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8 really smart decorating tricks to bring new life to your home

You don’t need to go knocking down any walls just yet.

TASTES AND NEEDS can change over time, and nowhere is that fact more obvious than in the world of home decor.

Even in the most beloved of homes, small upgrades here and there can make a world of difference, be it changing up storage solutions to maximise space, or swapping out that tired sofa for a newer option.

The key to a hassle free home makeover? Planning ahead – at least according to interior designer Anthony Buggy of Dublin-based design firm Think Contemporary.

“Consider what it is you want from your home, and look at what you have to work with, before getting started,” Anthony advises. So before you start knocking down walls or re-plastering rooms, try these smaller changes first…

1. Can’t afford a whole new kitchen? Swap out the cabinet doors

jordan-whitt-107022 Unsplash / Jordan Whitt Unsplash / Jordan Whitt / Jordan Whitt

Rather than blowing your decorating budget on an entirely new kitchen fit-out, investigate which elements of your current kitchen you can keep, and which parts you can upgrade.

“If your cabinet doors are made of good quality wood, just re-paint or re-spray them,” says Anthony. Can’t stand the doors, regardless of colour? Ditch them but keep the rest of the fittings.

“We’ve had great success with homeowners keeping the ‘carcass’ of their kitchen and putting in new Formica doors,” says Anthony. “With Formica, there’s a massive range of colours to work with and the end result is really sleek.”

2. Ditch the cheap flat-pack furniture

kari-shea-254186 Unsplash / Kari Shea Unsplash / Kari Shea / Kari Shea

“Don’t rush in and buy cheap furniture just for the sake of filling a room,” warns Anthony.

Think about the function of the furniture that you’re buying, and let that be your driving force. If it’s a couch, do you want something that’s really stylish with clean lines, or are you after something that’s comfortable first of all?

Before investing in any large purchases, do your research, decide what you’re willing to spend and buy something you’re truly happy with.

3. Get smart with your storage

shutterstock_314291648 Shutterstock / Photographee.eu Shutterstock / Photographee.eu / Photographee.eu

Disorganised clutter can make even the brightest of homes feel stuffy. “I love seeing clever use of storage to optimise smaller spaces,” says Anthony.

“The spaces under the stairs, in corners, just inside the front door or even the recess inside an unused fireplace can all become really hard-working storage areas with the help of pull-out drawers and smart shelving,” he says.

Anthony’s main advice for those wishing to de-clutter? “Pare back as much as possible, whether that means throwing things out or finding new ways to store them.”

4. Consult an expert – even for a couple of hours

alejandro-escamilla-2 Unsplash / Alejandro Escamilla Unsplash / Alejandro Escamilla / Alejandro Escamilla

Yes, a consultation fee for a designer might be a couple of hundred euro, but if you’re stuck for home decor inspiration, it’ll be money well spent, says Anthony.

“An hour or two with a designer will help you to build a good decorating plan and refine your focus,” he explains. “It’s a great foundation to start things off, whether you’re starting with a blank slate or just looking to upgrade a few rooms.”

5. Painting walls? Don’t just pick your favourite colour

william-felker-38350 Unsplash Unsplash

North, south east or west: get to know the orientation of each room in your home before diving into re-painting. Anthony explains:

“A north-facing room generally gets less light so colder colours like a steel grey or stark white will feel very harsh, even in daylight. If you are set on grey tones, choose a warm grey with hints of brown.”

Conversely, west-facing rooms picks up lots of afternoon and evening sun, so your colour palette can be “a bit more open,” says Anthony.

6. Go with a neutral palette, even for flooring

kari-shea-180802 Unsplash / Kari Shea Unsplash / Kari Shea / Kari Shea

The change that a new carpet or freshly varnished wood floor can bring to the overall mood of a room shouldn’t be underestimated. If you’re considering changing or updating flooring, Anthony recommends keeping to neutral tones.

“Whether it’s laminate, carpet or wood, opt for a colour palette that’s going to work in every room, and add to it with rugs or brightly painted walls and finishings,” he suggests.

7. Update those tired curtains

shutterstock_507544372 Shutterstock / in4mal Shutterstock / in4mal / in4mal

Unless you’re a fan of daytime snoozing, you shouldn’t really need blinds or curtains that block out the sun entirely. “The right curtains or blinds will reflect light back into the room, and enhance the natural light that’s already coming in,” says Anthony.

Timber Venetian blinds are a common feature in many Irish homes but they can really zap out light, so where possible I’d suggest replacing them with white or paler fabric options.

8. Choose smaller, softer lights over one harsh bulb

shutterstock_600399314 Shutterstock / Photographee.eu Shutterstock / Photographee.eu / Photographee.eu

Even if your main light source is a central pendant, back it up with lamps around the room, allowing you to play around with different lighting levels depending on the mood you want to create.

Anthony also suggests opting for downlighters like recessed spotlight LED bulbs to create a softer focus in living areas. “These are very cost-effective to install and they can totally transform a room,” he explains.

Are you ready to change up your home finances too? Or looking for better value? KBC mortgage customers can get one of the lowest rates on the market with a KBC Current Account*. All switcher customers will receive €3,000** towards their legal and valuation fees if they draw down their mortgage with KBC between now and 30th September 2017. Find out how much you could borrow – and how much you could save – by switching to KBC, using their handy online calculator here.

Terms & Conditions

*To avail of the optional extra Mortgage Discounted Rate (KBC’s prevailing new business fixed or variable rate with a discount of 0.20%), you must mandate your salary to your KBC Current Account (In an instance where a customer is self-employed, you must establish a monthly transfer to the Current Account to lodge an amount that is at least equal to the monthly mortgage repayment). You must also pay your new KBC Mortgage by Direct Debit from your KBC Current Account. If you cease mandating your salary to your KBC Current Account and/or paying your KBC mortgage by Direct Debit from your KBC Current Account, the interest rate on your KBC Mortgage will increase by 0.20% i.e. the discount will no longer apply. In the instance where you are availing of the Tracker Mover option, the current account discount will only apply to the new business rate portion of your mortgage

** If the Loan is drawn down between 2nd May 2017 and 30th September 2017 KBC Bank Ireland plc will give the customer €3,000. Customers drawing down in stage payments will only qualify for the contribution if the initial stage draws down between 2nd May 2017 and 30th September 2017. The payment of the contribution will be made by electronic transfer within 30 days of the drawdown of the Loan to the account from which the monthly mortgage repayment is or will be paid. This Switcher offer excludes Buy to Let properties. The Lender reserves the right to amend, modify, cancel, withdraw or change the terms on which this contribution is available at any time at its sole discretion.


Lending criteria, underwriting, terms and conditions apply. The property is mortgaged to secure the loan. Life and home insurance are required. Generally loan amounts are subject to monthly repayments of a maximum of 50% of disposable income and will vary according to individual circumstances. The cost of your monthly repayments may increase – if you do not keep up your repayments you may lose your home. Maximum loan amount will typically not exceed 3.5 times an individual’s gross annual Income. Maximum mortgage is 90% of the property value. KBC Bank Ireland plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

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