How to give your home an affordable makeover

Home makeovers have a downside. They are lengthy, expensive and not always guaranteed to be successful. 

But it is certainly possible to make a substantial difference to your home without a big outlay, as our guide explains… 


The late Sir Terence Conran, the guru who revolutionised domestic design, was a fount of wisdom on ways to make any home more beautiful and functional. 

Bargains: Reorganise a room with low-cost Dunelm furniture

For example, if you are seeking to improve the look of a room, Conran recommended that you should first take everything out. Only the furniture and other pieces that you find attractive and useful should be returned. 

This decluttering process may reveal that a lack of storage, rather than a surplus of belongings is the cause of an atmosphere of chaos. 

A bench with hooks and shelves such as the £95.99 Wayfair Peters hall tree can make an entrance hall ordered and welcoming. 

Leftover pieces can breathe new life into another room. But Conran also advised that ‘hanging on to a bad buy will not redeem the purchase’. 

An unwanted item may be more to the taste of a friend. Or you could sell it online, donate it to a charity, or give it away. 

The results of a clear-out may be bland. If so, add gold, which as designer Kate Watson-Smyth explains, supplies both light and luxe. 

Marks & Spencer offers a £12.50 gilt planter on a stand, or a £79 oval gilt mirror.


A fresh coat of paint is the easiest way to enliven a dull space. But following trends can compound the problem. Neutral shades that appear elegant on Instagram may be lacklustre in real life. 

With paint, your choice should primarily be based on the light. In a north-facing room, cool blues and greys can appear flat in the harsh light. 

Consider a warm white with a touch of pink or grey. In an east-facing room, the light is strongest in the morning, so pick a strong shade enhanced by the sun or a cool blue or green for a more nuanced effect. 

The same rules apply in a west-facing room, where afternoon light is intense. 

In a south-facing room, remember the bright light can make all shades look more yellow. 

For advice, look at paint companies’ websites. Dulux’s visualiser app shows how colours look on the walls of a room. 


Rethinking the lighting can be another rapid route to change. New lampshades from B&M, Dunelm, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Next or Wilko are one way to shift the vibe. 

The £25 geometric pattern bamboo lampshade from Oliver Bonas supplies a more laidback feel. Next’s Tetbury pleated lampshades (£22-£38) are a more formal touch. 

Scarlett Hampton and Niki Wright, the duo behind, recommend focusing on the mood you aspire to create in each room. They suggest placing extra lights in the corners or edges of a room to give the illusion of space. 

Cool white bulbs work best in areas where there is little or no natural light. Bulbs that cast a warmer light conjure up a more relaxing mood. 

Let there be light: Adding floor or table lamps to a kitchen makes the space more suitable for entertaining, according to interior experts at Hampton and Wright

Let there be light: Adding floor or table lamps to a kitchen makes the space more suitable for entertaining, according to interior experts at Hampton and Wright

The colour temperature of a bulb is measured in degrees Kelvin (K): a warm white bulb will be between 2,700K and 3,000K. See the buying guide on the Robert Dyas website. 

Hampton and Wright point out that we now entertain in our kitchens, meaning it makes sense to add living room-type lighting. They suggest a floor lamp in a corner, or a table lamp at the end of a worktop.


It’s traditional to hang art at eye height. But since we spend most of the time in our living rooms sitting, Jo Sampson of the Artorial consultancy suggests displaying art at different levels. 

Placing a favourite artwork against the wall on a low table can make you see it with new eyes. 

If you have a variety of small pictures, collect them together in a gallery wall. Marks & Spencer has a set of 12 gallery wall frames for £34.65, reduced from £49.50.

 Sampson advises arranging your selection on the floor, to ensure they are positioned in the most striking fashion.