Home improvement: Shake off those winter blues in style for under £100

Victorian villa style by Jojo Humes Brown

Victorian villa style by Jojo Humes Brown - Credit: contributed

January is the most depressing month of the year. The days are short, the weather is miserable and the joys of Christmas seem like a dark and distant memory.

Designer Jojo Humes-Brown

Designer Jojo Humes-Brown - Credit: Archant

So how can we cheer ourselves up without spending a fortune? Woodbridge interior designer Jojo Humes-Brown talks through 5 ways to make your home a haven to hibernate in.

The tree has gone, the tinsel and baubles have all been packed away for another year and, if you are anything like me, you might be feeling like your home has lost a bit more than its festive sparkle.

The trouble with winter is that we spend so much time indoors. So it seems only right that we embrace that space and create a warm and welcoming slice of squishy cushion and blanket heaven.

So how can you achieve this without breaking the bank?

Interior designs by Suffolk designer Jojo Humes-Brown

Interior designs by Suffolk designer Jojo Humes-Brown - Credit: Archant

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Well, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to bring back the bloom to your boudoir and the life to your living room – and all for under £100.

Clever lighting tricks

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Let’s face it, winter is dark and dismal. Days are short and we rely more on electric light sources to illuminate our homes.

But choosing these is key to creating an environment that is cosy.

Interior designs by Suffolk designer Jojo Humes-Brown

Interior designs by Suffolk designer Jojo Humes-Brown - Credit: Archant

Now I believe every room needs multiple light sources.

The central fitting is usually a given, but they can be a little unflattering and really need some complimentary luminary companions to create an ambience in which to relax.

My advice is to add at least three side lamps to a living area – one of these being a standard lamp. This will create points of interest – drawing your eye to different corners of a room – but also provide a glow at different levels.

There are lots of affordable options to choose from. You can buy glass or mirrored bases to add extra light, wooden bases for a more natural effect and leather or ceramic for texture and colour.

Make sure to pick a shade in the right size and don’t forget softly hued bulbs – a wattage that isn’t too bright. A selection of 40-watt opal bulbs will create pools of ambient light rather than a beam as bright as Portman Road stadium.

Another lovely winter light source is candles. Cheap and cheerful they help change the mood of your home, particularly complementing open fires and wood burners.

How to add texture

Who doesn’t love to snuggle under a cosy throw when it’s a little nippy outdoors?

With a great selection available locally, the addition of a blanket or two will add extra textural dimension to your room.

Faux fur throws, woollen blankets, antique patchwork quilts - they will all add something.

And if your room is neutral, these can be a great way to add a splash of colour.

Having said this, if you do go for a bold choice, try to balance your room by introducing a couple of cushions to the mix.

You should always think carefully about how you live in a space and not just what it looks like.

It’s all very well having matching cushions set out like a row of soldiers on your couch, but mucking up the arrangement can make sitting almost uninviting. Instead, try to create a casual and comfy space where people feel at home.

Odd numbers are always more pleasing to the eye. And different sizes, shapes and patterns will all tantalise your senses and make it even more welcoming to guests.

Go green like Gwyneth

Every room comes to life with a little life within it.

Proven to help our physical and mental wellbeing, we all need more green in our homes.

From the prickly little cactus to the resurgence of the cheese plant and parlour palm (welcoming back the 1970’s revival) there is something for everyone.

I try to stick to a selection of one particular type of plant to get maximum effect. A cluster of cacti for example rather than one lonely specimen always seems more pleasing to the eye.

The other fantastic thing about adding plants to your living space is that they are relatively cheap.

For longevity, you could even purchase some fake ones – a great way to add colour with more exotic blooms. Spend a little more for the best quality and the investment will be well worth it.

Again stick to multiples of the same flower to get the maximum effect.

If you are going to fake it, put the stems in a solid vase so you can’t see that they are waterless.

For a good range of fake plants, look at the collection by Abigail Ahern. Hollywood goddess Gwyneth Paltrow is a huge fan – but don’t worry, her plants are affordable for us mere mortals as well – www.abigailahern.com.

Joys of a feature wall

The feature wall is one of those things that is often debated by interior designers.

Should you or shouldn’t you?

Well I may be going out on a limb here – and many of my industry counterparts would disagree – but I say: “Do it”.

A feature wall is about injecting colour and texture to a room.

You could add a coat of paint or wallpaper or you could try some wood or tiles even.

The best thing about a feature wall is it gives you a chance to try a different colour or look without the commitment of a whole room.

Just remember though, you do need it to have a connection to the rest of the room so stick to a palette of colours and work within it.

For a contemporary look, consider using wallpaper with a bold pattern.

Many people like floral designs but I have also worked with clients to create a wallpapered bookcase wall, a world map, New York Tin tiles, and even wrought iron. With wallpaper, the possibilities really are endless.

Dare to go dark

Finally, I would urge you to try darker colours when adding a feature wall to a room.

In recent years the urge to paint things white, cream or (shudder with horror) magnolia has rather stripped us of individuality and creativity when it comes to interior design.

Try it and see. It’s only a pot of paint after all and my bet is you might be rather pleased with the result at the end.

Don’t forget, interior design is about having fun. It’s about experimenting and making your house a home.

You do not need to throw loads of money at it. Just follow a few ground rules and your room will feel fresher and cosier – a place to relax, recuperate and unwind at the end of a busy day.

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