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like a pro

'Always leave the big light off': 6 designer-approved tricks to help you transform any room

Think like a pro with these revamping rules from design expert Louise Dockery.

AFTER SPENDING THE past few months staring at the same four walls, many of us are in desperate need of a shake-up. And while an entire renovation may not be on the cards, there are still plenty of ways to revamp your space. 

Rather than just diving in with a pot of paint or a full bedroom clear-out, think like an interior designer here and plan, plan, plan. From deciding on the overall function and ‘mood’ of the room to finding a new function for items from other rooms, here are six approaches the pros take when taking on a new design project…

1. Repurposing old accessories and furniture

Chances are, you don’t need to actually buy anything to revamp your space. Get creative and look at your existing pieces in a new way. Doing this prevents waste, keeps costs down and means you can make more use out of pieces you already love. Professional organiser and Youtuber Nikki Boyd regularly shares tips on how to repurpose items you already have around your home. Think using a plant pot for kitchen utensils, setting up a salad bowl as a hallway catchall, or upcycling an old dress to make new cushion covers.

2. Never turning on the big light

shutterstock_1578711931 Shutterstock / Pixel-Shot Shutterstock / Pixel-Shot / Pixel-Shot

We’d all love a home that’s flooded with natural light, but designers learn to think creatively to transform dull, dark rooms. Keep the big light off and opt for uplighters, table lamps and candles to bring your space to life. Start by considering the different ways you use each part of your home throughout the day and evening. Do you read on the couch most evenings? You’ll need a good source of light there, then. Being smart with your lighting doesn’t mean spending a fortune, but possibly repositioning table lamps you already have in the home.

3. Playing around with textures

The most effective way to make a space look interesting is to mix and match various heights, colours and shapes. It’s a fine line between things looking too samey-same and things looking messy – but a lot of that comes down to personal preference. The only way to arrive at your desired look is to play around with a variety of pieces. As a jumping off point, start with large-scale pieces and build from there. Add contrasting textures and styles to create a balanced look.

4. Being brave with colour

croissant-matzZGQk4o4-unsplash Unsplash / Croissant Matz Unsplash / Croissant Matz / Croissant Matz

Roisin Lafferty of Kingston Lafferty Design is one person who knows how to use colour creatively – check out some of her projects here. Best of all, many of her projects feature only one or two pieces that pop in fun neons or deep jewel tones, which means that this statement look can be achieved with just an inexpensive tester pot of paint and 30 minutes of work – or a few key accessories.

5. Keeping a library of inspirational images

This may sound like an obvious one, but a mood board is a trick I turn to time and time again. You don’t need to use magazine cut-outs here – just start by scrolling Instagram or flicking through Pinterest and saving images you like the look of. creating a cohesive look for your space is easier to do when you see everything together. If you’re buying new pieces (and you may not even have to), mood boarding beforehand with pictures of the exact product or one similar will help you see how it works with your chosen colour scheme and overall style. Interior designer Emily Henderson has even shared exactly how her team create their mood boards when working on residential projects.

6. And thinking creatively with charity shop finds

nathalia-belfort-p2jFIbVDa7E-unsplash Unsplash / Nathalia Belfort Unsplash / Nathalia Belfort / Nathalia Belfort

You don’t need a huge design budget to create an enviable space. Now that shops are reopening again, think like a designer and spend a Saturday browsing charity stores. Unusual crockery, old vases, large furniture and so much more can all be found on the cheap. Here’s where your mood board can come in handy too: rather than going shopping with no idea of what you’d like to pick up, have a few themes or items in mind beforehand and work from there.

More: 7 homeowners share their all-time best IKEA buys – from a cutlery set to a kitchen island>

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