The empty wallet


Money may be too tight to mention, but there are deals to be had if you know where to look for them. SIMON TIERNEYfind ways to live well with less cash


In the sitcom Frasier, the title character is meticulous about the colour of his new carpet. White? This doesn’t even begin to describe the ocean of variants in Frasier’s repertoire of colour: “I’m going up a shade, to Harvest Wheat,” says Frasier. Niles responds, “I thought the next shade up was Buff.” “It used to be, but they’ve discovered a whole new shade in between.”

Empty Wallet solutions to home decor can be tricky if you’re as neurotic as Frasier. If you are flexible and creative, then there are lots of fun and free ways to freshen up your home. This week I have sourced Irish websites which offer free secondhand furniture. There are also details of a market where you can sell your old bits and bobs. For soft furnishings there are some interesting ideas on cushions and curtains.

Finally, Oddity of the Week is about dogs. A very nice gentleman told me one of the reasons he chose his rare Tibetan Mastiff was because the colour of her coat went with the curtains. Apart from matching aesthetics, a dog can make a home. Their jolly temperaments can lift an atmosphere in a kitchen. Of course, a dangerous or aggressive dog can also affect the decor: by trashing it.


When I logged on to jumbletown.ieI found free armchairs and dining tables, to mention but a few things. Other good websites are freetradeireland.ieand I like the latter one because you can choose the part of the country you live in. From office chairs to plant pots, they’re all here.


If you have an unwanted item from the attic or a piece of furniture you’re tired of, bring it down to the Merchants Market (Merchants Yard, East Wall Road, Dublin 3. Tel: 01-8199999). If it’s suitable, they will buy it off you and you can use the money to offset the cost of one of the hundreds of pieces of furniture on site. It’s open Monday to Friday from 10am-5pm and 10am-4pm at weekends. Bring the piece you don’t want. Get the piece you do want.


Oxfam has teamed up with MS to do a clothes and soft furnishings exchange. Bring your old MS cushions or other soft furnishings to your nearest Oxfam shop and you will receive a €7 MS voucher in return. This is redeemable when you spend €50 or more in participating branches (for details, call 01-6727662 or visit If you fancy getting new curtains then be resourceful and head to The Curtain Gift Traders (Newtownpark Ave, Blackrock, Co Dublin, tel: 01-2836547, They will try to sell your old curtains on your behalf, and you can use the money to offset the price of the ones you buy in their shop. They have a wide range of beautiful curtains to choose from. Rather than spend money on getting your living-room wallpapered, do it yourself. BQ (Liffey Valley, Coldcut Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22) is running a free Hanging and Removing Wallpaper class next Wednesday (14th) and Tuesday, March 20th from 6-9pm, and next Thursday from 10am-1pm. Call 1800-812993 for more.


Why bother getting a pedigree this or that when you can adopt a lovely dog for free? Visit details. In my experience, a dog lends more to any room than a fancy upholstered chaise longue.

If you have details of free services/activities/ products, email Upcoming topics include gardening