From chalk paint effects, transforming tiles and display ideas, Sam Wylie-Harris suggests some quick and clever revamps.
Decorating projects are usually something many of us put off, or happily call in the professionals for.
But in these unprecedented times, lockdown has launched a determined army of DIY enthusiasts ready to tackle a plethora of decorative finishes, get a handle on cabinetry and transform tiles by grouting with gorgeous colours.
Indeed, being holed up at home has given a whole new meaning to rolling up our sleeves indoors and inspired many of us to explore our creative sides.
Bonus? There are lots of relatively quick and simple home-improvement projects that can instantly breathe new life into a space.
Here’s six ways to put the creative process into practice…
1. Transform with tiling
Sprucing up the kitchen with tiling takes skill but with a little bit of practice, there’s a look for everyone. Tiling just the splashback means you don’t have to go all the way up the wall, so you have impact without being spendy. And depending on the shape and size of the tiles, you only need to build them two or three rows up to get the look.
Natalia Ratajczak, interior designer for The Furniture Union, suggests tiling the splashback with subway tiles, adding a strong red grout colour and framing them with a thick black outline to add graphic detailing.
Tempting as it is, don’t tile over existing tiles. Ratajczak says it’s better to hack off any existing ones to ensure you get a level finish and that your adhesive is fully bonded, etc. If you want to go one step further, add shelving above to tie in finishes and display decorative items.
2. Colour co-ordinate ceilings and corridors
It may sound a bit matchy-matchy but coordinating a section of your ceiling with a piece of furniture, especially in a long, dark corridor, is a great option to create a boutique hotel-style vibe.
Using a strong colour on the ceiling (Furniture Union recommend matt emulsion finish) teamed with cabinetry in the same colour (a satin finish works well for woodwork, offering a mild sheen) can make a narrow space look utterly revitalised.
3. Update handles and knobs
Depending on your taste, handles are to a chest of drawers what the standing area is to your shower – both need to be functional and stylish – and as they say, it’s all in the detail.
An easy update, industrial-style knobs, statement or drop handles will instantly increase the pulling power of furniture throughout the home and kitchen units, without having to splash out on replacing whole items. And the good news is, many are simple screw and bolt types, so no drilling required.
4. Get the wow factor with wallpaper
Budget allowing, think about making the switch from paint to paper – zooming in on a section of the space, rather than the whole room, makes much lighter work of the task and means you don’t have to worry about clearing everything out of the way.
“As with painting, adding wallpaper to one wall rather than the whole room is a great first-time project,” says Lorna MacPhee, furnishing accessories buyer for John Lewis.
“If this is your first attempt, choose a ditsy or abstract design that’s easier to pattern match, being more forgiving along the joins than a bold geometric design, while a paste-the-wall design is quicker and less messy than traditional paste-the-wallpapers, and you’ll need less in your tool kit.”
5. Change your outlook
When it comes to window dressing, we all need a creative outlook – but we don’t necessarily want the world looking in on us – and there’s more to net curtains than meets the eye. Whether you choose lace or voile, they can easily be draped over an existing curtain pole or laced with ribbon and hung on hooks.
An easy update, MacPhee suggests layering ready-made curtains over lightweight sheers. “The voiles give a softer light and privacy for those at-home yoga sessions and moments of calm,” she says. “Hang from net curtain wire or swap your pole for a tension wire.”
6. Customise with chalk paint
If you want to paint the town – sorry, home – red (or any other shade for that matter), chalk based paint offers a flat, matt finish and brilliant coverage with one or two coats.
Ideal for painting walls, furniture, indoors and outdoors, it’s especially suited to vintage pieces (think shabby-chic finish) or flea market finds that just need a bit of love and attention.
To point you in the right direction, we recommend Frenchchic paint or Annie Sloan who have a range of durable, weatherproof chalk paint that’s suitable for wood, laminate, metal and plastic. A top coat will seal, protect and keep the colour long-lasting, so this is especially good for garden furniture. And thanks to rigorous testing, it’s also certified safe enough (EN 71:3) to use on children’s toys – think an old train set that just needs a lick of paint to bring it back into service.