Since its inception in 2015 The DIY Decorator has amassed an impressive online following. Almost 90k people tune into Perth-based interior decorator Zoe Gilpin’s Insta-feed and blog to take advantage of her keen eye for bargains and learn how to style fabulous spaces on a budget – rooms that look a lot more expensive than they are. Today, Zoe shares her top five tips on how to create stylish spaces without breaking the bank.
Shop smart: Plan before you spend
“Going into a home decorating project without a plan can be costly,” says Zoe who thinks it’s worth spending time creating a digital mood board to this end. “Planning exactly what you need not only helps you stay within budget but avoids having to return or swap items that aren’t working in the scheme,” says Zoe.
And while it sounds like strange advice when budget is top of mind, you should refrain from buying too much in the first instance. Start with bare minimum of items and work up from there – as is often the case, less really is more “Minimal often works best. My tip is to work out what each large furniture item needs. For example, how many cushions does the sofa need? Or how many decorative items should sit on the entertainment unit?” says Zoe.
Mix pricier items with budget ones
Like the savviest of fashion girls, Zoe is a fan of mixing high-end pieces with high-street finds and even second-hand pieces. “This is my top tip for creating your own unique style that suits your home and doesn’t look like a copy of a catalogue,” says Zoe.
“An interior created with items from all walks of life – designer, budget and small business – tells a far more interesting tale,” says Zoe who explains that this technique is a great way to balance the books too. “Spent too much on that coffee table? Even out the budget by spending less on the items to go on it,” says Zoe.
Spend on larger items & save on smaller ones
When it comes to dividing up your funds, it’s best to channel more of your dollars towards the larger items – think furniture pieces such as beds, sofas and dining suites. Not only do cheaper products usually not stand the test of time, but quality pieces have a greater resale value.
Conversely, Zoe advises spending less on the smaller finishing touches. “To save a few dollars, opt for cheaper products when it comes to items such as vases, cushions and lamps. These items don’t get used and are simply to look at, so their quality isn’t as important,” says Zoe.
Top tip: Upgrade an inexpensive cushion by swapping out the original insert with a feather one for an instantly more luxe result.
Given the name of Zoe’s blog, it’s no surprise that she’s a big proponent of DIY and not only do they impart a sense of achievement, but they are a great way to save a few dollars too.
Again, Zoe recommends browsing second hand stores, scrolling Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree to find unique items and give them a second life. “Whether it be a paint project or an upholstery project, it only takes a few inexpensive products from a craft or hardware store to help you create your DIY masterpiece,” says Zoe.
That the explosion of indoor greenery took place at a similar time to a global economic downturn is no coincidence. A pop of greenery is a fabulous, inexpensive way to really lift a room.
“Buying a nice plant, large or small, and popping it in to a planter that suits your home decor style, instantly adds life to a room. If you like a more natural look consider housing your plants in decorative baskets. When it comes to choosing the plant, it can be a simple green leaf plant or something with flowers,” says Zoe who cites easy-care plants such as devil’s ivy, giant elephant ears and rubber plants as some of her favourites.
Photography: Zoe Gilpin