Micro style: how to redesign your home on a budget

Coffee table and chair
Wil Law/John Lewis & Partners
Anna Brech
by Anna Brech
20 October 2022

Sprucing up your home doesn’t always call for a complete makeover. In fact, you can change the feel of your living space just by making a few small changes.

We spoke to Wil Law, home design stylist at John Lewis & Partners, to discover the small and affordable ways to create a fresh new look for your home this autumn.

John Lewis & Partners home design stylist, Wil Law
Wil Law/John Lewis & Partners

Focus on how it feels – not how it looks

A lot of people arrange their space in a traditional way without stopping to consider whether it really serves their needs. For example, in my flat’s open-plan kitchen and dining area, I initially had my table right by the kitchen. But then I realised that when sunlight came into the room at the other end it hit a bookcase, blocking the light. 

Just by swapping those two pieces of furniture around I can now have my morning coffee in a nice patch of sunlight, and the whole room has a lot more flow. So it’s important to think about how you want a particular space to feel. What you have in place now could be transformed with a few simple tweaks to the layout.

Wil Law/John Lewis & Partners
Wil Law/John Lewis & Partners

Build colour bit by bit

When I talk to clients about colour I try to get them to forget that they’re decorating a room and focus on the shades that appeal to them on a colour chart. People often come to me saying, “I want a navy living room,” but when I put a palette in front of them, they are instinctively drawn to pinks or corals, for example. 

My advice would always be to go for the colour that speaks to you the most. You don't have to go wild and paint every wall in that shade; rather, you can start building up small items that contain a pop of that colour, like a purple vase or fig-coloured cushion. That is then your basis to start building a collage of softer colours around your chosen shade for a cohesive look.

Create pockets of greenery

Another nice way of adding a shot of colour and energy to a room is via greenery and plants. I like to have little pockets of greenery around a room, thinking creatively about symmetry and height. If you’ve got a plant in one corner, do the same in the opposite space to create a sense of balance. 

Seasonal cuttings are a nice touch: you can fill vases or jugs with sprigs from your garden, and place them on a windowsill or mantlepiece.

Wil Law/John Lewis & Partners
Wil Law/John Lewis & Partners

Build a gallery wall

A gallery wall is a good choice if you’re on a limited budget because it can create a big impact on relatively little resource. For an organic, boho feel, try mixing together different mediums such as screen prints, photography and paintings. It’s also fun to showcase sentimental items like kid’s artwork, or a linen handkerchief that’s been passed down through generations. 

To complete the effect, try using matching frames; this links everything together, while allowing the picture within each frame to shine. Map out the design of your wall on the floor beforehand so you can swap things around easily until you get the perfect combination.

Invest in a rug

If you have the budget, I would suggest opting for a great rug because it has the ability to transform space. If the pieces of furniture in a room feel a bit mismatched, a rug can work wonders in connecting them together. It’ll add cohesion and warmth to a space, as well as the physical comfort that it brings underfoot. A large rug can also cover up any flooring you don’t like, and it can even help to make a small space feel larger – by using one, major statement that draws the eye.

Wil Law/John Lewis & Partners
Wil Law/John Lewis & Partners

Layers and levels of lighting

An overhead light is usually quite intense. One easy way of creating a softer, cosier atmosphere is by forming little nooks of light throughout a room. Play around with levels of lighting, using a combination of floor lamps, table lamps and something a bit smaller, like wall lights or lanterns. 

It’s also a good idea to think about how to diffuse your lighting come evening; perhaps by using lights with a warmer shade of glass, or dimmable, decorative bulbs. Fairy lights are another easy way to get an evocative glow.

Display the things you cherish

It sounds obvious, but often people get waylaid by trends or what they think their house should look like. If you really want to feel uplifted by a space, make sure you have the items that you love in pride of place. Whatever it is, it’s worth hunting down things that may have been forgotten or accidentally packed away, and giving them the light of day once more.

Find out more about John Lewis & Partners’ home design service here. Don’t forget, you can earn Virgin Points each time you shop at John Lewis with Virgin Red. 

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