Whether you rent or own, it’s hard to avoid a home comedown in January. The twinkly brightness of Christmas is gone and rooms that looked cosy and inviting when done up with fairy lights and candles in December can feel a tad bleak. Plus, because it’s a time when we are thinking about overhauls and changes to start off the year – anyone else a bit obsessed with Marie Kondo’s Netflix series? – your spaces’ flaws can feel amplified. For me, that was walking through the door after a week away into a coat mountain and a hallway that felt distinctly cave-like, particularly when compared to the light, airy house I’d been in for Christmas (to be fair to my flat, it didn’t help that the bulbs in both spotlights had gone, but still). I’d love to completely redecorate, but for reasons of money and time that’s not an option at the moment, and I know a lot of you will be in the same boat. To help bridge the gap, I sent out a homes SOS to the experts, and interior stylist Dee Campling and Katie Woods of the Come Down To The Woods blog have shared their quick-fix ideas to make your home feel refreshed. So, basically the interiors equivalent of a quickie spa day, this should tide you over until you can afford to do the whole shebang.
“Look around your home for furniture that is not really working for you in its current location and try moving it around,” says Campling. “Pieces can often fulfil more than the function they are intended for – try relocating a desk or even a dining chair to be a bedside table, or think about using a sideboard as a dressing table.” The best thing about a rejig? It’s completely free.
USE THE POWER OF PLANTS
Houseplants not only look great, studies have shown that they can help purify air, boost oxygen levels and reduce stress in an environment. “I use a mix of real plants along with good quality fauxs in darker areas,” says Woods, who “layers” greenery by putting plants at different levels; a mix of trailing and hanging options, with larger varieties like Instagram favourite Monstera deliciosa (aka a cheese plant) in floor stands. If you’re not sure which varieties will work best in your spaces, sellers are geared-up to help. Woods uses Liverpool-based Root Houseplants, Crocus has a good range and useful tips, and Patch is a Team Pool favourite. For fail-safe advice on looking after houseplants, try our handy plant-care guide.
HAVE AN ACCESSORIES SHAKE-UP
“Changing-up your cushions and rugs is cheaper than buying new furniture,” Campling says. “If your walls and sofa are neutral shades, like greys or taupes, then you can introduce a whole new colour scheme just by swapping in accessories.” Do you want a colour injection? Campling’s tip: “Check out velvet cushions in bright hues and pick your two favourites. Then look for a rug where those same colours appear.” Campling’s go-tos for stylish but (relatively) purse-friendly options include French Connection, Made.com and La Redoute.
DRESS YOUR WALLS
I’m not saying you need to fork out for an original work, but art – be it a small print or poster, or a stand-out oil painting – can transform a wall. I’m still jealous of my pal who managed to pick up a Banksy limited-edition print before most people had heard of him (his latest tip is street-artist Nathan Bowen, fyi). Names that keep coming up in The Pool office include Julianna Byrne and Frances Costelloe, both for their ethereal, feminine forms. A few of my favourite stockists include East End Prints (check out Sophie Ward's bold, playful pieces) and online art pioneers Art Republic. Made.com works with artists and illustrators to create affordable prints – look out for its exclusive collaborations, such as its new collection with British artist Rhonda Drakeford. Or try Etsy, where many artists will do bespoke commissions. Framing can be expensive, so if you see something ready to hang, snap it up as is, so that you can get it straight up.
CHOOSE A SHOW-STOPPER THAT MAKES YOU SMILE
“Invest in one piece in each room that makes your heart sing,” says Woods. “It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but it should feel like a treat to buy it.” For me, that was a bright, abstract oil painting that I found during a happy, sunny weekend in Madrid with good friends. It has become the centre-piece in my living area and feels like it brings a bit of joy to the room. For Woods, the show-stopping piece in her bedroom was more practical: “We invested in an amazing bed,” she says. “The rest of the room was finished with pieces that we already had, or from canny Ebay purchases.” You might have to wait a few weeks for furniture to be delivered, but something like an ornate mirror or a painting will give you instant gratification.
MAKE A STATEMENT WITH WALL STICKERS
If you don’t have the time or inclination to repaint or re-paper a room (trust me, wallpapering is not a one-woman job and it it can be messy), or you’re renting and it’s not an option, Woods’ solution is temporary wallpaper, which will easily peel off without damaging walls and often requires no preparation beforehand. Or Woods suggests giving removable decal stickers a try: "They will transform a room in as little as a few hours.” She recommends Nutmeg Wall Stickers and Wallpops! for affordable and stylish designs.
CREATE A COOL SHELFIE
If you have a collection you’re proud of, then there’s no point putting it where no one can see it. Campling suggests curating your lovingly sought pieces on a shelf. “Anyone with a large book haul, could arrange titles by their spine-colour to create a rainbow effect.” Love vintage crockery? “Get it all out and show it off,” Campling says. “It will look beautiful, won’t cost you anything and it will become an interesting talking point when you have guests round.”
A colour-coordinated bookshelf (via Bloglovin')