Interior Designers Share Five Cost-Effective Fixes To Update Your Home

Unless you’re Vogue editor Anna Wintour, you probably won’t go through life with the same haircut. You’ll commit to a style for a few years or even months then, on a whim, experiment.

Sometimes it will pay off, other times not so much. But the good thing is with hair nothing is finite, you can freshen up your look as you please and it’s the same with your interiors. 

As interior designers, Katrina Garrett and Millie Alison of The Design Paddock make a living helping people update their homes to suit their life stage.

From the first-home buyer to the empty-nesters looking to downsize, both Garrett and Alison are skilled at identifying the needs of their clients and creating homely spaces that reflect them. 

Katrina Garrett and Millie Alison, founders of Australian interior design and decorating company The Design Paddock.
Millie Alison and Katrina Garrett, founders of Australian interior design and decorating company The Design Paddock. Photo: Sheri McMahon Photography

But they also acknowledge that not every existing space needs to be renovated or structurally enhanced to make it feel fresh. 

“There are a variety of smaller, cost-effective DIY home projects you can achieve over a weekend that can really freshen up your space,” says Alison. 

Before tackling any DIY project, the pair suggest looking at your home one room at a time and identifying key areas that need some help. 

“It’s definitely more manageable if you work on one area at a time before moving onto the next,” says Garrett, who suggests starting with the exterior and entrance of the home if you live in a street-facing house. 

The Design Paddock's bright and breezy Port Stephens project.
Not every home needs a structural change or major renovation to feel new – it can be as easy as screwing in new cabinet handles and changing to warmer light globes. Photo: Sheri McMahon Photography

Street appeal

“Freshening up the exterior of your home can be as simple as doing some gardening and making sure everything looks tidy,” says Alison. “If you’ve got largely lawn with limited plants, adding a mature tree in a pot near the doorway can also make your home feel more inviting.” 

Giving the front door some love too with a coat of paint can also make all the difference. A bold colour here can also add some intrigue to your entrance. 

First impression

Moving inside, the pair tackle the entryway next, a site that is often neglected and a dumping zone for shoes, keys and wallets. For Garrett, the trick is to declutter this space and create designated zones for these things to live. 

“Wall hooks to hang your coats or a simple bench seat to sit and take off your shoes, where you can then store them neatly underneath, is a good option.” 

The Design Paddock's bright and breezy Port Stephens project.
Organised zones in an entryway for a busy family’s belongings in The Design Paddock’s bright and breezy Port Stephens project. Photo: Sheri McMahon Photography

Lick of paint

Before you consider any drastic structural changes, lean into cosmetic changes first. Perhaps all your living room needs is a fresh coat of paint to neutralise the space. 

“White paint is always good because it makes rooms appear larger and adds an element of brightness,” says Alison. 

“There’s also a variety of surface-specific paints available where you can easily paint over outdated laminex kitchen benches or give bathroom tiles a new colour, which make a huge difference to the look and feel of a space.” 

Well handled

Another simple and cost-effective option for freshening up your interiors is replacing hardware from door knobs to kitchen and bathroom cabinet handles. 

“These can differentiate from room to room but keep the style consistent across the home,” Garrett says. “For example, try avoiding having something ultra modern in one room and French Provincial in another.”

Let there be light

But perhaps the simplest cosmetic change you can make to your interiors is switching your light globes. “In the living and bedroom areas, always opt for a light globe that diffuses warm light – it will make the space more inviting, comfortable and relaxing,” says Garrett.


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