Don't underestimate the power of a quick makeover: 15 easy home updates

Interior design experts share savvy tips that make a world of difference to your living spaces

17 January 2021 - 00:03 By Derek Swalwell and Maree Homer
Whether it's on your front door or a plant pot, a fresh lick of paint will work wonders.
Whether it's on your front door or a plant pot, a fresh lick of paint will work wonders.
Image: Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features

1. PEP UP YOUR POTS

"A couple of cans of spray paint is all you need to give cheap terracotta or ceramic pots a fresh, modern look. Consider on-trend shades of matt black, gold or fluorescents," says landscape designer Daniel Tyrrell.

"Arrange groups of pots of different sizes with mixed plantings for maximum impact."

We recently discovered a great product by Fired Earth specifically for painting pots. Around R220 from builders.co.za

2. CREATE A WARM WELCOME

"Give your entrance an instant lift by repainting the front door," says ," says stylist Megan Morton.

"Think outside the square when it comes to house numbers. Handpaint a number on a front door, and complete the picture with a porch light to illuminate the space, as well as a quality doormat.

Buying paint has never been easier as manufacturers like Plascon, Dulux and Durham now offer products that are tailor-made to your every need.

Task lighting is essential for any home office.
Task lighting is essential for any home office.
Image: Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features
'A linear arrangement of artworks in identical frames always looks sophisticated.'
'A linear arrangement of artworks in identical frames always looks sophisticated.'
Image: Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features

3. REVAMP YOUR HOME OFFICE

"Add a few simple decorative touches to your study and work becomes more enjoyable. For a quick and easy update, invest in a fabulous task light. Then add a plant or two, in pretty pots, to oxygenate the environment. Finally, add an inspiring artwork on the wall," say Caecilia Potter and Anna Tudball, the design director and interior designer of Atticus & Milo.

"Well-designed storage is essential, so install cabinets, drawers and shelving if needed. Treat yourself to a comfortable new office chair and desk accessories.

"If you're repainting, opt for calming greens and blue-greys. Alternatively, choose a wallpaper that gets the creative juices flowing." 

A great one-stop shop in SA that we recommend is iconomyonline.com, which has a great selection of local design and craft.

4. GET SMART WITH ART

"A linear arrangement of artworks in identical frames always looks sophisticated," says picture-hanging specialist Jonathon Lee.

"Hang the pictures as flat as possible and aim for 4-6cm between frames.

"Try this with an informal grouping of family photos. Start by hanging the bottom picture at the lowest level; then the ones at the furthest sides; and finally the top picture. Fill in the empty space with the remaining pictures."

Some of our favourite local online art stores are 50ty50typrints.com, latitudes.online and artistproofstudio.co.za

Giving your living room a fresh look can be as easy as adding new scatter cushions and/or a rug.
Giving your living room a fresh look can be as easy as adding new scatter cushions and/or a rug.
Image: Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features

5. REFRESH YOUR SOFA

"Revive a tired sofa with new foam, feathers and cushions. Or reupholster using a new fabric - a fitted cover in a textured fabric will give the neatest finish," says interior designer Miriam Fanning.

"Complete the look with scatter cushions. Try oversized cushions in textured or quilted fabrics or block colours that contrast with the sofa."

Check out skinnylaminx.com, hertexhaus.co.za and wanderland.co.za for a great selection of local textiles.

6. LAY A SUMPTUOUS RUG

"If you're looking to define a space and engage the senses, look no further than a rug," says Bob Cadry of the Australian rug brand Candrys.

"Right now, textures are huge - undyed wools, nettle yarns and the relaxed, organic feel of bamboo silks. Classic designs with a distressed finish in understated shades of blues, silvers and copper are also trending. For a chic and unexpected vibe, lay a vintage rug in a contemporary setting - a tribal rug in a minimalist room, for example.

"A quality rug will last for years, so it pays to maintain it. Vacuum without bristles regularly, taking particular care of the fringes. Rotate rugs in high-traffic or sunny spots to even out wear and exposure." 

A few of our favourite local rug suppliers are airloom.co.za, coralandhive.com, francesvh.com and lundruggallery.co.za. For a wide variety or something more economical, try superbalist.com

Use pendant lights to make a style statement.
Use pendant lights to make a style statement.
Image: Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features
A cool colour palette creates a calm atmosphere in a bedroom.
A cool colour palette creates a calm atmosphere in a bedroom.
Image: Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features

7. WAKE UP A TIRED BEDROOM

"Your bedroom is a place for rest and relaxation, so give it plenty of love. I like linen sheets in calming colours such as grey, duck-egg blue or celadon green and I always add a textured throw for chilly evenings. Introduce pops of colour with scatter cushions," says interior designer Thomas Hamel.

"To keep bedsides uncluttered, I recommend a bedside table with drawers or doors. If yours doesn't have storage, consider adding a desk tray to hold personal items such as glasses and phones." 

Mungo.co.za has an amazing collection of local and imported homeware products to update your bedroom, or pop into your local Country Road or Zara Home store for linen and bedroom accessories. Also see yuppiechef.co.za for a great selection of goodies.

8. ADD DRAMA WITH LIGHTING

"Create an eye-catching focal point in a hallway or over the kitchen island with one of this season's sculptural ceiling lights. I love the minimalist lights I saw at last year's Milan Furniture Fair, which would work equally well in decorative spaces or those with an architectural edge," says interior designer Andrea D'Cruz.

"When it comes to finishes, neutrals provide a timeless look; think white, black, grey and metals such as bronze and copper."

Shop online at lightingwarehouse.co.za for a wide variety of lighting, or try knus.co.za and hoiploy.com for more bespoke design.

Wallpaper will add bags of character to a hallway.
Wallpaper will add bags of character to a hallway.
Image: Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features

9. ADD PERSONALITY TO A HALL

"Hallways are often neglected spaces that can feel cold and empty. Laying a runner on the floor will add a warm, welcoming touch," says interior designer Greg Natale.

"Even in a small space, layering is important - interesting wall treatments such as wallpaper and key pieces of furniture such as an elegant console that fits the space perfectly will do wonders."

Have fun with wallpaper from local suppliers robinsprong.com, lemon.za.com and hertex.co.za

10. SPLASH OUT WITH PAINT

"There's no faster route to finding renewed love for your home than paint," says Andrea Lucena-Orr, colour planning and communications manager at Dulux.

"For instant impact on a hallway staircase, paint the risers in varying shades of one colour, starting darker on the bottom step through to the lightest pastel shade of that colour at the top.

"Try a similar treatment on the ladder of a child's bunk bed, picking up other shades in the surrounding walls and trims."

A good place to start after looking at Pinterest would be a visit to Dulux supplier hyperpaint.co.za for tons of inspiration, tips and specials.

Tiles aren't just for kitchen splashbacks, but can be used to create feature walls too.
Tiles aren't just for kitchen splashbacks, but can be used to create feature walls too.
Image: Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features
New handles, new look.
New handles, new look.
Image: Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features

11. JAZZ UP THE JOINERY

"The kitchen is one of the easiest rooms to refresh if you're short on time and money. The fastest trick is to simply paint the existing joinery. I love matt blue and green finishes for cabinetry, paired with brass hardware. Or replace old tiles with ones that are modern and fresh," says Hamel.

Visit dulux.co.za for a step-by-step guide on how to paint your kitchen cabinets, plus a selection of products to make the job a little easier. Finish off with affordable and surprisingly stylish handles from your local hardware store.

12. SWAP OUT YOUR SPLASHBACK

"Changing your splashback to coloured glass adds a nice, clean element and it is easy to maintain as there are no grout lines. My favourites include simple white or smoky-grey glass," says Hamel.

Builders Warehouse has a selection of glass splashbacks offering different colours, textures and designs. Visit builders.co.za or pop in to one of the bigger stores.

13. OPENING DOORS

"Black opaque door hardware is one of the biggest trends right now, as is Art Deco-influenced designs in modern finishes such as rose gold, polished nickel and satin-finished brass," says Simone Pittella of Pittella, which specialises in luxury Italian door and bathroom fittings.

If you're looking for a great local online store, try handlesin.co.za. Or support local design team douglasanddouglas.co.za by investing in their beautiful collection of cabinet hardware.

Accessories such as this side table and potted plant will make a super clean-lined bathroom feel less sterile.
Accessories such as this side table and potted plant will make a super clean-lined bathroom feel less sterile.
Image: Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features

14. TURN ON THE TILES

"Replacing dated floor or wall tiles will give your bathroom an immediate lift," says Natale.

"Geometric concrete tiles are a great option for the floor. If you want a more dramatic look, run them up one wall as well.

"If you've already updated your tapware to this season's aged brass or rose gold, echo this in your bathroom accessories - a brass or gold tumbler or soap pump.

"Finish off with a tray to contain all your bathroom accessories. It's a stylish storage solution and makes cleaning surfaces easier." 

Start off with some local heroes offering inspiration and a variety of beautiful handmade tiles. Visit dekleipot.co.za, hadeda.net or shawtec.co.za

15. AMP UP THE ACCESSORIES


"Updating the tapware and accessories lets you transform your bathroom without the cost of a full-blown renovation," says Daniela Santilli of the Reece Group, Australia's largest plumbing and bathroom supplies business.

"Current tapware trends range from the sleek and slimline to the geometric, in combinations of different colours and materials in a single design. Add plenty of storage to keep clutter to a minimum, plus scented candles and soft towels." — Bauersyndication.com.au/Magazinefeatures.co.za

For a great selection of bathroom hardware, pop in to your local Builders Warehouse or Leroy Merlin store. For a limited but lovely collection of basins and tap designs, visit studio19.co