Creative & Inexpensive ways to REFRESH your Home

Vogue Nicole Hanley Mellon 4

Interior Design is significantly more important than simply creating a beautiful or memorable room.  Interior Design is actually about our relationship between our environment, our families and how it affects us, directs us, inspires us and nurtures our life goals.  A well designed room maximizes our positive mental outlook and lowers our stress, all the while it nurtures how we actually perceive ourselves.  Personally, I believe that everyone aspires to be creative, original and surrounded by beauty (whatever your definition of that word implies/means).  The challenge of creating your own interior design is determining your style, conceiving how your will use your space, sourcing out the elements that will create your special feeling, layering these elements, creating focal points and then budgeting it accordingly.  Within each of us are aesthetic principles that resonate strongly for ourselves.  It is these deeply personal characteristics that will transform a space from an expected or pedestrian design into something memorable, inspiring and captivating.  Learn to LISTEN to your inner voice and don’t always go for the safe option (I can NOT stress this enough).  An all white box with beige elements IS safe, yes…but also painfully boring and depressing.  Add your unique personality and be brave in your Design choices so that you create an interior that truly is the stage for your life, and an expression of yourself.  This doesn’t mean you need to burn your house down and start over… OFTEN it is simply a matter of creating memorable moments or adding colour or texture or personality, that will transform a boring/timid space into something warm, inviting and inspiring.

eclectic layered with rich colours

Before we get to our Design Makeover suggestions however, remember when designing your space you must be aware of the way you live and how you walk through a space.  Don’t be afraid of making rooms multi-functional such as  a Dining room can act as a library or home office, or a study that is also a guest room and reading oasis. As well, always think about the practicalities of your daily life… Do you have dogs, kids, 10,000 coats that need a home?  Do you entertain daily, weekly, monthly or never?  Do you rent or do you own?  The BEST spaces mix livability with functionality and beauty (again this is whatever YOU  define as beautiful).

Big style in a small dining area

For me, finding your own taste goes much deeper than simply “decorating” a space.  It’s about understanding yourself, pushing your boundaries, gaining confidence, unleashing your creativity and creating an environment that will inspire you, while also making you ASPIRE to be the best you possible. First off, get rid of your matching “sets”.  Layer your home, your collections and add personality with things of meaning.  The above space works so easily and fluidly because items were chosen to give tension and meaning.  The striped modern take on the wing-back chairs in black and white contrast beautifully with the cerulean blue of the studded benches.  The minimal palette is given a sexy freshness by the usage of the vivid blue fabric and the corresponding crystal bead chandelier.  The modern table contrasts beautifully with the modern chairs, which themselves are varied and given lovely finishing details.  Lesson Learned: Try mixing things up in your home.  Put a bench on one side of your dining table, put stacks of books on it and give the space a modern fluidity and  ease of use.  

White with a hidden ribbon pop of red

Many of you are in love with an all white room (I am on the fence about this concept).  However, as we’ve discussed before in our feature on white kitchens, an all white space when used correctly and with lots of natural light, can be a stunning space.  However, I like the concept of a “Nearly” all-white space, like the photo shown above.  Here the modern and traditional elements are layered in the space giving them interest and vitality.  Traditional furniture has been painted white (NEVER over-look the power of paint) and modern elements and Artwork are clean-lined and simple; however a stunning ribbon of deepest RED discretely hidden in the draperies gives this space drama, intrigue and LIFE.  The usage of books as a Design element also works beautifully.  (Check here for more on Bibliostyle)

DIY moment - Oversized maps blown up and cut into segments then framed

Many people get overwhelmed at the idea of interior design, thinking they need to spend a fortune to achieve anything of note.  This is NOT true, the key is to think creatively while infusing yourself into your space.  The photo above shows a striking room in which a historic map has been blown up to epic proportions and then cut equally into 6 parts and framed in simple oversized ebony frames (available at any large home chain).  The effect is BOLD, unexpected and beautiful.  The impact here is not from the cost in creating this grouping but in the creativity and scale.  Remember to group the images in a bold grouping of 6 or 9 and use the largest frames you can find.  Uniting the blue as a design thread in this space keeps it edited, modern and fresh.

Elegant display

Paint is one of the most powerful and transforming powers in Design.  The above photo shows how easily you can transform an old piece of furniture with paint.  Re-imagine an old piece you currently have with a coat of paint (actually prime and then 2 coats of paint).  The above piece is then distressed with a light sanding on the knobs and corners to give it a “shabby chic” effect, while maintaining your colour palette perfectly.  Then the real POWER of this grouping comes from the usage of the ultra modern Art casually leaning on the chest, mixed with modern and rustic elements in the grouping (I love the pairing of the old American chest with the Asian side chair). The tension between them gives the grouping vitality and elevates all the pieces shown, transforming it into a stunning collection.  The addition of the flowering branches is the perfect finishing touch.

Graphitti backsplash

Be brave, bold and fearless when it comes to creating a focal point.  Think outside the box, such as this graffiti designed kitchen backsplash that gives warmth, colour and a vivid POP to this ultra clean-lined modern kitchen.  This graffiti mural is created with the usage of food and drink logos painted over a backing in bold pure colours and then given 3 coats of urethane over top.  Remember to use a NON-YELLOWING varnish or urethane or your colours will all be changed when sealed (and not for the better).  The Minwax diamond finish works well when sealing murals or paint.  This “Nearly” all-white space is transformed into a modern and livable work of Art.  The key is to measure your space and then draw it out to scale and plan your Graffiti exactly.  You can have your drawing transferred to acetate sheets and then use a projector and trace out your drawing on the wall.

Colour Blocking DIY project - Copy

Adding colour in your home in a bold and vivid, yet controlled manner can be as easy as framing the colour onto your wall.  In the space shown above, simple oversized white frames are grouped tightly on a wall creating a large and dramatic focal point.  The “Art work” is actually simple sheets of colour.  You can use rich coloured construction paper, glossy coloured wrapping paper or paint sheets of cardboard in custom colours.  The goal is to create a bold array of colours or one vivid colour used repeatedly in various shapes or effects.  This is very simple and yet will give your space a stunning Designer effect for very little expense.

Colour POP with modern art and lampshades

A more traditional and luxurious spin works beautifully when you mix in modern Art and some retro/vintage finds (such as the 50’s rotary phone).  The stunningly oversized candelabras act as sculptures by not having taper candles in them (it gets rid of that Liberace look they exude with candles).   By mixing the black and white elements with the VIVID pop of the oversized modern Art and the red shades on the glass lamps, the space feels alive and tactile, while also inspirational.  The usage of the books to create different elevations in the display works beautifully as well and is easy for you to incorporate into your home design.

DIY hoosier cabinet as desk with chalkboard paint wall

I’ve talked extensively about using chalkboard paint (SEE trend # 7) in black before as a paint medium for your ENTIRE wall.  Here (photo above) the chalkboard paint grounds the wall giving it a soft depth and giving a modern lift to the vintage hoosier cabinet in front of it, which has been transformed into a desk and computer station.  I love the whimsical touch of having framed chalkboards on top of the chalkboard wall.  By keeping the grouping mainly black and white the space is given a sophistication and a conceptual richness.  The black lamp keeps it edited, but you could also use a neon yellow, cerulean blue, lime green or clear glass lamp for extra impact.

Mercury glass mirror tile for backsplash

An easy and often overlooked way to freshen and reinvigorate a space is to install a dramatic backsplash that will add either texture, colour, sheen or interest to your space (kitchen, bathroom, study…be creative).  Here (photo above) a vintage looking mercury glass tile with a pillow edge is is installed over the full wall.  The mercury tile works beautifully AND is something easy you can do yourself.  Think of the possibilities you could do, such as a rich coloured glass tile, a pillow edged tumbled marble, mirror, quilted stainless steel, decoupage, river rocks…etc.  The options are endless, simply choose something that holds meaning to you and the corresponds to your design.  Remember to take the tile ALL the way to the ceiling whenever possible to give it a more modern and custom finish.

DIY designer moment - BOOKS headboard

A headboard transforms a bedroom giving it a grounded and elegant sense, while also giving vertical balance to your room to counter act the large horizontal surface of your mattress.  In the room shown above, a unique headboard created with vintage store books adhered onto a backing board gives a wonderful sense of whimsy, magic and mystery.  The informal yet formal crystal fixture adds both elegance and eclecticism.  You can achieve a unique head board with the use of barn-boards, old doors (which we’ve talked about before), shipping palettes, fabric squares… the list is endless.  Check out my Pinterest DIY files for more ideas on this.

Log End Wall

Walls do NOT have to be JUST paint or wallpaper.  Think creatively and outside the “design box”.  In the room above, slices of logs have been cut into 3 inch “tiles” that are then adhered onto the wall.  The effect is BOTH rustic and modern, sexy and strong, bold yet natural… it is a stunning and very simple effect.  You can use the logs AS Art… meaning you do not cover them, but do the entire wall and leave the logs to be the Art feature in the room, or as in the room above it acts as a wall surface on which rustic elements pop stunningly.  I would love to see a collection of high gloss resin faux animal heads juxtaposed on top of the log feature wall.  Give it a try in your family room, study or a multi purpose guest room.

Wall Display

The trick to creating a dramatic grouping when displaying a collection is grouping the items tightly BUT in a manner that allows for each element to speak clearly to the viewer as well as displaying something that captures your attention when it is grouped together.  In the case shown above, a collection of meat grinders is given a sense of being an Art installation at a gallery.  They are given visual strength and impact while at the same time giving a sense of whimsy and history.  What do you collect?  What are you passionate about?  Display it creatively and to the utmost effect.  By doing this you celebrate both yourself and your home.

Robin Paint Chip Wall Concept

Again, think creatively about how to add both colour and impact to your home.  Look beyond the expected and look at everything with fresh eyes.  The paint chips above act as a STUNNING work of Art AND give a gorgeous impact of colour, pattern and texture to this space.  Simpy collect a few hundred paint chips ALL of one shape and use clear push pins to attach them to the wall on the top and bottom of each chip. (I adore the Martha Stewart Paint chips for this project) Make sure your lines are exact and the placement of the pushpins is the same from chip to chip.  The repetition of pattern gives the chips a bold, modern freshness while you can either do a varied colour array or keep it edited to a variety of one colour.  Sexy, modern and fresh AND best of all, something you can do yourself.

For MORE Designer know how check out:

Quick & Easy ways of Adding Colour

Adding some Biblio-style to your Home

Designer Obsession: Bedside Tables

Colour POW & WOW

Adding unexpected Colour and interest

I LOVE the subtle yet BOLD pop of the black and white chevron lining these massively oversized square drum pendants.  They give a New York Chic feeling and the boldness of the pattern is kept as a sexy dash.

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