Remodelling your home in a recession? Well here are a few helpful hints on how to make some successful design decisions on a tight budget.
Step 1 – Get a room!
It can be quite the daunting task remodelling one’s whole house all at once, talk less of the pinch on the pocket it’s going to be. But why put yourself through the pain of such a herculean task? When you could easily keep it simple and focus on one room at a time. Makes the work a whole less lighter and believe it or not, gets your creative juices flowing easier. So, pick a room. Doesn’t matter which one, living room, bedroom, bathroom, study, dinning room, hallway… doesn’t matter. Although, I’d dare say most people would prefer to start with a public space such as the living room, because this is the “reception area” of our home and it’s important to give the best first impression.
Step 2 – Visualize
In other words, imagine BIG but think SMALL. Remember the saying God is in the details? So true. Don’t do a thing, except sit back, relax, open your eyes and take a good 360 degrees look at the room you choose to do up. Shusssh your left brain and let the creative right brain take over as you allow your imagination flow. Think colour, form and function, don’t be shy or embarrassed by your ideas or think them silly, no they are not! Even the most successful creative achievements started with imagination. Don’t stop there though, take a pen and paper and write down your ideas and if you are still not sure about them, show them to a more creative friend and get another perspective.
Step 3 – Don’t spend a kobo.
At least, not just yet. Remember those ideas? Well think of how to achieve some of them without spending a dime. The three “Rs” may come in handy here: Recycle, Reuse, Reduce. Roll up those sleeves, move furniture around, change the position of your media station, re-orient your rug, find a different spot for a favourite painting. If your room is bit clustered, you may want to move a couch to another part of your house or something else to balance out your negative and positive areas, remember “less is more”.
Step 4 – Think “Face-lift”
Like most homes, yours probably has a storage full of “junk” right? Well, go in there with you duster and dust out some of that junk. You’ll be surprised how an old basket, with a little spit and shine, positioned correctly, could make for a very attractive magazine bin. Or that old forgotten “akpati” your grandmother passed on to your mother who passed it on to you, could very well be converted into the most popular piece in your living space. I mean why leave it buried in the back of your closet somewhere when it could easily make for a quirky center table or end table, an accent table with a few favourite family photos and knickknacks, or even additional seating / family photo storage! I know for sure that many of those trunks are mighty sturdy.
Step 5 – Be African and proud!
Our culture is a rich source for creative ideas so don’t be hesitant about looking for little ways to make a big statement. Empty ostrich eggs for instance, easily bought at the tourism market, can make for an
interesting painting surface. Get a few, give them to a fine-artist friend of yours (or take the bold step and do it yourself) to create a medley of designs on it and voila! Juxtapose two woven mats on a wall, you can even make it more interesting and get your artist friend to do some quick abstract artwork on the mats. Throw some colourful beads into a transparent bowl, turn an old aso-oke into headrests for your couches or have a trusted tailor intelligently re-cover your throw pillows with some old wrappers. Of course these are just ideas I’m throwing out, you mustn’t go with any of them, the point is to get those creative juices flowing and when you do, don’t hold back.. let it rip!
Step 6 – Frame it, don’t fake it.
So your little child comes up to you and says “daddy, Mommy, see what I did in School today” and shows you a drawing or painting. You say “nice, nice” take it proudly with the promise to keep it very well and then shove it into some desk drawer and most likely forget about it, thinking you are keeping it the best way possible, right? Wrong! Think of going out and buying a really important looking frame, choose the best few out of the ever increasing pile of your child’s art work in that drawer, get him or her to sign and date them (very important) then frame them. You’ll be surprised how a creatively placed cluster of child-art on the wall has a way of adding its own bit of chic to your space. More gratifying though is the sheer joy your child will feel.
Step 7 – Think inside the box.
Granted that the average room is a box with openings, the goal here is not to isolate your walls and treat them merely as space dividers or surfaces to hang one or two random pictures, but figure out ways to breathe creative life into that box. Sort of like shopping for clothes really, it’s rare that one throws out everything in ones closet and replaces them with a whole new wardrobe all at once, we are more likely to go shopping, buy a few key pieces that we can mix and match with our existing wardrobe to get fresh new looks. Exactly the same process with decorating your home, think of your walls as an old wardrobe which needs “freshening up”. Accent walls have become quite popular, that is a wall that is painted a different colour from the other walls in a room. This is good but we should not stop there. As per a client’s request, we once had an entire wall in their child’s bedroom covered with a huge custom made map of the world. It was uncommon, unexpected and bold and easily became the center piece of the space. Talk about a wow! factor. Choose a wall and think of how to use it as your space enhancer; could be with a punch of colour, a mural or wall decals, fabric, a medley of photos, wall-to-wall shelving for books and interesting knickknacks and finish off your space with a zing and zest!
Step 8 – Space beautiful indeed!
So what has been done so far? Let’s review… we picked a room and took time to visualize a whole new look for it, moved furniture around thereby changing the dynamics of our space, we leveraged on the fundamentals of green design by thinking of ways to create new fresh looks from old pieces and also by looking around our environment for indigenous ways to upgrade the look in our home, encouraged our very own little budding Picasso and finished off the space with an accent wall that will please even the most crabbed mother-in-law! All this was done on a very low budget and a big dream! This last step is the simplest because this is where you kick back and enjoy the pay-off of your hard work. The home is our most intimate space which means it has a direct impact on mental, physical and spiritual health and there is truly no place like home.