Sunday, 6 September 2015

10 ways to perk up a room for less than £25

I do love a bit of home improvement. Given that there's usually a two-year-old holding on to my leg/ blowing a recorder in my ear/ trying to clamber onto my back for a 'donkey ride' while braying, free time is pretty scarce around here, so anything that requires limited input for maximum visual impact is exactly the kind of DIY I'm after.

Since we moved into our first home two years ago, we've undertaken quite a few of these 'mini makeovers' - quick, easy, cheap changes you can make to really perk up your space. So if you're short on time, cash or just a little lazy when it comes to renovations (like me) then read on. All of these things we've done in our place, they all cost less than a Pony (that's £25. Yes I looked that up) and trust me, if I can do them, they're easy peasy.

one. Paint your tiles. 
This one's top of the list because we're actually right in the middle of doing it at the moment. A super quick and cheap way to make a big impact is to refresh your tiles with a quick coat of paint. Whether you're changing the colour, freshening it up or getting rid of some questionable tile designs that you have inherited (cough cough, that's exactly what happened to us) it couldn't be easier. We picked up a pot of white tile paint this weekend and set to work covering off the absolutely repugnant not to our taste nautical tiles that are scattered throughout our bath room - navy seahorse anyone? Two coats later and it feels so different - I just wish we'd done this two years ago! Ps. I have a whole board devoted to beautiful bathroom tile here, including this lovely example above, and some step-by-step guides for making beautiful patterned tiles using stencils, if you're feeling adventurous.
Actual cost: £20
Emotional wealth: immeasurable joy at being able to wave goodbye to the hideous sea creatures that you used to share your bathroom with.

two. Paint a wall a darker colour
I did this here with our gallery wall in the front room. I couldn't believe how much the subtle colour change made all the frames pop. 
Actual cost: £20 for a pot of paint BUT the very same paint we used above is currently on sale for a tenner, if you're interested.
Emotional wealth: a feature wall to be proud of. Bonus points for picking a wall shade that actually makes your complexion look better in the photos too.

three. Put up a mirror. Or three.
This one's good for dark rooms in particular. Our dining room is a bit of a gloomy space, so I've been keeping my eyes peeled at car boots and charity shops to find lovely old mirrors like the one about our 50s sideboard above. We have one on almost every wall in the room by now - it really helps reflect light, and the more you add the more light gets pinged around between them all.
Actual cost: all our mirrors have cost between £3-£8, from various charity shops and car boot sales - I've probs spent about £15 on them all in total
Emotional wealth: Genuinely the more light, the more perky you're going to feel, especially in the winter when dark days can bring an air of gloominess. Plus you'll able to check your hair do from any angle - always useful.

four. Fairylights anywhere everywhere.
Because what space can't be improved by a string of light fairy lights? None, that's what. Next!
Actual Cost: probs about a tenner, I think these above that I put up at crimble were more like £20 but they're super long
Emotional wealth: being able to deliver the right mood lighting for any occasion 

five. Paper the backs of your shelves 
This is such a good one. I remember discovering this little tip about ten years ago when I first moved into a flat share in London, doing it to a couple of Billy bookcases and flouncing around feeling like I was Linda Barker or something. So easy, so cheap, so transformative. Pick a colour or print you'd never want all over your walls, just to add a pop of colour. (Nb. picture can be found here)
Actual cost: about a fiver for some fancy wrapping paper (depending on the size of your shelves!) 
Emotional wealth: a sense of achievement and pride that can only come from having perfectly arranged shelving 

six. Give a door a lick of paint. 
wanged on quite a lot about this at the time, but when we painted our once-yellow/brown wooden doors in the spare room, and made them white instead, the difference was amazing - so much lighter and airier.
Actual cost: circa £20 for some white gloss
Emotional cost: the intense relief felt at getting rid of yellow pine 

seven. Buy a new shower curtain. 
Add a flash of colour. We recently picked up this one super cheap and it's honestly changed the whole bathroom. Ikea actually has loads of nice ones at the moment, like the above, a snip at a fiver, which also caught my eye. 
Actual cost: £6
Emotional wealth: having a bathroom that your 3-year-old nephew describes as "magical" when he goes in for a wee (true story)

eight. Change up the lighting.
Our middle room is one we've actually done very little to, but one of the things that's made the most impact is changing the light fitting. Before it was a weird metal fitting with three lightbulbs on little entwined branches, that sat very high up and close to the ceiling. It wasn't exactly our first choice. We picked up this fitting from Ikea (where else? I love that place) and although when it first went up I thought we'd made a huge mistake because it was just so big, I now love it. It's like it's balanced out all the white in the top half of the room, does that sound weird? It also gives so much light to what it usually quite a gloomy room, plus draws focus in to the table as the heart of the space. Nb. the pic above was actually snapped to show Arlo's new dinosaur balloon he got at Cowes Week, but it showed the light fitting pretty well so I thought it worked. Just felt I needed to acknowledge the dino in the room. 
Actual cost: £22
Emotional wealth: being able to see things properly - like when your house gets invaded by a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

nine. Buy a side table.
May sound weird, but this little table we bought from a second hand shop (with an amazing back story) is actually a super useful - it gives us extra storage and we've created a feature out of it in the dining room. We've tried it in a few places around the house, and it works in lots of spots - for the space it takes up, it adds a whole lot to the room.
Actual cost: £25
Emotional wealth: more storage = more things to love 

ten. Flowers FTW.
The easiest way to perk up a room (and myself!) for me has always been to splash out on some fresh flowers. 
Actual cost: well, about a fiver, although I just picked up a beaut bunch of twelve pink roses from M&S for two quid which him itself is giving me more joy than the flowers probably ever could. 
Emotional wealth: The addition of colour, a lovely smell, a bit of greenery and a whole lot of smiles to any room. 

So there you have it - none of them are exactly rocket surgery (or brain science!) but each has made a real impact on our home since we moved in, and ticks the holy trinity of home improvements for me; quick, simple, cheap. What could be better? I would LOVE to hear yours and add them to the list! 

Home Etc


  1. Wonderful - I think everything in life should be measured in 'emotional wealth' - would solve a huge load of problems! Great tips, Linda Barker eat your heart out (or maybe don't, love you Linda) xx

    1. I totally agree - sometimes it's the smallest thing that can I've the most emotional wealth too! xx

  2. Love this post! What a great idea. And I love the fairy lights one! Yes, yes, yes! I also love the shelves idea and might be stealing that!! Your home looks superb. Thanks for linking up, much appreciated.

    Jess xx #HomeEtc

    1. Thanks Jess - papering shelves honestly makes SO much difference! Very happy to be back on #HomeEtc after a little blogging break :) xx

  3. Ha! Great post. I love the fairy lights and flowers, I swear by both of them too. But I never thought about a shade darker on the walls making your complexion look better - Fab! Emotional wealth of this post: immeasurable because you made me laugh out loud! Loving your work x x x

    1. Hehe - thanks so much Lisa! Fairy lights and flowers are the BEST, aren't they? xx

  4. I'm with you on sourcing things from charity shops and carboot sales. Our bathroom mirror came from a carboot sale and I love it. Today I picked up a couple of cushions from a charity shop, just don't tell hubby he told me we had too many when I got a couple from a carboot sale over the summer. #HomeEtc

    1. I am so with you on that one - but there's always room for more cushions! What I love about charity shops and car boots is that you find things you didn't ben know you needed! Thanks for reading :) xx

  5. What a brilliant post! It's amazing how making little changes can make such a difference, and the 'emotional wealth' is sooo worth it! Sometimes doing everything at once can be daunting, but a little at a time is more manageable and affordable too. I love the vintage-y things you've collected, beautiful! #Homeetc Sabrina xx

    1. Thanks Sabrina - you're so right, it helps so much to break things down into little things rather than looking at everything as one big task. As soon as I tick something off the list, I seem to find something else to do, it's never ending! xx

  6. I'm with you on all of these. We have done the dark wall - love it! We have dodgy tiles to paint over (just need the time. I have the stuff bought). We have two doors currently awaitimg their gloss paint, having had two coats of primer. I bought and hung a new shower curtain a few months ago for the dodgy-tiled bathroom and I love having flowers around the place.
    A few of my own tips are - potted herbs in the kitchen, housing clutter in nice jars or tins (from flea market to pound shop you can find lovely ones), a lit (scented) candle in a large jar on the living room window sill/coffee table/dining table to give the place an instant cosy atmosphere, new towels and matching facecloths for the bathroom.
    Brilliant post!

    1. Oh my gosh, that's so weird you just said that about potted herbs in the kitchen, I was just at my brother's house this morning admiring all his herbs and saying I needed to do the same! Our kitchen could definitely do with some greenery, I'm gonna do that for sure. I love all your tips, particularly the matching towels because we've just sorted our bathroom tiles and shower curtain so some nice new towels would set it all off - totally stealing that one! Btw, I couldn't believe how quick and easy it was to paint the tiles, we also got one of those grout pens which made so much difference too. Hope you find some time to give your tiles some love soon! xx

  7. Great ideas. I really want to paint the tiles in our bathroom but I'm worried it will go wrong and leave drip marks or something, is it easy to do? #HomeEtc

    1. Honestly, it's SO easy, I was really surprised! It's pretty thick paint so it doesn't drip much, but I started out with a thin layer to begin with and built it up. It also covered really well - just two coats of white paint was enough to cover up the dark navy starfish/ seahorses etc! Good luck with yours - totally worth doing! xx

  8. Yes to all of these — especially dark walls — tick — and flowers. But my ultimate fave is fairy lights all year round. I LOVE these. Love seeing them in the garden as well as indoors too. Why are they so magical??! :) Thanks so much for linking up with us — hope to see you again next week! x #HomeEtc

    Caro |

    1. They ARE magical, aren't they? I don't think you could ever have too many. Loving reading #HomeEtc as ever, so many good reads :) xx

  9. Love these, and those flowers are just gorgeous. Becky x #HomeEtc

  10. Brilliant, such great tips! I love your gallery wall!! I have something similar in the kitchen but on a smaller scale, yours is amazing!! :) #pocolo

    1. Thanks - it's a bit of a growing collection that just seems to spread and spread, you can't ever have too many family photos around! xx

  11. The bookcase papering is genius! I would never have thought to do that, and you can change it whenever you like. My head is brimming with the possibilities :)
    Thanks for the great tips - I'm so not a proper DIYer; I've only just learned how to use spray paint!

  12. Love the fairy lights on the mirror - and giggling away at the emotional wealth! :) #homeetc

  13. What brilliant ways to perk up a room and I love the idea of emotional wealth. #pocolo

  14. These are all such simple but effective ideas. I really like the mirror and also the idea of papering the backs of shelves. Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo x