Thrifty ways to put a new face on your interiors

The funds may be mean, but there’s no need to be mean-spirited when it comes to putting a new face on your interiors.

Thrifty ways to put a new face on your interiors

Forget acres of new inclusions, get savvy with the basics of good design and work with your home’s strengths.


If you can measure accurately and guide a straight line, you can make curtains, furniture covers, throws, quilts, tablecloths, and more. Look for a machine with an extension table for larger pieces. Don’t always vouch for new material to work with. Trending this year is using T-shirts and vintage curtains to fashion unique cushions and throws. Look for bundles of forgotten fabrics in your rounds of the second hand shops. Argos offer Singer machines with up to 10 stitches from €178.


White paint is not only light exploding and the choice of most interior designers to cover most wall space in their own homes, but let me remind you — it’s cheap! It would be hard to find a pure white paint for more than €10 per litre and it’s the first colour (yes, yes, I know it’s not a colour) to be discounted by retailers. Limiting a feature colour or paper to one wall, will save expense while delivering impact.


There are useful primers on just about every DIY adventure at home. With the exception of perilous undertakings such as electrics and roof-work, it’s always worth looking around for a video guide. The larger DIY retailers including Woodies DIY and B&Q, feature expert step-by-step lessons with seasoned experts that include product information and principal skills. Keep in mind that YouTube and VideoJug don’t review every loony with a handsaw posting their dubious wisdom online. Don’t forget, described by those in the know as the ‘Wikipedia of interiors’.


Brand new everything offers immediate gratification, but rather than taking out serviceable hidden elements, re-face what’s already there.

Kitchen carcasses have changed little over the last half century, so if the layout is correct, work up a budget using new doors and counters before paying to have them ripped out and replaced with identical boxes.

If the bath is alright but you want to change the basin and loo, use a new panel and taps. With the exception of the EU sizes used by Ikea, doors and drawers for kitchens are available in off the shelf standard sizings.


A worldwide cult of re-purposing objects is now available both in TV programming and in print and online blogs. My pick would be Eithne Farry of SuperScrimpers on C4, a doyen of more flash than cash whose contributions are now available in an eBook form for just €8.99.

Online, the magazine crammed chaos of PinInterest is balanced by individual blogs such as, where weekend warriors tackle creativity head on with inspiring and sometimes hilarious results.


Choose materials for second fix carpentry and quality surfacing that can be maintained, and you can lift your interiors just by cleaning them up and re-finishing. Wood and semi-solid wood flooring can be sanded and sealed to amazing effect, and a well plastered wall can wear a feature coat of paint whenever your tastes shift. If your interior doors are tired and unfashionable, a new colour and edgy hardware can kick their character into today. Hire a professional-level carpet cleaner to reveal several shades of mung dimming the desirability of that wool mix carpet.


Understanding colour and how colours work together is your trump card when pulling together any space. Two to three main colours in subtle choices with accent brights kept for accessories is a classic approach, but there’s so much to colour, it should be your top area of research before taking a single step forward. Start ripping illustrations from magazines showing working schemes and count out the change to buy one book: Kevin McCloud’s Colour Now (Quadrille), a lifeline for the truly terrified. €14.50.


Coco Chanel’s little black dress was described by her competitor in the trade Paul Poiret as ‘deluxe poverty’. The LBD was to prove itself the epitome of restrained elegance, the single garment needed to get a woman noticed in a crowd. You deserve the best. Set your sights on honest materials, great design, and proportions to suit your spaces. Once you have saved enough for a star buy don’t distract from it with a room heaving with competing furniture and accessories.


You bought this house or rented it because you like it, so fall in love all over again. Embrace the architecture of your home, its aspect (which rooms are brightest during the day and when), and explore the potential of the layout for a more pleasing flow from one room to another. If you have a great view, make the most of it, not cutting across say a French door to the garden with a suite.

If the kitchen is generous, stop staggering around the lounge with trays and create a new dining space in a big kitchen.


A crowded house with rooms set down from the shop floor looks staged no matter how gorgeous the pieces.

For a truly individual final finish, fasten on a colour scheme, explore layout and forget barnstorming in one week or even several months. Save for a few quality classics you really want and discovering accidental treasure, rather than littering the place with compromise buys — trust me — will be worth the wait.

If you want to remind yourself that throwing money at something doesn’t always solve the problem, enjoy the regularly cutting reviews of overblown designer disasters at

More in this section

IE Logo


Your guide to staying at home