Looking at fancy interior design magazines or websites can be depressing, especially when you see how much that furry wallpaper or antique midcentury Danish lounge costs.
But if you’ve been wanting to give your bedroom a dose of the fancy, shabby chic or creative, have a read over these tips then start hitting up op shops, weekend markets, online trading sites and garage sales for cool stuff…
1. Go with a theme
Once you start trawling through decorative stuff, it’s tempting to grab everything that catches your eye. That’s why it’s important to think about a theme before you start shopping around. Do you want to collect old trunks and suitcases? Kitschy ceramic Australia wildlife? Build up a cosy space with a riot of cushions and blankets? Surround yourself with candles and books? (That last one is a dangerous combination, so be careful.)
2. Work with complementary colours
It’s one of the first things you learn in art – some colours work better together than with others. Orange and blue, red and green, yellow and purple: use these combinations as a starting point for deciding what your room will look like. Another option is to work with a neutral base like black, white or grey, then add a few cushions and so on in a signature bright colour. Finally, you might decide you want to live in a room made up of different shades of blue.
3. Pick a card, any card
For some reason, op shops and antique stores tend to have heaps and heaps of old postcards for sale. Pick through them for ones you like, and either stick them to your wall or all together on a pinboard like a collage. (One idea is to pick postcards from the places in the world you would most like to visit.) The same goes for black’n’white photos or decks of playing cards – you could build a whole theme around Queens or Aces, for example.
4. Splurge on a statement piece
Obviously you don’t want to spend all your money on one thing, but if you fall in love with a battered armchair, antique floor lamp or well-loved desk, it’s worth saving up for. In fact, having a statement piece to build the rest of your space around is a great way to focus your thinking. Once you have that armchair installed in the corner, you can start thinking about what will work well with it. A side table to put drinks on? A purple cushion? A foot rest? One more thing: if you’re buying a bulky item, make sure you have someone who can help you bring it home.
5. Use what you have
Decorating isn’t all about buying new things. Before you begin, have a look at what you already own – or items that family and friends aren’t using anymore – to see how you can repurpose them as accessories. Old mirrors are great for making your space seem bigger than it is. Use boxes as side tables, an old coffee table as a low shelf or hang old plates as artworks. Keep an eye out for things you can use as storage, too, like baskets for books and magazines.
6. Add some greenery
Having plants in your living space adds a lot of benefits, especially if you’re studying. They are an easy way to add colour and life to a room, especially if you’ve decided to go with a theme like “jungle”. Start small and build up a collection – just make sure you ask which plants will work best in your space, depending on natural light and so on. And don’t forget to water them!
7. Don’t be afraid to haggle
If you’re picking up a few things from the same shop or garage sale – especially if one of them is your statement piece – there’s no harm in asking for a discount. All they can say is no. And while we’re talking money, keep an eye on Gumtree and similar sites. Often people will be getting rid of stuff at super-discounted rates, or even for free.
Cover image by Norbert Juhász via this post at Designboom.