Bleak house? 10 ways to spruce up your home that won’t break the bank

It’s time for new beginnings. Here are some tips on how to give your home a whole new look

The holly and the ivy are looking the worse for wear, the tree is on its last legs – yes, the season of goodwill is well and truly over.

Although some relish the opportunity to start a new chapter in their lives, many others will lament the end of the festivities and all the glitz and sparkle which goes with it – and packing away the baubles and garlands can leave even the most positive souls feeling flat and despondent.

We asked interior designers for some advice on how to spruce up our homes to celebrate the arrival of a new year and keep the January blues at bay.

Clean it, store it

Ruth Kennelly of RK Designs in Marlay Park Courtyard advises homeowners to rid the house completely of festive fare before giving the whole place a thorough clean.


“As soon as January 6th rolls around go straight to IKEA for its brown cardboard moving boxes,” she says. “Fill and label each one for bauble and outdoors decorations and consign the lot to the attic for another year. Leave no trace of Christmas and open the windows to air the rooms of cinnamon and mulled wine scents.

“Over Christmas all side boards and table-tops get covered with cards, chocolate boxes and various gifts and bottles so clean all surfaces so you can start with fresh clean surfaces and your house will feel instantly brighter when all of the detritus is removed.”

Move the furniture around

Caitriona O’Brien of The Design Team says it’s neither practical nor affordable to completely re-decorate at the start of each season, but a few simple adjustments can make your home feel brighter, lighter and different.

“We often move furniture around for Christmas, to accommodate a tree and decorations or to create extra seating and table space,” she says. “But just because a sofa or table used to live in a particular place doesn’t mean it has to go back there – instead experiment with arranging your furniture in different ways to change up the space and create a new mood for spring. Also consider rearranging artwork or moving pieces from room to room.

Clean the windows

“Next, clean your windows – it’s just amazing the difference this makes to interior light levels – and move any heavy furniture away from windows to avoid blocking precious light. Use mirrors to make the most of both daylight and artificial light; placing a large mirror opposite a window will reflect daylight and a mirror behind a table lamps will amplify its glow.”

Replace lampshades, go for glass

Replacing darker lampshades with lighter ones creates instant impact, she says, while using clear glass vases and other decorative glass pieces will reflect light and give a ‘lighter’ feel than ceramic or other opaque materials.

Dress the windows differently

O’Brien also suggests considering a change of curtains, particularly if they are dark and heavy and even changing the paint or paper on a single wall as it’s often enough to transform a room and can be achieved in a day.

Use cushions and rugs to refresh

“Pick the wall you see when you enter the space and choose either a lighter shade of the existing colour, or a contrasting bright zingy pop,” she advises. “Then use this colour in cushions, throws and other accessories including rugs to give an instant lift to the room.”

While the weather is still cold outside maintain a cosy layered look by mixing new accessories with some of the warmer materials already in the room. The choice is endless, but consider buying Irish designs from Paul Costelloe, Carolyn Donnelly and Michael Mortell at Dunnes Stores. Beautiful cushions and throws made by Scatterbox in Navan - - are stocked by a range of retailers including Arnotts, Harvey Norman, EZ Living and Michael Murphy Home Furnishing with prices from €26.

Throws will keep it cosy

"Foxford make throws in lovely pastel colours, but which are still cosy enough for late winter – they are available from Arnotts for €124. And if your furniture is dark, consider investing in a set of lighter coloured loose covers - have a fantastic range of fabrics and patterns which will give your seating a completely new lease of life."

Bring in the green

Ruth Kennelly recommends investing in some houseplants to give a springlike feel. "Howbert & Mays ( have a wonderful selection (starting from €6) and Anthea in the Monkstown branch is a font of knowledge when it comes to filling your home with beautiful greenery. Blechnum silver lady is a great choice if you feel like adding some tropical greenery," she says.

“Another option is to get large bunches of eucalyptus from your local florist and put this beautiful fresh scent in vases around your living spaces - no flowers needed, and the clean look and scent will bring a lift to your house.

Change your lightbulbs

"Then change your light bulbs as the warm glow of lamp light you enjoyed over Christmas can seem oppressive in January so change the bulbs for a brighter wattage in areas such as halls and kitchens and leave the glow for bedrooms and small living spaces. have a huge range of bulbs and Denise is on hand to always give super advice."

Don’t leave it there

Caitriona O’Brien says we should rejuvenate our homes regularly – just as we update our wardrobes.

“Our home is a place in which we should want, and love, to spend time,” she says. “It’s our safe haven from the outside world and it should bring us joy and happiness. Like an old coat, a room can become tired and worn and uninteresting – so by taking a fresh look at your living space every season you can give it a lift and improve the overall appearance, and mood, of your home.”