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Magic makeovers

17th January 2021

Freshening up your home needn’t be a major undertaking. Alison Huntley rounds up ideas for giving interiors a superfast new look

We want different things from our homes as the seasons change. And in the midst of an uncertain winter, we need our living space to provide us with an abundance of comfort and cosy security.

Even if we’ve already got the hygge factor turned up to 11, we may still just fancy a change – many of us having spent a lot more time in our homes this year than we ever would normally. 

Fortunately, little things can make a big difference when it comes to decor. You really don’t need to embark on a major project to ring the changes – a few tweaks here and there can be just what’s needed. Set aside an afternoon, or even less, to make use of these clever ways to brighten up your surroundings.

As Janie Thompson of Thornham Deli Interior Styling says, “It’s all about setting the mood. The summer spells brightness and open windows and doors but the onset of winter means cosy nights by the fire and battening down the hatches.”

She advises firstly to reassess your lighting. “Dim it, make it subtle. Add a lamp rather than downlighters or a central light.”

A cosy spot featuring items available from Thornham Deli

Creating cosy corners for reading or just relaxing is another soothing addition that Janie recommends, as is adding autumnal throws and a quick change of cushions more appropriate to the season. “Even change a picture or two to encapsulate the wintry mood,” she adds. 

Interiors expert Birdie Fortescue is of a similar mind and emphasises that it’s not always necessary to buy new stuff – just switching things around can create a real impact.

“Something as little as a rug change can make a huge difference. Introducing a new rug, or even an old one from a different room, can really provide a central focus of colour and texture on which to build,” she says.

Shelf help from Birdie Fortescue’s AW20 Chowa collection, available at

“Cushions are another easy way to revive an interior. Switching out summer cushions for rich, luxurious colours and textures will really embrace the change to the winter season. Additionally, introducing a throw in co-ordinating tones creates that cosy feel everyone is after during the colder months.”

Birdie also applies these principles to what’s on the walls. “Something people may overlook is the rehanging of artwork. Again, the artwork doesn’t have to be new – just reconfiguring existing pieces or moving them from one room to another can make a room look totally different. 

“The same can be said for decorative accessories – swap around objects and mix up vases and other glassware or ceramics to create new colour schemes and change the whole dynamic.”

Another way to ramp up the warmth is changing your lampshades. “It can really add the finishing touches to a room,” says Birdie. “Find a shade to complement these new rich colours, which will tie everything together and create a harmonious and welcoming atmosphere.”

Picture perfect: works by artists exhibiting at Homeware pictured is also from Birdie Fortescue.

Charley Nichols, senior designer with Arcadia Home & Living, is a fan of the Danish concept of hygge to turn your living space into a veritable nest. 

“The hygge style can be achieved relatively quickly and inexpensively but can transform the feel of your home,” she explains.

“It’s all about warming things up by adding layers, soft textures, low lighting and using a natural colour scheme. For example, by adding a rug on the floor, soft throws to sofas and armchairs, extra cushions in warm, tactile fabrics and candles on multiple surfaces (including stylish hurricane lamps on the floor), a sitting room quickly becomes a much cosier and inviting place to spend those long winter nights.”

Using rugs cleverly is, of course, the superpower of Rachel Simpson of The Rug Studio, who advises that “with the nights drawing in, it’s a quick fix to use the warm colours of a kilim or a pile rug to bring warmth underfoot and visually warm the room”. 

Good rugs may be considered expensive, but Rachel says they can be an investment if bought wisely. This means, she says, going for “something individual, a one-off, hand knotted, not hand tufted”.

Totally floored: an antique Persian Bakhtiar from The Rug Studio

But Rachel’s Afghan kilims offer a more affordable change. “Their geometric repeating designs in natural dyes bring depth to a room while often lifting the space with their fresh, clean colours. They can also be used as throws on sofas or over tables – as seen in many of Holbein’s paintings,” she says. Other options include tribal rugs which are “made from the heart”.

If you have a more formal style, Rachel suggests traditional and elegant Persian and Indian carpets. Their wide variety of colours means you can find something to work with practically any soft furnishings. “Ultimately buy a rug because you like it!” Rachel declares.

When it comes to brightening up the home, paint is an obvious choice. And you don’t have to redecorate a whole room to reap its transformative benefits.

Anna Hill, brand director at Norfolk paint firm Fenwick & Tilbrook, suggests that if you have panelling, a new colour on that can make the world of difference. 

“It’s a great way to inject character and warmth into a room, offering a real opportunity to be brave with your colour choice,” she says.

A quicker paint job is to change the colour around the fire. “It’s a nice idea to create a focal point. Taking one colour up from the fireplace surround and on to the wall above can really elevate the space.”

A paint job can be genuinely speedy, Anna insists. “It doesn’t have to take days – our paint finishes are all water-based, low VOC and quick drying meaning once the job is done, you can use the room straight away.”

Dean & Borja @mytinyestate transformed their cottage using Fenwick & Tilbrook ‘Highland Peat’ on the panelling and ‘Old Forge’ around the fireplace. The walls are ‘Oyster’.

Get in touch

Arcadia Home & Living, Fakenham

Birdie Fortescue, Fakenham

Fenwick & Tilbrook, Attlebridge

The Rug Studio, Holt Antiques & Interiors Centre, Holt

Thornham Deli Interior Styling, Thornham