DIY tips: Savvy woman upcycles her entire living room on a budget

Would you give any of these projects a try? (Pictures: Aman Garcha/Styling Spaces)

Want to give your home a refresh without breaking the bank?

Well, instead of hiring expensive contractors and designers, why not dust off your DIY skills and have a go at upcycling the things that you already have?

That’s exactly what Aman Garcha did. The 38-year-old mum of two rolled her sleeves up and transformed every element of her living room, from the furniture, to the walls, to the artwork.

Aman is a virtual interior designer based in the West Midlands, so she has the right experience to know exactly where to start with DIY transformations. Why not take a look at some of her crafty projects to give you some inspiration.

‘My two boys – a two-year-old and a six-year-old – keep me on my toes, and we have just completed a lot of work on our home,’ Aman tells

‘Last January, we had a huge leak from the master bathroom which flooded the entire ground floor, so we had to have it all gutted and re-done. We moved in with our family for eight months.

‘The kitchen, flooring, skirtings, and carpet were all ripped out while the space dried out. We also extended our living room while we were out of the property.’

Aman says there were a lot of delays with the reconstruction due to Covid and lockdowns. But they eventually moved back in August – without a kitchen.

‘We finally got a new kitchen (the insurance company couldn’t match our old one) in October,’ she says.

‘We were fortunate enough to be able to redesign the kitchen to make it a more usable and social space that we use as a family. It now includes a kitchen island/breakfast bar (previously was a peninsula) as well as the DIY bench we made.’

Upcycled coffee table

coffee table

(Picture: Aman Garcha)
(Picture: Aman Garcha)
(Picture: Aman Garcha)
(Picture: Aman Garcha)

1. I bought a large cable reel from Facebook Marketplace: £3.

2. Purchased 14mm diameter x 90mm dowels which I needed to cut to create the fluted base. The dowels cost around £45.

3. I measured the gap from the bottom of the cable reel to the top and cut the dowels to this size. I got 3 small dowels out of 1 large one (with a few offcuts leftover).

4. I then used ‘Sticks Like Shit’ glue (approx £7) to attach the dowels to the cable reel.

5. I then purchased a used table from Facebook Marketplace for £10, where I detached the tabletop, sanded it, and painted it with this furniture paint. 

6. I then painted the base with the same paint. 

7. I finished off by applying finishing wax (£14) to the entire table to seal the paint before attaching the table top to the base using the glue. 

Approximate total: £79

Upcycled bench

(Picture: Aman Garcha)
(Picture: Aman Garcha)
(Picture: Aman Garcha)
(Picture: Aman Garcha)

‘As our kitchen was ripped out, we decided to redesign the layout to make it a more sociable space,’ says Aman. ‘Our new design included some bench seating which we thought we would have a go at creating ourselves.’ 

1. We mapped out the measurements of the corner bench based on the space we had for it. This included elevations. 

2. We recycled some 2×4 stud timber that we had leftover from a previous home improvement project to create the frame for the bench.

3. As we were living with my husband’s parents, we found a lot of scrap plywood that we were able to use to cover the frame.

4. We purchased some high-density upholstery foam from amazon for approximately £40 which we attached to the top plyboard with adhesive spray (£4.50) to create cushioned seating. 

5. I picked up enough vinyl upholstery from a fabric shop in Birmingham for approximately £35 and upholstered the foamed cushions seating by stretching it over the base and stapling it securely. 

6. We decided to panel the bench to give it some character and also hide some slight imperfections. We purchased some moldings from Homebase for approximately £40 and cut them to the height of the bench. We then calculated how many panels we wanted and marked out the measurements on the plyboard before nailing them on. 

7. We primed the bench with primer for £9 and then painted the bench using the remaining furniture paint for the coffee table project. 

8.  We then popped the cushioned seating on top. 

Approximate total: £128.50

Upcycled rocking chair

(Picture: Aman Garcha)
(Picture: Aman Garcha)

‘I completed this project when my son was 2 months old, and managed to do this during his naps,’ Aman says.

1. The rocking chair has been in our family for 21 years. It was bought by my parents for my sister-in-law when she had my nephew. 

2. I have had it stored in my garage for years so decided to upcycle it as was never a fan of mahogany.

3. I purchased a Black & Decker electric mouse sander for £20 and already had sandpaper for the bits that the mouse couldn’t reach.

4. I sanded the entire chair and painted it with my favorite furniture paint £105. I did three coats to make sure it was all covered. 

5. I finished by applying the finishing wax which I already had. 

Approximate total: £30

DIY artwork

(Picture: Aman Garcha)
(Picture: Aman Garcha)

1. I had a canvas 80cm x 80cm that was in the garage for ages, so I decided to create my own Polyfilla art with some leftover polyfilla. It was just a case of slapping it on and creating some texture using palette knives I purchased from amazon for £4. 

2. I then created a frame using mouldings (£20) which I painted with leftover black paint. I nailed this to the canvas as the gue was not sticking. 

3. I am indecisive about whether to leave it white or whether to add some colour to this piece. 

Total: £24

DIY wall panelling

wall panelling

(Picture: Aman Garcha)

Aman says: ‘We decided to add some contemporary panelling to our newly-extended living room to stop it feeling like a new build box.’ 

1. First, we measured the height and width of the wall and then decided how close we wanted the panels to be, and this led to decide on the number of panels we needed and the width of them.

2. I created an elevation of our idea in Sketchup so we could see what it would look like. 

3. We then bought 2 large MDF boards and got them cut into panels using a free cutting service. The first 15 cuts are free but they didn’t end up charging us for the few extra we had (£28 per mdf board x2).

4. We then marked out where each of the panels was going to go and then applied sticks like shit glue to the panels before attaching them onto the walls. We held them there for a while to make sure they were secure. We did this with every panel.

5. Once dry, we applied some caulk to all the edges around the panels to get a neat finish. 

6. Finally, we painted the entire room in Farrow & Ball’s Wevet colour matched by Leyland Trade via Decorating Centre Online (£45)

Approximate total: £101

Aman’s top DIY tip

A super important tip for those planning DIY/upcycle projects: Plan, plan, plan.

Measure everything, and then measure it again to make sure you have all the correct information.

We made mistakes that were easy to rectify, but if you measure and plan ahead, and draw out what you want to create and how you want it to look, it will save you time and money.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected].

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Savvy woman upcycles her entire living room on a budget – from the coffee table to panelled walls

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