With more time on our hands as we remain at home over the coming weeks, this is the perfect opportunity to plan some easy upgrades at home. It doesn’t have to cost the earth to inject your interiors with some serious style and comfort, so here are a few simple ways to ring the changes.
Image: Alexander James
Introducing a bold fabric will add texture, depth and interest. Be brave with a vivid print by reupholstering a favourite armchair or bench and then picking up the colourway elsewhere in your scheme with a contrasting plain or a trim for cohesion. Use expensive fabrics where you need less, such as on headboards or stools and more affordable options for full-length curtains. You can also source inexpensive fabric remnants from your local upholsterer – velvets, washed linens and bold patterned fabrics will all add an element of luxury and colour to a neutral scheme.
Image: Brookmans by Smallbone
Change up your hardware
Replacing handles, drawer pulls and doorknobs can lend chic to simple joinery, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Think of these accessories as the expensive jewels added to a high-street outfit. Check out the range at Beardmore (beardmore.co.uk) for high-end, British-made options in a range of finishes, from polished nickel to matt brass, Superfront (superfront.com) for bespoke alternatives to Ikea and other high street handles, and Swarf (swarfhardware.co.uk) for a modern take. “Use existing drilled holes and choose a style that will match the old coverplate so that you don’t have to touch up door fronts,” advises interior designer Beth Dadswell (imperfectinteriors.co.uk). “Antique brass or bronze complements Shaker door fronts, polished brass or copper adds glamour and matt black toughens up a neutral scheme.”
Images: La Manufacture Cogolin
Invest in one hero piece
Introducing one heirloom item, whether a designer chair, a handcrafted dining table or a statement rug, can inject instant luxe. The key is to allow the piece space to breathe, so declutter before adding a big-ticket item. “I recommend investing in a beautiful kitchen table, for the simple reason that it gets better with age,” says interior designer Kerri Lipsitz (kerrilipsitz.com). “I recently used a 19th-century French refectory table in a project and it became an instant talking point.” A rug also provides a sense of luxury and comfort. “Leave at least 30-60cm between the rug and the wall for a generous and elegant look,” advises La Manufacture Cogolin’s Sarah Henry (manufacturecogolin.com). “We usually think of rugs placed over hard floors, but they also work well over sisal or grass matting, or even on short pile dense carpeting, adding luxury, comfort and definition.”
Image: Brookmans by Smallbone
Give your kitchen a facelift and replace tired and outdated cupboard doors for an instantly contemporising look. HØLTE (holte.studio) specialises in hand-finished plywood or wood veneer fronts and worktops for Ikea and other high-street cabinet carcasses, starting at around £1,150 for a small kitchen. It can also join together two existing carcasses to create an expanded, pantry-style space. “Painting the interior of cupboards or open shelving in a contrasting colourway is effective too,” suggests Iain O’Mahony, ideation director at Brookmans by Smallbone (brookmans.co.uk). Otherwise, try giving existing splashbacks some love. “Choose a design in a mirrored or glass finish for added elegance and a sophisticated edge,” advises interior designer Emma Deterding (kellingdesigns.com).
Image: Natalia Miyar Atelier
Super-size the bedroom
Don’t be afraid to scale up when it comes to both your bed and bedlinen. “Bear in mind that a double bed frame takes up the same floor space as a king size divan which has a very neat footprint and a more generous silhouette,” points out Angela Moran, Silentnight’s Bed Expert (silentnight.co.uk). The same logic applies to linen – buy a size bigger than your bed for luxe appeal. Swap your standard bedroom pillows for bigger versions and add square bolster cushions for reading in bed. Consider a generous headboard for luxe appeal. “Updating a simple rectangular shape to a sculptural, scalloped velvet adds instant glamour,” says interior designer Cat Dal (catdalinteriors.com).
Image: Moreno Masey
Light it right
The single biggest transformation you can make is good lighting. “I have three rules,” shares architect Rodrigo Moreno Masey (morenomasey.com). “Always light surfaces and objects, being purposeful about what you light, whether a painting, or a dining table, but never just the floor. Layer lighting, using dimmers. Bright surfaces can draw the eye to a distant point to extend a space; a warm glow over a side table can close the same space down, but working together, you create something dramatic and joyful. Finally, spend a little extra on low energy, long-life bulbs. Good quality bulbs dim well and are available in warm white, a colour closest to the feel of a candlelit dinner.”
Image: Alexander James
Well executed storage can transform a space, both practically and aesthetically. “Pre-grooved MDF boards which you can buy off the shelf are incredibly useful,” says interior designer Sarah Peake (studiopeake.com). “I use them in studies, bedrooms and kitchens. If you work out the distances between the grooves carefully when you are upgrading your space, then you can make sure that the grooves fall in line with the doors. Most joiners are happy to work with it and you can buy them primed so they are easy to decorate. It saves a huge amount on labour costs and materials.”
Article written by Emma J Page