By: Oliver Bray, who has been interested in interior design and furnishing since first refurbishing his house a decade ago. Evangelising how our environment affects our performance, he now researches and writes about the latest trends in fashion, technology and interior design to help you transform your life.
It’s all too easy to be seduced by the fantastic design ideas we see on the television makeover shows. The problem is, these people have the benefit of a large budget, teams of workmen, and a lot of skill to boot. But although it would be nice to have someone else come in and do all of the hard work while you sip champagne, there are plenty of cheap and easy redecorating tips you can use to add some pizzazz to a tired and boring room.
Invest in some paint – never underestimate the power of paint—a change of colour can dramatically improve the look of any room in your home, so if you have been living with magnolia walls and cream leather sofas since the day you moved in, step out of your comfort zone and try a new colour scheme, preferably something a bit more radical. Use accent colours to enliven a monochrome decorative scheme – a few cushions on your chocolate leather sofas or a rug in a bright colour can add interest to any room, particularly if you pick up the colours from a painting and introduce them to other parts of the room via small details such as a vase or bowl of flowers. Be creative and never be afraid of using small doses of strong colours.
Invest in a few interesting talking points for the room – this doesn’t need to be a nude statue of Aphrodite or anything too over the top, but a pretty handmade ceramic vase or a bowl of silk flowers can create interest in otherwise featureless parts of a room. Use lighting to your advantage – lights make a huge difference to a room, particularly at night. Think carefully about how light affects the different parts of the room and use it to create some cool effects. Add a reading lamp above the leather sofa in a dark corner or use a spotlight to highlight a favourite painting. String fairy lights through dried flowers or change the old-fashioned central pendant light for subtle wall lights.
Blinds and curtains are a great way of changing the look of a room – swap traditional curtains for some roman blinds and see what a difference it makes. Alternatively, try hanging swags of fabric for a more unstructured modernist feel. Mix and match textures in the room – in the 1970s this would have been done by combining a shag-pile carpet with lots of plastic and chrome, but unless you particularly want the Austin Powers look, shag-pile carpets and plastic sofas are best avoided. Thankfully, however, a similar effect can be achieved by adding some mix and match fluffy cushions to a leather sofa or hanging some fabric wall hangings or even a rug. Paintings and wall art can be used to great effect – especially if you want to change things around from time to time. Use one wall of the room as a showcase for paintings and photographs and mix and match them to suit your mood. Once you are bored of a particular piece of art, take it down and hang something different. You don’t have to splash out on a Picasso or Renoir—great pieces of original art can be bought cheaply at local art fairs, and if you have a good eye, you might be able to invest in a few pieces that will gain in value over time.