Six Simple & Sustainable Ways to Spruce up Your Home on a Budget

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Get your place looking better for less.

Oakwood Vintage

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Doing up your home doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You can get it looking shipshape for less, while doing your bit for the planet.

The cost of living crisis has started to bite, and with more of us watching the pennies and pounds closer than ever before. But what if your house or flat needs a bit of an overhaul? Don’t worry – there are some wonderfully cost-effective shortcuts you can enjoy in Leeds that mean a bit of TLC doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Not only that, these top tips will all help with sustainability and cutting your carbon footprint too!

Get the tools you need for nowt


Even if you’re handy and plan on doing a lot of jobs around the house yourself, tools can be a real overhead. It’s often not until you start putting something up or together that you realise you don’t have the tool you need. Chances are you’ll end up buying something that gathers dust after you’ve used it just the once to put together that shelf unit that needs a very specific and very unusual type of screw. Tools can be a real investment, but there’s another option if times are tight.

Buy Nowt LS6 is a non-profit organisation that uses a ‘pay-as-you-feel’ pricing model for their inventory of useful stuff, known as the Library of Things. Join up – it’s free – and you can borrow anything from sewing machines to spirit levels, wallpaper steamers to pressure washers. They’ll recommend a donation, which might be as little as £1, and you won’t have to go and buy things you may never need again – now that’s smart and sustainable.

Buy Nowt LS6 Library of Things, Methodist Church Centenary Room, 1 Chapel Street, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3HZ.

Furniture for free? For real!

Sofa Bed Freecycle

If you’ve just moved into your first house, chances are you’ve only just begun to realise exactly how much stuff you need to fill it. Sofas and beds are only the beginning – you’re going to need storage, shelves, tables and cabinets. And that’s before you get to the decorative stuff. If you’ve just paid out for a deposit and removals firm, that’s an expense you can probably do without. Luckily, that’s where Freecycle comes in.

This ever-growing online community is where people offer their stuff for free – as long as you can go and pick it up. Some of it is new, much of it is used, but it’s a wonderful way to fill some gaps while you get saving up for your own stuff. It’s a treasure trove of the previously loved – a quick browse throws up double beds, plasterboard for your next DIY project, an upright piano and a gas cooker. And if you’re an upcycler, this is the perfect place to find your next project.

You can search the Freecycle Leeds database online.

Up, upcycle & away

You don’t have to be one of the experts from The Repair Shop to have a go at upcycling. It’s a fabulous way to take old items and give them a new lease of life. Whether it’s stuff donated by family, charity shop finds or something sourced from Freecycle, even the least handy person can follow an online tutorial and learn how to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. There are even community and Facebook groups swapping tips and items, but you can also join courses and workshops with the likes of Seagulls, Done Up North and Leeds City College.

It doesn’t stop at the front door either. Unwanted pallets that usually end up in landfills can work wonders in the garden, the perfect green solution. They can be sanded and painted for use as shelves, or repurposed as planters – you’ll find a plethora of ideas online. If you’re not green fingered, don’t worry. There’s a world of YouTube videos for you to tap into, as well as local gardening courses to keep an eye out for.

Check local upcycling workshops at Craft Courses online.

Get a retro look for a reasonable price

Oakwood Vintage

© Copyright Leeds-List 2022 by Ellie Hodgson

Putting your home together on a budget doesn’t mean you have to settle for a hodge-podge of furniture that mixes together about as well as oil and water. Oh no – if you’ve got a flair for interior design, there are period bargains to be found at the many vintage furniture stores in Leeds. From Swiss Cottage Antiques in Pudsey to Oakwood Vintage in Chapel Allerton, you’ll find everything from Ercol to kitsch paintings.

If you’re keen on completing a virtuous circle, seek out Emmaus. This charity saves furniture from landfill but is also a social enterprise that looks to help people who’ve experienced being homeless. They run a number of physical shops, as well as having online stores full of furniture, antiques and bric-a-brac. If you’ve got a keen eye for vintage bits and bobs, you’re sure to find something at a keen price that also helps the community.

Emmaus Leeds Secondhand Superstore, St. Mary’s Street, Lincoln Green, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 7DP and Emmaus Leeds Market Stall, Leeds Kirkgate Market, Between Rows F & G, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7HY.

A lick of paint for a lot less money


The dream? The latest Farrow & Ball paint colour with a ridiculously silly name. The reality? It costs a heck of a lot of money and you’ll either have to order a load, or you’ll be left with the remnants of a can slowly going hard in the garage. Seagulls to the rescue! This isn’t just a paint shop – it’s an award-winning social enterprise that recycles paint. Since they opened they’ve prevented some four million litres of paint from going into landfill, and that’s only the half of what they do.

They’ll take their recycled paint and colour match it to Dulux or – yes – Farrow & Ball hues, and they also have all the decorating supplies you need. It’s not just about bargain paint, however, as you can also take part in workshops to help you learn how to paint and decorate yourself, saving you big money on using tradespeople when you can’t afford it. These crash courses cover prep, cutting in, rolling, woodwork and everything else you need to know to give your gaff a fresh lick of paint.

Seagulls Reuse, 3-4 Aire Place Mills, 103 Kirkstall Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS3 1JL.

Become a kitchen king or queen

Leeds Cookery School

Furniture, decoration and DIY aren’t the only ways to make a house feel like a home, cooking and baking help too. Not everyone is a domestic god or goddess, but as food prices rise, it’s handy to master some basic skills – home-cooked food will always cost less than a takeaway or a meal out. Laying out for a cookery class is a good investment – you can learn some techniques and then take them home and get practising.

The city has a number of cooking classes run by the likes of Leeds Cookery School, Get Cooking and Junior Kitchen. They can guide you through bread and pasta making, basic culinary skills and the like. Alternatively, if you’ve got a favourite cuisine, you can choose to specialise in Mediterranean, Thai and more. Armed with your new know-how, you can head home and try batch cooking to save money, prep and cooking time, all while filling your home with the joyous scents of baking and brilliant grub.

Check out the best cooking classes in Leeds.