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Better than a spring clean: 6 easy design projects that'll transform your home

Caroline Foran shares some low-effort, high-impact ways to transform your space in the coming weeks.

Image: Shutterstock/Photographee.eu

DURING THE WINTER, we spend so much time with curtains drawn, the heating on and lamps glowing, that we almost forget what our spaces look like in daylight.

Doing a gentle spruce or refresh of your space in time for spring is a win-win: it injects some new energy into your home after a long winter, and it’ll make your rooms feel more inviting and pleasant when those brighter days and evenings roll around.

It helps to think outside the box here. Whether it’s a living room with a tired colour scheme or a hallway that’s a little disorganised and lacklustre, you don’t need to go making massive purchases to transform your space.

When we imagine a refresh we tend to gravitate towards adding more stuff, when often a simple swap or some subtle repositioning can work wonders.

Try these small-scale design and layout fixes to change up the look and feel of your home over the coming weeks…

1. Repaint small areas like skirtings or window sills

You don’t have to repaint the whole room to create a different look. Something that’s growing in popularity is the idea of painting your skirting and architraves (the wood that surrounds your internal doors) a different colour to the rest of the room.

Be bold with a vibrant yellow set against a stark white wall in the kids’ room, for example, or take things down a notch with anthracite grey contrasts in the dining room. For such a small task, the impact is huge. Window sills and internal wooden steps or stairs can all take a dash of colour too. For such a small task, the return on investment is huge.

2. Play musical chairs with the houseplants

As spring approaches, the light is changing throughout your house. That kitchen window sill that rarely catches the winter light could be about to become a morning suntrap for the spring and summer.

With that, consider the positioning of your houseplants. Are they in the best position to thrive? Could they move into a more light-filled room? Moving plants around can quickly change up the look and feel of a space. For a further refresh, invest in some fabric, wood, wicker or paper planters/baskets that your plant pots can sit into without the need to re-pot anything. H&M Home and Oliver Bonas have great affordable options.

3. Keep the cabinets, but change the handles

New handles or knobs can act as a one-off design fix, or they can be the jumping off point for a bigger décor overhaul later on. For larger units like kitchen cabinets or built in bedroom wardrobes, you’ll find plenty of options online, from sleek brass to stained wood. Just make sure you have the right drill bit for getting through the wooden panels. 

For smaller items like chests of drawers or storage units, add some of your own personality to a standard design by swapping out the knobs for vintage alternatives.

4. Do a gallery wall overhaul

Sites like Desenio and Fy! contain thousands of wall prints of varying styles and design – and they’re usually cheap as chips, making it easy to swap them out every so often. If you already have a gallery wall or a number of pieces hanging up, keep the frames as they are and create a new design theme with fresh art.

Changing a series of boldly patterned botanical prints for minimalist monochrome style pieces is a low-effort way of refreshing the look and feel of a room. It shouldn’t cost you more than about €150 to swap out a full gallery wall worth of prints.

5. Swap out tired rugs and mats

With high street brands copping on to the fact that we like to swap our interiors in the same way we swap the contents of our wardrobe, items like rugs are becoming a lot more affordable than they once were. A new floor covering can take your hall, bedroom or living room from drab and dull to relaxed boho vibe, funky kitsch or vintage elegance in one fell swoop.

Like the prints switch above, if your current rug is in perfectly good nick but is simply the wrong aesthetic for right now, don’t ditch it. Keep it in storage, until you feel the need to change things up again. Sites like Rugs.ie and RugVista are your go to here. 

6. Cut back on cushions (or remove them entirely)

It’s not just the colour and pattern of cushions that can make an impact, but the number  you opt for, too. Simply removing a few from your couch collection can create a more pared back, minimal look – like going from four small scatter cushion to two larger statement pieces. Alternatively, if you want to up the cosy factor, add a few additional cushions in contrasting textures.

You may even decide that your sofa has enough impact on its own and that it doesn’t need any cushions at all. Think of your sofa as your staple wardrobe piece and the cushions as the scarves and jewellery you rely on to change up the aesthetic. 

Colour-wise, if you’re the type who likes to change cushion covers with the seasons, start by investing in decent cushion fillers so the padding won’t wear out (Meadows & Byrne has the best offering in my opinion).

More: How three Insta-perfect kitchens were transformed from drab to dazzling>

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