Whether you are refreshing your home with a lick of paint, or completely redecorating it, getting the basics right is important to achieve a polished finish. All you need to do is set yourself a realistic budget, research your options and prioritise your purchases before delving into a new project. Cathy Phillips, founder and interior designer of London-based Cathy Phillips & Co., says it is absolutely possible to refresh your space on a modest budget, and that the key is to make your space look ‘finished’. ‘Put together a mood board of colours and textures and a list of everything you need; carry it with you whenever you are shopping and buy nothing, not even paint, until you have made all your decisions,’ she continues.
If you need to be selective, look for offers on comparison sites like MoneySuperMarket.com and consider selling your unwanted items to increase your funds. If you’re struggling to kick-start your project, Nicola Burt, founder of Finishing Touch, recommends seeking professional expertise. ‘A good interior designer will do a consultation with you and give you advice on how to get the most out of your budget. Only tackle what you are confident doing, and leave the rest to experts. You could end up spending a lot of money to get your mistakes rectified.’
The Perfect Paint
‘Paint is the most economical option with the ability to completely transform a space,’ says Elisicia Moore, Founder of up-cycling charity Petit Miracles. Consider what colour scheme would work best with your current interior, whether you’re painting all four walls, your ceiling, the woodwork or simply a feature wall. ‘Look at what you already have in terms of soft furnishings and accessories, and use the new wall colour to tie it all together,’ adds Burt. When painting, start with a mist coat by mixing one part water to four parts paint. ‘This makes your paint go further, as walls have a tendency to drink up the first coat of paint,’ Moore says.For affordable paints that don’t compromise on quality, Dulux (£12.95 for 1.25L at Wilko) and Crown (from £10.98 for 1.25L at B&Q) offer a myriad of colours and finishes. If you’re looking for a mess-free alternative try wall stickers and decals or hang a bright rug or fabric up instead.
Save with the Best Bargains
You may be on a tight budget, but you can still snatch up a decent selection of furniture and soft furnishings by avoiding high street stores and turning to vintage shops, flea markets and charity shops instead. You’re more likely come across inspiring finds at bargain prices—whether you’re on the lookout for a set of china or a quirky bathtub. Phillips also recommends shopping in store rather than online. ‘Some websites offer great deals on major brands, but I would advise seeing and touching things in a shop before you buy,’ she says. ‘For furniture, try an up-cycling charity, out of town charity shops that carry large items of furniture, or wood reclamation yards—some make wonderful furniture from the wood that they stock.’
Splurge on Statement Pieces
If you want to spend a little more on quality decorative pieces, use your money smartly with items that will stand out, rather than small objects that may go unnoticed. Try a tall house plant to bring a room to life, a full-length mirror for instant impact. Even a bold lampshade can radically change a room’s ambiance.
‘Lighting is one of the most important factors,’ says Kay Cullen, Interior Designer for Laura Ashley Design Services. ‘Large statement table lamps create a real focal point in the room, and provide an intimate light in the evening.’ Before you splurge, don’t forget that family heirlooms and souvenirs from your travels can also add colour and intrigue to your home, so take them out of storage, dust them off and use them to decorate a wall or shelf at no extra cost.
Just Do It
The smaller your budget, the more creative you might have to be with what you already have. DIY is a cost-effective way of adding personality to your home, and comes in handy regardless of the style you’re going for. Phillips suggests looking at everyday objects in a different way. ‘An old cabinet can be repainted and used as a kitchen cupboard, and your plain cream curtains could be dyed and sewn into giant floor cushions,’ she says. Whether by decorating your cupboards with patterned paper, replacing old doorknobs or reupholstering furniture with a staple gun, the options to make your home look and feel unique are endless. At a loss for creative ideas? Start by drawing inspiration from interior design catalogues, magazines and books, and go to websites like Pinterest for free inspiration.
Phil’s Top Tips
- Opt for elegant and timeless pieces.
- Pay attention to detail—hastily finished work looks scruffy and amateurish.
- Play to your strengths—if you are good at carpentry, lovingly hand-crafted stairs or cupboards will be noticed.
- Use the best materials you can afford.
Laura Ashley’s Expert Advice for the Festive Season
- ‘Get Christmassy by warming the air with the smell of winter spice candles,’ says Kay Cullen, an Interior Designer at Laura Ashley.
- ‘Have a selection of thick textured throws in a wicker basket—it’s a great way to introduce colour and texture into the room.’
- Decorate around the fireplace to make a real focal point.
- Replace soft furnishings with heavy rugs, woolly throws and chunky knitted cushions to create a cosy atmosphere.