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Interior Design On A Budget by Kate MacLeary

By Kate MacLeary on Feb 08 2014

Image via Houzz

This week I'm concentrating on budget ideas to transform your home. In particular, I've taken inspiration from across the pond where inner city living often means high rent and uninspiring living spaces. In London especially, this is a problem that resonates with many of you. But renting a property doesn't have to mean you can't put your own stamp on your dwelling. Follow these cheap tips for instant gratification!

Lighting

If you don't own your home, one of the biggest bugbears are drab light fittings and fixtures. Whilst fittings can be changed, sadly the position of the main electrical points cannot without permission from your landlord and a hefty electricians bill, neither of which are likely to be a viable option. But there is a fix to this issue- work with the existing elements to create some unique and cheap lighting solutions!

Embrace the trend for industrial light fittings and make your own. Notice how this clever fitting feeds in to just one main electrical point but offers different layers of light and visual interest, transforming with just the aid of a metal bar what could have been a dreary pendant fitting into an industrial chandelier! This doesn't have to be difficult. All you need is some striking cord fittings plus lightweight shades or bare bulbs of your choice. You can simply fix the cables to the ceiling at individual points using small hooks or wrap around a fixed object as shown. I love the range of flexes and fittings available at Rockett St George with cord available from just £4 but you can also pick up fittings very cheaply at your local DIY store.

In the same vein, you can re-locate the position of a pendant very simply by switching the existing fitting for one with an extra long cable. This Scandinavian influenced trend isn't new but has taken some time to make it's way over to the UK- surprising as it's such a neat trick! Drape the cable or chain over a ceiling mounted hook to re-position the pendant exactly where you want it (in the case of cable you will need to loop or secure safely to prevent slipping). There is a great tutorial here. You can also create ceiling lights where none exist by purchasing a long cable fitting which plugs directly into the wall socket and simply affixing the cable to the ceiling at two points (see below). Make as bold a feature of this option as you dare using a brightly coloured cable and a vibrant shade, or keep things low key and simple in all white as seen in this funky Barcelona pad.

Zoning

Make your home work for you with clever modular storage solutions. Not only are bookcases a useful storage option for corralling clutter, they can act as fantastic room dividers. For example, you can easily create an office nook using just basic modular systems. And whilst open plan living has its benefits, if you tire of eating, sleeping and breathing one space at home, consider visually breaking up and defining the area with sleek units.

The bloggers fave, IKEA Expedit has firmly cemented it's place in contemporary schemes and looks set to stay due to its varying colour options and versatile multi purpose use.

Decorate

What's that, you can't decorate a rented place, you say? Well you'd be surprised what you can do. If you're lucky, your landlord or letting agent will give you free reign to re-decorate to your taste but if not there are some clever tricks you can employ.

Japanese washi tape is a big trend in the craft and interiors wold at the moment. This fun tape comes in a plethora or colours and designs. It's typically used for smaller craft projects but with a little creativity, can be used to great effect to transform walls, doors or even ceilings. The adhesive on washi tape is easily removable meaning it can be easily peeled from a wall without damaging the finish beneath, ideal for tenants with rigid 'no decorating' restrictions.

One of my favourite tricks is to make feature panels using wallpaper. By simply wallpapering onto MDF board, you can create a stunning feature within a room cheaply and without the commitment of papering the wall directly. As the panel uses a relatively small amount of wallpaper (you can usually get away with just one roll) there is plenty of scope within even the smallest budget to plump for a striking designer print such as these Cole & Son or Timorous Beasties designs. If you can, fix your panel to the wall using headboard hooks but if that's not permitted in your lease, this idea works equally well with the board simply propped against a wall.

The best aspect of this concept is that the panel is easily movable from room to room. Get a luxe look on a budget by using as a dramatic feature headboard. Better still, you can take the whole panel with you when you move, making this idea a savvy investment in both time and money.

Image via Houzz

Plants

Basic, cheap and available even in your local supermarket, adding some plants, flowers or foliage to any room in your home gives an instant lift to your decor for less.

Notice in this room how the large palm adds depth to the scheme whilst the pretty yellow spray on the coffee table adds height and interest, picking out the chartreuse hue of the cushion.

You can pick up a large palm very cheaply in garden centres, supermarkets and even online. A tall bold plant can work in any room in the home from living rooms to bathrooms. In fact lots of indoor plants thrive on the steam created in the bathroom making this space a prime candidate for adding interest, especially as this is often a neglected room in design terms within the home. Give plants some personality by choosing a striking pot or make your own by dipping a simple plant pot in a bright paint colour.

If you have a little more to spend, indoor potted fig trees are currently in fashion and being used to great effect, adding a sophisticated splash of colour as seen in this minimalism scheme.^^

I hope these tips have inspired you to get creative. It goes without saying that when experimenting with lighting and electrical cabling you should always seek advice and employ appropriate safety precautions. The most important thing is to have fun with your interior decor. Think outside the box and make your home unique to you.

Images courtesy of Pintrest, Timorous Beasties, Design Sponge, Remodelaholic, Houzz, Destination BCN