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Decorating an older home

When decorating an older home you don't always want to remove and replace original features. In some of these homes just a few cosmetic details add light, a feeling of space, and modern updates on a moderate budget.


In a south-facing bedroom that feels chilly and unwelcoming, a few minor changes can easily improve the atmosphere. Still leaving all the original details in place, it's out with dark walls and in with light colours and fresh details.

Dark colours can have a depressing effect in some rooms. Painting the walls white and fitting a sheer curtain across the windows adds privacy and allows plenty of warm sunlight into the room. On the wall above the bed the plaster was removed to reveal the bright below. This trendy look adds character and warmth to the room.


This one is just for the guys who need to 'do-up' their man cave and show that it's all in the details! None of the original features in the room were changed, but new furniture and furnishings make a huge difference to a room that was previously bland and uninspiring.

For starters, the mismatched colours were covered up. A dark and light grey paint wash applied onto walls adds a modern touch that's not feminine and highlights brass accessories. The introduction of leather and wood elements brings together a living room that is comfortable and very masculine.


A collection of mismatched and hand-me-down furniture adds to the chaotic feel of this room. Clean out the junk, or repurposes pieces for other rooms and start from scratch. The dark ceiling and floor need a space between that is finished in light colours, so that the room doesn't feel depressing.

Painting the lower half of the wall disguises scuffs and marks, while the lighter top half creates a divider where a collection of curated artwork is hung on the walls. 


Not wanting to remove the existing fittings, the new homeowners wanted a dining room that used plenty of reclaimed materials. Salvaged planks clad the walls from floor to ceiling and allow the crisp, white painted doors to shine. A reclaimed wood dining table takes centre stage in the room.





Changing a few details in a room can make all the difference. In this older home all the rooms have a a fireplace. As the feature in this bedroom a few changes with moulding and paint turn it into an attractive and eye-catching focal point.

The drab colours in the room are replaced with neutrals and greys that brighten up the space and highlight the original details, bringing character and charm to the bedroom. If you plan on bringing new colours into a room - or your home - bring home a selection of colour swatches that you can view in the rooms to be painted. This allows you to view the swatches under different light situations and also compare these with fabrics and textiles that will be used to decorate.


An unused space is turned into a cosy reading room that also doubles as a guest bedroom when necessary. A simple reclaimed wood bed frame is topped off with a comfortable mattress and placed in front of the window for a cosy place to sit in the winter months.

A rug in mottled grey colours covers the laminate floor and brings together the neutral colours used in the room. The wood furniture, basket chair and textured accessories add a level of warmth in what would otherwise be a sterile setting. 


In kitchens the space can sometimes be overwhelmed with fitted cabinets. If there is plenty of storage and you can do without wall-mounted cabinets, removing these can open up the space and make it feel airy and bright.

Layers of lighting is essential in any room, especially a kitchen where different tasks take place. With the addition of under-shelf LED lights, you add a new dimension to an open-plan kitchen.

Find advice on painting kitchen cabinets and making your own wood countertops in our Kitchen - Projects section.


Original sash, cottage pane windows are an attractive feature in this home, so allow them to be a focal point. Arranging the furniture in the room in front of the windows creates a beautiful backdrop without any additional decoration. Walls and ceiling clad with reclaimed timber planks bring in a rustic touch. 


Here's another example of a sash, cottage pane window framed with reclaimed timber planks. The reclaimed wooden bed mirrors the rustic theme of the room, while the fresh white walls and trim bring together light and warm elements for a room that is modern and fresh. 


Bathrooms in an older home tend to be bland and sterile. Transform a dated bathroom with a coat of paint, and perhaps even removing tiles from walls and applying a cement-based finish.

Reclaimed furniture and fittings is a trend that continues to be popular as we look for ways to reuse, repurpose and recycle materials. As an alternative to ready-made and mass produced furniture, look at ways to incorporate natural materials into your home in ways that are not only practical, but beautiful as well.