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35 quick ways to transform your home

We've gathered our favourite easy decorating updates to help you make a real difference in a flash

White, Room, Branch, Wall, Furniture, Black-and-white, Tree, Interior design, Table, Design,

Your space can be lighter, brighter and better! Here’s how...

1. PIMP YOUR IKEA Every good home has something from the Swedish furniture giant IKEA, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put your own stamp on it. Take this simple ‘Bestå’ storage cabinet (above, from £25 for a double unit). The white lacquer modular unit has been topped with waxed timber planks to give it a rustic feel. Head to Travis Perkins, where you’ll be able to pick up wooden planks for around £15.

    2. CREATE EXTRA HEIGHT in any room by contrasting white walls with a matt black ceiling. Farrow & Ball’s ‘Black Blue’, ‘OffBlack’ and ‘Pitch Black’ Estate Emulsions (£39.50 for 2.5 litres) are ideal hues.

    3. TURN MIRRORS INTO ARTWORK by clustering a mixture of designs. This is especially effective in rooms that require extra sunlight. Try Ebay for affordable vintage mirrors or Not On The High Street for a wide selection of decorative ones.

    4. UPDATE YOUR SOFA with some cushion cummerbunds. Just one metre of any fabulous fabric can be cut in half lengthways and wrapped around the middle of cushions like a smart new belt. Contrast is key, so try to add textural interest by mixing materials – think velvet with linen, or silk over suede.

    black wall with photos
    James Merrell

    5. MAKE A FEATURE OUT OF A TRADITIONAL PICTURE RAIL. Prop a collection of photographs and postcards on top of it (above), but keep the wall and rail all one colour ( here both are painted with Farrow & Ball’s ‘Salon Drab’ Estate Emulsion, £39.50 for 2.5litres). The block colour lets your memories provide the interest.

    6. PAINT A BLACKBOARD WALL in the kitchen for noting down shopping lists and messages. You could cover a cupboard front, an alcove, or even the back of a door. And remember, it doesn’t have to be black! Lakeland Paints ‘Chalkboard Blackboard’ (£28.14 for one litre) comes in a huge range of colours, so your ‘blackboard’ can be anything from sky blue to magenta.

    7. BRIGHTEN INTERIOR DOORS. Paint yours a vibrant colour to contrast with a neutral room. Sunshine yellow will work wonderfully well in a grey space (‘Trumpet’ matt emulsion, £45for 2.5 litres, Little Greene) and china blue looks fresh against white walls (‘Sainte Chapelle’ matt emulsion, £39 for 2.5 litres, Designers Guild).

    8. DYE YOUR SHEETS. It’s a marvellous way to give tired bedlinen a new lease of life, and your bed a moody makeover. Try ‘Jeans Blue’ by Dylon (‘Wash & Dye’ machine dye, £5.89). Remember to add salt to the wash if it’s not included in the packet, and always run an empty hot wash afterwards to ensure that all of the dye has been removed. And, if you want to change the colour of something that has a pretty strong hue already, use Dylon’s Pre-Dye (£6.25) to strip it back to white. It’s so easy!

    9. ADD PATTERN TO YOUR CUPBOARDS. Vintage wallpaper is perfect for lining the backs of shelving units. It’s a great way to achieve an unexpected hit of jolly pattern – like having a hidden lining inside a sober suit (from £25 for a 10-metre roll, EW Moore & Son)

    Wall, Yellow, Turquoise, Blue, Green, Lighting, Room, Furniture, Interior design, Floor,
    Mark Williams

    Use masking tape to section off different blocks of colour before you begin painting (above). Pick similar, complementary shades for a subtle effector be bold and mix contrasting tones to make a big impact.

    11. ADD PATTERN TO YOUR CUPBOARDS. Vintage wallpaper is perfect for lining the backs of shelving units. It’s a great way to achieve an unexpected hit of jolly pattern – like having a hidden lining inside a sober suit (from £25 for a 10-metre roll, EW Moore & Son).

    11. CONSIDER VINYL MATS as a quicker, cheaper alternative to floor tiles. Check out Israeli brand Beija Flor’s range. They’re easily installed (simply warm them next to a heat source before adhering to the floor and leaving to cool) and create a well-defined zone in a kitchen, bathroom or entrance. (rom £69, SCP).

    12. HANG A RUG ON YOUR WALL. In Scandinavia, long-pile wool rugs in colourful patterns, known as rya, are traditionally transferred from floor to wall in the summer months, hung from wooden rods. Pick a design that’s not too heavy – try Etsy. West Elm sells great ready-made tapestries, too.

    13. DESIGN YOUR OWN COLLAGE using postcards and magazine tearsheets as a bespoke alternative to wallpaper.Spend time – rather than cash –amassing inspirational images in colours that lift your mood, then paste them to the wall with standard PVA glue, rather than wallpaper paste, to avoid colour seepage. Great for children’s rooms.

    ferns in frames
    Julia Cathrine Thies

    Press plants between differently sized transparent glass frames for natural art (above). Oliver Bonas stocks a good selection of frames with or without hanging chains (from £6)

    15. MAKE FLOATY SUMMER CURTAINS. Buy swathes of white muslin and drape over your curtain poles – it’s amazingly cheap, so you can afford to be generous (£2.99 per metre, Calico Laine). Allow for a little puddling on the floor and make sure that the muslin is made from pure cotton so that it drapes beautifully. You don’t even need to hem the edges!

    16. SPRUCE UP YOUR FRONT DOOR. It’s the first thing people see as they approach your home and repainting it a new colour as the season changes is quick and simple. Don’t forget to give the wood a light sanding first so that the new paint will key, and seal any cracks with wood-filler; a smooth finish is all in the prep-work. Try cheering colours, such as yellow and green, in winter, and softer neutrals and powdery shades as the weather heats up.

    17. CREATE A GRAND ENTRANCE. First impressions count, so as well as a lick of paint, invest in a splendid new door knocker and letterbox. This is absolutely one of the easiest ways to give your door a whole new look – we like the selection at Antiquedoorknockers.co.uk, where vintage pieces start at around £40.

    18. TRANSFORM WORN DINING CHAIRS in a flash by stripping and staining old wooden frames. Don’t try to do it yourself, though: instead commission an expert. East London Finishing will charge approximately £50 per chair. Still looking tatty? Reupholster the seat pads with some bold fabric. Ikea’s simple striped ‘Sofia’ cotton is only £6 per metre, and you can do this bit yourself: all you need is a staple gun.

    wall painted two colours
    Barnji B. Jacobsen Fotografi

    19. GIVE YOUR WALL A SPLIT PERSONALITY. Create the impression of a contemporary dado rail by dividing your walls using colour. Go for a darker shade at the bottom and a lighter shade on top for balance, and then overlay pictures across the divide to add interest. ‘Sloane Square’ (top) and ‘Archway House’ (bottom) marble matt emulsions from Mylands
    match these shades (£22 for one litre).

    20. GIVE YOUR CEILING A GLOSSY MAKEOVER. Gloss paint will bounce light around the room and looks slick and contemporary. Try the palest of blues to mimic the sky; we like Little Greene’s ‘Echo’Traditional Oil Gloss (£28 for one litre)

    21. CHANGE YOUR LIGHTING FLEXES. This isa simple, stylish way to freshen up existing lamps. Colourful flexes are available from Urban Cottage Industries (from £4.20 per metre). Also consider hanging pendant lights at a lower level to give a room a totally different feel –think pools of light over tables rather than people’s heads.

    hexagonal mirrors
    Rockett St George

    22. CONSIDER COLOURED GLASS. Forget ordinary mirrors and embrace the warm metallics trend by creating a wall display using groups of small copper mirrors, or mirrored tiles. Rockett St George sell a variety of mirrors.

    23. MAKE AN IMPACT USING TILES. Rather than breaking the bank tiling a whole wall or floor, use a small number of tiles to create a ‘zone’. Try adding a line of tiles around a bathtub, on an area of floor like a hard rug, or even as a decorative headboard. We recommend Fired Earth’s handmade terracotta tiles from the ‘Marrakech’ collection (from £5.95 each).

    24. ADD SOME DECORATIVE TOUCHES. You may not have the luxury of original period features in your home, but that doesn’t mean you need to go without. Try Wickes for a range of pine decorative mouldings (from £3.25 for 2.4 metres). Use them
    to decorate doors, walls, ceilings and even furniture, as they can be as discreet or obvious as you desire.

    25. REPLACE PLASTIC SWITCHES AND SOCKETS. Swapping them for metal versions is a great way to instantly up the sophistication levels of any room. Buster + Punch’s brushed brass toggle switches will add a golden glimmer to your walls (£30 each).

    26. FREE UP SPACE ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE by hanging a beautiful bulb that has a stylish filament, such as the ‘Elva’ by Heal’s (£35), from a contemporary hook beside your bed – try Hay’s modern ‘Gym Hook’ (£25, Nest).

    living room black walls
    Marcus Lawett

    27. CREATE A DISPLAY OF VINTAGE PRINTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS for instant gallery gratification – and without spending a fortune (above). You can source old black-and-white or sepia-toned pictures from flea markets and charity shops or, alternatively, the New York Public Library’s online archive allows you to download high-resolution drawings, photos and maps for free. Bulldog-clip your chosen images to a wire or piece of string and hang them across one wall

    28. BUY A ROLL OF ANAGLYPTA. The brand’s ‘Turner Tile’ wallcovering (£10.49 per 10-metre roll; anaglypta.co.uk)will add some touchy-feely texture to a single wall. Then paint it in Farrow & Ball’s hot new colour,‘Peignoir’ (£39.50 for 2.5 litres). It’s the new must-have feature wall!

    29. REFLECT LIGHT AROUND YOUR HOME. Buy mirror tiles and create a simple mirror panelled section opposite any door or window to bounce more sunshine into a room.

    dip dye curtains

    30. DIP-DYE FABRICS using Dylon’s dye for hand use (from £5). This easy effect is a great instant update for textiles, especially cushions. Add more embellishments after dyeing to transform furnishings even further: try John Lewis for a wide selection of trimmings (from £3.95 for two metres).

    31. BREATHE LUXE INTO TIRED FLOORBOARDS with a new coat of varnish. If you’re lucky enough to have real wood floorboards you’ll be amazed at how they can be transformed with a couple of coats. Ronseal ‘Diamond Hard Floor Finish’ dries in 30 minutes and only needs two hours between coats (three coats suggested). We recommend ‘Dark Oak’ or ‘Mahogany’ in a satin finish (£49.99 for a 2.5 litre tub, Homebase).

    32. DESIGN A DEDICATED FAMILY PORTRAIT WALL. Hit a discount store like TK Maxx and snap up picture frames. They don’t need to be all the same but do try to stick to a theme such as black frames, oak or mirror only. Then scan your photos so that you can re-size any as required, print, mount and hang! This is a wonderful way to make a family tree that can be added to over time.

    33. BESPOKE YOUR HEADBOARD using an oversized canvas – try a made-to-measure one from Harris Moore (from £64.54 per square metre) – and then paint it using a shade slightly darker or lighter than your wall.

    hotel henriette guestroom paris
    Hotel Henriette, Paris
    Herve Goluza

    34. TRANSFORM YOUR WALLS WITH PLYWOOD. Cover up uneven or patchy walls using this chic, affordable material (try Timb Met for plywood sheets). It can also be used to add colour and geometry – simply cut out a new piece and paint it. It’s easy to remove, too.

    35. CREATE INSTANT PRIVACY. Place moveable room dividers in open-plan living spaces, or add ceiling-mounted screens to form a hidden division between zones. Simply slide into place or pull down when you need a little peace and quiet.

    This feature appeared in ELLE Decoration May 2016

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