Room for Improvement

Living room

Before, a vision in beige

It’s fair to say that since our girls came along, the house has found itself a little neglected. After a pre-baby decorating blitz that almost killed me, things have stayed pretty much the same, aside from pink walls for the girls’ rooms and new flooring that was a necessity following a leaky toilet. Finding the time and money to spruce the place up isn’t easy with jobs to go to and small people to look after.

It’s very much time for a change though, which is why I jumped at the chance to join in the “Room for Improvement” challenge. It’s organised by to showcase different ways to improve your living space on a budget – in this case the budget was £50 which was kindly provided by

We decided to focus on the living room, because it’s the most used area of the house. In recent years it’s resembled a toy shop more than somewhere you’d want to relax in, but we managed to tame the toys a couple of months back, so things were already heading in the right direction. But with no time to paint, and a limited budget to work with, how were we going to improve things?

Soft furnishings!

With “builder’s cream” walls and a beige sofa, to work around, we decided it was down to the curtains and cushions to inject some colour and life into things. And so we headed off in search of… well, something. We had some ideas of colours we thought might work – I was thinking deep reds/purples, Gem was thinking greens –  but in reality we were open to anything.

First stop was Dunelm Mill who, by coincidence, had a sale on. And it was in the sale that we spotted the curtains for us! The Plum Jakarta Collection combines the plum and green colours we’d been thinking about, and with 20% off, reducing the price to £39.99, we were well on the way to sprucing things up. Next up cushions.

Living room - after

After, full of life and colour

We decided the matching cushions might be a bit much, and went for a wander round Dunelm’s extensive cushion collection. I’m delighted to say it was me who spotted the cushions we ended up buying – not like me at all. But the colours in the Berwick cushion covers were a perfect match for the curtains we’d picked up, and we liked the mismatching but coordinating look they’d give us. We picked up two covers at £6.99 each to go alongside our existing cushions.

We’re both thrilled with the final result – it makes the living room feel like a much more grown up space, all for a total spend of just £53.97! AND we got everything in the first place we visited, so no traipsing round endless shops looking at home furnishings. Thanks Dunelm Mill!

To complement our new look further, we’ve also moved a few pictures round, including a piece we commissioned from our artist friend Leila Neal a few years ago. It’s been brightening up our kitchen/diner since we moved in, but the colours seemed such a great match for the plum curtain tops that a new home made perfect sense.

Roses and Thistles, a triptych by Leila Neal

To be honest, this image doesn’t really do it justice

Of course, it does mean we’ve now got a big empty wall in the kitchen. Guess which room is next in line for improvement…

I was provided with £50 by to spend on improving a room in our house. All words and opinions are my own, and links have been included out of courtesy.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!