3 easy ways to update a tired-looking home, according to architect Dara Huang

It doesn't even have to cost a penny

Gallery wall arranged on shelf in living space
(Image credit: Future PLC/Jane Bowles)

Dara Huang, architect and judge for Channel 4's new interior design competition series, The Big Interior Battles, shares her top tips for elevating a tired-looking home.

Regardless of how much thought you put into designing a living space in your home, there'll come a time when a new home decor trend pops up and you might feel the urge to splurge on something new.

However, updating a drab and tired-looking home is actually a lot easier (and cheaper) than you think – and architect and entrepreneur, Dara Huang, has just the advice to make your home feel refreshed.

White bookshelf in living space with yellow velvet accent chair

(Image credit: Future PLC)

3 easy ways to update a tired-looking home

Oftentimes, when we're bored with our living room or bedroom ideas, our first solution may be to buy something new. But it pays to first make do with what you have – and you may even surprise yourself with how much of a difference the small things can make.

1. Reorganise your shelves

Giving your shelving ideas a quick little tweak makes the world of a difference.

Dara starts, 'I did a video on Instagram on how to arrange a shelf. People always make a really common mistake where they'll stack their books and it's really messy. There are pieces of paper and everything and all cluttery.'

'What you want to do is this, it's a bit theoretical, but you want to think about positive and negative space,' she adds. This is especially important for your living room shelving ideas.

'So you want some books stacked horizontally and some vertically, and with your objects, you always want to put them in pairs. You always want to have a collection of different objects together like picture frames, a bowl, and so on. That's the quickest fix.'

Gallery wall arranged on shelf in living space

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

2. Changing your light bulbs

'Another quick fix is changing your light bulbs, just making sure they're all warm white instead of cold and that they're all matching,' says Dara.

Even then, there's a plethora of lighting trends to try your luck at if changing your light bulbs isn't bringing about enough change for your home.

White, blue and cool toned living room colour scheme with sofa, coffee table and high windows

(Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki)

3. Add a centrepiece to your coffee table

Centrepieces aren't only limited to a Christmas table spread but make a difference even in a more casual everyday setting, and it's a staple stylists always consider when styling a coffee table.

'Nobody ever thinks of that. It means putting a stack of books there, or buying a big vase and putting faux branches inside if you're really lazy.'

Neutral toned living room colour scheme with sofa, armchairs and bookshelf accent wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jane Bowles)

'I think those are quick fixes people can do to make it look better,' assures Dara. Employing these in any of your rooms is sure to take it from drab to fab, without even spending a penny.

The Big Interiors Battle is available to watch at 8pm on Fridays on Channel 4 or to stream online on All 4.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is Ideal Home’s Junior Writer. She’s always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham in 2022. Previously, she was an Intern Editor for ArchDaily. Now focused on news stories, Jullia can be found down the TikTok and Pinterest rabbit hole scrolling through any new and upcoming trends, hacks, and home inspiration.