space savers

Easy ways to upgrade your home now

Interior design is one of our new fascinations. But does redecorating your home feel like a lot of hassle?  And what are the latest trends? This could all be a lot easier than you think...

Words: Sarah Pyper

interior stylist jade lovejoy's yellow cupboard makes her smile every time she sees it
interior stylist jade lovejoy's yellow cupboard makes her smile every time she sees it

Glimpses of our homes used to be limited to a dash through the kitchen before work, then an hour or two in the evening after the gym, during Netflix, before bed. No wonder we didn’t notice the tired furniture and bland colours. Now, spending so much time indoors has increased our desire to turn our homes into oases of comfort and cheer. It’s no surprise we’re spending the money we’d set aside for our holiday on bold paint colours (we spent 300% more on paint online this April than the same time last year according to Google Trends), lush plants and comforting throws instead.

So, what’s the latest, greatest interiors trend we all need to know about now? We’ve had minimalism and shabby chic so what is the ultimate lockdown look? Surprisingly, there isn’t one. Talking to interiors experts and brand reps reveals that we aren’t all painting our lounges the exact same shade of paint or insisting on having the cushion-of-the-moment, instead we’re working out what we need and like and establishing our own personal style. Our homes are becoming a visible example of ‘you do you’. And, according to presenter, consultant and author of Happy Inside: How To harness The Power Of Home For Health And Happiness Michelle Ogundehin, it’s about time.

Ogundehin warns against following the crowd when it comes to our homes, saying: “Too often people live in homes that sabotage their health and happiness. Homes decorated for likes on Instagram. Homes that subscribe to trends regardless of whether the homeowner actually loves them. This has to stop.”

Especially as our homes have become more important to our physical and mental wellbeing than ever. “Home is suddenly a sanctuary,” says Ben Spriggs, editor of Elle Decoration. “There’s a reason why paint sales have gone through the roof. People are looking around and thinking, ‘God knows how long I’m going to be here so I want to make it as nice as possible’. It’s about making home a happy place, somewhere positive that lifts your spirts.”

lean into the colours and materials that make your soul sing to work out your decorative palette”

Ogundehin recommends making “a re-evaluation of what you choose to surround yourself with and careful consideration of whether it adds to, or subtracts from, your life”. In other words, why live with an on-trend macramé plantholder that leaves you cold or splash out on a Berber rug if it’s not your thing? Interior stylist Jade Lovejoy agrees, “We all have the same Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds so we all have the same Moroccan tile and succulent obsessions.” But maybe now is the time to be more individual. Lovejoy adds, “It’s your home, you’re living in it so it should make you happy. You don’t need to worry about everyone else.” So how do we achieve that?

First of all comes the clear-out. “Get rid of anything that is broken, embarrasses you, is stained or annoying. You don’t need this stuff in your life,” says Ogundehin. “Then really lean into the colours and materials that make your soul sing in order to work out your own personal decorative palette, not that of the trend-meisters.”

Next comes the decorating. Whatever style you’re going for, Lovejoy recommends using the designer’s tip of having what’s known as a ‘red thread’ throughout your home. Choose a colour, texture or signature object and make sure it appears in every room. “It creates a really nice flow as you go from one room to another and see the red thread again and again.” In her own home, Lovejoy’s red thread is the colour yellow. “I have a yellow rug in one room and a cupboard painted in an offensively bright shade by Farrow & Ball called Yellowcake in my living room and I just smile thinking about it.”

Finally, take a long, hard look at the contents of the room and ask yourself if it’s right for the way you’re living now. This doesn’t need to be costly, a rethink of what you already own can be enough to refresh a space. “It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, but we shouldn’t be afraid to change things up,” says Lovejoy. “Move your furniture around, swap things from different rooms – a piece in your bedroom could work perfectly in your lounge – and add new artwork to create difference.”

As she says, “There’s no right or wrong in individual taste so you just have to go for it and be brave.” Here we share the interior experts’ tips and tricks to make your home – be it rented, bought, shared or solo – work for you.


Drinks trolley, £142, Maisons Du Monde (maisonsdumonde.com)
Drinks trolley, £142, Maisons Du Monde (maisonsdumonde.com)

YOUR LOUNGE

ADD GLAMOUR

“Sales of stylish bar trolleys and cocktail glasses are on the rise as people create their own bars at home,” says Spriggs. “We’re not going out to bars and restaurants at the moment so we want to create those special times at home.”

PAINT EVERYTHING

“Don’t limit your paint to the walls,” says Lovejoy. “Paint skirting boards and window frames in the same colour, too. Paint standard white radiators and they’ll disappear from view. And definitely paint your ceiling. It makes a room seem higher and grander because there’s no obvious line where the walls begin and end. I don’t have a single white ceiling in my home.” And you don’t have to stop there. “Some people wallpaper their ceilings,” says Spriggs. “But you need real decorating knowhow to tackle that.”

STRETCH YOUR SPACE

It’s time to be inventive with the way we use our rooms and furniture. “We’re all on top of each other at the moment so we need to create little extra corners of space to escape to,” says Spriggs. He suggests finding an unused corner in your lounge, adding an existing chair and lamp and creating your own reading nook. “Even having a chair on a landing or under the stairs can help ease the pressure of spending so much time at home.”

Armchair, £179, Made (made.com)

Hanging planter, £12.50, Marks & Spencer (marksandspencer.com)

Print, £35, Holly & Co (holly.co)

Cushion, £25, Habitat (habitat.co.uk)


Vase, £19.95, Not On The High Street (notonthehighstreet.com)
Vase, £19.95, Not On The High Street (notonthehighstreet.com)

YOUR BEDROOM

add foliage

With garden centres opening again, we can finally add some new plantlife to our rooms for a welcome boost of nature. “Foliage is a beautiful, affordable way to add life to spaces,” says Lovejoy. “I add plants to every room. Not just because they’re en vogue, but because they help improve the way we feel.”

CHOOSE LINEN

Now that we’re heading towards summer it’s time to pack away heavy curtains and thick rugs and consider seasonal linen replacements. Bedding sales at Made.com have increased by 88% recently and linen is proving particularly popular. Spriggs is a fan. “The joy of linen is that it’s meant to look crumpled and relaxed so there’s no need for ironing and it helps create a light, calm feel to the room,” he says. While Lovejoy has recently put up linen curtains in her bedroom saying, “We have to make the most of all the positives going at the moment and that means allowing as much natural summer morning light into the room as possible.”

add a study area

“If you’re living in a shared space you might need to work in your bedroom, so it has to be a multifunctional space,” says Spriggs. “You have to ask yourself, ‘Can I transform a dressing table into a small desk?’ ‘Can I put my laptop on a breakfast tray and work from my bed?’”

Mirror, £78, Oliver Bonas (oliverbonas.com)

Pillowcases, £36, Piglet (pigletinbed.com)  

Breakfast tray, £40, John Lewis (johnlewis.com)

Cushion cover, £24.99, H&M Home (hm.com)  


mini Casserole dish, £20, Le Creuset (lecreuset.co.uk)
mini Casserole dish, £20, Le Creuset (lecreuset.co.uk)

YOUR KITCHEN

MIX TEXTURES

“Adding texture is a great way to add interest to a room without overdoing it and assaulting your senses,” explains Lovejoy. In a kitchen, where there will inevitably be hard, cold surfaces, she advises displaying natural elements such as wooden bowls and chopping boards to soften the look. “We’re basically living in our kitchens now so bring in things that would normally be in a living room – plants, lamps, pictures – to make a calm, personal space.”

ADD MIRRORS

“If your kitchen feels dark, add a mirror to the wall,” suggests Spriggs. “You could even have a piece of mirror cut then fixed to the wall as a splashback behind a sink or between the cabinets and worksurface. It enlarges the sense of space and works as a reflector, bouncing light back into the room.”

NOTICE THE DETAILS

So, you’ve made your kitchen a happy, welcoming place but do you really want that lurid washing-up liquid on display. Lovejoy’s tip? Decant it into a pretty bottle and you might even enjoy yet another load of washing up.

Glass bottles, from £17.95 each, Nkuku (nkuku.com)

Teapot, £65, Labour and Wait (labourandwait.co.uk)

Fruit bowl, £23.99, Wayfair (wayfair.co.uk)  

Plant mister, £14.99, Haws (haws.co.uk)