost.
In the past I’ve gone to cheaper places like Wren or B&Q to have our kitchen fitted and then have opted for a more expensive worktop to make the space look more premium than it actually is.
The same works for bathrooms, you don’t have to buy a new suite to breathe new life into your space.
We all know that fitting a new kitchen is an absolute fortune, but there are simple ways you can instantly refresh your space
Try replacing a cabinet, painting the walls or even just adding new towels can completely transform the look of your bathroom.
If your tiles are looking tired, rather than replacing them try replacing the silicone or painting over them with tile paint instead to brighten up the space for less.
Frenchic costs as little as a tenner and gets amazing results.
Furnish within your finances
DFS and other furniture stores do offer great deals on interest-free credit but you need to be careful that you can make those payments.
However, Facebook Marketplace is a money-saver’s dream when it comes to furniture and you can find something to suit every budget.
Unlike eBay, you will have the option to go and actually view anything before you pay for it, and all the sellers are local meaning you can avoid extortionate delivery costs.
A lot of people, especially those moving house, will be eager to get rid of their old sofas for free.
While they might not be the exact sofa you want, you could visit Matalan or Ikea and pick up a throw and put that over the sofa to update it.
When I bought my first home, in the days before Facebook Marketplace, I would scour car boots for furniture, and sand them down and repaint them to make them my own.
Meanwhile, Ikea offers a fantastic buy-back scheme where you can take your old furniture to the store and they will give you vouchers to spend in store.
Watch your garden grow
It is so easy to spend hundreds on your garden, especially if you bring in a professional gardener or landscaper but there’s no reason you can’t do it yourself.
Simply jet-washing a patio of painting a fence rather than replacing them can completely change the look of your outside space.
I would recommend tracking down a jet washer on eBay if you can as they are much cheaper than hiring one.
Plants and colourful flowers can instantly freshen up your garden.
You can pick up packets of seeds for a matter of a few pounds in B&Q, you don’t need many, you just need patience and your garden will look amazing.
And instead of buying fragile, seasonal flowers, opt for one that will flower each year such as geraniums or dahlias because then you will have it for life.
When it comes to furniture, always look out for ex-display items as they have huge discounts on them.
We picked up some gorgeous ratan furniture from our local outlet for £400 less than the RRP because it had the smallest split in the back.
Above all, buy out of season, if you go to pick up some garden furniture now you can expect to pay full whack, but come September most garden centres will be keen to shift their summer stock at rock bottom prices.
Follow Gemma Bird @MoneyMumOfficial
Previously, Gemma shared her tips for becoming the ultimate money-saving mum.
And Gemma revealed how she saved £10,000 on a £12,000 salary.
Plus Gemma shared how she paid off her £250,000 mortgage on a £25k wage.
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