Five simple (and cheap) ways to give your interiors a makeover
Want to spruce up your house without the hassle - and expense - a full makeover? Caroline Foran has five simple changes that will transform your space
Very few of us have the luxury of blocking out a week for a full interiors overhaul, let alone the finances to go from shabby to chic in one fell swoop.
Life, as always, just gets in the way, but when it comes to your home décor, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. These days, more and more of us are making smaller updates to our home, bit by bit. It's a process that spans a few weeks - or even months - and although it would be nice to have all the time and money to get things done overnight, when you actually take your time like this, you make far better décor decisions.
When you buy in bulk, you increase the likelihood of buyer's remorse - I've been there, emerging from an interiors shopping frenzy only to question my purchases the following week. Instead, make small changes.
They should be easy and effortless, yet significant enough to make a big difference to your room, be it an instant cosy update to your living room or vibrant freshening-up of your hallway.
Here are five simple but powerful décor changes that you won't regret…
Add a statement rug
Introducing a rug is by far the easiest and quickest way to make a huge impact to your living space. And thankfully, rugs have become such a part of expressing your décor personality, they no longer cost a bomb. There are high-street options aplenty. You can pick one up for €40, live with it for a season and swap it out in a few months' time without the guilt.
If you want cosiness, choose high-pile. Otherwise, flat-woven low-pile rugs, particularly Oriental-style, are having a moment, especially with a subtle pattern. These work particularly well in a room that's muted elsewhere, such as one with white walls and neutral furniture. Before you get out the paint and the rollers, observe the difference that a rug alone can make. You'll have the feeling of a new room in one afternoon. Try it under your dining table for something different.
Change your cushions
To some people - my partner, for one -cushions are pointless and unnecessary. To me, they not only provide comfort and texture but can set, or change, the tone of a particular room. While your rug (above) can do its own thing, your cushions should come together with some element of consistency. That might be an accent colour - such as chartreuse - or a pattern that links them together as a family.
These days, less is more. For one three-seater sofa, for example, choose just two showstopping cushions for either end. Again, the high street is bursting with affordable options. If you want a luxe effect, choose velvets and velour.
If you want a more laid-back, boho vibe, plump for subtle patterns. If you prefer more of a vibrant, pop-art atmosphere, choose graphic and geometric prints, and bright block colours. When you replace a cream cushion with something that's hot pink, it will affect the entire room. And for this time of year, you won't go wrong with a sheepskin option. I'd make a beeline for Homesense in Cork and Blanchardstown, Dublin (homesense.ie).
Update your armchair
Okay, this is arguably less of an 'effortless' purchase but an armchair need not be consistent with the rest of your seating - in fact, the more mismatched, the better. With the likes of Ikea (ikea.com/ie) upping their game with some seriously slick mid-century-style armchairs at affordable prices, and Søstrene Grene (which has stores in Cork, Limerick, Athlone and Dublin; sostrenegrene.com) offering stunning velour chairs for less than €50, you'll have a fresh feeling in your home within minutes... without having broken the bank.
In general, allow yourself to be a little bit braver with your décor; gone are they days when you'd buy a suite and be stuck with it for 30 years until the moths get the better of it. Look at what you already have, move things around and see how it feels in a new position. If you have another armchair that you're tired of, give it a time-out in the attic; you may come back around to it again.
And don't forget, there are so many options these days if you want to shift older pieces for a few euro. You might be fed up looking at the same piece, but someone else (especially with the cost of renting and buying) will be only too happy to give it a new home. Think of your interior in the same way you would your wardrobe - it's fluid.
So, you want to stick with all of your existing furniture and accessories, and you don't want to paint, but you crave something fresh. The easiest answer is greenery. And now more than ever, faux foliage is incredibly easy to get your hands on, meaning if you don't want the hassle of maintaining fresh plants, you can simply opt out.
Faux foliage is also very handy for darker corners of your home, where natural light is not an option. Real plants won't survive here anyway, but their good- quality artificial counterpart will do just the job - particularly handy for a hallway or a bathroom that's starting to look a little jaded. Get yourself an assortment of long and short vases (again, with the likes of H&M Home online, at hm.com, you'll spend less than €20) and gather a selection of stems.
Eucalyptus leaves are the most popular home greenery at the moment, so much so that the price of real eucalyptus stems has gone right up. Artificial ones, however, will last forever. Try EZ Living (ezlivingfurniture.ie), Meadows & Byrne (meadowsandbyrne.com) and Marks & Spencer (marksandspencer.ie) for astonishingly realistic options.
Hang a picture
Wall prints are another aspect of home décor that, for too long, we've danced around, fearful that we will make the wrong choice. Unless you are purchasing art that costs upwards of a few hundred euro, this trepidation is unnecessary. I have countless prints that I adore, swapping them out depending on what I feel works in a particular room for a particular time of year. Sometimes I gravitate towards minimal and very neutral; other times I go big and vibrant.
Order your prints online, choosing standard sizes so that they work with your frames. Be mindful of your framing choices too: sometimes these can have even more impact than the print itself. Take, for example, a gallery wall with all-white frames. If you swap these for thick, black frames with white borders, it will make a huge difference.
If you're feeling particularly brave, nothing will transform a room quite like the personal significance of a poster, perfect for spaces that you're just not sure what to do with. Try allposters.ie for myriad options. For everything else, try iamfy.co or etsy.com, and for something a little bit more special and Irish, check out Jando Design (jandodesign.com) and Jam Art Factory (jamartfactory.com). An A4 print, unframed, will only set you back €18.