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6 ideas for an instant room makeover

Read time:

19th December 2023

With a bit of creative thinking, spending less than £100 can breathe new life into your living space

If your home needs an instant makeover but funds are limited, focus on making one impactful change. Adding a splash of print and colour is a brilliant way to do this, whether it’s a bold accessory, striking walls, or a beautiful textile piece. Thoughtful lighting changes the mood, while investing in storage can help to declutter and transform the way you use a room. Create a talking point with a striking reclaimed or handmade feature, or enjoy beautifully curating a collection of pieces you already own, displaying them in a fresh new way.

You don’t need a big budget to make an impact, only big ideas.

1 Fabric and textiles

For a fast and effective update, textiles are your go-to. Reupholstering is pricey, but a pop of colour from new throws or cushions brings an old sofa or chair to life, while a bold-print rug creates a fresh new focal point, especially in an otherwise neutral space.

In a bedroom, the bed is the centrepiece so simply adding new linen will immediately make it feel fresh. Or consider a new throw or decorative blanket in a bolder shade or with a striking print. Reupholstering the headboard with a beautiful new fabric can also be a thrifty way to achieve a quick transformation.


  • Olive Road is a great place to source 20th-century fabrics. For beautiful textiles made from vintage and reclaimed fabrics, try Cloth House
  • For handcrafted linen pieces made using sustainably sourced fabrics, go to Cornish textile designer and printmaker Helen Round
  • Now, Sit Down uses recycled fabrics and feathers to make striking handmade cushions in a range of contemporary designs

2 Paint, wallpaper and tiles

Adding colour or print is the best way to make an immediate splash with limited cash. Just one or two tins of paint can create wow-factor walls, or transform a smaller compact space like the downstairs loo. Think about painting individual features too, like kitchen cupboard doors, radiators, internal doors, balustrades. Paint can also be used with stencils to create tile effects on walls and floors.

Can’t afford new furniture? ‘Shop’ your home for an unloved piece, such as an old chest of drawers or sideboard to revamp with a lick of paint.

Wallpaper and murals can be costly, but consider one-roll projects using a special print. Paper the inside of a glass-fronted drinks cabinet, wallpaper behind shelving or in an alcove, or even add a flamboyant touch to stair risers. Likewise with tiles, it takes just a small handful to make a striking new splashback for a sink.


  • Bert & May has a great selection of reclaimed and antique-style handmade tiles
  • Vintage Wallpapers has original prints from deadstock at a reasonable price per roll
  • Try the range from Fusion Mineral Paint for fuss-free application, with no need for a primer or topcoat Curran Curran

3 Recycled and reclaimed wood

If you’re handy with a drill and want to focus on adding one impactful piece, consider a project with reclaimed wood. A stack of reclaimed wood or recycled pallets can be used to construct anything from a coffee table in your living room to a wine rack for the kitchen. Scaffold boards, meanwhile, are great for creating rustic wood cladding or elegant board-and-batten panelling. This works well in small areas – such as behind a bed or in a bathroom – and looks just like an original period feature once painted.

Reclaimed wooden pieces can also be repurposed in original ways, and can often be sourced more affordably from reclamation yards. Use a barrel as a side table, an old ladder as a towel rack, or small vintage stools as bedside tables or plant stands.


  • Community Wood Recycling has a number of outlets across the country that stock recycled wood, perfect for projects
  • AnnastuffiCrafts on Etsy offers reclaimed wood cladding for feature walls and other projects
  • For something a bit more unusual, from fruit-crate shelving to carved wooden statues, try Wells Reclamation

4 Curating collectables

If you choose the right piece for the right place, even one new accessory can breathe new life into a space. Something as simple as a striking table centrepiece, like a vase or bowl, will always draw the eye. Or try experimenting with some new groupings, pairing pieces in novel ways and in different locations.

Wall art always looks more effective when imaginatively displayed, so try hanging existing pieces in a new way. You could bring together artwork from around the home to create a curated gallery wall, or display your collection of vintage hats out of their boxes and on the wall to enjoy every day.


  • Mantel has a curated collection of one-off vintage pieces chosen for their design
  • Visit Baileys for beautiful ethical and handmade homeware

5 Storage and decluttering

With a small budget for an update, some savvy storage might be the best way to spend it, especially if you think creatively. Interesting vintage or handmade storage – such as rustic apple crates, a steamer trunk, woven baskets, open metal shelves or wooden towel rails – can bring order to utility rooms, bathrooms and playrooms. While simple additions such as rows of pegs or hooks can transform a cluttered bedroom or hallway.

If you’ve found yourself working from home more often, perhaps it’s time to create a dedicated desk area. Even budget-friendly materials such as pallets and crates could be used to make a desk with storage if you need an affordable solution.


  • Try The Hoarde for a variety of ideas, including crates, wire baskets, suitcases and other quirky pieces
  • Design Vintage has a great selection of handmade baskets

6 Shades, lamps and lighting

Lighting is one of the most important features in any room and switching a so-so shade for a striking pendant can make an immediate impact. If you can’t find a statement piece, smaller, more subtle lighting changes could include a pair of vintage bedside lamps, a reading lamp for the living room or an Anglepoise for a home office. You could even switch a utilitarian bathroom light fitting for something more interesting.

One of the cheapest ways to update your lighting is to switch bulbs. A brighter bulb can suddenly illuminate dull corners in functional rooms such as the kitchen, while a warmer glow makes living and dining spaces more relaxing.



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