Adding character and individuality to your home needn’t break the bank or the environment. If you’re after a look that’s less glass coffee tables and flat-packed furniture and more individual and creative – use your imagination and what you can find around you to have fun decorating your home.

Leaving city life for a more relaxed existence in mid-Wales and moving to an area that’s famed for its green credentials and alternative lifestyles, we were determined to make sure our 200 hundred year old cottage was restored and decorated sympathetically.

Doing the work ourselves and with no real budget to speak of, the cottage has undergone a complete renovation. It’s taught us that style and personality doesn’t have to come at too high a cost. You just need to look at the materials you have around you – and seek out the alternatives to the ‘norm’.

The curtains throughout the cottage are made from bespoke prints sourced from a local fabric shop. It’s a shop where you can easily loose hours rummaging through the rolls of original patterns. The results are worth the effort – curtains that no one else is likely to have and at a fraction of the cost of a standard pair.

All you have to do is measure the spaces and buy some material that’s just a little bigger. Cut the material in half (vertically) to make the two curtains. Then using iron-on hemming tape, hem the edges (use a damp cloth and just iron the tape on).

Using standard safety pins attach one every 5-10cms across the top hem. Then you’re ready to hang them.

Find two old large nails for a rustic look (old roofing nails are ideal – they look worn and are big enough) or buy some from a local art/DIY store. It doesn’t even need to be a nail – they’re just easy to install – a hammer and it’s done. But you can use screws, old door handles, latches etc – let your imagination and creativity guide you. So long as you can attach gardening wire to it – go for it! For larger windows you may need a central nail or support to stop the wire sagging.

Once in place thread the wire through the safety pins and then attach to the nails – and there you go shabby chic at its most simplest! The detailed expensive-looking prints contrast brilliantly with the utilitarian wire and nails.

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To complete the rustic theme you can decorate the window sill with cost-free natural finds like these old glass bottles – they make an uncomplicated decoration in a windowsill. At first glance they all appear clear but each one has a different tint. The colours stand out when the sun shines through them. And best of all they were all dug up from the garden literally under the same window – zero cost and zero miles!

The pebbles and stones here have been collected from a beach walk. They’re arranged on a simple wooden plate found in a local charity shop and take pride of place on the bedroom windowsill.

And finally an old pot with geraniums provides a splash of colour and connects the room with the garden outside.

This style may suit a country cottage but the principles of doing something different, something no one else will have can be applied to any home – say goodbye to the mass produced stuff that a store buyer has chosen and introduce a bit of personality and style to your home.

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by Andy Richards

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