So you’re a student, live in a rented house, have a small budget or simply don’t have the time and energy to completely redecorate. Well the good news is that there are a host of things that you can do to make your living room more exciting, cosier or more attractive that don’t involve pots of paint or wallpaper and paste, and don’t cost an arm and a leg.
1) Throws – tired furniture? Or just want a change? Throws have long been the worn out sofa’s friend and there are masses of them available now in a huge variety of colours and patterns, and there is one to suit every budget. And the good news is that you don’t have to confine throws to covering your sofa – throws with ethnic designs and pictures look great pinned to the wall too and can really brighten a room. Good places to find throws are markets, ethnic stores, department stores, discount shops, charity shops, head shops, craft markets and Internet sites like ebay.
2) Cushions – everyone needs cushions. You can buy ones that match your throws and furniture, or ones that contrast with walls and curtains. But there are also a host of funky and fun cushions available now to suit every taste. You can go for pretty much any theme you like from vintage or romantic to dinosaurs or insects. The sky is literally the limit design wise. And if you are handy with a needle you can source vintage or unusual fabrics and make your own. You can even make them out of old sweaters! Check out craft markets, fabric stores, and all the usual places. Remnants are often the perfect size.
3) Mirrors – a large mirror can make a small room seem bigger and lighter. A mirror placed over a fireplace or opposite a window can really open a room out. Check out charity shops, auctions, antique markets and the sales.
4) Lighting – a change in lighting can dramatically change the appearance of a room. Gone are the days when fairy lights were just for the Christmas tree. Fairy lights come in all manner of shapes and materials now (chili peppers, fluffy hearts, stars, moons, animals, wicker, paper lanterns etc.). Drape them round mirrors or hang over the mantelpiece to give the room a cosy, homely feel.
5) Lampshades –it’s amazing what effect on a room changing the lampshade can have. I always used to buy plain paper globes because they were cheap, but these days there is an abundance to choose from at reasonable prices. Look for retro designs in charity shops, second hand stalls and ebay. Also check out discount stores and the sales.
6) Curtains – more expensive to replace that throws and cushions. If you are a competent seamstress you can buy some attractive fabric and make your own. If not keep your eyes open during the sales, or check out second hand shops, the small ads or ebay. Keep your window measurements in your wallet and you will never miss a bargain.
7) Clear clutter – sounds silly but this can really change the atmosphere of a room. Put clutter into drawers or stacking boxes and just keep out key pieces.
8) Rugs – tired or stained carpets? Rugs can hide a multitude of sins and can make a room feel more homely. Choose from contemporary geometric designs, more traditional Persian type designs or more crafty types – like rag rugs. Keep a look at in sales, auctions and thrift shops.
Sam Wright is freelance writer working for HGS Painting and Decorating