Really invest in quality key pieces to make the most of your dollar. These are:
- a quality rug
- your bed
- the bedside tables
- the dining table
- the sofa (leather or fabric)
For sofa cushions, designers prefer foam inserts that feature a feather wrap. “You get the structure of the foam with the comfort of feathers. If you just go for feather inserts you get that ‘squished pancake’ look after a while.”
Designers also suggest opting for the biggest rug that your money can buy, preferably natural fibres (allergies allowing). “You’ll never regret a large rug but you will regret a small rug,” they say. “The front feet of furniture should be on the rug, if not the entirety of the furniture, to make the room look bigger.”
The right colour scheme
Selecting a colour scheme can bring major anxiety, but it's reassuring advice that there aren’t any strict rules about colour. However designers say, "It’s worth sticking to a palette of three to five colours per room – up to three key tones and two neutral colours – used in equal amounts.” Replicating one of these tones in adjoining rooms will generate continuity all around the house while still setting up a diverse character for each room.
Lighting is also essential, particularly in lounge rooms or open-plan areas. The modest dimmer switch is an priceless tool. It’s a common mistake to install the brightest lights possible, whereas a dimmer switch allows you to precisely control the light levels. Designers also like to add a table lamp and a floor lamp to enhance mood lighting.
A lot of designers’ favourite cheap trick is scatter cushions, but as previously mentioned an insider secret to make them appear extra exceptional is to always go for feather inserts. They cost more than polyester inserts but last longer. Also, select the insert that’s the next size up from the cushion to keep it plump. So, if you’ve got a 45×45 cm scatter cushion, buy the 50×50 cm insert.
Another fast and simple makeover is to switch up your lampshades and/or spray paint your lamp bases. You can find affordable lampshades from stores such as IKEA and Freedom.
Utilise what you’ve got
If all that doesn’t fit into your budget, you can still update your home without paying for it by simply using what you’ve already got in your home. If you’ve been hiding a candle or ornament in a draw or your bedroom for years, move it to the mantelpiece. The family heirloom can also take centre stage and have a new lease of life with a bit of elbow grease.
Another designer secret for antique pieces that don't work in your home, is to sand it back, then paint or stain it. That will instantly modernise it and it’ll be a piece that means something to you too.
You need not spend a cent for the most critical design choice that you make; you just have to allocate time to research your design before starting work. Look at other ideas, such as industrial chic, to derive inspiration prior to you even raising that paintbrush. In the end, creating a solid vision means the chances are high that you will come up with a beautiful and cohesive home – and prevent costly and unsightly mistakes. There are more ideas at our upcycling Pintrest board.