DIY Shabby Chic: How to Decorate your Flat on a Budget

On the whole, student flats tend not to look like show homes or flats in glossy magazines such as Home and Garden, Country Living and the like. Instead, they more frequently reveal a picture of mismatching second-hand furniture and some questionable patterned carpets (if they even have carpets at all) coupled with damp and mould. This article aims to provide some tips and simple ideas on how to make student flats, if not more habitable, at least more homely, on a budget.


Today, shabby chic is all the rage in home décor. A style of interior design where furniture and furnishings are either chosen for their appearance of age and signs of wear and tear or where new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique, it plays to the strengths of student flats – which are already shabby! The key to success is being able to look past an initial appearance to see the potential in something. Below is a selection of pictures of shabby chic creations fashioned together by my mother and myself at minimal cost.

Tip One: Be resourceful!

See the potential for twigs, pebbles, acorns and anything else you can find outside. It has the benefit of being totally free and can be transformed into something rather spectacular with minimal effort. Consider repurposing bits and bobs you already have lying around the place – turn vintage cups into pen holders or old wellies into planters!  


Tip Two: Look in charity shops!

Homeware shops are very expensive and more often than not, you can create something very similar at a fraction of the cost. Charity shops are great places to find glass vases and vintage china amongst a whole array of different textiles. You do have to be prepared to sift through some rubbish, and sometimes there will be nothing, but often there will be a hidden gem or two. There are countless charity shops on Byres Road so why not take an afternoon off studying (as if you need an excuse) and have a nosey, and all the while helping charity at the same time.


Tip Three: Find ideas in magazines and online!

More often than not, home décor is all about the initial idea. Decorative accessorises are expensive to buy and frequently you do end up just paying for the idea. Looking in magazines and online will give you the ideas which you can then create at home yourself for much less expense. Obviously, there’s a limit to this but you would be surprised at how easy it is to recreate some of the pieces.  

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Tip Four: Make your own!

Cushions and bunting can make flats much more cosy and personal and it’s surprisingly easy to make your own. Making your own costs a fraction of the price of buying from homeware shops and it requires little in the way of skill or equipment: a needle and thread and you’re good to go! Moreover, it has the advantage of being totally unique and exactly as you want it. There is no need to buy expensive fabrics from sewing shops either, as you can repurpose old clothes into bunting or pick up bed linen or curtains for cushions from charity shops for a few pounds. Go on, give it a go – it’s very satisfying and looks great!


Before:                                                                                                                                             After:


[Francesca Allanson]

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