I WAS the selected designer to do the showhouse this year at the Ideal Home Show.
A lot of people at the show told me they were bored by their house and felt it was bland or dated and wanted ideas on how to revamp it on a budget of generally €500 and could I help them? Here are my top eight tips to do just that:
Windows can be dressed with beautiful full-length curtains or an elegant Roman blind but another alternative to dress a window is by getting a window seat built in. They create extra storage in the seat for blankets and clothing and can be dressed with a selection of affordable cushions to make a relaxing and functional feature that costs about €200.
Floors are a large area in a home and really are like a pair of shoes on a person – people do judge you by your floors. So if your carpet is dated you should rip it up and go down to Value Flooring like I did and get a beautiful new laminate floor in this year's fabulous trend of warm grey. Warm grey floor boards with a grey white-washed finish are only €26 per sq metre. Then cover your main seating area with a huge oversized rug (around 200cm x 300cm), which you can pick up in many places now for about €200.
Auction rooms; one man's junk is another man's treasure. Remember your parents taking you to a cold dark warehouse or a car boot sale in the rain when you were a kid? I was certainly dragged around the place in the Eighties and during the last recession, when my parents wanted to find a piece of old furniture and "do it up" for the house. Nowadays, we call this upcycling and it's fantastic fun. One item on trend is pallets and at about €2 a go, they're a steal. So instead of spending thousands on decking for your garden buy €50 worth of pallets, paint them with shed fence paint and you have a fabulous decking area at a fraction of the cost.
Chairs are the best accessory for a room as they are small enough to go wild with strong fabrics. Most armchairs only need five meters of fabric so my advice for a dull corner in your home is to go to Oxfam on Francis Street, pick up a Fifties fireside chair, the uglier the better, sand it back, wash it, paint the frame high gloss black or white and get five meters of bold stripey or loud floral fabric to re-upholster it. Use multi-coloured deep buttons or silver studs and you have a beautiful interesting accessory in your room that costs about €200 and is functional, too.
Kitchens are an expensive item in the home to change so the best thing to do is to pick two colours like blue and cream, grape and green, teal and taupe, or grey and yellow, and do all the top cabinets one colour (usually the stronger colour) and the bottom cabinets and drawers the other colour. You have a new look for your kitchen which is easy to accessorise by changing your tea towels, buying a large vase in the colour of your new kitchen or getting an oversized clock or big poster from an iconic band or an artist you admire, frame it and you have a much trendier kitchen.
Storage solutions on a budget can be tricky so here are a few ideas you can do in an afternoon. Get a collection of wooden wine crates or vegetable crates – about 9 or 12 of them – paint them or just varnish them in a matt varnish and hang them all together on a wall to create modular shelving with a rustic finish.
Stencil some words on them or wallpaper the back of them to add even more fun features. Another idea is to get an old wooden ladder and nail it to a wall and add planks of wood to each step to create a book shelf.
In terms of art, typography is very popular in the hipster world and it's so easy to achieve on your own computer.
The trick is to make the background of the poster the same colour as the interior you are accessorising – whether it's baby blue, mint green, light yellow or raspberry pink – and then in white font, block capitals type out your favourite quote such as, "keep going, sure it's grand".
Then print it out professionally for about €2, go and get a large frame with a chunky mounting board around it for about €10 and you have a piece of home-made hipster art for your walls. I like to hang art in a line in a series of three or five to fill a blank wall.
Finally, if you want to have a garden, but you live in an apartment, there is a great solution for you which is vertical herb gardens which you can do in your kitchen or hallway. Simply buy long rods that you usually hang utensils on, then lots of little pots with hooks and plant a range of your favourite herbs or seasonal flowers mixed in with some hardy grasses that are easy to keep.
Maintain them with a little drop of water every few days and you have a fabulous vertical garden in your home which also makes a great feature wall and provides herbs for cooking or cocktails.
For more information. log on to www.kee interiors.com