18 super quick ways to update a room without redecorating

If you’ve ever tackled an expensive home renovation, you’ll know that it is a heck of a lot less fun than it looks on Instagram. But updating the rooms in your home doesn’t have to involve a full refurb.

If your home is looking and feeling a bit tired, there are plenty of ways you can give it a refresh without going the whole remodelling hog.

“Often, after seeing the rooms in our home day in, day out, we can start to get a bit fed up with certain colour patterns and layouts, which can begin to look jaded over time,” explains Holly Ambrose, interior designer at Roomes furniture.

“Even colours that we love, after living with them for a while, can leave us feeling bored and in want of a refresh, especially when being flooded with inspiration from the likes of Pinterest and keeping up with our favourite Instagram home accounts.

“However, it can often be expensive to conduct an entire refurbishment, not to mention time-consuming to source then install new products for your room.”

Thankfully, there are many clever tips and tricks that can be used to revamp your home, and give it a whole new feel without going through the time and expense of doing a total refurbishment. 

We consulted the interior experts for some quick and simple updates, which are guaranteed to make your home appear newer, larger, and more high-end, with zero need for a full reno.

Switch up the colour scheme

You can completely change the colour scheme by swapping out the soft furnishings in your room.

“This could simply be done by adding a new rug or new scatter cushions, which can give a whole new feel to the room,” advises Holly.

She suggests pairing the patterns and prints to the seasons by opting for soft furnishings in slightly brighter vibrant colours or pastels during the spring/summer seasons.

“As autumn and winter come around, you can opt for warmer and darker tones such as burnt oranges or deep forest greens to give it a cosy feel,” she adds.

OKA living room
Image Credit: OKA

Add a modern feature wall

Curating a feature wall can be a great addition if you don’t want to go to the expense of redecorating every surface.

“You can do this by adding wallpaper to completely transform the room or try a painted feature wall for a modern twist,” Holly advises.

“There are lots of handy hacks that you can do such as painting shapes onto the wall, or installing panelling which is simple and inexpensive,” she continues.

“You can buy panelling from most hardware stores for an affordable price. By adding this to walls, you can add a whole new feel to a room.” 

bedroom abstract feature wall - 9 ways to prepare your house for sale after lockdown - inspiration -

Change up the lighting

If you don’t want to hire an electrician to rewire the ceiling light in your room, even just changing up the table lamps and/or adding floor lamps to the room can add ambiance, especially in the evenings.

“You could even just update the lampshades to enhance the room and give it a completely different look,” Holly advises.

Opt for a pattern if you want to add interest or choose a block colour if you’re looking to make more of an impact with a shade.

Cushions on a sofa
Image Credit: OKA

Update everyday decor

It is possible to make everyday things beautiful. Small elements can make a big difference to the look and feel of your home.

“I like to start with decorations on my walls. Re-homing much-loved family photos into a vibrant frame or simply reworking artwork you already have can make a space feel fresh,” advises Sue Jones, creative director and co-founder of OKA

“When I’m making an update, even doing something as simple as moving decorative objects to a new spot in the home, or switching out the prints in a gallery wall can have a big impact.”

pastel gallery wall - summer art trends to incorporate in your interiors scheme - inspiration -

Be a pattern-pro

Prints and patterns are a simple yet effective way to enhance your home and offer a great opportunity to experiment with colours.

Debbie Leigh, design manager, ILIV, suggests sticking to three fabrics when using prints.

“The key is to vary the scale of the patterns,” she says. 

“For example, if you pick a large-scale pattern as your focal fabric, the second should be half the scale of the first, such as a large floral paired with a plaid or geometric pattern.  

“The third can then be similar to either of the first two but using matching colours. When mixing two or three patterns it’s a good idea to also break them up with the clever use of plains, either as cushions, trims or borders.”

Etsy decor trends 2023
Image credit: Etsy

Be bright and breezy

To give your living room a quick update, consider refreshing your space with light and airy fabrics that evoke a sense of renewal and rejuvenation.

“Opt for breezy curtains or sheer drapes in soft pastel hues like pale blues, greens, or blush pinks to allow ample natural light to filter through,” Debbie suggests.

“Introduce floral-printed cushions in cheerful patterns to add pops of colour and whimsy to your seating area and layer lightweight throws in textured fabrics such as linen or cotton for added warmth on cooler evenings.”

George Home discovery collection bed linen -
Image Credit: George Home

Re-arrange your furniture

Instead of buying new think about placement and consider re-arranging your existing furniture. 

“The classic method of placing two sofas opposite one another is a great way to encourage a sociable space whilst also creating an elegant symmetrical look, especially when positioned around a focal point such as a fireplace,” explains Kate Palmer, creative director at the Painted Furniture Company.  

“Furniture should be arranged to allow for trouble-free traffic flow and also to promote conversation,” she adds.

Bright Sky living room by Sophie Robinson with Sky Glass

Pimp the Pax

One strategy to spruce up your bedroom on a budget is to use off-the-shelf furniture, like Pax from Ikea, and then employ the services of a carpenter, who can tailor it to fit your specific space.

“Although not comparable to fully bespoke joinery, this option can still create a premium, professional finish without breaking the bank,” advises interior designer Claire Garner, director at Claire Garner Interiors.

“Additionally, painting this furniture to match your walls will give a high-end finish and elevate the overall design.”

pax modular storage system in wardrobe combination from ikea -
Image Credit: Ikea

Layer your lighting

Layering light throughout the room can make a big difference in terms of changing the atmosphere and feel of a space.

“This involves strategically placing various light sources to create depth and dimension, for example, adding a statement floor lamp in a reading nook can provide focused illumination while also adding visual interest,” explains Claire.

Declutter and repurpose

One of the easiest ways to throw some life back into a room is to declutter, organise, and rearrange.

Jim Evans, managing director of Uber Interiors, suggests looking at what’s already in the room and thinking about what can be moved or repurposed elsewhere.

“Sometimes moving furniture to a new space, or clearing some room around a window can make a real difference,” he advises.

“Ornaments are also easy and affordable items you can use to revamp a room – mantlepiece vases, show-stealing cushions, and interesting lighting can be brought into a room here or there to give the place a bit more charm and personality – without the need to change everything up.”

ikea godtagbar striped vases -

Update your kitchen handles

With the average cost of a fully bespoke kitchen renovation setting homeowners back upwards of £35,000, it’s no wonder that more people than ever are on the hunt for cost-effective and practical kitchen updates they can tackle on a budget.

And there’s no need for a whole new kitchen when you can upscale your handles.

“Brass knobs and cup pulls have surged in popularity, emerging as a trendy choice for kitchen hardware,” explains Molly Chandler, designer, Willis & Stone.

“Their warm, lustrous finish adds a touch of sophistication and character to any kitchen design.”

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, Molly says brass accents bring a sense of timeless elegance, effortlessly blending with various design styles.

“Whether adorning sleek contemporary cabinets or traditional shaker-style drawers, brass hardware infuses kitchens with a chic and inviting allure, making it a go-to choice for those seeking both style and substance in their culinary spaces,” she adds.

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Add wow with worktops

Fitting new or replacement worktops is another option for lifting standard units or giving an older kitchen a new lease of life.

“Upgrading the worktop to a durable material like quartz, not only enhances the kitchen’s aesthetic appeal but also ensures practicality and longevity,” explains Claire.

Make an island investment

One of the most impactful changes you can make to your kitchen without blowing your budget is by adding a freestanding kitchen island.

“Instead of shelling out a hefty sum to update your entire kitchen cabinetry, consider investing in a standalone island,” advises Will Frankling, founder of Kitchen Makeovers.

“From butcher’s blocks to larger, eye-catching units that can comfortably seat four adults, islands not only add a stylish touch but also create a cohesive feel in the space.

“By introducing a central gathering point, you’ll encourage more socialising while enhancing the functionality of your kitchen. Plus, the flexibility of a freestanding island allows for easy rearrangement if you decide to change your kitchen layout in the future.”

Will advises opting for an island in a complementary tone, rather than in the same colour as your wall units.

“Not only will this add a stylish element to the kitchen space, but it will also save the headache of trying to colour match all of your units!” he adds.  

Look for compact or unusual shapes when picking your kitchen islands
Image credit: Nest

Light up your units

Often overlooked but incredibly effective, adding under-unit lighting can completely transform the ambiance of your kitchen.

“This inexpensive addition brings warmth and depth to the room, making it feel more inviting and functional,” Will explains.

“Whether you opt for LED strips or puck lights, installing under-cabinet lighting is a relatively simple DIY project that yields significant results – and both options can be picked up rather inexpensively online or in any DIY store.

“As well as improving visibility while cooking or prepping meals, adding under-unit lighting adds a touch of elegance to your kitchen’s aesthetic.”

kitchen coffee station in a real home
Image Credit: Paul Craig

Revamp your home, don’t renovate

Instead of ripping the kitchen back to the bare bones, why not refresh the units that you already have?

“Replacing doors, worktops and even handles is a much more cost-effective way to refresh your kitchen space – even replacing a kitchen tap can modernise a space completely,” Will says.

Don’t underestimate the power of upcycling when it comes to a kitchen refresh.

“Instead of splurging on new furniture pieces, consider repurposing or refurbishing existing ones,” Will suggests.

“Whether it’s giving your old dining table a fresh coat of paint or repurposing an antique dresser as a kitchen storage unit, upcycling allows you to breathe new life into tired furniture pieces for less than the price of a takeaway.”

Get creative with DIY projects and explore charity shops or local online marketplaces for affordable finds that you can transform into unique statement pieces for your kitchen.

“Not only does upcycling save you money, but it also adds character and personality to your space,” Will adds.

bathroom vanity painted in Graham and Brown popsicle -

Try rug layering

According to Jodie Hatton, design manager at heritage carpet company Brintons, layering rugs on either a hard or carpeted floor is an effective way of bringing even more warmth, texture and vibrancy into a space.

She suggests picking out a few colours and running them throughout the rug scheme, or using a hue that harmoniously works well as a backdrop such as greys or beiges.

“Similar to how dark walls can transform a small room or a patterned wallpaper can bring interest to an otherwise dull space, a patterned rug is an inspired way to make a feature of a smaller room,” Jodie says.

“It can help to add interest and character to the room. By pairing rugs together, the combination also illustrates their different weaves and prints making a unique design statement, which playfully ties a room together.” 

Large living room with tan sofa and layered multi coloured stripe rugs
Image Credit: Habitat

Move your bed

Laura Burnett from Feather & Black suggests that simply moving your bed can give your bedroom a total refresh, zero effort or £££s required.

“While the bed is usually the focal point of the bedroom, moving it to a new space can alter the room dynamic and give a completely new look,” Laura says.

“From its usual position on a side wall to a place opposite the window will let the light in this summer and allow for views-from-the-bed all year round.”

Pair limewash walls with linen bedlinen for a textured bedroom
Image Credit: Piglet in Bed

Wall panel your tiles

Bored of your bathroom tiles but don’t fancy a full rip out? Why not wall panel over them?

“From novices to DIY influencers, everyone can give their bathroom a makeover using wall panels,” explains Lidia Cetrangolo, creative manager at Multipanel. 

Wall panels have been around for decades but have significantly grown in popularity in recent years, thanks to some modern innovation and design.

“Today’s wall panels are high-performing products, and have become a considered choice for bathroom projects, rather than simply an alternative,” says Lidia.

New wall panels can even be installed over existing tiles, saving time and money.

“On average, choosing wall panels saves £30/m2,” Lidia adds.