Decorating on a Budget

A few tips for decorating your kid's room on a budget.

Decorating your children’s room is a task you might be putting off for many reasons – the sheer upheaval this causes along with time and effort  will be one and the other may be the cost? You may think that it just isn’t possible to redecorate a room without spending a considerable amount of cash but there are ways in which you can do it economically.


Decorating materials can be expensive but there are some simple mistakes you can avoid which will save you the most.

1200 grade lining paper
Lining paper is inexpensive and available in a range of grades

The price of a roll of wallpaper can vary from less than a pound to £50 and more but this is largely because new designs always command a premium price – it has very little to do with quality.

Generally speaking, a budget roll of wallpaper will be just as good as one at a much higher price,  the only  real difference is that it  will usually just be an old design. Do your kids really  care about things like this – probably not?

There  are a huge range of wallpaper designs especially for young children but you might want to consider how long they’ll be interested in the latest cartoon character or theme? Themed wallpaper has a limited shelf life as the latest trend is always replaced by another sooner or later. Opting for more ‘classic’ designs like simple stripes or checks can be just as effective and will not go out of style or favour.

Also on the subject of wallpaper – do you really need it? The most cost effective way to decorate a room is to use plain lining paper and paint over it with emulsion paint. Not only is this cheaper but it takes far less effort than matching up decorative wallpaper and as their preferences change you can easily change the look of a painted wall.

Colours own brand paint from B&Q
Colours from B&Q is a good value 'own brand' paint - much cheaper and almost as good (for domestic use) as the big brand alternatives

From a consumer’s point of view there are 4 kinds of paint and the price can vary considerably:

  • Expensive brands like Dulux and Crown
  • Budget trade brands like Leyland & Johnstones
  • Retailer’s own brands
  • Very cheap budget or ‘value’ brands

With expensive brands you are largely paying for advertising and marketing budgets which is why they are often twice or three times as expensive. Yes, you do get a superior product but it isn’t 3 times better than other brands so don’t be fooled into paying more than you need to.

Trade brands and own brands like B&Q Colours are a lot cheaper and offer quite good value.

The very cheap brands marketed under names like ‘budget’ and ‘value’ are generally very poor quality, have poor coverage and durability and are best avoided unless you need a primer or base coat before putting on your colour, in which case these paints will do fine.

Plain colours like white and magnolia are cheaper to buy because they are produced in bulk. Avoid the temptation to try mixing large quantities of white with small pots of colour – 99% of the time you’ll regret it! Also do be aware that one brand of a plain colour such as magnolia, will be a very different shade to another brand so do make sure you’ve plenty of the same colour to finish  your room.

Other Decorating Materials & Sundries

Wallpaper paste
This double pack of wallpaper paste is the minimum I would buy for an average room - you get two individual packs so it's never wasted - look out for promotional packs too!

A useful rule to remember is that you will usually underestimate the amount of materials you’ll need and this can work out more expensive in the long run. It is all too tempting to think that you’ll mange with one small packet of wallpaper paste or filler but invariably you will not. Always opt for the larger packets because it is cheaper than buying another small pack later on. Same principle  with paint, larger pots are cheaper than buying 2 small pots and any excess will come in handy in case you need to paint over stains and marks that invariably happen with children’s rooms.

When stripping old wall-coverings resist the temptation to buy a steam stripper – a few buckets of water, a sponge and an ounce of patience work just as well – if not better – and are a lot cheaper. The same can be said for many ‘miracle’ labour-saving devices and products – they are often no good and a total waste of cash. Besides if you ask around it’s more than likely that one of your friends will have already invested in such a device that you can borrow.

Also consider economies of scale – it is much more cost effective to decorate two or more rooms at the same time because you can buy common materials like filler, ceiling paint , etc in larger pack sizes and incur less wastage.


One of the biggest wastes of money is when you buy go for a very strong colour scheme that doesn’t work out as you imagined. Not only do you waste the cost of all that paint but you also waste a lot of time and effort too.

You can buy small tester pots of paint but often you don’t really know how well a colour will work until you’ve painted all the walls. It’s always safer, and cheaper, to go for pale or plain colours which you can use as a background to bright accessories or borders. Remember that colours often look brighter on the wall than they do in the paint pot because the light of the room will reflect off the colour, so always try to go for a shade lighter.

If you really do want to use bold colour paints then buy a small tester pot and paint a large sheet of paper with it. Stick the paper on the wall and see how you feel after seeing it for a few days – it may be that you’re not so keen once the novelty has worn off?

Ceilings & Woodwork

Painting ceilings and woodwork is probably the decorating task that most people dread and is always the most disruptive but do you really need to do them? Gloss painted woodwork can easily be washed-down and refreshed; and ceilings tend not to suffer the daily abuse that walls do. If you can get away with not doing these areas then you’ll not only save a lot of trouble but a decent amount of money too.

These are just a few money saving decorating tips – I’m sure you can think of a lot more. If you have any money saving tips please add a comment below?

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