Interior refresh – Add a modern twist to classic designs

Spring is almost here, with sunnier days and floral hues inspiring us to freshen up our homes.

If looking around your existing space has you ready for a refresh but you can’t or don’t want to take on a full-blown redecoration, fear not! A few minor interior switch-ups can help give the rooms in your home an overhaul without the cost or inconvenience of a major renovation.

“Even the most minimal of touches to your indoor space can make our home feel a lot more modern and welcoming,” explains  Kate Duckworth, interior and trends expert at Swift Direct Blinds.

“Some trends move with the times but don’t get completely phased out, so it’s always worth considering regular light touches to keep on top of your interiors without the need to entirely start over.”

From swapping panelling for wall slats, to switching wallpaper for murals, here are some expert-approved ways to revamp your rooms, full reno not required.

dining room is full of modern country charm
Image credit: Emily Craven Interiors

Switch marble for travertine

Marble has been having a moment of late, particularly in the kitchen, but if you want the look of the popular stone with a slightly more rustic feel, there is a modern alternative to consider – travertine.  

“I love the character that marble brings to a home, but if you’re looking for a subtler alternative then travertine is the perfect material,” explains Sue Jones, co-founder and creative director of OKA.

“It has all of the tactile appeal and personality of marble but in a more neutral tone that works in any space. The clean lines give the stone a really contemporary feel.”

Travertine table by OKA
Image credit: OKA

Switch matchy, matchy for eclectic

Matching furniture can offer a cohesive look to an interiors scheme, but to stop it feeling bland, Jones recommends adding a pop of the eclectic.

“You can retain a sense of harmony by opting for similar silhouettes in your furniture,” she advises.  

“But changing your choice of upholstery (both prints and textures) can help make your collection feel more eclectic.” 

A good way to breathe new life into your older furniture is to merge its authentic classic style with more contemporary influences.

“Whether it’s a chair in a traditional silhouette, updated with a daring upholstery print, or an ultra-modern lamp paired with a classic country-house-style shade, no one can deny that beautiful things happen when old meets new.”

Etsy decor trends 2023
Image credit: Etsy

Switch ‘safe’ colour schemes for ‘unexpected red’

The ‘unexpected red’ theory states that adding a pop of a red to a room will instantly improve it, even if it doesn’t necessarily match the rest of the space.  One TikToker is so keen on this idea that she’s “petitioning for red to be a neutral colour because it just looks good with everything”. 

@intayriors UNEXPECTED RED THEORY #unexpectedredtheory #greenscreen ♬ original sound – Taylor Simon

“This style is all about adding a surprise twist and a bit of drama to interiors,” explains Jones.

“It’s little wonder it’s trending when maximalism and mismatching are also proving to be so popular.”

Jones says the best part about the style is that it’s really easy to achieve.

“You don’t need to paint every wall in crimson red or swap out every cushion cover,” she explains.

“It can be as simple as adding a red lampshade to a neutral lamp base or as impactful as covering the floor in a deep red rug – as long as it’s red, it will work.”

Red lamp by OKA
Image credit: OKA

Switch traditional wall panelling for wall slats

For aspiring DIY enthusiasts, the popularity of wall panelling has been dominating home décor around the globe, but there is a similar equally aesthetically pleasing alternative for those looking to add interest to their walls.

“Wall slats are the modern twist on traditional wall panelling and echo timeless, Scandinavian design,” explains Rebecca Snowden, interior style advisor at Furniture And Choice.

“Whether you want to add interest to a boxy, new-build living room or decorate your plain, boring chimney breast – there’s a style of wall panel that’s right for you. It’s no wonder we’re taking to the walls and using slats to decorate our home office spaces, zone our living areas and even use them to liven up a modern media wall.”

And they are even easier to put up than their panelling counterparts.

“Wall slats are quick and easy to install and don’t require much expertise,” Snowden continues.

“Simply trim to size and use either glue or nails to fix to the walls. Adding character and detail to your home interior has never been so simple.”

Wall slats in a living room
Image credit: Furniture And Credit

Switch tiles for wall panels

According to John Mortimer, managing director at Multipanel, wall panels offer a sleek alternative to traditional tiles.

“Recent innovation in design has resulted in aesthetic, trend-led panels that rival tiles in both look and performance,” he explains.

Tile-effect bathroom wall panels have a precision-etched grout line which look and feel like a tile, but don’t require any of the mess and maintenance that tiles do.

“Switching to panels instead of tiles saves on average 15 hours of installation time, which saves labour costs and speeds up the process of your bathroom renovation,” Mortimer continues.

“Panels are also sustainable, being 100% recyclable and lasting over three decades, are very easy to maintain, and can be cleaned with a cloth and warm water.”

Multipanel wall panels in a bathroom
Image credit: Multipanel

Switch a fitted kitchen for an invisible kitchen

Invisible kitchens are a minimalist trend, where the conventional parts of a kitchen are housed out of sight, often in full height cabinets, making maximum use of the available space.

“The aim is to conceal as much of your kitchenware as possible and to create a calm and uninterrupted aesthetic,” explains Simon Ribchester, Head of Design at Beams.

Ribchester says there are a couple of reasons invisible kitchens are proving popular, even in A-lister Courteney Cox’s home.

“The kitchen is truly the heart of the home where families come together, however, as a key functional space it can become visually ‘noisy’ with so many modern kitchen appliances, sockets, and utensils out on show,” he explains.

“Incorporating these into stylish built-in storage makes great use of the space and hides the clutter that can sometimes occur in such a working space.  This can be a dream solution, for those who prefer a touch of minimalism in their homes.”

Invisible kitchens are particularly impactful in open-plan kitchens, as they can help naturally and seamlessly merge the surrounding spaces, creating a more cohesive interior. 

“Essentially, they allow homeowners to ‘tidy away’ their kitchen into a cupboard, hiding all the visual noise without compromising functionality,” Ribchester adds.

If a new kitchen isn’t a possibility, Ribchester has provided some simple tricks to make your kitchen feel more ‘invisible’.

  • Keep the worktop clear. Clutter is the antithesis to this aesthetic.
  • Create a hidden pantry. If space allows it, opt for a walk-in pantry, as they are the best way to deliver high-volume cupboard space in a small footprint. With the invisible kitchen trend, storage solutions are everything.
  • Avoid door or drawer hardware. Opt for push-touch opening mechanisms, as they are super sleek and allow cabinets to blend into the background.
  • Match the cabinetry to the floor. For a design-focussed invisible kitchen, homeowners may want to match their kitchen cabinetry to the floor, as this can help create the effect of a truly invisible kitchen.
  • Opt for ‘slide to hide’ surfaces. These work really well for open-plan kitchens as a stylish way to cover up the working heart of the kitchen when not in use.
  • Eliminate upper wall cabinets. When remodelling your kitchen, consider not adding upper wall storage cupboards, as this will help to blend the kitchen into the rest of the room.
concrete flooring, birch ply, kitchen
Image credit: Good Homes

Switch plain tiles for playful splashbacks

For a lively and trend-forward kitchen, Molly Woodward-Moor, creative director at Stone Superstore, suggests updating splashbacks with soft pastels or elements of pattern – to create a playful, unique and visually appealing space.

“Consider tones like lilac, sage green, butter yellow, or plaster pinks. These cheery colours are particularly enchanting in a dusty, matte finish, and evoke a sense of hope and fun,” she advises.

“Splashbacks are a fantastic way of channelling creativity through a pop of pattern, without overwhelming a space. For a chic, modern look that is full of personality, consider using alternating-coloured tiles to create a striped or chequerboard effect – a decor style that is hugely on trend this year.”

living coral kitchen with subway tiles and a marble worktop with classic appliances in the Good Homes roomsets at Ideal Home Show 2019
Image credit: Good Homes

Wall murals are a great modern alternative to traditional wallpaper. Instead of repeating a pattern, wall murals give your space a huge visual, creating a massive statement.

“Having worked with wall murals for almost 10 years, I can say that they have come a long way,” explains Rachel Kenny, studio manager at Wallsauce.

“From photo wallpapers, you can now choose from a plethora of styles making them one of the sought-after ways of creating a feature wall.” 

Kenny says wall murals work as a simple update in pretty much any room, from small cloakrooms to grand dining rooms.

“The peel and stick material means you can switch up your feature wall, making it fuss-and mess-free,” she continues.

“It’s also an excellent choice for those renting or for the style-conscious who like to change up their rooms.”

Floral wall mural
Image credit: Wallsauce