How to revamp a room – without blowing the budget

Before and after pictures of the bathroom
Before and after: The Dawson family bathroom in Yorkshire Credit: Courtesy of JJ Media

Three interiors influencers reveal how they gave a space in their house a super-stylish update

Creating a multitasking study

Bianca Hall, aka @frenchforpineapple, is known for her flair for transforming rooms with paint and clever style hacks. When she moved her son into what was her office in the loft extension in her London house, it was the perfect opportunity to turn his old room into a new workspace, which also needed to double as a guest room.

‘It’s a dark room that could feel gloomy no matter how bright I went with previous paint colours, and I wanted it to feel inviting,’ she says. ‘Rather than fight the lack of natural light, I embraced it and went for a dark, earthy taupe with olive undertones on the walls, ceiling and woodwork, which blurs the lines of the room. It makes the garden views pop, too.’

BEFORE Bianca's son's bedroom was decorated in bright colours to counteract the lack of light; AFTER Bianca in the revamped room. The sofa bed is the compact Andes futon from West Elm (westelm.co.uk); Bianca chose Cobblestone paint by Zoffany (stylelibrary.com) for a cosy, earthy look Credit: Rachael Smith

Bianca’s choice of an oatmeal sofa bed and pale wood desk lighten things up and contrast beautifully with the walls. ‘Space was an issue as the room is only 2.7 x 2.9m,’ she says.

‘We couldn’t fit a standard sofa bed in as well as a good-sized desk, so this West Elm one was perfect as the back folds down flat.’ She also added a large mirror and replaced the old light with a chandelier and three lamps, so the room never feels gloomy.

‘I love having a dedicated office space again,’ says Bianca. ‘The colour is so calming and I can really focus when I’m in there.’ 

Making an entrance 

Over the past five years, Olivia Silk (@lustliving) has been gradually renovating the house near Derby she shares with her husband. ‘The hallway was the one space we hadn’t touched, despite it being the first thing you see when you walk in,’ she says. 

‘It’s a narrow, awkward corridor, really. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything with the space.’

BEFORE AND AFTER A low shelf and large basket are handy for shoes – try H&M Home (hm.com) for similar; Olivia used a mix of penny tiles from Ca’ Pietra (capietra.com) Credit: Olivia Silk

She chose a monochrome palette lifted by pink accents, and removed the carpet on the staircase and painted it black to give a modern edge. ‘We don’t get a lot of natural daylight in the hallway, upstairs or downstairs, so I wanted to help keep the walls bright and white, but with a feature black stripe to complement the staircase,’ she says.

Olivia had her heart set on pink penny tiles for the floor, which she mixed with grey ones to spell out a mood-boosting message.

‘I wanted it to make people smile when the door opened,’ she says, ‘and it absolutely does have that effect. It happens every time I open the door to a delivery driver.’

AFTER A slim console table – this one is from West Elm (westelm.co.uk) – works for storage and display; the stripe of black paint adds a graphic edge Credit: Olivia Silk

As for what she has learnt from the experience, ‘the most painful task was probably the stripe on the wall,’ she says. ‘Frogtape is not my friend. The black paint bled under the tape on to the freshly painted white wall. I gave up with the tape in the end, and touched up most of the stripe by hand. Next time, I’d try a different technique.’ 

Beautifying a bathroom

The family home in Yorkshire that Lisa Dawson (@_lisa_dawson) shares with her husband and three children is an Instagram star in its own right.

But until recently, ‘the family bathroom was a no-go zone,’ says Lisa. ‘It had a huge storage cupboard, overflowing with old clothes and a bath that was never used, as the shower above it didn’t work properly. As a result, my three children preferred to shower in our en suite.’

The main bathroom also had a very small cloakroom sink, ‘and worst of all, the entire room was painted brown, including the ceiling’.

BEFORE AND AFTER Lisa's new bathroom has monochrome floor tiles that tie in with the tap fittings; Lisa chose a matt black shower-mixer kit from Soak (soak.com) Credit: Courtesy of JJ Media

To give the room a refresh, Lisa decided, initially, to use pink tiles, but when she was planning the decor using moodboards, found she ‘couldn’t make it gel’. She realised that throughout the rest of her house, her style was to have a neutral base with colour layered on top, and so she swapped the pink tiles for white.

‘I think if I had gone for a colour, I may have regretted it a year down the line,’ she says. ‘Replacing a bathroom is such a big investment it’s important not to be driven by a trend.’

Her theme for the room was white and marble, with natural textures such as wicker, plywood and plants, and contrasting accents of black on the woodwork and taps, plus gold mirrors and lighting. ‘I got to add a hint of pink with the towels, so every box was ticked!’ she says.

AFTER The bespoke vanity units were made from kitchen cupboards. Wall lights from David Hunt (davidhuntlighting.co.uk) add glamour Credit: Courtesy of JJ Media

One of her favourite parts of the room is the wall she added to divide the loo from the shower. ‘I didn’t want a glass screen because I knew that as it would be used by the children, it would constantly need to be cleaned,’ she says. ‘Plus, it creates the perfect ledge for plants to add colour.’

Among the clever touches is the skirting, made from cut marble tiles. Lisa also created a vanity unit using standard kitchen cupboards cut to size, ‘which has provided huge amounts of storage – always a bonus’.

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