That grand renovation is on most people’s domestic bucket lists, but the funds to make it happen are far less frequently available.
Still, according to Sydney based interior designer Shilpa Mohan (sjsinteriordesign.com.au), there are some easy ways to instantly give your home a touch of luxury, no matter your budget.
Here are her top tips for some low-cost transformations…
Pick up a brush
Start by thinking big. The feel of your nest is dictated by the four walls in every room. Not only will a new paint job set you back less than a thousand dollars, it will help you tap into the latest in interior fashion. The Dulux Colour Forecast 2021 recently revealed the hottest colour palettes which both reflect global trends and align with how we are feeling around Australia right now.
“The Nourish palette in particular is a real trend,” shares Shilpa. “These are colours that have been around for decades and are coming back in a more contemporary tone. The shades of beige and yellow will embrace you like a warm hug. Try painting the walls of a room in Dulux Burnside, and you’ll walk into it with a smile plastered across your face.”
Colour blocking is still a top stylist tip, while suitable lighting can add pleasing accents as well. “An oversized floor lamp, table lamps or swapping out old light fixtures for contemporary pendants or wall lights will create visual interest,” adds Shilpa.
Put it on paper
If you’re shy about paint, a textured wall (think fabric, wood, swatches) offers pzazz. Wallpaper gives you a lot of bang for your buck, too – and if you’re scared of pattern, you can opt for a textured finish like grasscloth.
“Wallpaper is the quickest way to transform a space,” notes Shilpa. “Be it a feature wall or all four walls in a powder room, it’s sure to get people saying, ‘Now that’s a before and after’.”
A picture wall makes a statement, and you can spend as much or as little as you want while luxeing up the frames. Just match the mount, weight and colour to the art. “You don’t have to curate it,” says Shilpa. “You can get art of all sizes and place them almost randomly for a unique design element.”
A quality couch can act as a statement piece in your living space. “The best sofas I’ve seen are deep enough to lounge back in, but not so deep that you get lost in them,” says Shilpa.
“And if you’re not ready to buy a new one, you can class up your existing sofa by tufting the fabric – adding buttons etc. Luxe up the legs with more ornate versions or wood that complements the rest of the room, and change the height to suit the dimensions of the space.”
Adding in a good quality throw can make all the difference between dull and delicious in an otherwise functional room. “One of my favourite things to have is a seasonal throw,” says Shilpa. “In winter I’ll put out a dark, wool throw, but in summer I’ll use a linen throw. You can also play with different colours, because in autumn you can bring out the rich mustards and burgundy colours, but in spring you can play with pastels.”
Alternatively, are you a ‘chairperson’? They’re not just for sitting on. ‘Chairscaping’ is a fresh trend in which a funky chair becomes a table on which can sit plants, books, your latest copy of The Weekly and all manner of lovely items. Bedroom? Use it for shoes. Bathroom? Add toiletries. The humble chair, if chosen with care, can add style and utility to any room.
Fly off the shelves
Shelving is practical, but doesn’t have to look practical. Take away mass-produced bookcases and laminated wood to make the shelves themselves part of the decor.
“You can head to your local timber yard and pick up pieces of timber to use as floating shelves in a kitchen, living space, bathroom or bedroom,” says Shilpa. “These are great for placing trinkets or decorative jars on – and if you have a small room, placing things up on a shelf will make a room feel more spacious.”
Consider what will be going on them, too. A talking point item can lift a room, so there’s no harm in being quirky and displaying treasured items or objet d’art that reflect your taste. “For starters, think about branches and foliage,” suggests Shilpa. Glassware or a fine dinner set will be their own decoration out on display, too.
Cook up something new
You don’t have to go to the trouble of replacing your whole kitchen. One of the most effective (and cost-effective) updates you can make is swapping out your existing cupboard handles. “Also look at replacing your splashback; find a complementary tone in your benchtop, then locate a tile or similar material that suits, and use that as your new splashback,” says Shilpa.
There are DIY options for replacing fittings. If you want to upgrade your cabinets cheaply, consider measuring the doors, having medium density fibreboard cut to size, painting them and adding quirky handles for bespoke cupboards.
As the dominant appliance in your kitchen, you can give the entire room a lift by updating your refrigerator, too. “French door fridges give a space a look of opulence,” notes Shilpa. “Choose one that complements the colour of your tapware and other appliances. The trend in kitchen utilities these days is away from white, and towards black and stainless steel – unless you’re going for a retro effect!”
It’s easy being green
Plants are makeover winners and cost barely a thing, but settling on the right options can be challenging. Generally, use one large plant for height, then add smaller neighbours for variety.
“Pick up Kentia Palms or Fiddle Leaf fig trees to make a bold statement,” says Shilpa. “If you prefer smaller plants, invest in Devil’s Ivy, as it is easy to take care of and the trailing leaves make it a design statement. If your style is more boho, use basketweave holders; if your style is more luxe, try marble pots.”
Attaching a small, pretty selection of flowers to walls also provides a welcome burst of colour and natural design.