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For thousands of years the bond between mental health and interior design has been well documented. The Chinese practice of Feng Shui and India’s Vastu Shastra are both based on the fact that how we feel is intrinsically linked to our environment, and especially our homes. A study Link opens in a new window found that the introduction of daylight boosted mood, while the addition of plants and flowers Link opens in a new window made people feel calmer. 

Sprucing up a room yourself doesn’t need to involve creating a hole in your bank account Link opens in a new window. In fact, it can be done with one single item, whether it’s a can of paint, an amazing piece of statement furniture, or a cleverly positioned mirror. Even if there’s a bit of decorating involved, a glow-up doesn’t take long. ‘Once I had the idea in my brain, I just started by painting the old pipe work and, before I knew it, it was 1am,’ admitted one of our DIY enthusiasts.

Websites such as eBay Link opens in a new window, Facebook Marketplace Link opens in a new window and Freegle Link opens in a new window are a great place to start if you’re looking for inspiration, and sell materials leftover from previous projects, as well as pre-loved, second-hand items. So, go on, take the plunge and make a change like these people did.

‘The entire cost of the makeover was £30!’

Item: DIY IKEA Mirror
Room: Hallway
Amount spent: £30

‘I wanted to transform the entryway in my rented flat with as little damage as possible,’ said Shayna Alnwick, aka The Flipped Piece Link opens in a new window. ‘I was brainstorming all sorts of ideas to achieve this.’ In the end Shayna found inspiration in IKEA where she bought 24 Lonsas 13 x 18 mirrors Link opens in a new window at £1 each and some black duct tape. She used a level to mark out the area of the wall she’d decided to cover. ‘I wanted to make the mirror take up the entire space of the wall, so I applied four mirrors across and six mirrors up. I used double-sided adhesive to apply these mirrors so they would be less damaging to the wall and keep it renter friendly.’ Finally, Shayna used a Stanley knife to cut off the excess tape. The result makes her hallway seem bigger and adds interest to what was a bare wall. Should she ever wish to remove her DIY mirror, the duct tape can easily be melted using a hairdryer on a gentle heat and the self-adhesive prised off the walls with dental floss.

The Flipped Piece hallway
Before and after of Shayna's hallway glow up
The Flipped Piece hallway with fabulous DIY mirror

'It adds visual interest and a wow factor'

Item: Paint, handles and tiles
Room: Kids’ bathroom
Amount spent: £90

DIY Instagrammer Niky Foster Link opens in a new window wanted to decorate her kids’ bathroom with minimal fuss and cost. ‘I created a floor-to-ceiling tile wall and added a major transformation in this whole space.’ You can recreate this incredible look yourself with these tiles from Topps Tiles Link opens in a new window. Niky also gave the walls a freshen up with some white paint Link opens in a new window and painted the vanity unit with a dark navy paint Link opens in a new window. She also added new gold handles, similar to these from B&Q, which are £6 a pair Link opens in a new window and finished off the room by adding some blue accents to the all-white walls with a navy and white shower curtain Link opens in a new window. Despite the small outlay, Niky was thrilled with the result: ‘It adds visual interest and a wow factor to my builder-grade home.’

Niky Foster's bathroom before
'Paint really can change everything' says Niky
Niky Foster's bathroom after

‘I spent £40 and transformed my kitchen.’

Item: Paint
Room: Kitchen
Amount spent: £40

Instead of spending large amounts of money doing up his kitchen, author and journalist Matthew Fraser Link opens in a new window decided just to paint it instead, using Frenchic paint Link opens in a new window. He spent £40 on two tins, one green for the cupboards and one white for the tiles. ‘It's terrific stuff and very hard wearing,’ he said. ‘The secret to success is thin coats built up over a few days.’ With the tiles, he gave them a good clean with sugar soap and then painted on around five coats with a mini roller. ‘They were a dated, swirly pattern before but now they look like brand new white tiles. The paint gives a matt finish.’ While Matthew only spent a small amount on the project, the change was instant: ‘It's really made a huge difference in transforming the old kitchen and saved us thousands in a complete kitchen re-fit.’

Matthew Fraser's kitchen before
Frenchic paint saved Matthew thousands of pounds
Matthew Fraser's kitchen after

‘I couldn’t believe the difference for less than £100’

Item: Paint and circular mirror
Room: Living Room
Amount spent: £90

Katie Churchill, an online interior designer Link opens in a new window, made over the fireplace wall in her living room with a combination of savvy buys, which totalled around £90. ‘I was desperate to add a splash of colour to our living room and decided to take the plunge when I found an amazing terracotta coloured paint,’ she said. ‘Two coats later and I couldn't believe the difference it made.’ The paint was Valspar paint Link opens in a new window that cost £15 but was colour-matched to the Farrow and Ball Red Earth shade Link opens in a new window. Katie then added a circular mirror from IKEA Link opens in a new window, for £40, and some accessories and artificial plants that totalled £35. ‘It’s brought warmth and interest to the room and now, with the addition of the mirror and knick-knacks, it’s a feature of our home that I’m really proud of.’

Katie Churchill's living room before
Katie's terracotta feature wall is a far cry from what it was before!
Katie Churchill's living room after

‘I got the idea in my head and just had to run with it’

Item: Paint and handles
Room: Kitchen
Amount spent: £67

Abi Hugo from @TheWhiteThistle Link opens in a new window did a cheap and cheerful makeover on her tired kitchen, which she has bigger plans for in the future: ‘I started a week before Christmas 2020; I got the idea in my head and just had to run with it.’ She bought some Frenchic paint Link opens in a new window for the cupboards for £20, white tile paint from Ronseal Link opens in a new window £24 and new handles off Amazon Link opens in a new window, which were £23 for six. ‘I’d always wanted a black kitchen but my husband, Ian, was dead against the idea,’ she said. ‘The fact it was temporary allowed me to play out that dream.’ Despite only spending £67, even Ian is impressed with the new-look black cupboards. ‘I think I’ve actually converted him, plus, it was amazing to have a kitchen that felt like “mine” for the festivities.’

Abi Hugo's kitchen before
Abi created her dream kitchen for under £70
Abi Hugo's kitchen after

‘As I designed and created it myself, it feels more homely’

Item: Paint and transfers
Room: Dressing room
Amount spent: £80

Sarah Flanagan from @homeisno11 Link opens in a new window made over a small, dingy dressing room by creatively using some brightly coloured paint and transfers. ‘The paint is Purple Unicorn from Valspar Link opens in a new window by B&Q but I actually purchased it on Facebook Marketplace for a much cheaper price, as someone had bought it but changed their mind on the colour scheme,’ she revealed. She decided on a diagonal design to make the room look bigger and used Dalmatian spot transfers from KiddySticks Link opens in a new window on one half to create a feature wall. ‘It took me around three days to complete,’ said Sarah. ‘It was hard work but so worth it. I love the finished look and, as I designed and created it myself, it feels more homely.’

Sarah Flanagan's dressing room before
From dingy dressing room to a bright and homely space
Sarah Flanagan's dressing room after

Saving up for a home makeover?

The Virgin Money mobile app has clever savings features that can help start you on your way.

Find out more about the Virgin Money mobile app

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