13 November 2018Last updated


Ten handy home hacks

Making an interiors style statement doesn’t have to mean spending lots of cash, or even time. Charlotte Butterfield reveals the top budget-friendly tricks to inject that elusive wow factor into your home

By Charlotte Butterfield
25 Nov 2014 | 02:57 pm
  • The Alphabet wall decal from Wall Cravings.

    Source:Shutterstock Image 1 of 2
  • Baby Eggs sticker.

    Source:Shutterstock Image 2 of 2

Stick it on

We’ve all heard the words ‘accent’ or ‘feature’ preceding the word ‘wall’, and the reason for its popularity is simple. But a bold and vibrant pattern may overpower a room, so a good way to decorate is by installing it on one wall only – you get the visual contrast and immediate impact, but it’s not overwhelming. Wallpaper is a great cost-effective way to do this; check out for a fabulous range of look-at-me papers. Alternatively, opt for a wall sticker. Particularly perfect for jazzing up kids’ rooms in a matter of minutes, these are easy to use – simply peel and stick – and most can even be reused should you move house. We love the Baby Eggs sticker, which will look beautiful above a cot or toddler bed (120 x 120cm, Dh280, or the Alphabet wall decal from Wall Cravings, which would suit a playroom (Dh235,

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On the tiles

Show homes are wonderful things… for selling houses. Homes need personalisation, and you don’t have to have hundreds of family photos to do it. A perfect variant is Buttoned with Love, which takes the names of your family, or even personal messages, and creates gorgeous artworks using retro prints and scrabble tiles. These make wonderful gifts and instantly introduce a family feel into any home. Prices start at Dh180,


Upcycle, upcycle, upcycle

The term ‘upcycling’ only entered the Oxford English Dictionary in June this year, yet it’s been part of our vocabulary since the late Nineties. Basically meaning ‘to give value to waste materials’ it is a worldwide craze started by the demand for ‘shabby chic’ interiors. It can mean anything from painting old wooden furniture (the chair in this picture has been given a patina-effect paint job), to reupholstering stained chairs or even turning rubbish into something useful. Packing crates, for example, make great side tables when castors are added to the bottom, or turn them on their sides and fix to the wall to make a vintage-look shelving unit.

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Paint is your friend

There can be no quicker way to transform the look of a room than by changing the colour of the walls. Even if you’re renting, most landlords are fine with you arming yourself with a roller – as long as you paint it back to the original colour before you leave. One great way to use colour is to paint alcoves or recesses a bright tone that contrasts with the rest of your room. This also applies to painting the insides of bookcases and box shelves – choose a variety of bright shades for a ‘wow’ factor.

AQ_141101_Home special feature_AQUARIUS 8 The Painted House

Baroque ’n’ roll

Fancy the look of a bespoke hand-painted feature, but without the price tag to match? These innovative rollers turn plain walls, furniture and fabric into something altogether more wonderful and whimsical. Founder of The Painted House, Clare Bosanquet, first came across these rollers in a Romanian market and instantly saw the potential of using them on different surfaces. Her website,, is full of creative ideas, from jazzed-up dressers to beautiful lampshades, cushions and throws, all instantly transformed with a quick spin of an embossed roller. There are 18 designs in the range, all taking inspiration from nature – think delicate wildflowers and birds and butterflies. Rollers start at Dh90 (excluding delivery).


Unearth the unusual

As much as we think that we’re unique or different to our neighbours, every house has the same list of must-have items – sofas, coffee tables, dining tables, chairs, beds and bookcases. The key to creating rooms that are intrinsically you is seeking out shapes, colours and designs that aren’t cookie-cutter. Don’t be tempted to go the easy route and choose complete room-sets from catalogues; shop around and pick only those items you completely fall in love with – after all, you have to see them every day for years. This OTO 100 bookcase by Muuto, for example, laughs in the face of wooden upright bookcases. Muuto bookcase,, Dh3,519.


Hot stepper

Most people view stairs as nothing more than a means of going up and down – and they’re missing a trick. If your budget doesn’t extend to new bannisters or stair runners, you can introduce your own style in other ways. Painting the underside of the tread (the bit of the stair facing you) in different colours is a quick fix – choose a colour family and start with the deepest hue at the bottom, gradually adding more white to the mix the further up the staircase you go. Or, stencil words to each stair to make you smile each step you take. For rented homes, add a little decoration to each step – consider ornamental pebbles, candles, or even house plants to add a little greenery and give your stairs a striking step up.


Look, no flames

Every living room needs a focal point and all too often people make it the big black box that pumps out mindless entertainment. Most Western homes have a fireplace as the main feature, but in the UAE, where the mercury rarely drops low enough to warrant one, very few homeowners bother. However, it is possible to create a fireplace – without the need for matches. Simply install reclaimed timber planks around a recess and fill it with logs for an instant country style that provides a warm look, if not feel, all year round.

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Get the glow

Think fairy lights are just for Christmas or Diwali? Think again. These pretty coloured-ball fairy lights add soft atmosphere and can be left out all year round. Birds n’ Bees Fairy Lights, Dh130,


Chalk it up

Throw away all the scraps of paper stuck with magnets on your fridge and all the notes cluttering up your pinboard. Instead, buy a can of blackboard paint from any hardware store and a cheap frame. Remove the glass from the frame and mount on the wall, then paint the wall in the centre with blackboard paint – you now have an easy-to-use calendar and reminder board. Alternatively, paint behind your cooker and worktops for an effective splashback that doubles as a handy message board for menu ideas, shopping lists etc. Indulge your kids’ creativity by painting the lower half of the walls in their bedroom or playroom with black paint, enabling them to create mini masterpieces to their heart’s content.

By Charlotte Butterfield

By Charlotte Butterfield