We moved into our new Manchester home back in mid March. We’re now in June and, well, let’s just say the progress has been slow when it comes to unpacking, re-arranging, decorating and making it feel like home.
For a while this was really getting me down. I’m definitely one of those people for whom the state of my home environment has a real impact on the way I’m feeling. ‘Tidy home, tidy mind’ is a phrase that definitely applies to me and as a born organiser, I’m always itching to get everything in its place as soon as possible. What can I say, I just love the house faffing!
Thinking back to our old house in Kent, the process was a lot simpler. We moved in in October and by Christmas had the downstairs of house looking how we wanted it to, with the decorating of two rooms upstairs completed by end of January. And as I keep lamenting to my Husband, it felt like home almost straight away, which is a feeling I haven’t quite got to in this new house. Of course I know why it’s taking a while to settle into. A house isn’t a home until it has your things in it right? Until you are able to gloss over any remnants of previous inhabitants and make it feel as if you’re the only people who have ever lived and loved in those four walls? Until you can wipe the slate clean and put your own stamp on the place. And we haven’t managed to do that yet. We’ve got our furniture in and our clothes in wardrobes and our coats hung at the door, but we haven’t had time to add the little details that make somewhere feel homely. To hang mirrors and put pictures up, to fill walls with photos and display sentimental possessions on non existent shelves.
It’s fairly obvious why it’s been slow going this time around. When we moved into our previous house we didn’t yet have Evie, and while yes, I was heavily pregnant while most of the decorating occurred, we didn’t have her schedule to consider or her non stop energy to declare us useless whenever we do get a second. Previously I could have spent a whole day turning a room upside down and re-arranging it if I wanted to. We could have hung pictures after 7.30pm if we wanted to. We could have spent a whole weekend painting if we really wanted to. Now I get around an hour/hour and a half each day to dedicate to any activities that aren’t looking after Evie, and there are always a lot of those!! With my Husband working away a lot recently, weekends have been mostly out too (we’ve only had one weekend at home together since moving here in March!! I know!) and I’ll admit I’ve found myself getting frustrated at the amount of unpacked boxes, and clutter still lying untouched.
So when my Mum came to visit and help out a couple of weeks ago, I decided to prioritise a bit of house organising while she occupied Evie. I spent a good few days down in the cellar, going through boxes and searching for things I couldn’t for the life of me remember where I’d packed. I pulled out a few framed family photos for the living room, found vases and plant pots and filled them with happiness inducing blooms and plants, re-organised all of the kitchen cupboards and made a long list of everything we needed for the house, and everything we want to do to the house, and then made a plan of action on how and when to tackle it.
As much as the perfectionist in me craves getting everything exactly as I want it in as short a time as possible, I have to be realistic. And sensible. We’re aiming to save money at the moment, and splurging on lots of house pieces straight away wouldn’t be a good move, not to mention the fact that we are time poor, don’t yet fully know my Husband’s work schedule over the summer period and have some big changes afoot (such as Evie starting nursery) that make a lot of upheaval at home not such a great plan. In short, decorating from top to bottom in one fell swoop isn’t an option for us, and truthfully I’m not sure it’s an option for many people.
So my plan over the next few months is to embrace the slow process. To slowly but surely add little touches to each room that make them feel more ‘us’. To buy a couple of new things for the house each month and slowly work through that list. And to work on adding personality to each room without having to decorate.
While it’s so tempting to want a blank canvas to begin on, painting or decorating a room is a big, time consuming and expensive task. I’m hoping many of you can relate to this post as there are so many reasons why decorating might not be possible for you – from lack of time or lack of funds, to renting rules and difficult landlords. We shouldn’t feel like we can’t achieve that Pinterest worthy home without spending a fortune on paint and slogging our guts out ripping up floorboards.
For us, we know we will do a fresh lick of paint in the rooms eventually and although renting again, we’re lucky that our landlord is amenable to us doing our own thing with the house. However we’re having to be patient and keep our time frame loose. For now, with my Husbands work schedule and a busy time ahead, we’re happy to hold off on the big tasks and chip away at the jobs list one thing at a time. We’re fairly lucky in that every room in the house is currently magnolia, and although long term readers will know of my hatred for this particular neutral shade, it’s not garish, fairly in-offensive and something we can absolutely live with until we have time on our side.
So ignoring the magnolia canvas, I started with our bedroom. A room which it felt important to freshen up slightly. Seeing as sleep, relaxation and time out to myself is something I get so very little of, when it does come around I want to be able to escape to an environment that is as calming and restful as it can be.
I’ve only made a few very small changes so far – not a single hole has been drilled, no walls have been painted – but I honestly can’t tell you how much of a difference has been made just from implementing a few easy tricks to spruce the room up! It’s gone from feeling dark, dull and lacklustre, to light, cosy and pretty.
So I thought I’d share these 5 easy fixes, that, if for whatever reason you’re unable to decorate or simply want to mix things up from time to time without changing your whole colour scheme, will make your bedroom feel like new, without you having to spill a drop of paint on the carpet…
Invest in some gorgeous bedding and switch up your colours
This is probably the easiest change you can make and the one thing I’d always suggest as a first step to freshen up a bedroom instantly. If you’re struggling to see the full picture of how you want a room to look, aren’t completely convinced on colour schemes yet, or simply want a new look without spending too much/ doing a lot of work, invest in a new bedding set, and indulge your inner cushion hoarder and I can guarantee the room will have a completely different feel immediately. It’s definitely something I’ve implemented a lot in the past when I’ve grown tired of a room and craved a complete makeover.
For me, when it comes to our main bedroom I prefer to stick with a beautiful white duvet cover. I’ve had various colours and patterns of duvet over the years, but honestly nothing makes me feel better than when I see the bed looking fresh in white. It provides a complete blank canvas which means you can go to town with the colours and patterns on your cushions and throws should you wish, and it also makes changing your room colour scheme from time to time a breeze as a white base will always work no matter the accessories.
When we moved house, I saw this as an opportunity to get rid and switch up any items that had become tired, and our duvet and pillows definitely had. I treated us to a new king size duvet and 4 giant (and good quality) cushions and now I don’t know how we survived with the old, flat, past their best ones we had previously. I think if there’s one bedroom area to splurge that little extra on and get something luxury, it’s bedding. From a decent pillow to lay your head on, to a feathery duvet to pull over you and some gorgeously soft covers to crawl into, it really can make or break the bedroom environment, how well you sleep and how relaxed you feel in the room.
With that in mind, I am very much in love with our current bedding – this beautiful white set from the K by Kelly Hoppen range at QVCUK.com (c/o). It’s a six piece set which includes a sheet and four pillowcases (2 oxford, 2 normal) and is honestly so soft and luxurious. It’s 100% cotton with a 280 thread count, and you can absolutely tell the difference compared to other cotton duvets. It features a very subtle deco swirls pattern adding a little something extra to it while still appearing plain overall. I love it so much for the first week after I put it on the bed, I took it off again each night before the time that Evie usually crawls in with me as I couldn’t bear her slobbering/snotting all over it!
I think my long term plan for the colours in this room is to go for a dusky pink, grey and navy look, but for now while it’s summer (and I don’t yet have any navy curtains to tie the look together), I’ve kept things simple with black and white and a touch of pink, and I actually rather like it. I added a few cushions from Tesco (pink velvet at the back) and Aldi (monochrome textured at the front) and already it’s looking much more pulled together than before.
Add a cosy rug
Any fellow renters will know of the pain that is having to live with what I like to call – renters carpet. You know the stuff – the not quite grey, not quite brown, dull, dark, boring pile that covers every room bar the kitchen and bathroom, usually bought by landlords because it’s a. the cheapest, b. the easiest to maintain, and c. the most forgiving on stains, but is also hellava ugly. I’ve been living with carpets like these ever since I left home over a decade and a half ago, and honestly, the joy I will get from ripping those carpets up in the first house we buy is something I think about daily. The real stab in the heart moment however, was when I found images of the interior of this house from before our landlord bought it up on google, and, wait for it… there were the most beautiful open floorboards in both the living room and the main bedroom. Floorboards that people spend a fortune trying to recreate, floorboards that people would lust after on Instagram, floorboards that would have made every flatlay I ever do a breeze. And our landlord chose to cover them up with the cheap and nasty carpet that every rented property in the land has. Sigh.
Anyway while I slowly come to terms with the fact that I could have had the #fwis Instagram snap of dreams from MY OWN HOME, I’ll share the only way I know how to live with these carpets in relative harmony – add a very large rug and cover as much of that monstrosity up as possible. It took me a while to realise this was the way to happiness but now that I have, rugs are a rather guilty pleasure of mine and I have them in every room.
The one we’ve chosen for the bedroom is from Frith Rugs (c/o), and is perfect for the large space. It brightens the room up without overtaking as a main feature. It’s soft and cosy underfoot but also short pile, easy to hoover and not so heavy that you need to switch it up each season.
The design we’ve opted for is the Lippa plain carved Indian rug -a plain style with a slight embossed edge to add just a tiny point of difference. As it was going on top of carpet (and quite an awkward colour of carpet) I knew that we’d need something warm to lighten the floor, and something un-patterned so that the eye wasn’t immediately drawn to the floor as the focal point of the room. This design compliments the room perfectly and is inviting and relaxing without being in your face. I was originally torn on the colours as Frith Rugs also provide this rug in a grey, navy and light cream all of which could have worked with the colour scheme I was imagining. But in the end I decided navy might be too dark (especially for summer), grey might blend in to the carpet too much (and would probably need a white floorboard to really stand out) and cream might just get dirty too easily (especially with Evie running around). When I saw the blush pink option (actually called Rose) I could immediately imagine it in the room, and thankfully my vision of a warm rosy tone was realised when it turned up. It matches both the light bright ambience I’m trying to create, as well as suiting the twee, farmhouse style of the house, working alongside both crisp white and exposed wood details.
We opted for a large size which can slot under the bed while still having a decent amount of coverage edging out either side. This means the cove detailing is really on show and makes sure the bed is the focal point of the room.
I’ve been living with the rug for a few weeks now, getting out of bed and feeling the soft touch of it underfoot, smiling as pink is the first colour to fill my eyes each morning, and I’m just so happy we chose something with a touch of luxury for our bedroom. It really has added a whole new dimension to the room, and the best thing is I think it will look better again when we do eventually come to paint the room.
Make a statement with lighting
Lighting used to be something I knew very little about, and not a part of the interiors process that I got particularly excited about, but over the years I’ve come to realise that lighting is such an important part of any room, and if you can use lights in the right way, you can completely change both the look and feel of the space.
Often overhead lights can be bright and brash, especially in a bedroom, so I always find that an additional standing lamp/ bedside lamps can help add that soft ambience and keep your bedroom feeling cosy.
Seeing as we don’t yet have bedside tables (I swear I’ve been looking for an eternity, why are affordable and stylish – and matching – options so difficult to find?), table lamps wouldn’t have worked for now, and actually I was secretely glad as I have been pinning images of this kind of laid back, lightly attached to the wall/draped over a bed, I live in a cool NYC apartment vibe, hanging lights for longer than I can remember. Most hang from a central rose attached to the wall and/or ceiling, which is why I’d assumed it probably wasn’t an option for us until we owned our own place (electrician needed, wires put through walls etc etc) but then I came across this style of plug in version which need nothing more than a bulb, a plug socket and something to wrap the cord around – LIFE. MADE.
Actually finding a set that wasn’t dangerously expensive, coming all the way from America or in a bizzare colourway of course was more difficult than I imagined, but eventually I tracked these down on the Lighting Direct website for only £14 (you add your own bulb – these large Edison bulbs were around £10 each) and I couldn’t believe my luck. I don’t think I’d ever be able to find two table lamps I liked for the same price and I’m really in love with them.
The plan once my Husband is home to help with the measuring and screwing, is to put a couple of simple wooden brackets either side of the bed and simply drape them over and let them hang down by the side of the bed (there’s a switch at the bottom of each cord), but for now I’m pretty happy wrapping them over the mirror/ bedpost.
The bulbs we chose are a warm vintage Edison, which gives off a very soft, ambient light so is perfect for creating a relaxing environment, while still providing plenty of light for reading.
Fill up with plants and flowers
As much as I’m prone to killing them, I’m realising that plants are a key part of any room, and again, if you’re looking for a way to add something new to a space without spending a fortune – a touch of greenery in a cool pot/jazzy basket will work wonders.
Our cheese plant – Chico – used to live in our spare room but since moving has been relocated to our bedroom, and the cheery green monstera leaves against the pink of the rug and the white of the duvet, have been one finishing detail that’s really pulled the space together. In loo of bedside tables, I’ve kept the side of my bed free of clutter and instead embraced that bohemian style with a couple of woven baskets. One to house Chico, and one to fill with magazines/bits and bobs/ spare throws, phone chargers etc. This zig zag patterned set are by the Amanda Holden Bundleberry range at QVCUK.com (c/o) – a brand we now have a few pieces from, remember our nursery updates? – and I’m so pleased with them. They’re a great size, have multiple uses (spare bedding/ a place to keep your hairdryer/ somewhere to store toiletries) and I love the black and natural design (although they do also come in white and blue). I think they work really well with the monochrome textured cushions on the bed too.
As well as Chico, I picked up another smaller plant (no idea what it is – don’t quiz me) for this lovely pink and gold pot from H&M which lives either on the other side of the bed, or on the mantelpiece, and of course while it’s peony season, a bunch of bright pink buds in this cute gold cactus vase from Primark add a fun touch too.
Introduce some favourite artwork (even if you can’t hang it)
For a long time when I first began renting, I didn’t dare hang pictures for fear of marking walls and dealing with the fall out afterwards. Now I’ve realised that there’s really nothing, not even those command strips or even blu tac , that doesn’t leave some lasting mark and so my motto now is that as long as we make good any damage before we leave the property, I don’t see why we shouldn’t enjoy hanging artwork and pictures while living there. But even if you aren’t able to hang artwork, don’t let that stop you enjoying it – it’s rather cool to just house large framed pictures propped up against a wall these days, and if you have any mantelpieces/shelving you can use that to display favourite prints and photos.
Usually I like to stick to neutral wall colours (not always but most of the time) and then use artwork to add colour and personality, and bring a colour scheme together. You might find that adding couple of new prints in key colours, or shuffling ones from other rooms around will really help give a different look and perspective to your bedroom, so it can be worthwhile having a re-arrange/ looking for new pieces for a gallery wall every so often.
I’m really pleased with the progress in the room already, but I’l definitely keep you updated with further changes as and when we do them and check back in with a full bedroom tour once we’ve completed everything.
Next on our list is a new bedframe and mattress, hopefully bedside tables, a small desk for me that can slot in somewhere, curtains (as there is currently a very ugly blind) and I’ve got my eye on a large print for above the bed, so stay tuned to see more (I usually share details on my Insta Stories and have created a story board for all updates so do check in there for more inspiration!)
Do shout with any other tips for creating a new look without having to decorate, I’m always keen for inspiration!