Furnish your home for nothing


Jenny's website

Buying a home is insanely expensive. Even when you've borrowed more money than you can ever imagine earning, and paid thousands of pounds in taxes and fees, you still have the enormous expense of furnishing the place. Santander recently discovered that the average first time buyer spends just under £4,000 kitting their new home out, while in London that rises to £5,500.

However, one woman has furnished her £1 million pad for nothing. So could you follow her example?

Glamorous up-cycling

The woman in question is Jenny Carruthers, the 45-year-old owner of Kiss The Frog Again - a shop which 'up-cycles' old furniture. She has spent the last decade picking up items for nothing, and using her creative flair to furnish her Georgian mansion for next to nothing.

She appeared on Kirstie Alsopp's Channel 4 show, 'Fill Your Home for Free' earlier this summer. Now she has appeared in the newspapers, showing off finds like a 1950s kitchen, which she picked up from a skip and re-painted and recycled. She also has a coat rack made from old skis, a stool made from an old tractor seat, and a kitchen bench made from two olive oil cans and a plank.

The Daily Mail revealed interesting approach to furniture upholstery - using her wedding dress to cover a dining room chair - which looks as if the dress has been draped over the chair. She also has a matching groom - complete with a top hat.

She says that anyone can follow her example - picking up freebies and giving them a new lease of life. She told the Telegraph: "Of course there can be genuine rubbish out there but so many things thrown away have so much life in them. All you need is a bit of imagination, creativity and paper and pencil to help visualise it."

But is she being realistic?

There are certainly an increasing number of places you can pick things up for nothing - most notably websites like ilovefreegle.org and Freecycle.org, where people will advertise items you can just pop round and pick up. There are also freebie sections on sites like Gumtree and CraigsList - where you can arrange to pick things up for nothing.

A quick glance this afternoon turned up a trampoline, beds, dining tables and chairs, sofas and flooring - most in excellent condition and all for nothing.

You can also keep a sharp eye out for people leaving items to collect on the street, and people renovating their home who have hired a skip to fill with freebies.

It's worth asking around with friends and family too. You'll find plenty of people are updating their house and are trying to find a new home for their old furniture. One blogger has furnished her entire house this way.

There are also things which others may class as rubbish. Carruthers' olive oil cans, for example, would have been discarded by a restaurant. She also has a light fitting which is made from jam jars - so think about what you can use, and where you can get hold of items like this.

Or is it just junk?

Realistically anyone can follow this example, and furnish a home for next to nothing. If you have time (and plenty of patience) you can slowly collect together enough items to fill your home without spending a penny

However, there's a world of difference between the stylish interiors at Carruthers' house, and the junk shop chic you'll end up with if you just fill your home with other people's cast-offs. The difference is that she has the creativity, talent and imagination to think of ways to transform objects - and the skills to make it work.

You can do your best - starting with items that are in good condition, and covering the worst damage and least fashionable colours with a lick of paint - but it's the rare few who will finish the process with an enviable home.

But what do you think? have you successfully renovated a piece of furniture you got for next to nothing, or would this approach be a disaster? Let us know in the comments.