Government orders to stay home to curb the spread of the coronavirus earlier in the year have roused a sudden desire to beautify our living spaces.
With work and the home being under one roof, people now crave a retreat - even if to our tiny balconies.
But home remodelling does not need to be a costly affair. Using a little cash and lots of sweat equity, you can spruce up your dull living room from drub to fab with only Sh10,000.
Interior designer Grace Ndiege suggests some easy, cheap ways to fall a little more in love with our homes.
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Paint it up
Are your walls ‘landlord brown’? Off-white or cream colours that most rental houses have are dull and may leave you feeling uninspired. Giving your living room a coat of brilliant white paint will bring a bright airy feel.
“The colour you paint totally depends on your style,” says Ndiege, who also creates home décor and lifestyle content for her 5,000 Youtube subscribers.
She advises that if you are nervous about a big change, try something less dramatic like grey or light blue. Stay away from bright colours like orange, red or yellows unless that is your theme.
All you need for this project is paint - that you can get for as low as Sh650 a litre - brushes and painter’s tape.
“Painting is the easiest thing to do and most times even fun,” says Ndiege. She also advises that water-based paints are the best as they are cheaper, are odorous for less hours and are easy to measure visually.
You can decide on accent walls, where you paint three walls one colour, and the fourth an energising, bright contrast colour.
Banish bad lighting
Lighting is one of the few things in the house that communicate mood. It is an essential ingredient when decorating, not an afterthought like we consider it to be.
From the start of the year, lighting and fixtures stores have mushroomed all over the city from Accra road to Duruma road, giving you more than enough variety to pick your fancy.
Some popular stores with affordable lighting are Tronic East Africa in Westlands, Vish Electricals in Westgate and Creative Innovations that can be found in most malls.
“The lighting you pick depends on the space and fixture you have,” says Ndiege.
Layered illumination is the way to go if you want to enliven your home on a budget. Layered illumination means every room should have a mix of lighting, including overhead, accent and task lights.
“Kitchens should be bright, and if you have a kitchen island, consider overhanging pendant lights. The home office and corridors should also use cool light,” Ndiege says.
“Living room, bathrooms and bedrooms should have warm lights because it’s what works best with our skin tone to create ambience.”
If your curtains, area rug and seats already match, an accent item is the last piece of the puzzle.
Accent means ‘emphasis’ and an accent décor is a piece that stands out because it complements the room. Think of a large art painting of a woman’s silhouette.
Accent pieces add personality to your home, creating whatever vibe you wish to incorporate to the house. Accent pillows, for example, add softness to the home while making it more cozy and welcoming. You can swap the pillow cases periodically or to contrast the curtains in your house.
Online stores on Instagram and Facebook give variety for as low as Sh700 to Sh1,000 per piece.
Select small tables that are painted, inlaid or made from unconventional materials or have strong colours or lines. Alternatively, go for large imposing pieces like a big mirror or queen-sized flair seats for the bedroom.
Other accent pieces include decorative bowls, ottoman trays, table vases and figurines or sculptures. These all cost below Sh5,000 in home décor stores. If you want a slightly more expensive piece that goes beyond mere functionality, adds colour, definition and drama, go for accent furniture.
Get your DIY on
Usually, the cheapest way to do something is to do it yourself (DIY). For example, bookcases. They are not just for book storage. You can make one to display family photos, succulents and another decor.
Using vintage items and pinecones adds a beautiful touch to your home, displaying sentimental items that tie in the rest of the living room décor.
Re-upholstering can also save you thousands of shillings and you will not need to trash your beloved seats.
“Just ensure you do your research on what you want and follow video tutorials carefully. Measure several times before you punch holes or make cuts,” adds Ndiege.
In your bathroom, nature will always be the cheapest option. Artificial plants and succulents that you can get in supermarkets and décor stores for not more than Sh2,000 can make all the difference. If you opt for natural, living plants make sure they can access sunlight.
To tie it all in, keep things concealed and leave very little on countertops.
Modernise your space
Long gone are the days for tacky pleather (plastic leather) seats and family photos splashed across all available wall space.
“Modern spaces are now more minimalist and pastel colours,” says Ndiege.
That means decluttering and rearranging first to purge anything that does not go with your new theme. This is the easiest and cheapest thing to do to give your house a facelift.
You can sell some things online to come up with the Sh10,000 but things that, as Marie Kondo says, “bring you joy”.
Of everything on one surface, pick four that are in the same family by material, origin or colour.
“When I wanted to change up my house, I had Pinterest mood boards. When you know what you want, you walk around stores comparing prices and looking for discounts to get everything at the best price,” Ndiege says.