Where to start with home improvements? The very phrase conjures images of walls being knocked through, swirling clouds of dust and badly planned DIY projects where enthusiasm wanes long before completion. The answer? Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start simple, cosmetic changes and fun upcycling projects that provide instantaneous results, while giving your home a boost.
With the power to influence our mood, mental health, behaviour and motivation, as well as the ability to reduce or increase stress levels, our living environment has never been more important. As we spend more time at our homes over the coming months, now is the perfect opportunity to get stuck into a few simple, yet rewarding projects, to help keep your living environment feeling fresh and up-to-date.
We spoke to our team of interior experts at Knight Frank’s dedicated Interior Services department for their advice on how you can spruce up your home without leaving the house!
1. Bring touches of hygge to your home
Take on the Danish lifestyle approach of ‘hygge’ – a word for which there is no direct English equivalent or definition. Broadly, hygge means to encompass a feeling of cosy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life, with the home environment playing an important role. You can introduce a few principles to your own home fairly easily by applying the basics. Firstly, one of the key components – lighting. Avoid bright lights and instead replace them with light that emits a soft, warm glow, and, of course, candles. Try also adding fresh flowers to vases around your home (pick them from your own garden if you have one!) and add some chunky knitted soft furnishings (a possible craft project), to name just a few ideas. The interiors team recommend The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking for a guide to everything covered by this popular lifestyle concept.
Above: candles and flowers are a great way to create a hygge atmosphere
2. Add texture
This again taps into the hygge approach, but try adding a throw or interesting cushion to your favourite chair. If the idea of getting cosy on the sofa isn’t so appealing as we enter the warmer months, then why not apply this to any outdoor space you may have – a wicker basket with throws, perfect for keeping warm and enjoying the evening with a drink as the sun goes down.
Above: throws and cushions are an easy way to add texture to your home
3. Rearrange the furniture
A simple solution for livening up your home that is easily overlooked. As we’re all spending more time at home – make space for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment either – try a layout that you think won’t work – you might be surprised. We become so accustomed to our home surroundings that it can be hard to visualise them differently. Think outside the box, if you find an arrangement that works, you’ll end up feeling as though you’ve moved into a new house, and if the novelty wears off, you can change it up again in a few weeks. Consider the spaces you’d like to create, for example, hygge encourages a cosy reading nook, or how about creating a bar area in your kitchen and bring the party to your home for feel-good Fridays? Bonus tip – moving furniture around will definitely give you a good workout.
4. Get creative with your painting
Liven up a dull room with a splash of colour. Instead of a feature wall, try painting your ceiling instead. Deciding to paint one wall is a lot less work than painting a whole room but can completely transform its look. Popular colours for 2020 include deep, earthy tones, take for example Pantone’s Colour of the Year, Classic Blue. Deep, olivey greens, burnt oranges and browns are also in, as well as lighter, brighter shades such as blush (the new reincarnation of the millennial pink phenomenon), and classic tonal whites. The Knight Frank interior designers say “we are currently loving Sanderson’s spring anniversary collection with lots of dreamy pastels.”
Additionally, with time to practice and perfect, why not try hand painting something to brighten a dull wall? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a canvas, you can be experimental with your medium, why not try an old dining plate? If you’re feeling really adventurous (and perhaps a little more confident in your artistic ability) you could even try painting a mural – the ultimate feature wall.
Above: why not try creating your own work of art?
5. Give your house plants a Scandi-inspired look
House plants have been having a moment for a while now, their re-energising effect and health benefits have been realised not just in the home, but also in office design. Why not update your house plants with a Scandi-inspired look by planting them in a rattan basket. Scandi design is similar to hygge, but focuses on simplicity, sustainability and functionality – without compromising beauty. Chloe Wills, a designer at Knight Frank Interiors, loves eucalyptus which can be dried as a long-lasting bit of greenery to enhance that Scandi feel. She explains, “mixing and matching natural-looking textures is very on-trend this spring, with a focus on sustainability and using humble materials such as linens, sisal and rattan.”
Above: rattan plant baskets bring a touch of Scandi-cool
6. Upcycle furniture
Upcycling has seen a real boom in popularity as we all strive to live more sustainably. Upcycling your own furniture is a great way to sustainably update your home and give you a fun project to get stuck into. Use whatever you have lying around – find an old sample pot of paint to update a table top or chair leg or trying sanding down painted wood for a more natural, Scandi look. A quick and easy way of completely changing the look of your chest of drawers or cabinets is by changing the handles. There are plenty of unusual options online – the interiors team recommend Anthropologie’s range. Or, depending on what materials you have lying around, why not have a go at styling your own?
There are great tips on YouTube for those wanting more of a challenge – the team fancy trying to reupholster an old chair.
7. Get #shelfie ready
The #shelfie social media trend started a few years ago, originally just for covetable bookshelves, but has developed into a way for interior enthusiasts to share photos of artfully arranged shelves, featuring items varying from photos and antiques to flowers and bottles. Take time to rearrange your shelves. Again, it’s a very simple idea, but often something that can be low on the list of priorities. Shelves aren’t just functional, in fact, beautifully designed shelves can be a great focal point for any room. Interior designer at Knight Frank Interiors, Sasha Dudley Ryder, reveals her top styling tip: “Always style in odd numbers. A set of three is far more memorable and intriguing than a set of two. Try stacking some of your favourite books to create height, and then top with a plant”.
For inspiration, be sure to check out #shelfie on social media platforms.
Above: shelves aren’t just about storage, they should look great too
8. Last but not least – time for a spring clean!
À la organisation extraordinaire Marie Kundo, spring clean, declutter and get rid anything which no longer “sparks joy”. This will increase your storage space, give you extra room and clarity as to what you could do with your home. Who knows what you’ll rediscover!