Making a house a home

With the increase in retail outlets for soft furnishings, it is much cheaper and more fun to give your house a face-lift and make your home reflect your personality. Patricia Vine reports.

Obviously fashions change in interior design as they do in every of walk of life. Who remembers the coloured bathroom suite revolution when we all ripped out our sanitary ware and had avocado or burgundy baths? In fact, it was not that long ago, but there have been many other trends that can date your décor and if you wait long enough will come back into vogue. Retro is currently all the rage.

So it is more important to be comfortable with your surroundings than try to keep up with the Laurence Llewellyn-Bowens. The programme Changing Rooms, aired in the late 90s, gave us all a taste for DIY and creating innovative, design-led interiors.

Feature walls

But things seem to have settled down more now, and feature walls are more in vogue than complete renovations. There are many small ways you can brighten up a living room with cushions, sumptuous curtains, or drapes and rugs. A trip round any of the shops like Dunelm or The Range will give you plenty of inspiration, but if you really want to see what is ‘cutting edge’ visit a few show homes on new developments.

Re-decorating is always a good way to freshen up a room and a neutral colour for all the walls except one is on trend, using bold wallpaper on the remaining one, often the chimney breast.

Wall mirrors add a touch of luxury and elegance to almost any room in your home.

Wall mirrors add a touch of luxury and elegance to almost any room in your home. Decorative wall mirrors and those with attractive frames offer a stylish alternative to standard ones. Hanging a mirror opposite a window will increase the light and can also be used to brighten up a dark corridor or hallway.

The current trend for using decorative plaques spelling out words such as Love, Relax and Family can bring a touch of individuality and there are ones available to denote Kitchen, Bathroom or Bedroom, (in case you get confused!).


Paintings and artwork have always been used to adorn plain walls and whether you have a Rembrandt, a Picasso or just a print from the local art shop, much pleasure can be derived from looking at beautiful works of art.

Choosing a special piece to remind you of an occasion or person is always enjoyable and sometimes a picture will just catch your eye so you have to make it a part of your home. Spending time at local art exhibitions, or buying a copy of a masterpiece, is a good way to add to your home and you never know a piece of original artwork could be a good investment. Or you could paint your own.


Book shelves obviously provide space for your favourite books, but can also be used for flowers and plants, a trailing ivy on the top shelf always adds greenery and life to a room.

Once you have settled on your colour scheme it is worth shopping for ornaments, lamps, or vases to link in with your décor. Use your imagination and scour charity shops and antique markets for that special objet d’art that will enhance a room.

The bedroom is usually a very personal space where only a few are admitted so you can let your design passions run wild and free. A central theme can be indulged such as floral, cherubic, French boudoir or Hawaiian tropical – the world is at your fingertips or at least the end of a paint brush.

Bathrooms feature highly on make-over plans and are comparatively cheap to alter. A shower cubicle, complete with mood lighting, seating and multiple shower with massage heads is a popular choice. But you can just fit a new wall unit, or buy some new brightly coloured towels.


Lighting is a very important part of your home environment. Experiment with switching off overhead lights and using lamps and wall lights. It is easy to change the mood of a space by adjusting the lights. Spotlights are a fashionable and clever way of using light and shade to create ambiance. Some beautiful light fittings are available on the market and there is a current trend for extravagant chandeliers – and why not if your room is big enough?

Your home is an extension of your personality, so don’t be guided by the latest design fads unless they feel right for you: it is perfectly acceptable to mix styles and periods, in fact it can be fun. And don’t forget that a family heirloom can never be out of place in a family home.

Have you got any home make-over tips you can share? Email us at