25 September 2013 | Volunteering blogs | Back to Blog

Balfron Tower: Redecoration on a shoestring budget

Having moved into a dot dot dot flat in Balfron Tower a month ago my flat mate Josh and I were keen to create a living space that felt modern, simple and ‘designed’ but without spending money. From moving in to completion of the main living spaces took us a week of full time work and a few evenings of the following week.

Its worth noting that Josh and I both work in theatre as designers which helps in that we are pretty kitted out with tools, painting and building knowledge. Although everything we did in the flat can be made with the following tools:

1x panel saw, 1x claw hammer, 2x drills (good quality 12v drivers makita or similar), drill bits, a spirt level, wall plugs, L brackets and misc hardware. brushes, rollers etc

Here are some before images of the property:

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We were pretty lucky in that our flat was in quite a good condition when we took it on, the walls were all white and the toilet and kitchen only needed a surface clean and a lick of paint. Apart from a deep clean of all the windows and the removal of the carpets it wasn’t too much hassle. Before moving any of our belongings into the property we did two full days in the flat with a couple of airbeds borrowed from mates which meant we could tackle all walls and floors with out any obstructions. We gave all the walls a coat of white paint and pulled up all the carpets. To our dismay we discovered that underneath the carpet there was a gunky adhesive which was a nightmare to remove but an evening of perseverance restored the tiles to their original state. we painted all the floors with grey masonry paint and sealed them with a gloss glaze to make them easy to clean. We then put the odd colour accent here and there and were ready to build.

Josh and I had decided that we didn’t really want to spend money on furniture and thought that the best way around this was to build our own in a way that was easy to put together and take apart given the nature of being a guardian we wanted thing we could move with us and adapt. There are a few wood recycling places dotted around where you can buy reclaimed timber and sheet material at heavily discounted prices. We picked ours up in Brighton as we were on the coast picking up Josh’s stuff anyway but there are also some all over London. I have discovered one a 10 minute walk from Balfron recently that has some amazing stuff. We bought a load of old scaffolding boards some 3×1 timber lengths and some MDF. The whole lot cost £70. We then picked up loads of shipping pallets near Balfron – you can find these dotted around all over London and if you ask most places will happily give them to you for free, if you want more than 6ish your best bet is going to a timber yard and they have plenty that they are always looking to get rid of and if you ask nicely will load them into your van with a fork lift.

From this wood we made, 2x bed frames, 1x sofa frame, 1x dining table, 2x desks and all our shelving which meant that all our furniture (excluding mattresses and chairs) came in at under £100.

If you look online at pallet furniture you can get loads of ideas of simple things that can be made. The other small bit of furniture we got from cheap second hand places and haggled down the price.

Here are some images of the flat now.

Living room: cost (paint £60, sofa £20, table £15, chairs £20, cabinet £15, misc cushions frames etc £45.)

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Bathroom: cost (shower curtain £6, cabinet £20, bathmat £6, hardware £8, paint free)

IMG_2885IMG_0122 (1)Bedroom: Cost mattress £100, desk wood £8, shelves £10, paint £20

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Its been a great process and so unique to have the freedom to decorate a property without owning it to your own taste.

Got a few bits and bobs still to do but its definitely home!

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