33 Ways To Give Your Home A Facelift

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33 Ways To Give Your Home A Facelift

Words by Ms Fedora Abu

31 January 2023

There’s nothing quite like spending a lot of time indoors to reaffirm the importance of having a beautiful home (or make you envious of everyone else’s). Even if you don’t work from home or live in a place that doesn’t require you to huddle inside for warmth, chances are it’s still the place you retreat to every night – your respite from the outside world and all its ongoing chaos. In short, there’s every reason to put the time, money and elbow grease into creating a space that works for your needs and in which you, and anyone who happens to pass through, really enjoy luxuriating. Whether your home is a sprawling Architectural Digest-worthy mansion in Southern California or a one-bed apartment in east London, here’s how to do it right.


Start with the lighting

Renovating a space from scratch? “Before anything else, I always start any project by considering what the ambience will be like at different times of the day,” says Mr Alex Glover, founder of colour consultancy Alexander Austin James. “It is important to decide where you want lamps, sconces and downlights to be positioned before decorators and electricians have started. Don’t leave it until you’re placing furniture in the room and it’s too late to move sockets and switches.”


Make a good first impression

Think of your entrance space as a room in itself and decorate accordingly. “Add colour and texture – a dark entrance can be incredibly dramatic,” says New York-based interior designer Mr Robert Passal. “Create interest with impactful large-scale art or a gallery wall, and introduce a touch of life. Flowers, plants or a large tree will add impact and warmth to your entrance. I am a big fan of flanking an entry door with a pair of trees.”


Go bold with colour

For Ms Charlotte Rey and Mr Duncan Campbell, founders of design consultancy Campbell-Rey, maximalism is the guiding principle. “Don’t be afraid of colour – more is more,” says Campbell. But if you’re apprehensive, the duo has a few go-to combinations to get you started: Rey favours eau de nil alongside burgundy, while Campbell recommends pairing olive green with powder blue, and raspberry with yolk yellow.


Shop with a plan

“Never go shopping for furniture without having done a floor plan or layout,” says interior designer Mr Christian Bense. “Doing one will best inform your decision-making process and allow you to take options off the table because you already know they won’t fit or work in the space,” he says. “There are so many routes to take when selecting furniture, and if doing a floor plan first can help eliminate some options, then why not?” (Rey recommends measuring out potential purchases with tape on the floor to get a feel for their size in the room.)


Invest in floor sockets

“If doing a renovation, invest in floor sockets for plugs,” says Mr Angus Buchanan of Buchanan Studio. “It sounds boring, but having hidden plug sockets under an ottoman or an armchair allowing a computer or phone to be plugged in without wires going all over the place is a real luxury.”


Stay in command

“In feng shui, there is the command position, which is the position that gives you the most comfort,” says architect and feng shui consultant Mr Cliff Tan. “This just needs to fulfil two criteria: the first is to have wall behind you and the second is to have lots of space in front of you, so that you feel a sense of openness and control over the room,” he says. “Also, with the door in front and far ahead, you can prepare yourself if anyone comes in. Apply this to your bed for better sleep, or to your desk so that when you work, you will feel like you can concentrate.”


Take the edge off

“Sharp angles and jagged edges stimulate the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with fear, so choosing furniture and objects with rounded forms puts us closer to nature and makes us feel more settled,” says Mr Matt Gibberd, founder of The Modern House and Inigo, and author of A Modern Way To Live.


Go big with accessories

“Items that are larger in scale have more impact,” Passal says. “Before choosing and placing accessories, take the time to study scale and proportion and what fits best in your space. That’s what helps create a comfortable home. I recommend varying the scale and heights when grouping objects. The largest accessories should be placed first and sparingly, with smaller ones filling in and adding balance where needed.”


But don’t overdo it

“You also need to leave some breathing room on your surfaces so that the objects can be seen,” Passal adds. “Not every nook and cranny in a room needs to be filled with accessories.”


Know the keys to a cosy bedroom

“Plush fabrics and soft-shaped furniture will add cosiness to your bedroom, as will creating a reading corner with a petite chair, side table and floor lamp,” says Ms Severine Lammoglia, the principal designer for Soho House. “Drapery also plays a big part in a bedroom design and can define the look and feel of the room – for example, rich velvet curtains will create a more lush, warmer feel while linen gives a more relaxed look.”


Follow the light

“I strongly believe in using lighter colours in lighter rooms (south-facing, larger windows, etc) and darker colours in rooms with less light,” says Glover. “The lighter spaces will reflect light into the darker spaces – for example if you have a living room with lots of natural light and a hallway with minimal light next to it, this will brighten up the hallway even if those walls are in a darker hue.”



Think odd, not even

“When placing furniture in a space or objects on a mantelpiece, think about grouping them together in odd numbers rather than perfect grids,” Gibberd suggests. “If things are arranged asymmetrically, the eye is forced to move around them to fully absorb what it sees.”


Source art from up-and-comers

One of the trickier aspects of decorating your home is finding artwork that’s unique, fits your personal taste and feels right for the space. Lammoglia recommends taking the Soho House approach: “We work with a separate team of art specialists and they always advocate visiting graduate shows if you want to find the most contemporary work.”


Elevate your frames

“Selecting artwork should be done on a personal level – that is, buying it because you’re drawn to it,” Bense says. “However, how you frame that artwork should relate directly to the wall it’s being hung on. Bad framing can make art look cheap and insignificant. Spend the time to ensure that the way you frame a piece of art ties to the elements within the room.”


Cosy up your kitchen

“Antiques and reclaimed items in kitchens will really help to soften the harsh lines and clinical feeling that many kitchens have,” Buchanan says. “Bring in distressed warm wood in the form of chairs or side tables. Source old lights and lamps that have character and patination. Place art on the walls and try to have a table lamp light circuit to create a more intimate feeling. The same is true of a bathroom – don’t shy away from wood and fabrics in bathrooms, as it will make spending time in them so much more enjoyable.”


Employ the trick mirror

According to Campbell, mirrors are great for bouncing light around and creating movement, which will go a long way in small, dark rooms. “The bigger the mirror, the better,” Passal adds. “And I prefer round mirrors in smaller spaces, as they literally take the edge off small rooms.”


Size up in small rooms

Don’t be tempted to opt for “doll-house furnishings” in small spaces, says Passal. “Use the largest furnishings that properly fit into the space.” Likewise, “large rugs will allow the space to visually feel larger. And hang drapes and window treatments as high as possible – from the ceiling line or just below the crown moulding.”


But beware the lofty bookshelf

In small rooms, “go for long low horizontal units instead of towering bookshelves,” says Tan. “Shorter units reduce the oppressive energy that towering shelve have above you, and their lowered horizontal surfaces give the feeling of horizontality and expansiveness.”


Shop far and wide

“Don’t let one brand’s style take over your home, as it prevents it feeling at all unique,” says Bense. “I always advise that you never buy your ‘hero’ piece for each room from the same retailer. I even go as far as to never pair anything from the same supplier within 2ft of each other. Forcing yourself to shop in this way means that you have a greater chance of establishing your own personal style.”


Upgrade your knobs

“The Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa once described the humble door handle as the ‘handshake of the building’,” says Gibberd “We come into physical contact with our doors every day, so upgrading the knobs and knockers to something more ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing can have a deceptively positive effect.”


Get your neutrals right

Painting a room white might seem a safe bet, but not all neutrals are made equal. “To create a space that feels cosy, I avoid anything that could be described as bright white,” says Bense. “My absolute failsafe when it comes to a neutral paint colour is Paint & Paper Library Slate II. I’ve used it in multiple projects, in multiple countries and for multiple styles. It’s light when it needs to be light, and moodier when it needs to be moodier.”



Go seamless

Don’t overlook the importance of the woodwork, especially in smaller rooms. According to Passal, painting the walls, ceiling and trim the same colour will “create a seamless space” that feels larger.


Or don’t

“If you are set on painting a room in a dark colour, then consider keeping the ceilings and windows in a lighter tone,” says Glover. “This will allow light to reflect around the room, even if the walls are dark.”


Play with contrasts

For Bense, creating a cosy space is all about contrasts. “If you have a wooden coffee table, introduce a lacquered side table as a counterbalance in the same room. If you have a linen sofa, add velvet scatter cushions to play on the textures. If you have a traditional pendant, introduce some contemporary floor lamps to balance out the style. These yin and yang moments help to create a layered feel.”


Add detail with panelling

“I find when a room is lacking any architectural details, panelling can work well to create structure and depth,” says Glover. “MDF achieves the same effect at afraction of the price, but I would recommend using solid wood in bathrooms and any high-moisture areas.” And if possible, go the full stretch. “I think panelling works really well in small bedrooms and washroomsbut if the budget can stretch beyond a feature wall behind a bed I would avoid this and do the whole room.”


Evolve with the seasons

An easy way to reinvigorate your space is to swap out the finishing touches every few months. Passal suggests adding in seasonal plants, but also changing cushions, throws and bedding. “Use lighter colours during the warmer seasons and darker colours in the cooler seasons,” he says. “Swap your wool rugs for sisal or flat weaves in summer and vary your dinnerware seasonally.”


Keep your eye out

The secret to creating a home that feels curated over time is to “always be on the lookout”, says Rey – at markets, on your travels, at antique stores. “And make friends with dealers so they tell you when things come into their stores that they think you would like.”


Layer your lighting

“Introduce lighting at different levels in the room,” Lammoglia says. “Mix low-level lights such as table lamps and floor lamps with high-level lighting, such as pendants and chandeliers. At Soho House, we play with the light-fitting scale, varying small and very tall lamps as well as mixing different lighting materials including glass, metal and fabric shades to create a more eclectic look.”


Install a dimmer

“The most common design blunder I come across is rooms that are overlit,” says Passal. “No one and no space looks good in lighting that’s too bright. Dimmers, whether wall and lamp or three-way bulbs (I recommend 30/70/100 watt), can transform a room.”

“The secret to creating a home that feels curated over time is to ‘always be on the lookout’ – at markets, on your travels, at antique stores”


Get creative with wallpaper

“Wallpaper borders are a clever way of adding something exciting and decorative but also more cost-effective and less laborious than doing entire walls,” says Glover. “Fabric or seagrass wallpapers on walls work well, too – I use these a lot. Alternatively, the same effect can be achieved with paint by using stencils, which have had a resurgence.”


Create a distinct dining space

“No one has a dining room anymore, but making the dining table feel separate and in a slightly different world to the chaos of a kitchen during a dinner party will make for a more relaxed dining experience,” Buchanan says. “Use plants to create some visual barrier from the dining table to the messy working area of the kitchen. And if you can’t have a dimming pendant above the table, get some portable battery-powered lights such as the Flos Bellhop, which will add a sexy restaurant ambience to any dinner party.”


Rethink your WFH space

If you’re lucky enough to have a study, “design and decorate it as you would any other room in your home,” says Passal. “If it is your own personal space, allow the room to represent you, your travels, family history, etc.” And if your WFH area is a shared space, then think vertically. “Take advantage of wall space with drop-down desks and wall-mounted storage spaces, which can hide a multitude of paperwork and sins.”


Place your desk by the window

“A report in California showed that children are more productive, and even achieve better exam results, when they are able to work in a sunny space,” says Gibberd. “All of us would benefit from getting more natural light during the day – the simple act of placing your desk near a window can increase productivity and help regulate the circadian rhythm.”