5 unique and low-cost sustainable decorating projects


I bought my first home almost 3 years ago and I quickly realised how expensive owning your own house can be. At the same time I was in love with my new place and couldn’t wait to put my own stamp on it.

Every so often I add extra touches to my space and my favourite ones to date have been small projects that have been inexpensive and original DIYs that make me smile every time I see them.

Hanging drift wood

My partner’s parents live on the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast of South Wales. One day, after a refreshing swim in the sea last summer we came across a stunning piece of driftwood at the top of the beach. It was wonderfully curved and adorned with knots that resembled the skin of a humpback whale. It didn’t take much convincing that it should come home with us and we started the long walk back to the car with the driftwood cast over one shoulder.

I just knew we had the perfect place for it in the house. Once we got it home we left it outside in the typical autumn rain for the salt to be washed away and then waited for it to dry out. While we waited for the wood to be ready we collected up the supplies we would need. In this case and for the window shelves coming up later on we bought some natural hemp rope from a local marine store and picked up some long screw eyes from a hardware store.

Next, after studying the ceiling, knocking all over to make sure that we were screwing into a beam we fixed the eyes into place. We worked out how high up we wanted the driftwood to hang and whipped up the rope to fix it in place.

I absolutely love this new addition to the bay window of my house, it is totally unique and only cost around £5 (US$7) in materials.

Geometric pallet wood shelves

Last year I went on a bit of a pallet collecting spree as I had lots of ideas for projects in the garden. It may have got slightly out of hand and after all of the garden projects we still had pallet wood left over. At the same time I was scouring Etsy for some hexagonal shelves for a particularly bare wall in my house. I just couldn’t make a decision though. None of the shelves on Etsy were doing it for me but I had a feeling that trying to replicate hexagonal shelves would be beyond my skillset!

So to the drawing board I went… and then to my dad’s garage! After some convincing I’d found a workmate who was willing to give my idea a try. In theory it would take just 3 planks of pallet wood. We cut one piece in half to make the two shorter sides of the triangles and cut slots out of the middle of each of the remaining planks. Finally, we cut the ends of the longer pieces to the right angle to join with the shorter pieces and then fixed it all together. We also used some wood oil to stain and protect the wood.

When we were done we used some large nails fixed in two of the corners to hold it in place on the wall. The pallet wood isn’t very deep so it’s really reserved for the more skinny books and small trinkets but I really enjoy it as a feature of this wall.

Pallet wood window shelves

Around the same time that I was collecting pallets for my garden projects I was also filling up seed trays to fill my garden with plants. Well that was the plan anyway. I soon found out that I didn’t have enough space around the windows of my house to start the seedlings off before they couldn’t be planted out. I remembered seeing other people on social media rigging up shelving systems in their windows and thought it would be a great use of that extra pallet wood and the left over hemp rope. We cut the pallet wood to the size of one of our windows and drilled two holes in each end of each plank. I used existing plants in my collection to determine how much spacing to give each shelf and then we started rigging it together. It took quite a few attempts to get each tier of the shelves level but we finally did it.

The bonus was that when we were putting them up we already had curtain rail hooks in the wall above the window so we just had to hang the shelves from them! I absolutely love the result, it was the perfect solution to housing seedlings as it’s one of the brightest windows in the house.

Almost a year later I was getting frustrated by the lack of space on our kitchen windowsill – I have too many plants that love this window – so we repeated the concept here too. This time I was lucky enough to score a lovely piece of wood from my neighbour who had no use for it and while we didn’t have any curtain hooks to hang it from we used the leftover hooks from the driftwood piece to hang it up. I am really happy with how much extra space this has given us without cutting out the light into the room. I love the way the sun streams through the leaves of the plants.

Wooden corner shelves

So that neighbour I mentioned earlier, he plays a big role in this next project too. One day he handed a pile of these gorgeous slices of wood over the fence to me. He had no use for them and thought I might want to put them on the fire… I immediately veto’d that idea, there were definitely better things we could do with these!

While they sat around the house for a while, some of them becoming doorstops and others becoming computer screen stands now we were forced to work from home, I started conjuring up ideas for them. Incase I hadn’t filled enough of my space with shelves up until now, another shelf idea came to mind! Being an early 1900s house, we have plenty of alcove spaces but not a lot happening in them. For this DIY we cut the rounds so they would fit into the corners of the alcoves and then oiled them for protection. While we waited for the oil to soak in and dry out we picked up some brackets from the hardware store. Then we simply screwed them into the walls.

And here is the finished product. Oh and the running theme here – another space for more plants!

Fill your home with plants

I suppose that this last one isn’t that unique but it is definitely a running theme in this house and most of these DIYs have been a great excuse to fill my space with even more of them.

Plants are a fantastic way to decorate your home, they add texture, absorb sound and can clean our air. They are also make us feel great! They can also be expensive. So how does this fit in these post of low cost ways to decorate your house?

Well there are many ways that you can add more plants to your collection without breaking the bank. Some things I suggest are plant swaps with friends and neighbours, scrolling facebook market place, and propagating your existing plants.

The great thing is that if you try out any of the DIYs I’ve suggested above you’ll have even more space to put them! I would love to hear if you replicate any of these ideas or have any ideas of your own to add to the list! Please also let me know if you’d like to read more about feeding your houseplant addiction or my garden pallet wood projects.

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