20 easy tips to style your home

“more dash than cash”


I designed this room for one of my clients. Photo by Grant Sainsbury.

You have been living in the same place for several years and you now feel the decor looks tired and could do with re-vamping. But you are cash strapped. What do you do?
There are lots of ways to transform a home without breaking the bank, and there can be many reasons – it’s tired and needs a facelift, your circumstances have changed, you would like to create seasonal moods, or you are planning a special party and would like to sex up the place.  
It’s called styling
The difference between styling and interior decorating is time and money. Styling takes less of both.

Here are 20 simple ideas to style your home:

1.   Budget. Set yourself a figure, but be realistic. 
2.   It is important that your home should be comfortable, as well as beautiful.
3.  Colour has the power to transform a room and enhance your life. If you are good at handling a paint brush, there are ways to introduce new colours without having to re do it all. Painting just one wall in a contrasting colour can change the look completely.

4.  A funky wall paper on one wall will bring personality to the room. And don’t be afraid to use a large scale pattern in a small room. It adds depth. 

 www.deborahbowness.com sells very original designs, from mock tube station tiles, to mock stamps collections, mock books, mock tableware etc…
www.svetlanashellshear.com has a nature wallpaper collection depicting surfaces made of natural materials- wood, seashell and mother of pearl.
www.you-frame.com can reproduce your own photographs on large canvas, as well as having a range on many subjects, from art work to landscapes, sports etc… They can be tailored to fit the size of your wall.

5.  One wall can become your art gallery with framed pictures, photographs, mirrors… lots of mirrors will reflect light and enlarge the place.

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9.  Don’t be afraid to mix old and new furniture.  Good design is goo design, and can often be happily married.  An antique object with a modern piece –  and vice versa – can make them come to life.

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10.  Not all furniture has to match. Around a dining table I like an assortment of styles. And it’s easier and cheaper to pick a chair you like from a second hand shop, than a set of six.

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14.  As part of my training, I learned there should always be something – a colour, a piece of furniture, an object- which clashes with the rest of the scheme. It makes everything else comes to life.

15.  Accessories are the easiest and cheapest way to give a room a quick fix- colourful cushions, rugs, vases or lampshades, can change the mood instantly and be replaced at little cost. 

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graffiti art

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placed on an easel, your TV becomes Art

6.  Wooden floors can also be painted.  Very dark colours, as well as white are a good background.

7.  Consider the position of your furniture. Because it has been there forever doesn’t mean items cannot be moved in order to create more space, or an easier traffic around the round, or to delimit a specific area, like a corner to relax, watch TV or read.

8.  A coat of paint can turn any old piece of junk into a “work of art”. Be daring, try some bright colours, maybe a combination of different colours. White paint can also rejuvenate the most boring pieces.  You’ll be amazed how great they suddenly look.

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antique and modern, a happy marriage

11.  Vintage trunks make beautiful coffee or side tables, as do old leather books.

12.  Declutter. We all accumulate stuff over the years- family heirlooms, souvenirs purchased on holidays, bric-a-brac…

Do it the same way as I would when advising a fashion client before going shopping: look into your wardrobe and separate:
 a. Pieces you wear regularly
 b. Pieces you wear from time to time
 c. The ones you haven’t worn in the last 18 months- give them to your favourite charity shop 

Then build around what you enjoy wearing.
The same with your home.  Start by eliminating, be ruthless – a piece of furniture with no particular use, knick-knacks you are not keen on… But don’t banish them to the spare room. Give them away and let someone else enjoy them. Then, one of your favourite pieces can become the starting point for your new decor. Create your scheme around it.

13.  Objects should be assembled like collections, according to their origin, category or simply colour. Place together, it will give them status. 

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Velvet cushions by OKA. John Lewis also have a great selection.

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the look of this room I designed for one of my clients can be changed simply by replacing the cushions or the rug

16.  Chez Moi, I like to change the mood with the seasons. Without the expense of redecorating, you can remodel the furnishings by replacing  loose linen covers in summer with woollen throws in winter. Introducing  touches of white always feels summery. Get a few new cushions, put seasonal flowers in a vase. Et voila! 

17.  Light is important to create moods as well as illuminating a room. Ceiling lights are very cold and I never use them on their own. I prefer free standing lights. Ikea, Habitat, John Lewis all have great selections, reasonably priced. 

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imaginative storage

19.  If you work from home, you need an area you can call the office.  It doesn’t need to be a large room, even the space under the stairs might do, but it would be nice if, at the end of the working day, you could shut the door.

20.   Your home should reflect your personality and make you happy. Use your imagination. Be bold. Surround yourself with beautiful objects. Start collecting from junk shops, brocantes, but also look out for new talents coming out of art colleges. Over the years I have picked up several paintings, and ceramics from end of year shows. They are among my prized possessions.

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an old wooden tray can become a picture frame

18.   Storage space is important to make your life run smoothly. Use your imagination to create fun shelving, and to transform some old containers into useful pieces of storage. 

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mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the prettiest of them all?