Have you been thinking about redecorating your home and getting mildly excited until you realize that your landlord will not let you paint one of his tepid walls with a quirky colour that “speaks volumes” about who you are? And do plush white sofas and leafy plants with “cleansing properties” make you want to gag or something similar?
This article, like all the rest, gives you tips on giving your home a change, but it takes into account that creative ambition is often limited by a budget and landlord. Neither does it assume that faery lights are adorable.
1. If you can’t paint the walls, paint what you can.
Only don’t, you know, go overboard and paint every piece of furniture you own. Or maybe you could actually. Take a call. But it’s the little things (the little ugly things) you really want to focus on: unused bottles that you’re never going to throw away, a boring brown shoe shelf, a tacky picture frame, a garish fixture… If you need storage space, you can paint pots and keep your stuff in them – and no one will miss the plant. If you’re not artistic. don’t bother with patterns or details – just slap some nice colours on with a thick brush. You can even do it while watching Netflix without causing any disaster (so long as you’re a little careful).
2. If you don’t want to plaster the place with potted plants and polaroids, don’t.
Honestly if you’re looking for something different, it probably means you already own it: like a collection of quirky ties or ‘90s cassette tapes or even coins for any numismatics out there. You can arrange them in corners or hang them on walls with removable hooks or even string. Basically, whatever is easy and convenient for you. The principle is the same: identifying a dominant decorative element and applying it in whatever manner you think looks good.
3. Cardboard boxes and pretty cloth make beautiful babies.
For example: a cheerful end table. (Just make sure you stuff it well so the top doesn’t collapse.) You can paint the lower half of a sealed box and then throw a complementary or contrasting piece of fabric over the rest. They make great surfaces and can add much needed splashes of colour to empty corners or shabby alcoves. You could even use them as seats. Keep the top flaps of a painted cardboard box open and fit the inside with a stack of well-lined cushions – they should end at least a couple of inches higher than the rim. Keep in mind that this is slightly tricky – the cushions will need to fit perfectly otherwise the box is just going to sink. But slightly tricky isn’t hard to figure out and if you do it right, the result will be worth it.
4. Forget millennial pink and minimal white.
Go for colour. Be vibrant. Show off your personality. It’s okay to have a blue couch with deep orange cushions and a yellow rug. Throw in a patchworked curtain as well. We are all so conscious about showing what our “aesthetic” is these days that we’ve forgotten how to have fun. You’ll go wrong if you try mixing things up with two or three colours. But chuck a whole bunch of them together (keep them matte) and it’ll look so cheerful and bright and happy, you won’t care what your friends are going to think.
5. Everyone always says lighting matters because it kind of does.
Let’s talk about the fixtures first. There are brilliant ways to light up your home without scented candles or faery lights. Browse vintage furniture stores for an interesting lamp. You can get a bunch of different shapes and colours and they’ll probably look lovely. Or you could use lanterns. The heavy brass ones are gorgeous. You could also buy cheaper ones and decorate them if you think they need a little more oomph. If you don’t want to get new lamps, freshen up the lampshades of your existing ones with fabric paint. As for the actual lighting itself? That’s up to you. Most people prefer dim lighting but sometimes having a brightly lit corner to act as a contrast looks great.
6. A special note on the ugliest room in the house.
Obviously we mean the bathroom and the truth is, sometimes it’s out of your hands. If you’ve been given maroon tiles with mustard patterns and no ventilation at all, there’s not much you can change. But luckily, there are some things you can. Lighting, for instance, will do a good deal. Dim lighting can make a dingy bathroom look worse, so even if you hate the way it looks, consider adding bright lights. Identify spaces where you can make a difference: quirky shower curtains, an interesting painting….you can paint big bottles and then empty your shampoo and conditioners into them. Your bathroom will look better without their ugly packaging. If you can, paint the taps and the door knob – even the shower rod. That maroon-mustard bathroom would look a lot better with Turkish blue taps.
The truth is, there are loads of ways to make your home look more attractive without much effort. And it’s easy to find tips to guide you – some of them better than the ones here (said with great reluctance, accompanied by the faint hope of getting brownie points for honesty).
The point is, really, to remind you that you don’t need to follow the latest trends (taking into account that nothing trends more than the alternative) to decorate your home.
Look around. Use your imagination. Be original. Create a home that goes beyond a hashtag.