We’re all stuck in a bit of a decorating conundrum at the moment; we have heaps of extra time on our hands to spend around the house, but most shops are temporarily closed and delivery times for online purchases are up the left… so it begs the question, what can we do to update our homes using what we already have in our possession? Thankfully, there are LOADS of things you can do to refresh the four walls we all feel pretty much confined to at the moment. All you need to get started is a little spare time (yep!) and a quick read of this blog post to help you along in the creativity department… :)
It’s simple enough to update your home on a budget, but actually surprisingly easy (and really satisfying!) to do it for free. Yes, you read that right – it doesn’t have to cost you a penny – nada, nothing, zilch. We all have extra tins of paint, unused rolls of wallpaper, random charity shop purchases, spare chairs, one too many side tables, attic stashes and off cuts of fabrics or unworn clothes that reside in our homes, adding no value at all… until now, that is.
Over the years, I have updated my home in a number of ways using things I have stashed away in the garage, shed or up in the roof space. I have loved browsing around the likes of Gumtree and eBay for second hand finds for years now, often using leftover paint or adding a few new knobs to spruce up old pieces of furniture and make them sing again. One of my favourite projects was updating a G Plan unit a few years ago which my neighbour’s husband had bunged in the back of a trailer ready for its funereal procession to the council dump. I have also painted up numerous bedside tables, bed frames and side tables over the years, always turning to my stash of paint for the job. I even painted the brown tiles on one of our fireplaces, so you don’t even need to go out and buy specialised tile paint! A layer of good primer and leftover eggshell, and you’re good to go.
I’ve divided this post into relevant sections, depending on what it is that you have lying around the house that could a) be repurposed, b) be used up, c) be reloved or d) be reworked. You just need to decide which project to embark on first and get to work.
Lockdown days of boredom and cabin fever, be gone!
Let’s start with the one thing that I can be sure the vast majority of you have lurking at the back of your sheds and garages… unused and half used tins of paint, not to mention the sample pots of paint – I dread to think what they’ve cost us all over the years, yet they sit there with one splodge taken from them, for evermore.
If you’re pretty creative, sample pots of paint can be used to create personalised works of art – grab a canvas (or buy one from the supermarket stationery aisle) and let your inner artistic maestro loose! A few abstract lines in tonal shades or painted circles are easy enough to carry off, or how about Scandi style black crosses or monochrome brush strokes? Check out Pinterest for ideas like these to inspire you.
Sample pots can also be put to good use in creating a wall mural or even a design to mimic wallpaper – I’ve seen amazing results where people have painted a terrazzo effect over a wall (perfect for a kid’s room or office corner) or rainbow mural (again, great for a kid’s room or playroom). Let your creativity guide you – if you’ve spotted an idea you love in a magazine or online, simply run a Google or Pinterest search on it and give it a go! The beauty of paint is that it can be easily painted over if it doesn’t go to plan or you tire of it, so don’t let that worry you.
As you’ll see above, half used tins of paint can equally be put to good use for a new DIY project, so have a rummage through your stash and see what’s salvageable. If you find you don’t have enough of one particular colour left, you can always mix individual colours together until you find a colour that’s perfect for the job in hand. As long as you love it, who cares if it doesn’t have its own name christened by a posh paint brand! For a small bedroom, feature wall or downstairs loo, this can be a fabulous way to make your mark.
Eggshell paints are particularly hard to use up, as a little goes such a long way, but this in itself opens up a realm of creative opportunities! You can use leftover paint to refresh woodwork – why not paint the skirtings and window frames in a contrasting shade? Or brighten up the inside of a cupboard door? Or brighten up all the internal doors opening off your hall or landing, for that matter? In a dark or large hallway, this can be an effective way of adding interest if you’re not keen to add colour to the walls.
Eggshell paints are also perfect for up-cycling furniture, but more on that further below…
Like paint, leftover rolls and lengths of wallpaper are often stashed away, never to see the light of day again, however if you still love it, why not put it to good use? Wallpapering the back of a glass cabinet or cupboard is a great way to elevate it to a new level, plus it puts a smile on your face every time you open the door to reach for something. What’s not to love about that when we’re stuck at home? Wallpaper can also be used to jazz up a wardrobe door – simply paste it onto the internal panels ( like this gorgeous example ) or use it to enliven a section of wall panelling.
Admit it, how many of you have Great-Granny’s prized crockery or a box full of old family photos hidden away in the attic, doing nothing more than collecting dust? If the answer’s yes (and I sense it may be), why keep it stored away out of sight if it means something to you? Vintage plates can be displayed on a section of wall or within an alcove as a statement feature, especially if mixed in with one-off modern designs you have sitting, ‘saved for good’ at the back of a cupboard. Granny Chic it may be, but it’s how you choose to display them that will keep the overall effect contemporary – play around with asymmetrical hanging patterns and clash different colours, patterns and plate sizes to make it more dapper than drab.
Old family photos can be reframed (we all have extra frames around the house or a few needing updated) and hung in a downstairs bathroom, up the stairs in a gallery effect or behind a sofa. Creating a photo gallery is a fantastic lockdown project in which you can immerse yourself in happy memories, whilst getting creative at the same time. Definitely a serotonin-inducing activity… and if ever one was needed, it’s now.
Other items that can be retrieved from the attic and given a new lease of life include battered leather suitcases (fab for storage and much more aesthetic than a plastic IKEA box), lamps (see under ‘Accessories’ below), leftover fabrics or old curtains and sheets can be spruced up and reused to cover cushions, chair seats or even framed… particularly if they’re vintage or designer patterns :)
Smaller items such as charity shop finds, objects picked up on travels, table lamps and vases can be easily reworked or repurposed in new ways to freshen up a room or spare corner. It can be really therapeutic setting yourself a task to rearrange a bookshelf or style up a sideboard surface using items from around the home that have begun to look a little staid and dare I say, predictable. It’s amazing how you can take things for granted when they’re in the same place the whole time – you stop seeing them!
A vintage drinks trolley can be used as a side table when set up with a lamp, some books and a leafy plant. For a bigger impact, why not paint it a bright colour or statement black, depending on the look you wish to achieve? If you have a glass cabinet used to display glassware, why not change it up to house some books or repurpose it as a cocktail cabinet, ready for when you can once again welcome guests into your home.
Lamps can be transformed with a lick of paint on the base or chop and change lampshades with different bases for an entire new look. Move them around the house to different spots until you find a new home for them – you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the satisfaction this brings and even better, you haven’t spent a penny on another new lampshade. You can also use chalk paint to update a lampshade – believe me, it works – or a remnant of fabric cut and glued to re-cover a drum shade.
‘Vignettes’ (basically a collection of items arranged artfully together and placed upon a plate so as not to appear random…) are a lovely way of adding interest to a coffee table top or hallway console. Group objects in odd numbers and at varying heights for best effect. A small tray or flat serving plate can be used to place a potted succulent or compact leafy plant, a couple of books, perhaps a stack of coasters and a candle in a considered manner.
Finally, furniture of almost any size can be moved around the home, but objects like rugs, floor lamps, chairs, bookcases and side tables are particularly easy to shift about the place and can really renew your love for a space. How about creating a reading nook by a sunny window or in a cosy corner with a comfy old armchair set onto a small rug with a side table alongside or move a wooden bench to a new spot with a new purpose? You could place it as an occasional seat in a narrow hallway, set it at the end of the bed with a sheepskin draped over it for added texture or place it in a porch stacked with pots of greenery or Spring flowers.
Rugs can usually work in one or more places in the home – including as a wall hanging if they’re especially decorative or placed under a dining table if large enough (flatwoven and jute types work particularly well for this purpose). A vintage ethnic patterned rug can look great on the floor of a modern kitchen, as it will add softness to the hard lines of the cabinets.
Bathrooms with all their shiny, cold surfaces can be cosied up with a rustic chair or wooden stool set alongside the bath, perhaps with a leafy fern plonked on top or a basketful of hand towels. We’re spending so much time at home, why not make spending time in the bathroom a pleasurable experience?!
Moving furniture from one room to another can allow you to view your home through fresh eyes and take renewed interest in something you have grown too used to seeing in the same place. Remember that stash of old paint you have in the garage? Well now is the time to unleash your creativity on that worn out looking dining chair or pine bookcase. Just make sure you have it well primed, then work your magic with a suitable water or oil based eggshell paint. Water based paint will be less messy, however oil based is much more durable, if you can stand the smell and longer drying times.
There’s no doubt that you can successfully update your home interior with next to no budget – it just requires some time, patience and enthusiasm. Your home should reflect you as a person or family and often it’s the extra little touches that let your personality shine through.
I suspect that if you’re reading this blog, then like me, you love nothing more than pottering around with a new project, even if it’s simply rearranging a shelf. I don’t know about you, but it’s like a kind of therapy to me!!
And with the current uncertain times we live in, that’s no bad thing :)