Surface Value: How To Create Standout Interiors


When it comes to our interior decoration, most of us have a balancing act to do. Faced with limited budgets, and practical needs to accommodate, as well as our picture of what our dream home would be like, we’re forced to make inventive compromises unless you are lucky enough to have a bottomless budget. Most of us have to adjust our ideas and hopes in line with what’s practical. However, that doesn’t have to mean that you abandon all plans for a stylish home – a designer look can be combined with practical touches that bring it down to earth. Here’s how…

Surface Value

If you want to know where to spend the majority of your budget, the advice from the professionals is to opt for quality surface materials. Not only is spending less on cheaper materials likely to be a false economy, but textures like real wood, granite, slate, polished concrete etc tend to last longer and wear a lot better – good news in high-transit or very practical areas. They can provide the durability and toughness that you need in a family home, while also speaking volumes about your style. But if you’re now wondering ‘How much is polished concrete?’ there are ways to balance the books and afford these materials, whether that’s laying a central area of real stone and surrounding it with a border of more cost-effective ceramic tiles, or even options for countertops with a deeper edging that their true thickness, so they look more luxurious but you use less of the material. Opt for underfloor heating to make a poured concrete surface warm and inviting as well. When it comes to walls, get a designer appeal by paying more for a luxuriously textured wallpaper. If you opt for a bold pattern, you can get away with a small area such as a feature wall or a stairwell, which still adds a lot of impact but means that you don’t need as much material. Hanging tapestries or rugs on an expanse of wall can also make a space look really deluxe.

Vintage Vamp

Using upcycled furniture can allow you to introduce higher-quality pieces at an affordable price point. For instance, if you buy preloved, you can often find treasures such as a solid mahogany dresser and beautiful antique mirrors for the same or less as a flat-pack Ikea alternative that will break before the year is out. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and make some changes to get the look you want – upcycling is a lot easier than you might think. You could find yourself re-spraying a dressing table in a better colour, adding a cut-to-size glass top, some new drawer pulls and re-upholstering the seat with some new fabric and a staple gun. There are lots of YouTube playlists dedicated to upcycling. You could find yourself adding mosaic tiles to a bathtub before you know it! Introducing vintage elements is also an ideal way to get a quirky, custom piece that no one else has – for instance, save money by opting for big-box kitchen units and then add beautiful vintage handles to turn them into something special. That extra level of detail is what sets your home apart from the rest.

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Think Statement Accessories

Home accessories are where you can let your imagination run wild – indulge in colours, patterns, fabrics and finishes that are less safe, and create a real impact. The good news is that the high street has made beautiful home accessories affordable, so you really don’t need to spend a fortune here. Suppliers such as French Connection and Zara Home are also very quick to reflect the latest interiors trends, while also giving you the chance to switch up the trimmings more often, as they don’t cost a fortune to replace. Think of it as a chance to experiment and add drama, especially if you have opted for a more neutral scheme on carpets, walls and other things that are more work and costlier to replace. Bring in a shot of bright colour to lift a scheme, or add bold metallic accessories. Layer up with different textures in tonal shades to create an upmarket look – think a faux-fur throw paired with knitted and plush velvet accent cushions. It’s the same theory as the classic little black dress that can be constantly updated with new accessories to change up the mood. You can treat your home in the same way, layering in new elements as the seasons or your tastes change, but investing in the basics that provide a quality backbone.

Let There Be Light

Lighting can do an awful lot to alter your home, and in terms of renovations, its one of the most cost-effective things you can do. The light itself and the fittings can all have a huge impact on the feel and functionality of your space. Picture how much more memorable your hallway, a transitional space that tends to lack identity, would look with an oversized modern chandelier? That one accessory has the power to change the space entirely and define your home’s style even as people come through the front door. Clustered pendant lights over the dining table can encourage intimacy and socialization by making a room seem cosier, while an elegant lamp can transform an unused, dingy corner into a reading nook. In general, you need to aim for a mix of task and accent lighting to cover all needs. Strips of LED lighting can also be enormously impactful, while also being very energy-efficient to run. You can use them to provide a down-lit glow in hallways and kitchens that can look very effective and luxurious, or use them to highlight architectural features that you really like. Some people even add them to a freestanding bath! You can also change the colour of some of them, to provide the ultimate in mood lighting, and they’re simple to install.  Getting the lighting right is a huge step towards making your home welcoming and polished – so add a few dramatic pendants and watch the space transform before your eyes.


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