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It’s at this time of year I start feeling our home needs a lift. It’s sunny outside and I’m out of hibernation mode. I no longer want the house to be a cozy cocoon. I want to give it a fresh injection of life and energy. Of course, I can’t do a complete refurb every season but there are a few tricks for making the house more vibrant without spending a fortune. They involve making a few select purchases, rather than repainting or making any permanent changes. I have a few days’ vacation next week and I’m going to use the time to breath some new life into our house. Here’s my plan.

Liven up with plants

The obvious first step: bringing the outside in instantly livens things up. I’m planning on a large plant for the living room and some spring bulbs for the kitchen. I also spotted this great idea for the bathroom on Remodelista. I’ve never been that into succulents but am starting to gain an appreciation for their many varied forms and funny shapes. I was thinking of introducing a few in containers on our patio but I love this look for indoors.


Change the rhythm

Multiple small photos and prints in mismatching frames creates a much more lively rhythm than a single piece of art. It’s also a way to introduce more personality to a home. I spotted this pic on SFgirlbybay and it’s a perfect example.


I’m planning to make a gallery of family photos up the stairs and on the wall in the dining room. I also have quite a few shots taken on past vacations – sunsets in Maui, beaches in Mexico – which we can dust off and display now the weather is better.

Experiment with seasonal wallpaper panels

There are so many stunning designs that would be perfect for spring and summer. But they might feel too floral for winter. So I’m contemplating a single panel of wallpaper that can be propped up against the wall and taken away again if I change my mind. It will be much cheaper than covering a whole wall or room, not to mention miles easier. I love this Celadon Vase wallpaper by Designer’s Guild.

Celadon Vase wallpaper

Throw some shapes

Adding a few curves into a space breaks things up and changes the energy. An arc lamp over a boxy sofa, a round mirror on the wall, an unusually-shaped rug – they all make a fairly ordinary scheme more lively. This house, designed by Mirka McNeill Farmer and featured in April’s British Homes and Gardens shows exactly what a few curves can do. I love pretty much everything about this house, but I particularly like the way she has used different shapes to make the place both quirky and restful.

Mirka McNeill

I’ve seen this chair used a million times, but always in vast loft spaces. I never thought it would work in a London townhouse but this pic proves me wrong.

Mikra McNeill

This rug looks like it’s real animal skin, which I wouldn’t use. But the shape offsets the the rectangular table, bench and fireplace beautifully. There are plenty of fake animal skin rugs that would do the job just as well.

Mirka McNeill

These shelves, made of cardboard tubes, are a brainwave. They make a tiny bedroom really stand out.

Starburst and sunbursts

Nothing imparts energy more than these gorgeous mirrors. Replacing a rectangular mirror with one of these would add instant movement to a scheme. Look at the impact it has on this room, featured in Living Etc.


So that’s the plan. After all this energetic decorating though, I’ll need somewhere peaceful to rest…


I’m looking for the perfect wallpaper for our bedroom. It’s to go on the wall behind the dresser and the mother-of-pearl inlaid mirror with birds and flowers. The trouble is finding something interesting enough for that small space, but that doesn’t compete too much with the mirror frame. Here are some of the contenders.

Nina Campbell Lombardia wallpaper

I love this wallpaper by Nina Campbell. The butterflies are really sweet, but I wonder if I’d tire of them?

Osborne & Little Lombardia wallpaper

I like the subtle pattern and gold backdrop in this wallpaper, also by Nina Campbell. Might be a bit sumptuous for our bedroom though?

Osborne & Little Asuka wallpaper

I’ve always loved this design by Osborne & Little.

Florence Broadhurst wallpaper

I’m sorely tempted by this dramatic design from Florence Broadhurst.

Clarence House wallpaper

I like the Japanese blossom motif in this Clarence House design.

Timorous Beasties wallpaper

This is by Timorous Beasties at Walnut Wallpaper. I like that it’s subtle but a bit different.

Ferm Living wallpaper

This is from Ferm Living. The splashy branch-effect is stunning, but the white background might not work.

PomPom, Sanderson wallpaper

This is PomPom by Sanderson. I like the idea of a charcoal backdrop.

So, as you can see, I’m still very undecided. Am I missing any other options?

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