I started updating this series a couple of weeks ago as I think the ideas are still valid (with new products) and it’s about giving you a few ideas, or five ways, to revamp a room that won’t break the bank. We started with the hall with a five simple and affordable ways to give that room a new lease of life without spending a fortune. This week we’re moving into the sitting room with five easy tricks to ring the changes. This is a good one to do seasonally as well as when you’re bored and can’t afford a huge renovation.
Now, as with the kitchen ideas, this is governed by your budget so you can buy silk cushions or cotton, vintage rugs or high street kilims. It’s entirely up to you. So the first thing I am going to suggest is look at your LIGHTING. You can do this in a number of ways. Firstly, have you got the right lighting and I wrote about that here. Assuming you have been paying attention, and you have a mix of floor lights and table lamps and – for a statement – the one I am missing in the picture of my sitting room above – the pendant lamp – you can still mix things up a little.
When it comes to table and task lights there are three things you can look at to update them. The easy one is to change the shade. It can be as simple as dark for winter and light for summer. Or perhaps, and more practically, the other way round seeing as we need more light in the dark months. Think about a striking patterned shade rather than just the plain one the light came with. And remember that a dark shade will mean the light only comes from the top and the bottom whereas a pale one will diffuse it gently – much like the frosted glass shade below which is a more modern way to create ambient lighting.
Or you can change the flex on the light. These days manufacturers are a little more clued up and the flex is as much a part of the design as the rest of it, but if you bought your lamps a while ago they probably have those ugly white plastic cables. You can buy coloured flex for around £5 a metre from places like Dowsing and Reynolds who have dozens of colours to choose from. This may involve the help of an electrician so buy all your cable in advance and do as many lamps as you can to make it worth paying for.
Finally, if you have wooden lamp bases then paint them (read about painting furniture here) or if they are metal and the wrong colour spray them. Right that’s enough about lights.
Moving on to the second trick which is to CHANGE THE CUSHIONS. Yes, this is one of the more obvious suggestions, but how many of you actually do it? It’s ages since I bought new ones although I do move them round from room to room and chair to chair all the time and it’s surprising what a difference it makes.
The other thing about cushions is that you can layer up different patterns and colours and because they’re easy to move around you can practice until you find a combination that you like. A final word – try and mix up different shapes and sizes as well as patterns which makes it more interesting.
The next trick is PAINT SOMETHING. It’s such an easy way to change a room and it costs as little or as much as you want to spend on the paint. But you don’t have to paint the whole room. It’s been said before that feature walls are over and I tend to agree that it’s a look that is (currently – for that will change) a little dated. Instead, why not do something a little different? Paint half a wall. This is a modern look and – let’s be honest – saves you schlepping up and down a ladder. Or, in a room that needs to multi-task, why not use paint to create a zone? Or paint the ceiling – it’s the fifth wall after all.
For the fourth way to rapidly revamp it’s time to SORT THE FLOOR OUT. The easy one to start with is, like the cushions, change the rugs with the seasons. So roll up the dark cosy, vintage rugs and replace them with lighter, fresher and more contemporary designs. If you’ve bought a sofa with legs – so that you see more floor and the room looks bigger – you can stick it under there. Or under the bed. Or in the loft, but make sure you vaccuum thoroughly first to minimise the chances of a moth invasion. If you’re not sure what size you should buy then you can read the rules of rug layout here.
As you can see above we have layered lots of vintage Persian rugs in the sitting room – top picture – and it’s always at around this time of year that I wish we had one large and light rug to put down instead. Perhaps this is the year I will practise what I preach – that first one from Westelm would work quite well as a sort of faded lighter version of the winter ones.
But it doesn’t have to be just rugs. Do you have carpet that you hate? Can you replace it with a new one? Or is it time to take the plunge and replace laminate with floorboards? Do you have reclaimed floorboards that have gone orange with time? You can resand and restain or paint them – white or black for example. Then the rugs will really stand out. Getting the floor right is the one job that will cause the most upheaval – and cost the most money – but it’s literally the basis for the whole room. Get that right and the rest will follow. It doesn’t matter how much expensive furniture you buy and how often you paint the walls, if the floor is rubbish the room will never be right.
Finally TREAT YOURSELF. Put simply, set yourself a budget £50 or £250, it’s up to you and go and buy some new accessories. Think of it as the interiors equivalent of a new pair of earrings, a bag and a bracelet to liven up an old outfit. Now there are two ways to do this: one decide on a table, mantelpiece or surface you think needs a bit of love and life.
Make a list of what you want to buy – a pair of candlesticks, a new vase, some new photo frames, that sort of thing and hunt them down. Or you can go to one shop that sells all that sort of thing – anything from Ikea to Westelm and see how many things you can get for your chosen budget. Don’t forget to add in a couple of plant pots as plants are so of the moment. Or perhaps you just want to blow your budget on one large and luscious plant. Whatever it is, it should feel like a treat and it should feel that it really brings the final wow factor to your room.
I hope that has given you some useful ideas.