Maximum Trend, Minimum Spend


You managed to squirrel away a deposit; you persuaded someone to give you a mortgage; you trekked around tirelessly until you found the perfect property; and you have finally moved lock, stock and barrel into this place that you now call home. So what next? We all know how pricey the property market is in this country, but once you have finally nabbed a nest to settle down in the bills don’t stop coming. Certainly, it’s always important to seek out quality and opt for the best that you can afford, but that doesn’t always mean running up dangerous levels of credit card debt. Wherever you shop and whatever you buy make sure that you’re armed with the House and Home magazine guide to making your home look posh on a budget.

Savvy shopping
While interiors trends follow those of the catwalk, thankfully the prices aren’t quite as high. Here are some of House and Home editor’s favourite addresses for great buys that won’t break the bank:

  • Argos: the Argos catalogue is bursting with bargains. Trawl through it with a fine toothcomb and you’ll pick up some handy bits.
  • Arnotts Bargain Basement: have a rummage and you’ll find lots of little treasures.
  • Dunnes Stores: there are many loyal fans and followers of the ever expanding Dunnes Homewares lines, and with good reason.
  • Famous Furniture: Avonbeg Industrial Estate, Longmile Road, Dublin 12. Tel: 01 405 0520: branded furniture by leading UK retailers at half price or less.
  • Heatons: revisit this grand dame of Irish cheap-and-cheerful and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
  • Home Store and More: Web: the ultimate one stop shop.
  • In-house at the Panelling Centre: Web: smart and sleek kitchens are on offer here.
  • Murphy Sheehy: Castle Market, Dublin 2: this fabric store has a wealth of prints and colours.
  • Oxfam Home: Francis St, Dublin 8: we love a lunchtime trawl through this second hand charity shop.
  • Renaissance: Capel St, Dublin 7. Tel: 01 887 3809: A city centre staple for good value furniture.
  • TK Maxx: Drogheada, Blanchardstown, St Stephens Green, Swords, Letterkenny, Limerick, Sligo, Tralee and Cork. Find out when deliveries come in and be ready and waiting to pounce on the hottest new stock.
  • Designer discounts: Kildare outlet village is the perfect spot for branded goodies at knockdown prices. Here are some of the discounts that you can avail of:
  • Descamps: fine French bed linen and towels. Deliveries arrive every three to four weeks. Most towels are 50 per cent off, and there is usually about one third off all bed linen. A current bargain is the Jalla double duvet set, including two pillowcases with a duvet cover for €78.
  • Kenneth Turner: the high end florist also does gorgeous fragrances. Here you will find candles in different sizes and fragrances, potpourri, room sprays, hand lotions, body lotions, dried flowers, glassware, and accessories in pewter and nickel (such as vases candle holders). All items are 30 percent off and some items are at a seasonal discount of 50 percent or even 70 percent. Deliveries arrive every two weeks.
  • Le Creuset: the classic, ultimate kitchen staple is available at an impressive discount.
  • Villeroy & Boch: gorgeous tableware. Deliveries come once a week. Offers start at 30 per cent off the recommended retail price and go up to 60 per cent off. The stock that they sell is always current styles – no discontinued lines, though there are some seconds.
  • Molton Brown: Fancy bathroom products. Handwash and lotion, sold in sets of three, are €43.02 (usually €64.50). Sets are made up in advance and are generally 40 percent off, with 50 percent off some.
  • Designers Guild: High style prints and patterns in soft furnishings. 30 per cent off original prices. Cushions, bed linen, towels, curtains, picture frames, fragrances and soaps. There is generally a particular bargain every week. Kildare Village, Nurney Road, Kildare Town, Co Kildare. Web:


Auction action
Raise your hand and who knows what you could be taking home. A particular favourite for sets of dining room tables and chairs, auctions are a veritable playground for adventurous magpies who are inventive with unusual finds. If you’re particularly stuck and want to give an old piece a facelift, put your own spin on someone’s old furniture with paint or wallpaper. Alternatively, do your homework and go along to make a big purchase that will stand proudly in your home as it has in others for many years previously. Keep an eye on the Irish Times each Saturday for details of house clearance auctions. Here are some House and Home favourites:

  • Adams, Blackrock, Co Dublin. Tel: 01 288 5146.
  • Buckleys of Sandycove, 27 Sandycove Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Tel: 01 284 4717.
  • Dennis Drum, New Street, Malahide, Co Dublin. Tel: 01 845 2819.
  • Herman Wilkinson, 161 Lower Rathmines Road, Rathmines, Dublin 6. Tel: 01 497 2245.
  • Mitchells, Roscrea, Co Tipperary. Tel: 0505 24000. Web:
  • Sheppards, the Square, Durrow, Co Laois. Tel: 05787 36123.
  • Town & Country, 4 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 7. Tel: 01 872 8300.


Some top tips for savvy shopping from those in the know: Ruth Kennelly, Interior Designer

  • Get a paint colour match to a Farrow and Ball paint shade in a bedroom and then purchase three rolls of coordinating wall paper from the Farrow and Ball new ‘Ranelagh collection’ for the main wall in the room to give a fab look at half the cost.
  • Spend on quality workmanship and save on the raw materials; a good tiler can make a ceramic look fantastic and a bad tiler can make an expensive marble look cheap.
  • Save on lighting – buy chandeliers from HomeBase and ceiling fittings from Argos and spend on a feature lamp from National Lighting for your main living space.
  • Silk fabrics should always be interlined and lined fully to give the best effect. Buy silk fabric at Murphy Sheehy in Dublin 2 and have it interlined; it will look more expensive than many of the more costly options.
    RK Designs, 120 Baggot Lane, Dublin 4. Tel: 01 667 8659. Web:

Louise Norton, Interior Designer

  • Two places for reasonably priced but good-looking furniture are Montana and Meadows and Byrne.
  • To do up your home on a shoestring just accessorise! Bedrooms are the simplest rooms to change, using paint or by wallpapering a feature wall. Get coloured lampshades for either the central light or bedside lamps, and get a fresh set of linens in Top Drawer or Dunnes Stores.
  • Changing the tiling and sanitaryware in bathrooms is very expensive – to dickie it up use new towels, some glass shelves to display one or two nice products and lots of nice candles.
  • For small apartments or awkward spaces a foldable table is a great buy – Meadows & Byrne do a great one called the portrait table, it costs around €300. It can be easily stowed away or you can take it apart and re-erect it on your terrace or in the garden.
  • Plants, flowers and candles will all resurrect and take the dead feeling out of any room, making a big difference to the feel of the room. I buy lots of flowers in Tesco – they do lots of special offers and are much cheaper than a florist.
  • Never leave a naked bulb! Even if you have only €10 to spend go to Dunnes or Woodies and get a lampshade (they both do great lighting). Dunnes have done their own version of the popular ‘chandelier & shade’ light and have it at half the price that most shops sell it at; the floor lamp is €100; Meadows & Byrne do the table lamp at reasonable price.
    N Space, 4 Northbrook Terrace, North Strand, Dublin 3. Tel: 01 887 9722

Laura Farrell, Interior Designer

  • Generally the easiest and cheapest way to radically change your home is by painting it. Choose a soft neutral shade if you’re not sure – ‘Devine’ Paint by General Paints have been developed for such a purpose, as all the shades on each card can be used interchangeably and are guaranteed to work perfectly with each other – a no-brainer! Paint the walls, ceiling, skirting and doors all the same colour as this will visually enlarge the space. Stay clear of dark or very bright shades unless you are very confident.
  • Rejuvenate your home by re-carpeting, which not only refreshes the space but can make it look smart and expensive. Check with carpet showrooms as they often have left over pieces and job lots which they are more than happy to get rid of, generally at a heavily discounted price. As with the paint, go for plain organic colours. Wool velvets are particularly smart in nice neutrals such as oatmeal, taupe, butterscotch and they have the advantage of having a high wool content which makes them easy to clean. Nylon carpets may seem like a deal but they stain like crazy and can look dreadful in a very short time.
  • House of Fraser in Dundrum Town Centre has a great range of soft furnishings and their own brand of duvet covers are stylish, well priced and have a high cotton count.
  • For furniture and interesting styling and art pieces try Decor on Wexford Street, Dublin 6. With hand selected container shipments arriving frequently, they are well priced and have the most eclectic selection in Dublin.
    Scudding Clouds. Tel: 01 476 1004. Email:

Liz O’Kane, presenter House Hunters in the Sun

  • I always go for a high-end finish; what I mean by this is that, while you may not be able to afford the most beautiful or expensive kitchen or bathroom in the world, you can make it look as though it is. Always go for more expensive handles, taps, shower attachments and work counters.  If you can’t afford granite or stone try a bit of oroko or other good timber work tops.  They may need a bit more TLC but they look very expensive, are warm and soft to the touch and don’t make noise on contact.
  • My number one decorating tip is fool proof: paint the whole place white or off white if you’re not into the starkness, and then don’t be afraid with your colour.  Paintings, photographs and large prints that are beautifully framed will look fabulous on a white background, as will all your soft furnishings. My home is awash with colour, but the walls are white from top to bottom.  Better off doing this first rather than painting a colour you’re unused to and possibly making a drastic mistake.
  • I’m a big Dunnes Stores fan, especially for their colourful garden items during the summer months. Their glasses for kids, directors chairs and outdoor lighting are always fabulous and also make great gifts.
  • For soft furnishings and bed linen you just need to hit TK Maxx on the right day. It can be a bit of a trawl but when you can turn up Ralph Lauren bed linen for half nothing who cares!

Aine Clune

  • If you are at the early plumbing stages of your bathroom and want to save on money but not on style, install a wall hung loo. It looks unimposing and hides all that unsightly pipe work.
  • When shopping for tiles, look at the cheapest range first and work your way up to avoid falling in love with something you can’t afford. Also ask if there is any end of line stock, you might just get a great bargain.
  • In the bedroom, customise an old headboard with some gorgeous, extravagant fabric and have extra large cushions made for the bed in the same fabric. This looks fab on crisp white bed linen, available from any department store.
  • In the kitchen change your splash back from old tiles to a coloured glass. Complement ivory kitchen units with smoky coffee coloured glass for up-to-date glamour.
  • Use recess lights on a stairs and hall to transform any reception area.
  • Spend on sofas, flooring and lighting; save on bed linen, soft furnishings, lamps and shades; for good sales go to Brown Thomas and Tilestyle; for surprisingly good finds visit Next Homeware, TK Maxx, and HomeBase.
    Aine Clune Home Design, Tel: 086 834 4916

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