Brighter days don’t just jog us into cleaning winter grime from the windows - they make us look at rooms anew.
And if yours look as though they’re suffering a winter hangover, it’s time to take things in hand.
You could make a few overdue changes to decor or layout, attend to those irritating little repair jobs which always seem to stay on the to-do list, and then reward yourself by investing in some clever touches which will make all the difference but won’t break the bank.
“Refreshing a home, to make it more pleasant and comfortable to live in, was the top reason for carrying out home improvements revealed in our recent survey,” says Ian Cheshire, group chief executive of home improvement retailer Kingfisher, parent company of B&Q.
“A decade ago in the UK, we were staring at the magnolia walls of the Changing Rooms generation, as homeowners aspired to do-up and sell-on a property to climb the property ladder. Nowadays, there’s a desire to create a better home that will provide a better quality of life.”
So, while the weather forecast may still be unsettled, you can achieve sunny bursts and a pleasant outlook at home. Here’s a guide to six easy transformations to brighten up rooms.
Refresh existing kitchen cupboards and drawer fronts by painting them - it costs far less than a new kitchen and gives an instant uplift.
You will need a specialist paint; newspaper or dust sheets to protect worktops, floors and other surfaces; a suitable roller or paintbrush, and white spirit for cleaning them afterwards.
If possible, remove the doors and drawer fronts from the cabinet base and move them to a well-ventilated area. Place them on top of newspaper or a dust sheet, remove all knobs, handles, hinges and brackets and mask off any areas that you don’t want to paint.
Ensure the surfaces you want to paint are free from old paint fragments, rust, wax, oil and grease. This is particularly important on old kitchen doors or drawers where there may be a build-up of grease. Sugar soap will help to remove this. Previously painted surfaces may need to be abraded first.
Stir the paint thoroughly before applying one or two coats as required. Always follow the instructions on the back of the can.
:: Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Paint, from £8.99 for 250ml, is available from Homebase and other leading stockists. Rust-Oleum Mode, £14.99 for 400ml, is a high gloss spray paint available in 12 colours, Homebase.
Your home’s going to look so ‘yesterday’ if it doesn’t feature at least some colour. Plus, painting a wall is one of the fastest ways to transform a room.
“Fluorescent shades are a trend of the moment with designers accenting their ranges with joyous touches of neon,” says Marianne Shillingford, creative director at Dulux.
“Pure white furniture, flooring and ceilings cleanse the visual palette without removing an ounce of fun and then you can use blocks of colour for impact.
“Another easy way is to add accessories in fluoro shades which fizz against vibrant wall colours, and use white furniture to bounce light around the space, or pick up on ice cream shades with soft furnishings and balance with warm grey for flooring, furniture and accent pieces.”
:: Get a Fluoro effect with shades such as Orange Fizz, Rock Candy 2 and Bongo Jazz 1, matt emulsion 2.5ltr, £24.29, from the Dulux Paint Mixing range.
:: B&Q has multi-colour products including zingy green Zen cotton curtains (228x228cm), £37.98, and Drake cushions from £9.98 each.
Create a gallery
A simple display of artwork can enliven a dull area, make a cosy corner even more special or bring life to a wall running up a staircase.
You don’t have to just use black and white or colour photographs - sketches or illustrations can look just as effective.
As long as the pictures complement each other, you can be fairly creative with your selection. Lay the collection of frames on the floor and decide on the arrangement before you commit to hanging them on the wall.
Ideally, opt for a theme in the pictures or similar styles or colours of frames to unify the arrangement.
:: There’s no need to worry about making holes with nails or permanently damaging a wall. You could use Command Picture Strips, from £3.18, which can be removed from walls quickly and easily without leaving any marks. Command Micro Hooks, from £2.18 a pack, and Decorating clips, from £3.28 a pack, are good for hanging lightweight items such as fairy lights, simple decorations or tea towels. All available from a variety of retailers including Amazon, Asda, B&Q and Tesco, or direct from www.3mdirect.co.uk
It’s essential to be able to quickly relax when you get home, and a bathroom that’s smart and equipped with your favourite products, towels and scented candles for a luxurious soak will make all the difference.
Transform a pile of assorted towels into a co-ordinated collection by machine dyeing them in your favourite colour. A new shower curtain and pretty glass bottles and containers will complete the look.
:: Dylon features a French Lavender or Powder Pink shade in its machine dye range, from £5.99, from outlets such as Robert Dyas.
:: Bag a bargain from Dunelm Mill’s So Soft towel collection, which comes in nine shades, starting from £3.99 for a hand towel. Accessorise with its Room in Bloom collected ridged perfume bottle, £3.99, and a faux Ranunculus arrangement in a glass vase, £19.99.
:: Enjoy the scents of spring with Yankee Candles’ new range, Full Bloom, which starts from £14.99 for a medium glass pillar candle. Fragrances are Blue Iris, Ruby Red Poppy, White Peony. Available online from February 28.
Putting on a front
Estate agents talk about ‘kerb appeal’ when referring to a property’s outside appearance, which is the first impression for any buyer.
It’s worth regularly repainting your front door, walls and, if necessary, fences, to keep them in tip-top condition.
“Putting in the hours to prepare for paint jobs will always be time well spent,” says Mark Bannister, technical expert at Sandtex. “So before you rush out, take some time to check on the process from rubbing down old paintwork to using a primer and making sure the paint suits the surface.”
:: Sandtex has step-by-step online guides which advise on everything from cleaning walls to sealing surfaces and choosing the right paint and cleaning materials (www.sandtex.co.uk). Sandtex Seclusion Exterior Satin Paint, £15.98 for 750ml, B&Q.
:: A custom-made house number and name sticker, in etched glass effect or stained glass effect, could be the perfect finishing touch. Prices start from £45 per square metre, Purlfrost.
Blinds are not only an easy way to dress up a window, they ensure privacy or block out an unsightly view, too.
“Fit a roller blind for an easy and affordable interior update this spring,” says Nichola McFall, brand manager at The Fabric Box. “Sheer fabrics will make a stylish alternative to a net curtain and allow light to filter into your home whilst a dim-out fabric, in a bedroom for example, will ensure a good night’s sleep, even when the clocks go forward.
“Florals, stripes and mid-century-inspired designs are proving popular currently.”
:: The Fabric Box offers blinds in a range of colours and designs, with roller blinds starting from around £48, and vertical blinds from £38.