Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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How to reinvent a second-hand kitchen

Buying a kitchen second-hand may seem unheard of, but it can be a great way to update your home on a budget. So many people think that their only option is a basic store-bought kitchen, but there are alternatives out there – purchasing a designer kitchen second-hand is the future. You can get great quality at a fraction of the original custom-made price. However, when a kitchen has been designed for a different home, how do you personalise it to suit yours? Here are some tips:Paint is Your Best Friend

When you buy a second-hand kitchen, paint becomes your best friend. You can use it to transform the entire room, from the cabinets to the walls. You will be surprised how much painting your cabinets can lift the entire room, making it brighter and much more pleasant.

Change Up the Cabinets

With cabinets making up such an important part of the kitchen, changing them can have a big impact on the design. You could paint them, as we mentioned above, or replace the doors with glass. If you’re feeling brave (and you keep your cupboards tidy!) you could take the doors off completely. Is that too much commitment? Just replace the handles – chrome handles instantly update a kitchen, or you could find quirky vintage ones.Replace the Worktops

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Personalise your wedding reception (& cut costs too!)

One of the most important days of your life is your wedding day. It’s just one day of celebration, yet we spend more money on this than many of us earn in a whole year. A few short hours costing thousands seems a little excessive. So is there a way to maximise the experience while shrinking that cost down to sensible proportions? Absolutely. Everybody loves a wedding, but if you want to achieve the dream without dropping your jaw on the floor at the cost, why not give these ideas a go..?

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MC Mates

No need to hire a professional DJ, a ‘Master of Ceremonies’ or announcer. Ask your dad, your brother, your auntie, or any of your friends. Many people struggle to know what to buy you for your wedding. And plenty of us struggle with the cost of gifts. They will be delighted to have such an important contribution to your wedding, and it can become one of the gifts you’ll treasure the most. Best of all, you’ll get exactly what you asked for. Your friends and family know you well, so everything they provide will be personal.

Home-baked Cake

Mmmmm. Nothing is quite as tasty as a freshly baked cake. Sure, you can get four tiers of intricately designed and decorated wedding cake from the baker. Looks good on the outside, but may be disappointing on the inside. Make it yourself, including the decorations that are personal to you. If you have children in the family, let them get involved. There is nothing more personal and charming for your friends and family than something that comes from you or your guests.

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Centrepieces

Making your own centrepieces is easier than you think, and they make a great parting gift for your guests. Thrift shops and budget stores always have bowls and vases at bargain prices. You can insert craft sand or pebbles and artificial flowers to fill it out. Add lots of colours and a range of textures to create something extra special. Paper flowers work well for this too – or even sweets!

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Household DIY – How to install laminate flooring

I’ve recently laid laminate flooring in two rooms of my home and I can honestly say that it was a really easy process. I thought it would take days to install but we were finished within a couple of hours. As long as you have the right equipment – a saw, knee pads and a laminate flooring installation kit (including packers) you can easily lay this type of flooring yourself. Here’s how to do it, step-by-step:Clear away any existing carpet, tiles or pieces of old underlay. Give the room a sweep to make sure you’ve cleared all the debris from the surface, and vacuum the floor to pick up the smaller pieces of dust. If you’re laying the laminate onto a concrete floor you’ll need to start with a damp-proof membrane before adding a layer of underlay.If you’re starting with a wooden floor, you can go straight to laying the underlay. There are plenty of options for underlay out there; foil-coated sheets that insulate the floor, rolls of foam to cushion the laminate or fibre boards – which is the option I went for.This simply evens out the floor so that the laminate flooring will look perfectly flat when fitted. It also adds an extra layer of insulation and, if you’re using it on an upstairs room, it can add a little sound-proofing so you don’t feel like you’re walking about inside a drum, and causing a lot of noise in the rooms below!

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5 things to think about when planning a loft conversion

Creating that much-needed extra space in your home can be achieved by creating a brand new room out in your unappreciated attic. Whether you live in an old Victorian semi-detached or a mid-terrace home; a loft conversion could be your next step in home improvement. I definitely want to convert my own attic in the future and so I’ve been doing my research in order to plan ahead. I’ve found a few useful tips on how to plan for a loft extension (and what not to do!) so I thought I would share these with you today. 

Minimalist style and a wall of storage – what more do you need?

An additional room in your home could be necessary for an endless number of reasons. You could create a new, cosy bedroom for the youngest family member. You might want to take your DIY hobbies into your own little indoor workspace. You can opt for some cool lighting, your favourite interior colours and patterns, windows that let the sunshine in throughout the day, built-in wardrobes and so on..!

The main thing to consider when dreaming up a loft conversion project is budget – planning and estimating what kind of loft conversion your building will allow for. As new additional rooms can only be done properly by professionals; it’s important to work with a company that you really click with and who understands what you want to achieve.

Escape to the loft to work in your own home office

After finding the loft conversion company you want to work with, there will be some rules and limits on how you can add this exciting new room to your house. Before jumping into paying a deposit to any designer, architect or a building company make sure you read the specific loft conversion regulations that apply to your property. You don’t want to end up having to pay for something you might not be eligible to get after all. Continue reading “5 things to think about when planning a loft conversion” »


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Household DIY – How to install skirting board

Did you spot my blog post about my new flooring last week? The eagle-eyed of you might have noticed that the finishing touch to my new bedroom floor was a lovely tall skirting board. While it may only be a small element of the room, the whole space would have looked completely unfinished without it. Just look at these before and after photos:

What a difference a piece of new skirting board makes, eh? It covered the tatty plaster at the base of the wall where the old skirting board had been ripped out, and it sealed the edges of the laminate flooring. It’s an easy ‘finishing touch’ to install but a difficult DIY task at the same time. Here’s why…

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4 budget-busting tips for your wedding day

Put the word ‘wedding’ in front of anything and suddenly the cost goes up. It’s insane to think how much the average wedding costs. In the days when I got married 14 years ago, there wasn’t half the choice there is now. Then again, the services that were available didn’t cost half as much as they do today! But, your big day doesn’t have to mean big bucks. On the contrary, even the most thrifty of brides can have a day fit for a princess without having to break the bank. After all, a wedding is just one day; marriage is for a lifetime. So, if you’re a bride on a budget, how can you make sure that your day is one to remember without having to splash out? Let’s find out.

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Go DIY

The DIY bride is now a big thing with more and more people taking the plunge in creating their own wedding accessories. From invites, to bouquets to decor, most brides are now popping along to their local craft store to find out what they can make themselves. If you’re something of an expert baker, you could bake your own wedding cake. Unleash your inner creativity – not only will you save money, but you will also have a thoroughly personal wedding. After all, who wants something that everyone else can have? It’ll be utterly bespoke and personal to you.

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6 Crafty ways to preserve your family’s most precious memories

Family memories come and go so quickly. Even when you wait months for a big occasion – marriage, graduations, 1st birthday parties – the time goes by in a blink. You can make the occasion memorable with some of the party tips I shared on the blog earlier this week, but it’s the reliving of these precious moments in the future that gives me the most happiness. And with a bit of craftiness it is so easy to preserve these memories so that you can enjoy reminiscing time and again. 1. Create holiday jars

Holidays provide the best source of memories. We tend to do things out of the ordinary on holiday – fun activities, enjoying a special meal, or hiking to a beautiful spot – but it’s no good having photos stored on a memory card somewhere. Remembering these moments can help to keep us going when we’re feeling under the weather or sat at our desks while it drizzles outside. “Vacation jars” do just that. They’re so easy to make – all you need is a jar – and the rest of the items you can pick up along the way. Put anything in your jar that reminds you of the last holiday you took, including:

  • Small souvenirs
  • Pine cones or shells (depending on the location you visited!)
  • Pictures (real-life printed photos)
  • Postcards and leaflets
  • Maps and travel tickets

I also made myself a ‘little jar of happy’ which contains anything that has made me happy. If my niece or nephew says something funny I’ll write it down. When I get positive feedback on my work, it goes into the jar. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and it always puts a smile on my face remembering the good times. 2. Family yearbooks

Why not create yearly yearbooks that show some of the year’s best pictures? Over the past year I actually got some photos printed and it was lovely to have ‘real life’ photos in my hands. We are all taking more photos than ever thanks to camera phones but we rarely ever print them out. If you do a little audit of your photo albums every 3 months and send a few to print, you create your own yearbook for the family to look back on, and if you’re happy to do some scrapbooking (one of my favourite things to do) you can add in a few extra bits alongside your photos such as:

  • Event tickets
  • Birthday cards
  • Newspaper clippings

If you’ve got photos and souvenirs to hand, you could even use screen printing to transform t-shirts into wearable collages of your images if you want to make a lasting, wearable memory. Imagine wear a Christmas jumper this year that has photos of the fun you had last Christmas printed on it! Photos also work great as ‘bunting’in your office or the kids’ bedroom – here’s how to make Polaroid bunting at home.

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10 Interior design tips & tricks to maximise your space

We all strive for more space in our homes (just so we can buy even more stuff to fill it!) and it can be an expensive and time-consuming option to move house to get that extra space. I always seem to run out of space – no matter how much decluttering I do! So, what can you do in your home to create more room without having to actually buy or rent a bigger house or build an extension? Here are ten interior design tricks which can really help to maximise the space in your property.

1. Wall space is underrated but people just aren’t making the most of shelving. Shelves can be a lot more stylish than your standard plywood and metal shelf – you could go down the glass route or alternatively, and far trendier, are the rustic floating timber shelves. Build shelving into alcoves (or even put them above doorways – as I did in my last home!) to really make the most of every inch of space.

2. Get rid of any bulky furniture that doesn’t fit flush to the walls – things like dressing tables and standalone furniture that you could definitely live without. House Beautiful recommends that you opt for made-to-measure fitted furniture to maximise your storage and make rooms look cleaner, tidier and much brighter.

3. Downsizing your bed may seem like a disastrous idea but not many bedrooms in a smaller house have the capacity for a king size bed. Switching back to a double will enhance the space in your bedroom. You can still use your cosy king size duvet cover and squishy cushions though, so you don’t need to buy new bedding – just a double fitted sheet for your new mattress.

4. Transform all the seating in your home into storage. We’re talking benches that can open – window seats, ottomans, chests, and more. You can really make the most of where you’re sitting if you just turn it into useable space.

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My upcycled picture frame breakfast tray project is in Reloved Magazine!

I’m delighted to share with you some pics of my latest project in Reloved magazine. This month I made a breakfast-in-bed tray as a romantic treat for Valentine’s Day. What do you think??I upcycled an old picture frame and turned it into a breakfast tray by removing the glass, and decoupaging old book pages (a falling-apart copy of Jane Eyre and a Marilyn Monroe biography, if you’re interested!) onto the back-board. It’s a similar effect to the book-page feature wall I created in my bedroom – if you missed that blog post you can check it out here.I added a couple of decorative handles (taken off some old drawers that used to be in my mum’s kitchen!) and gave the whole tray a protective coat of sealing varnish.

The full step-by-step guide to making the picture frame tray for yourself can be found in Issue 39 of Reloved magazine, and if you’re quick you can still pick it up in the shops this week. The next issue comes out on 23rd Feb, so you’ve not got long to grab a copy!Here’s some photos of the magazine itself – I’m always SO thrilled to be featured in print and see my projects shared with so many thrifty readers. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing my name on the page as ‘the designer’ – eeee!

My one-cup teapot set is from The Caravan Trail – lovely bright colours for Spring!

The next of Reloved (Issue 40) is out this week and contains lots of lovely Spring and Easter-themed upcycling projects so be sure to check that out too!


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Household DIY – How to strip woodchip wallpaper, the easy way!

Stripping wallpaper is a skill I’ve recently developed. Woodchip wallpaper in particular. It’s a difficult paper to shift and, unfortunately, it seems to be plastered all over ‘houses of a certain age’. I guess it was very fashionable at one point but nowadays it’s the number 1 thing that puts potential buyers off a house. And it’s bloomin’ hard to remove. Yes, I speak from experience here! Thankfully there are ways to make the process a little easier and here’s the steps I followed:1. Scoring the paper

Use the corner of a wallpaper scraper to score the wallpaper all over. Don’t press too hard, otherwise you’ll leave marks in the plaster. You can also use the flat edge of the wallpaper scraper to ‘skim’ over the woodchip surface. This knocks off some of the woodchip and allows more moisture to soak in.2. Soaking with wallpaper stripper

Sure you can use regular water to soak the surface of the wallpaper, but adding a splash of wallpaper stripper to your bucket ‘super-charges’ the water. I used a bottle of Everbuild wallpaper stripper and only needed 125ml in a gallon of water. That was plenty enough to soak all the walls of the living room. This means that I’ve got three quarters of the bottle left to do other rooms. Mix it into a bucket of water (following the instructions on the bottle) and use a large sponge to spread the foamy water over the wallpaper. Allow to soak in for 15 minutes – coincidentally the same length of time that it’ll take heat up your steamer.3. Steam the wallpaper

Fill the steamer with water and allow to heat up for 15 minutes. You don’t need an industrial or expensive steamer to do this job – the tool I’m using is the lowest priced steam I could find from FFX – the Earlex Steam Wallpaper Stripper. It gives me 70 minutes of steaming per fill, which is about the length of time it took to strip each wall. Hold the steamer to the wall and leave in place for about ten seconds. Move it onto the next section of the wall and hold in place while you scrap the first piece away.

4. Scrape away the woodchip layer

Use the flat edge of a stripping knife to scrape away the top layer of woodchip. You’ll get a speckled effect on the wallpaper as the bigger chunks of woodchip come off. This allows more steam to get into the wallpaper and make it easier to strip away from the wall. Give the wallpaper a second steaming before moving onto the stripping…

5. Strip off the woodchip

Push the wallpaper stripper tool beneath the wallpaper and lift it away from the wall. If you come across a stubborn piece of wallpaper, give it another blast with the steamer before scraping. I used a Stanley Hobby Stripping Knife to ease the woodchip off the wall.

From this (woodchip walls that look perfectly normal at a distance)

To this (a room that now looks like it should be on Homes Under The Hammer!)

And really, that’s all there is to it! Sort of the same as stripping normal wallpaper, but with a couple of important extra steps – the stripping solution and the scraping effect. I’ve made a quick video (shared below and on my new YouTube channel) to show you the whole process, step-by-step so that you can see exactly how we did it.

If you’ve found this helpful please ‘like’ my video or follow my new Cassiefairy channel on YouTube for more DIY projects and thrifty solutions.

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