Transform natural-fibre textiles with inexpensive dye. Dyeing bedlinen is an easy way to get a different look without the expense of a new set, and vintage crochet throws, which can often be unevenly coloured, look ultra chic when dyed in a sophisticated shade. If you’re new to dyeing, towels are the perfect place to start as the fabric sucks up colour well and a bright set can make a real impact in the bathroom.
Top tip: Wash the item before dyeing it as any finishes can affect the end result. If you’re dyeing a number of items that won’t all fit into one cycle, make sure you have equal amounts of dye and the same weight of fabric in each load to avoid colour variations. Only natural fibres absorb dye. If your chosen item is sewn with visible man-made fibre thread, that will stay the original colour.
Get the look: You will need Dylon Fabric Dye for Machine Use, from £4.95. This dyes up to 1kg of dry fabirc and is available at John Lewis. You also need ordinary salt to fix the colour (see back of packs for amount required).
For more design inspiration. Check out our fabulous vintage home decor gallery.
Introduce fun in unexpected places with decorative wall stickers. A stylish and inexpensive alternative to wallpaper, and much easier to apply, stickers can add interest to any flat surface, be it walls, floors, furniture or even white goods. And best of all, if you get tired of your design, you can peel it off without damaging the surface.
Style tip: These elegant numbers turn a hallway staircase from ordinary to ooh la la in an instant, plus they are a fun way of helping kids learn their un, deux, trois. You could label up other items around the house, too, in any language you like.
Get the look: This set of Hand Written Numbers costs £39 from Brume, who can also make bespoke numbers and lettering, from £25.
Stencils are an easy and cost-effective way to create a feature wall and add impact to your home. Gone are the days of dated fleur-de-lys being the only option: the latest versions are cutting edge and cool. This antler design is a high-impact and animal-friendly way to add that Highland vibe, or create your own design at The Stencil Warehouse.
Top tip: Position your motif, then fix it to the wall with low-tack masking tape. Dip the stencil brush or roller into the paint, then dab it onto paper towel until almost dry. Apply in thin coats until you have the right depth of colour, then remove the stencil.
Transform unattractive or unloved furniture into a unique, designer-look piece with decorative wallpaper panels. You could paper a table top, wardrobe, sideboard or chest of drawers. “If you have a piece with indented doors or drawers, paper the indents and paint the edges a contrasting colour,” says Interior Designer Danielle Proud. As you won?t be using very much, this is a great way to incorporate some high-end wallpaper into your scheme.
Top tip: Treat the finished piece with shellac and varnish as you would a collaged wall.
Create a feature wall display by hanging lots of pictures together as a way to add personality. Random grouping works well with an eclectic collection, grids work best with frames of the same style and size, and rows draw the eye along a transitional space, such as a hallway. A bold background adds to the effect.
How to hang: To find the exact spot for your picture hook, place the picture frame against the wall and mark the top two corners and the centre point in pencil. Mark the centre point on the top of the picture, then pull the hanging wire taught towards it. Measure the distance from the centre point to the wire, then measure the same distance down from the centre point on the wall ? place your hook there.
Cheat-reupholster simple items, such as wooden-armed chairs, footstools or pouffes, using stretchy fabric and a staple gun. “Be inventive about sourcing fabrics,” says Furniture Designer Zoe Murphy.” Vintage jumpers or woollen or knitted blankets can be fabulous. Knitted fabrics in particular are very easy to work with as they will stretch easily around a piece.”
Top tip: Before you start, boil wash wool fabric to felt it, which makes it more hard-wearing, says Zoe. Lay a piece of wadding over the seat to smooth the shape, and cover with a piece of fire-retardant fabric before stretching over your chosen textile. After stapling in place, you can tack another piece of fabric underneath to hide the stapled edges.
Get the look: Visit charity shops to source inexpensive, good-quality cable-stitch jumpers. Buy a Stanley Sharpshooter Heavy Duty staple gun, from £22.58, at B&Q.
Take blackboard paint one step further by creating a monthly calendar in your home office to keep your whole family organised. “You can mix a little water-based white emulsion into blackboard paint to achieve different shades of grey,” says Livingetc design guru Mark Gardside. Just make sure the blackboard paint is water-based, too.
Top tip: If you’d prefer more zingy colours, you can actually chalk onto ordinary matt emulsion, says Mark. Apply at least three coats to ensure the surface is durable enough to be wiped clean.
Get the look: Buy International One Coat blackboard paint, £11.99 per 750ml from Homebase.
“Paint your windowsills, door frames or the back of a door in a shade other than traditional whit,” says Homeware Designer Petra Boase. It’s a good way to add colour to a neutral room without having to commit to entire walls of a strong hue. Paint windows on a still day, as early in the morning as possible so the paint can dry in time to close the windows. Mask off the glass before starting, then, once dry, run a craft knife around the edge to prevent the paint from tearing.
Top tip: If you want to avoid washing out gloopy brushes, use a water-based formula, such as Dulux Quick Drying Gloss, £9.99 for 750ml, or Satinwood, £10.99 for 750ml, though the colour range is limited.
Get the look: Visit Dulux for a great range of bright colours.
Protect your modesty and your valuables from prying eyes, or hide a bad view, with adhesive window film way cooler than nets. Window film also laminates the glass, making it more difficult to smash.
Top tip: Enlist a helper to make sure you dont get in a tangle. First, clean the window and wipe with white spirit. Spray it with a solution of two drops of washing-up liquid to one pint of water. This allows you to slightly move the film so you can position it and smooth out air bubbles before it takes hold.
“Spray painting old furniture can completely transform it into something more playful and unconventional, with minimum effort,” says Interior Designer Abigail Ahern. It’s messy, though, and you will need to lightly sand and sugar soap your piece of furniture first, then wipe down with a cloth dampened with white spirit. Remember that your first coat won’t be perfect it will need at least two.
Top tip: On larger pieces, rather than using lots of cans of aerosol spray, try an electric spray gun, which can be used to apply water – and solvent-based paints, varnishes, stains and lacquers.
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