A collection of colour fabric swatches and paint samples are paired together.

Interior design

Dabbling in interior design can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Perhaps your home is just in need of a little refreshment—a lick of paint on the walls, or maybe a few new items are needed (a throw for the sofa or some new curtains)—to make everything feel new and rejuvenated.

But if you've never done anything like this before, where do you start? It’s actually really easy to give your home a new look, and it doesn’t need to be expensive either.

The most important thing to remember is to decide where you'd like to focus first. Do you want to brighten your bedroom? Liven up your living room? De-clutter your den? Once you figure that out, you can pick an overall theme to continue throughout your home so everything works well together. Keep this idea in mind when choosing colours for paint or patterns for flooring, fabric or tiles.

Here are some suggestions on areas where you can get started.

Refresh tired walls

A new coat of paint to your walls is one of the most effective ways to brighten up a room. But with such a large selection of colours and shades to choose from nowadays, it’s important to think very carefully what would work best for each space you choose to paint. Consider your existing furniture and floor coverings, and make sure the new colour will compliment the pieces you want to keep.

Also, remember that different tones of colour can warm up or cool down a room. If you want the overall feel to be cosy and comfortable, choose creamier colours over stark bright whites. If you want a bolder look, try yellow or a rustic terracotta.

For a modern and industrial theme, crisp sharp tones will be more effective. Icy blue or steel grey would be good options.

TIP: Don’t forget to paint your ceiling too! It’s an easily forgotten area, but a recoating of white paint can work wonders on making a tired room feel refreshed and new.

Feature a wall

Putting up stylish wallpaper is also an option. These days it’s fashionable to combine painted walls with a single papered wall (known as a feature wall). It’s a popular technique because it adds a statement to a room by creating an interesting focus point. It also prevents a busy design from making a room feel too chaotic.

Try looking online for inspiration using websites such as Pinterest. Just type in search terms such as "feature wall" and see the range of results.

Trash old tiles

Nothing makes a room feel tatty like old broken décor. Cracked or chipped tiles in the kitchen or bathroom can look really uninviting. Tiles can be expensive to replace, but there are some great bargains to be found if you take the time to do some research.

There are many interesting materials and styles to choose from; check out mosaics, geometric patterns, pretty florals, stone or slate…the choice is endless!

TIP: Remember, grubby, stained grouting between tiles can give a dirty feel to a room. Cheaper than replacing tiles, it can be a quick job to re-grout between the tiles you already have. This can be a great way to freshen up kitchen work areas or bathroom walls.

Stencils and stickers

If you’re looking for a quick and inexpensive fix, why not consider buying some wall stickers? These are available from lots of retailers, both on the high street and online. All you need to do is decide where you want to put your design and simply stick it to the wall for an instant decorative statement.

Or if you fancy getting a bit more creative, then stencilling is a nice idea too. You can purchase ready-made kits from a decent local art or stationery shop, but you can make your own stencils quite easily too.

If you’re feeling really artistic, then how about giving a mural a go?

TIP: Try visiting your local hardware shop for expert advice on products and techniques that are available to you. You can also find tutorials online; just search for videos on websites like YouTube.

Restore old floors

It’s a lovely luxury to replace an old worn out carpet with something new. It’s often an expensive indulgence, but it's well worth the effort—if you can afford it.

However, if you need to work with what you’ve got, then how about going for more of a touching up approach?

Uncarpeted or damaged wood floors can be covered up with a vibrant and cosy area rug. Dull carpets can be given a good scrubbing to bring the colour back a little and remove some of the stains that inevitably build up over the years. You can try doing it yourself first by using carpet shampoos available at most good hardware shops (following the packet instructions), but there are also companies that will come and wash your carpets for you—it’s pricier, but the products they use may be more effective in giving carpets a really deep clean.

TIP: A new coat of paint to skirting boards can freshen up the look of floors, especially if you don’t have the time or money to replace your flooring.

Windows and curtains

Love taking in a pretty view? If you do then it’s probably a good idea to make sure your windows are dressed up for the occasion too!

If your current curtains or blinds have been hanging around for one too many years, it may be time for an update.

Superstores offer a huge selection of styles that are mostly inexpensive and fairly simple to put up. Just make sure to choose carefully so that they complement the room you are decorating and won’t clash with other colours or fabrics.

You could also think about repainting your window frames. These can be easily chipped or stained over time, so refreshing them with a fresh coat of paint can be a great way to liven them up. White will give a crisp clean feel, but you can go for any colour you fancy if you want to make a bolder statement.

Upcycle old furniture

Upcycling is very trendy at the moment. It’s the process of taking something old and reworking it so that it feels completely new again.

Items can either keep the same function as they did before, or they can be transformed into something very different. For example, ever thought about turning an old kitchen stool into a container for umbrellas? Or converting a disused CD rack into a planter for herbs and flowers in the garden?

Upcycling is a great way to furnish or redecorate your home on a small budget. It’s also popular because whatever you create will be completely unique.

Take a look around your home and see if you can find a few items that you have no use for anymore. Do you see something that looks old and tired? Go ahead and have a think about what you might be able to do with it.

A faded old sofa can be given a new lease of life by simply covering it with a stylish new throw. Add a couple of new cushions, and your sofa could have a whole new look in minutes!

Pop into your local arts and crafts shop for useful products. Spray cans filled with metallic paint could transform an old coffee table or jazz up dull door handles and boring picture frames.

You can find lots of inspiration and tutorials for upcycling online. Try searching for videos on Youtube by putting the term ‘upcycle’ into the search box.

Small changes

Sometimes little tweaks here and there can make a huge difference to the overall look of a room.

Try replacing old lampshades for new ones. Or work the other way around and swap your lamp bases (which can start to look old fashioned over time). For instance, brass bases that were super trendy a few years ago can be replaced by more contemporary or organic materials like painted wood. Making a few switches like this around your home can be very effective.

The same would work for picture frames or mirrors. Lots of thick metal frames can overwhelm a room, especially if there’s a compromise on space. Try exchanging some of them for options in lighter colours to create a more spacious and modern feel.

Putting in new taps in the bathroom and replacing your towels or bed linens can instantly add a splash of style. Why not make a statement with these if you like?

Small things like these can be as impressive as a new coat of paint on the walls…and are a lot easier to accomplish!

And don’t overlook a table that’s looking worn or scratched from years of use. It can be easily updated with a crisp new table cloth, or otherwise patterned lino flooring can be cut to fit your table top and stuck down with strong glue to give your dining area a brand new feel.

De-clutter

It can be really difficult to find a tidy place to put everything, particularly when you’re busy with the activities of everyday life.

Storage ideas

How about investing in a few practical storage containers to keep clutter out of the way? 

A newspaper or magazine rack can be really useful to keep in the lounge by your coffee table and can be purchased cheaply at many high street shops or markets.

If you have too many kitchen utensils taking up space in your drawers and cluttering up work surfaces, invest in a few containers (strategically placed where you can reach them easily) that will help to keep clutter out of the way. If you’re feeling a little creative you can even make these yourself using small flower pots, vases or food storage jars. Feel free to decorate them to your taste as well; it’s the perfect opportunity to refresh the look of your kitchen, so go wild if you like!

Create an area for coats and shoes (near the front door is usually a convenient place). Perhaps buy a coat rack or mount a couple of coat pegs on the wall.

A small side table or shelf in your hallway is a great way to keep items such as letters, keys and spare change from getting misplaced or scattered around the house making it look untidy.

Wall cabinets and caddies for the bathroom are a good way to remove clutter such as shampoo bottles and shaving foam cans from around your sink, shower and bathtub.

Make more space

Take a look through your bedroom wardrobes and see whether you absolutely need everything in there. You may just discover several items that you could donate to a local charity shop and then create more space for the stuff you really do want to keep.

The same idea goes for book shelves. If you have too many items cluttering them up, see whether some could be added to your charity donation bundle. Everything from books and ornaments, to candle holders and vases would be happily received by most local charity shops (plus, many organisations now offer a collection service. Try contacting your local branch to see if this is available to you).

Finally, if you have too many framed pictures on display, try selecting the ones you love the most and make a decision to store the rest in a photo album.

TIP: Remember, take things slowly, one room at a time. It’s easy to start enthusiastically, but you can quickly become overwhelmed if you take on too much in one go. Organise your time and energy realistically and set ample targets of what you want to get done.

Further information

If you fancy taking a bigger step into the world of interior design and learning some new skills, or if you’d like to find out a bit more about current design trends, here are some resources to help you on your way.

Websites

  • Houzz.co.uk is a great site to get ideas on restyling your house room by room.
  • Ideal Home magazine online offers great inspiration on new interior trends and decorating ideas.
  • Elle Décor offers stylish ideas for a range of budgets (this one’s more of an interesting read rather than a practical self-help website).

Blogs

Read blogs for inspiration on the latest style trends. There are some great blogs online, offering practical and unusual ideas to help you make changes to your own home—and they can be really fun to read too!

Here are a few examples to give you a flavour of what’s out there:

Courses

If you have some time on your hands, then perhaps getting involved in classes, clubs and continuing education might be a fun idea. Websites such as Hotcourses or Craft Courses have several interesting options, so it’s definitely worth taking a look to see what they offer.

Don’t forget to visit DIY and hardware shopping chains too. Larger branches usually have services providing customers with information on home improvements, so it’s a good idea to see what your local branch offers.

Markets

You can also find out where your nearest markets are; if you have the time and energy, take a trip somewhere further afield and have fun spending the day rummaging around for unusual items of furniture. You may even find a great bargain! Websites such as Visit England can be used to search for things to do, and local council websites can offer information on popular venues to check out.

Books

Finally, books and magazines are a great way to get ideas—and they always make for nice reading when you just want to look for inspiration, or talk over creative ideas with friends or family members who may be visiting.

If you do decide to start a project, make sure to take photos before and after you finish. This is a fun way to keep track of your progress and remind you what inspired you to get started in the first place.

Good luck!

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