Giving your home a new look needn’t cost an arm and a leg. Here are 20 affordable and simple ways from the pros to give your humble abode that instant makeover.
Accessorise Your Furniture
Creating a statement piece in the room will give it a surprising lift. ‘Transform the couch by draping a throw over it or layer it with decorative pillows in different shapes, sizes and textures. This adds colour and dimension to your existing sofa, and creates an inviting and warm atmosphere in the room,’ says Joyce Chua, marketing executive from Crate & Barrel. Vases, centrepiece bowls, candleholders, rugs, and pillows also do the trick and double up as great conversational pieces.
Shelf the Idea
‘Shelves aren’t just for books’ reminds Charmaine Seah-Ong, founder of http://cluster-cluster.com. So use these spaces as extensions of your personality and include your favourite trinkets, planters and random book stacks. ‘I find that choosing two complementing and two contrasting colours works best when decorating a feature shelf. Use bold colours and play with different textures like glass, ceramics and leather bound books. Draping pieces of jewellery on the books and other items will also add an unexpected air of casual glamour.’
Hang More Lights
If all you have are down lights which are mostly hidden and out of sight, consider changing them to pendant lamps or chandeliers. ‘A group of two or three lamps brings a warm ambience to the home. Also consider chandeliers for an instant touch of drama,” says Joyce.
If your home is mostly white, black or grey, then some metallic elements will add a magic touch. ‘The trick is not to overdo it,’ says Chloe Chee, marketing assistant at BoConcept, ‘Give a bit of sparkle with metallic candle holders, bronze cushions or a copper lamp.’ Try mixing different metallic shades, like copper, gunmetal or distressed iron, for a new and trendy look.
Cosy Up To Nature
Natural materials like light wood, concrete, wool, felt and feathers help form a calming palette to come home to, shares Chloe. ‘Go for a tone-on-tone colour scheme by mixing up various shades of the same colour.’ For example, lay a luxurious sheepskin throw on the sofa and place concrete or tile coasters on a wooden coffee table for decoration.
Re-arrange Your Photo Display
Inexpensive, easy to refresh and meaningful? That’s why it’s a big trend. Take a look at your photo wall display and see if it achieves a visual balance that gives each piece the attention it deserves. ‘Larger and heavier frames are usually placed lower, while lighter, brighter snaps are hung higher up on the wall,’ shares April Kwan, a regional interior design specialist at IKEA Singapore. The style of arrangement is also important, she adds: ‘Symmetry tends to look classical and formal, while asymmetry looks modern and casual.’
Hues to Please
There’s power in shades to transform a space – a single feature is a quick and easy way to add a stylish edge. ‘Choose a wall that holds the focus of the room and look to your existing decor to match. The simplest way is to paint it in a bold and contrasting colour that’s different from the rest,’ says Jeremy Rowe, MD of AkzoNobel Decorative Paints. Look around – it needn’t have to be the obvious one where the TV is.
Flaunt Your Cookware
Here’s how to make your kitchen snap happy. ‘Display colourful cookware on a dedicated pot rack or the kitchen stove. Keep cooking tools in a utensil holder and place it on the countertop. Pick one or two appliances to display on the countertop – a toaster, coffee machine, teapot or juicer. Don’t hide kitchen linens like dishtowels, apron and oven mitts. They add a pop of colour to the space,’ shares Joyce. Creating a focal point in the kitchen with an island or cart can also add style, functionality and extra storage.
Storm in a Teacup
Rather than simply being an afterthought, houseplants create a sense of style and give life to sterile rooms. ‘Plant smaller sprouts in teacups on saucers and line them up along the windowsill or shelves. Grab any small cups, glasses and even muffin baking cups to add a pop of colour and style,’ suggests April. For the living and balcony areas, mix and match greens of different varieties of leaf shapes, sizes, textures and colours to make a great decorating statement.
Flat Surfaces Are Your Canvas
‘Don’t leave flat surfaces such as coffee table or dining table empty, but don’t clutter them up as well,’ Joyce adds. ‘Place no more than three items on the table. If they are complementary, you may cluster them together to create more impact.’ Start with a flower vase, fruit bowl or a decorative plate.
Have a party to plan? The easiest way to dress up the home is with buntings. ‘Buntings add a celebratory mood to the space, are inexpensive to boot and you can even design your own and print them,’ suggests Patricia Kong, a party decorator at Celebrations by Cookyn Inc.
Invest In Good Quality Cutlery
We eat with our eyes open so it makes a difference when we partake with a fine, sturdy set of cutlery. ‘Good quality cutlery sets go a long way as they are more durable and you are assured of its material safety,’ says Conny Ng, managing director of WMF Singapore.
It “looks generous” to showcase two whole cakes at a party, Sophie Dahl once said on her cook show The Delicious Miss Dahl. ‘Must-haves at your party is a Tiered Fondant Cake and a Layered Fresh Cream Cake,’ says Patricia. Take them out of their cake box: ‘Prop them up on a glass cake stand to add instant elegance.’
Ban Built-in Bookshelves
Turn shelves into an eye-catching decor feature that also adapts to your changing needs. ‘Consider modular shelving units that are flexible and can be personalised to suit any storage needs. You can mount them or have them freestanding. Go for various hues or textures and arrange them vertically and sideways for a unique look,’ suggests April. Another bonus: They are more portable and can be moved to other rooms easily.
Replace the Pillows
An easy way to add style on a budget is replacing the pillows. ‘Having large pillows and a fluffy quilt can make your bed look plush and luxurious,’ says Chloe Ng, marketing executive at Tempur. Opt for one that looks full, feels firm and comfortable to boot.
The Clock Strikes
Don’t underestimate the clock as it can become an impressive artistic installation. Think of what you can use: Bicycle wheels, game boards or family pictures work well.
Opt For a Minimalist Style
If you’ve only got a small bedroom space to work with, go for the minimalist look. Since the bed is the centrepiece, go for one that’s trim and without large chunky bedframes.
Set Up the Table
Having a well-set dining table can enhance the quality of the meal and social experience of your guests. The general rule is to follow the theme of the room. Also consider the height of your decorations: ‘Gather items like a short vase of flowers, candles and decorative leaves which are small enough to block guests’ views,’ says Christophe Oudin, managing director of Zwiesel Asia Pacific Pte Ltd. ‘If you have soft lightings, some elements of sparkles or gently reflective surfaces would be lovely. In brighter rooms, play with textures, colours and shapes instead.’
Little details like serving drinks in good glasses show your respect and affection towards your guests. ‘Why go to all the trouble of throwing a party, fuss with the decor and then use disposable tableware? In fact, all drinks, whether they are spirits, juice or water, taste better from good glasses and your guests will have a far better experience,’ says Christophe.
Winning with Wine
If wine is the focus of the party, then a decanter is essential. That’s because transferring wine into a decanter and not straight out into a glass allows for movement and aeration (oxygen circulation) so wine flavours bloom. ‘Decanters not only bring a different feel to the wine, they also look impressive on display, in a delicate, subtle way,’ says Christophe.
By Sylvia Ong, Singapore Women’s Weekly, November 2014