Five Clever Decorating Hacks You Need To Know

Now regular readers will know that I’m not really one for DIY. I’m more of a ASETDI (ask someone else to do it) but that’s not to say that I don’t come across clever ideas for maximising small spaces or improving the look of the ones you have with a neat idea, so today I thought I would share five of these with you. The next five will come just as soon as I have thought of them! That’s not quite true but I wanted to split them into two (or possibly even more posts as I hope you may all get involved).

So the first one came about yesterday when my builder came round to paint the bedroom – yes the pale grey is going. We will have only one grey room left and that’s Down Pipe in the bathroom which I still adore and won’t be going anywhere…. famous last words.

put underfloor heating on wall
install underfloor heating on the wall to replace the heated towel rail and use hooks instead

We were talking to him about redoing the shower room – which we always talk about as it needs redoing – and he was extolling the virtues of microcement which, like last week’s waterproof wallpaper, can go over the top of existing tiles. Now that room is very, very small so in addition to installing a wall-mounted loo (which we should have done in the first place) he mentioned that another space-saving trick is to stick a panel of underfloor heating on the wall, plaster (or microcement) over it and then simply add hooks for your towels.

That way you have a clean look, no heated towel rail to clean and warm, dry towels. You can, of course do this behind tiles or even plaster over the top if your wall is painted and it would still take up less room.

This, I thought, was such a clever idea as I have never loved the look of those heated towel rails and if you’re hanging your towels you don’t get that much heat from them anyway.

And so I got to thinking – what other clever ideas have I come across that might be worth sharing?

wall to wall mirror in bathroom by murdock solon architects

Here’s another. This came courtesy of Sophie Robinson (and talking of which have you listened to episode three of our podcast which is where she first mentioned it?). Staying in the bathroom, she knew someone who installed a wall of mirrored cabinets which made the space look much bigger as there was so much reflection and also gave them masses of hidden storage – something that is always at a premium in bathrooms. We have one cabinet in the downstairs loo that is 10cm so you would bring the room in by that much. This isn’t quite the right picture but I couldn’t find one that completely illustrated the point. And I think this totally works in a bathroom in a way that a wall of mirrored wardrobes in the bedroom doesn’t as it can all be a bit much.

Next up make use of Washi tape as a decorative tool. This works if you don’t want to commit to paint but is also a good idea for rentals as you can add decoration to a space that won’t damage the paintwork. It has the advantage of being temporary so that also means you can change the colour as often as you like. Below is the bedroom of Andrew Jonathan Design and you can see that it just adds a splash of colour which he can change as he changes his cushions.

washi tape decor image by andrew jonathan design
washi tape decor image by andrew jonathan design 

In addition to that I was also sent, earlier this summer, a box of Haru tape which is wide removable tape in a range of colours. You can choose from eight colour families, two patterns, three materials and four different widths. It’s a very clever idea and one that is perfect for playrooms and teen rooms as well.

haru tape design by 2lg studio image by megan taylor
haru tape design by 2lg studio image by megan taylor 

Now, a question that I am asked all the time is not only how to hide the television but how to hide all the attendant wires that seem to result from the speakers, the boxes and, in our case, the modem which also lives there. It’s fine if you have a cabinet on which the tv stands but we don’t. Our television is in a narrow alcove and, for a while it was wall mounted to keep the space looking less cluttered but all the wires hung down the wall. Now this solution won’t be right for everyone but this is what we have done – aside from painting the walls dark.

There are two shelves in the alcove – one for the tv and sound box and one for all the other stuff. The electrician moved all the plugs to a row above the bottom shelf and cut a piece of ply to sit in front that you can pull out if you need access. This looks like it’s part of the wall but keeps everything tidy.

You can see below how it looks behind the panel – that is because we recently got a new sky box which is smaller than the old one so we need to cut a new piece of plywood. In the second picture I stuck a book there to cover the hole so you get a better idea of how it looks. And yes I wish the modem was black not white… but that’s another story.

Lastly, I mentioned this in passing a few weeks ago but I think it’s a good idea that bears repeating. Coloured curtain linings. Abigail Ahern has done this in her collaboration with Hillarys and it does make the curtains work outside as well as in. I know you aren’t decorating for the neighbours (unless your name is Jones) or for the street but it does look prettier and more considered so for that reason I include it here.

So there you have it – five decorating hacks that might be helpful to you. Let me know what you think, send over your own and I will do part two soon.

AbigailAhernxHillarys coloured curtain lining in dockyard, chimney, tanner and tobacco
AbigailAhernxHillarys coloured curtain lining in dockyard, chimney, tanner and tobacco




Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Just a note on microcement. I have a tiny bathroom with three microcement walls (the fourth one is with tiles). I used a shiny varnish on top of the microcement walls that gave them a nice shine making the bathroom appear just a bit more spacious – think something of a similar effect to that of reflections in a small space. Also, a note to bear in mind, microcement with its “cloud-like appearance” looks amazing in dark hues that’s why grey is one of its most popular hues.

  2. Haha, I think the wall of mirrored cabinets is cool. But maybe that will make it too easy to see way too much of myself!

  3. PS on that first image are there more from the same bathroom? Intrigued by the layout but can’t see a link which is so unusual for you.

    1. I don’t have any more as I nicked if from my builder’s phone! That’s all I’ve got. I will try and get him to take some more or see if I can go round – apparently it’s quite near my house.

  4. GENIUS idea on the heated wall – squirreling that one away… On bathroom mirror cabinets, definitely and include the unsightly charging sockets inside. We have a Keuco one from years ago, sadly not a whole wall as the bathroom is tiny, but my next bathroom project will definitely have a good section of mirrored cabinets. From about neck height upwards though – loving your comment Jo!! Also who wants to clean mirrors constantly splashed by water?!

  5. Love the heated wall idea! Wish I had thought of that when we re-did our en-suite last year. Also, the tape trick.

  6. We have (almost) wall to wall mirrored cabinets which have lights integrated into them too – plus sockets inside for charging toothbrushes – and I love them! There’s so much space inside and I love having all my potions available at face height rather than having to rummage around in drawers. Each cabinet is 800mm wide, same as the kitchen cabinets that I used for vanity bases. In a small Edwardian bathroom we removed the bath, fitted an extra large shower and installed double sinks – not much floor space left, but it’s an efficient use of space. Kept toilet in separate WC room. Can’t attach photos so here’s link: Sorry, the photos aren’t great, I really need to take some proper ones in good lighting!

  7. Agree wtih Jo! But also, you cannot apply makeup accurately without good side lights. Overhead lighting or brutal sunlight reflections make it very hard. Lots of mirrors reflect…. so beautiful and light filled and maybe not always practical.

  8. Ooh, I’ve done one of those! I bought plain ikea linen for my roman blinds, but lined it with a floral ikea fabric which also edges the front, it was so cheap, same price as a normal lining fabric! Loving the tape idea, may have to do that next!

  9. When I wanted curtains for my new flat I couldn’t find any that I could afford that I liked, so I decided to just get blackout lining and use that until I found something really nice to go over it. Now I am totally happy with just the lining – it’s a soft grey green and hangs on a wallpapered wall and is pleasantly muted.

  10. Great post. Thank you. I love the idea of the ambient heat on the bathroom walls. Will be redoing the bathroom next year and will be doing this. Not a fan of the tall towel warmer/radiators.

  11. Just a word of warning about mirrors in bathrooms which start at basin height – you have to be very comfortable with your body if you don’t want to start every day wondering where it all went wrong. My sister has this arrangement in her bathroom and I suggested she stick frosted window stuff on it up to neck height – or maybe cover the whole thing and just cut out two eye holes.

    1. I generally lurk in the dark and never comment (although I LOVE LOVE LOOOOOVE your blog, your pics and above all your writing)…but this comment is not for you, Mad Woman….it is for JO…


      you made me laugh so hard that I snorted my coffee on the desk and my husband came out of his cave to check on me and make sure I was OK.

      So true about the mirror situation! I have large mirrors in the bathroom and I have to make it a point not to look at myself below eye level! LOL! 🙂

      Thank you, Jo, you made my month!

Comments are closed.