Fashion The cheap homeware hacks that will make your home...

The cheap homeware hacks that will make your home look more expensive


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Here are seven styling tricks that can be spotted in the most stylish houses on Instagram, and that won’t cost a fortune to emulate.

Choose chequerboard tiling


Checked tiling adds a pop of interest and colour. It’s a decorative style used all over the much-Instagrammed Cotswold hotel Cowley Manor Experimental.We used chequerboard tiling around the fireplaces, firstly to recreate the pattern in an interesting way, but also to design a core feature within the room and accentuate the original fireplaces,” says the hotel’s interior designer, Dorothée Meilichzon.

If you love the look but want to do it on a budget, Grazzie Wilson of the tile company Ca’ Pietra says that’s where porcelain versions of luxe materials, such as marble or limestone, come in: “Porcelain gives you the impact of chequerboard, but at a much more affordable price.”

Fit bamboo blinds

Bamboo blinds can bring a 'relaxing and informal' element to a room

A very inexpensive hack to cover windows and add a layer of texture is to install bamboo blinds. “What they cleverly do is evoke a more relaxing and informal look to a room,” says the interior designer Melissa Hutley of Hutley & Humm. “They bring natural colour to a room in the same way a natural timber floor would, and the soft honey hues add warmth.” Pernille Lind, a designer, agrees: “Adding touches of bamboo or rattan is a cost-effective way of infusing the calming and warming benefits of natural materials.” For the very budget-conscious, Habitat has a simple blind for £12, while John Lewis has a larger range of sizes, from £22. Hutley recommends Tissus d’Helene, which allows a bespoke trim around the edge.

Update your hardware

aCabinet by designer Jessica Elizabeth Horton of Deorling, using cabinet knobs by Matilda Goad

It’s tempting to try to save money on the seemingly more utilitarian parts of a project, but it’s something you can live to regret: the light switches and door handles are items you touch every day. To borrow a fashionista’s way of justifying a bigger spend, you have to think about the cost per use; upgrading light switches and sockets instantly makes a wall look more expensive, and make using them a daily joy (a metal toggle switch costs £36 from Corston). New handles can instantly elevate a cabinet – see this example pictured, by the designer Jessica Elizabeth Horton of Deorling, using cabinet knobs by Matilda Goad. Similarly, unsightly extension cables can be upgraded to beautiful flex-covered ones by Lolas Leads (from £35). “Save money on cushions and throws, which you can tire of, and spend it on hardware, which lasts longer and elevates a scheme,” advises Palmer.

Install pretty panelling

Panelled bathroom by Samantha Palmer

Palmer transformed a boring box room into a glamorous, seductive bathroom, in part thanks to panelling the walls. “I chose a wooden trim from WRP mouldings online, and my builder and I just used basic maths to figure out how big and where the panelling should go to sit behind the bath in a balanced layout,” she says. The tricky part came when one of the panels became a secret cabinet – the end panel closest to the window is on a push-release magnetic closure and hides all of our bathroom secrets. If there is an alcove that is redundant (most Victorian houses will have one), it’s a great space saving device to conceal cabinets into panelling in this way.”

Hang an under-counter skirt

30 Palmerstone Road

Often an under–counter “skirt” can look more attractive than a tatty cabinet door, and it can also add a pop of colour. Because the curtains are usually quite small, you can use remnants of designer fabric (try and make it yourself. Alternatively, find cheap options on, or buy a pretty café curtain with a striking border from Atelier Raff (from £100).

“The kitchens I love spending time in all tend to have a cosy element to them which is often forgotten, and a sink skirt is great for breaking up all the hard surfaces,” says Laura Parkinson of the interior design firm Palmer & Stone. “They allow you to make your kitchen feel completely bespoke to you, and you can save money on joinery.” She recommends using a heavyweight fabric to lend structure.

Use a tray to display


One clever styling trick is to group items together on a tray. “Grouping items on trays will define and elevate little moments around your home,” says Anna McGregor, the co-founder of the homewares brand Lamp London Home. “A tray on the kitchen counter for your kettle and coffee pot, on the breakfast table for jam and the butter dish, in the bathroom for beauty products, on an ottoman with books and candles, or on a side table with a lamp and a coaster for your tea, they all make a space feel considered and add another layer of texture and colour too.”

Any tray will do, but Addison Ross does a great range of colourful lacquered trays (from £56).

Add a pop of red

Palmer & Stone: red brings a flah of colour to any interior

Adding a flash of red to your interior does for your space what a good red lip does for your outfit: it delivers a good dose of dopamine, while remaining classic. As such, it’s a standard designer trick – but one you might not have consciously noticed. “A pop of red elevates a room by adding an unexpected and contrasting element, allowing the eye to rest on one area or piece in the room,” Parkinson explains. “Having a statement red accessory can break up a space and stop a room feeling too put-together.” In a recent project she painted a back door red, as well as a beam across the ceiling, but suggests accessorising with a red stool or candlestick for the less brave.


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