Designer Home, Pt 1

When I say ‘Designer Home’ please don’t misunderstand and think that I mean ‘Expensive Home’. I know exactly what it’s like to see all these amazing interiors in glossy magazines and know you’re never going to be able to create that in your own home/rented apartment/share house because you don’t have a bazillion dollars stashed in a shoe box under your bed.

I want to help you get that trendy design look without the ridiculous price tags. You don’t need to have actual designer brand furniture and knick-knacks in your rooms to make them look stylish.

Now, I’m aware that my last two posts in this category were all about items that only a select and very lucky few can actually afford, but don’t hold that against me. I just happen to have expensive taste. I am however, completely capable of realising that wanting something and obtaining it are two completely different things. But just because you have to compromise doesn’t mean that your house/unit/room can’t look amazing.

In this post I’m going to cover the most basic and easy thing you can do to give your space a stylish look. This is one of the easiest ways to achieve a designer look because it’s the cheapest. All it involves is your existing furniture or Op Shop furniture and a tin of paint.

Take any old timber furniture you have lying around – it might be that cupboard your mum insisted you take when you move out even though it’s incredibly boring, or it could be some dining chairs that you found at the local Vinnies – then pick a paint colour. Head to Bunnings and browse their many paint chips. Take as many as you like (they’re free!) home with you and put them in the room your furniture sits in. I need to stress that this is an important step – colours can change dramatically given their environment. So what looks nice under the warehouse lights of a Bunnings store might look like mud in your living room.

Once you’ve picked a paint colour – I would suggest any of the ones above or just a nice bright colour you love – you need to start sanding your furniture. This is the boring and time consuming part of the process, but it’s essential. If it’s a small piece, set up a drop cloth in front of the TV and try and distract yourself from the monotony with House or Spicks and Specks. Otherwise, get your iPod pumping and turn it into some crazy workout. Who knows? Maybe you’ll start a fad. Then you can make a DVD and sit back and make millions while Kerri-Anne sells it for you on her show.

So, by now you have finished sanding your furniture and you are ready to paint. This is the fun bit because you can actually see yourself making some progress. Don’t forget to do this outside and on a drop cloth. Nothing’s more annoying than paint spatters on your floors or walls. Especially if it’s not really your house and your landlord is going to be a bit ticked.

After you’ve given your furniture two coats of paint (this is essential to get a nice even colour – also remember to let the paint dry in between coats, about 2 hours) you can either varnish it for a nice high-gloss shine, or leave it matt. Be aware that if you don’t varnish it, the paint will be more susceptible to wear and tear.

To really give your piece a new lease on life, try replacing the hardware. New drawer and door handles can make all the difference. Try clear crystal handles for a classically beautiful look or streamlined chrome for an ultra modern revamp.

And there you have it. Brand new furniture at a fraction of the price.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with ways to revive your furniture. Try wallpaper lining the inside of shelves for a different approach to pattern in your space.

Or, cover the outside of your chest of drawers with pages from old books, magazines or comics. (Use decoupage glue to paste all the pages on and then layer on the varnish to keep it from yellowing.)

So go forth and revive. And have fun while you’re doing it. Let your creative juices flow and don’t let your budget, or lack thereof, slow you down.

Look out for Part 2 with more ways to revamp your home. -C

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