How to ace a home makeover without spending money or buying new stuff
Can you make the old new again? Design experts Sarah Sham and Ravi Vazirani say yes
After four weeks of #StayHomeStaySafe, staring at the cracks in the wall paint has become a form of guided meditation. Daydreams and night reveries are haunted by Pinterest boards, yet to be brought to life. Obsessed with thoughts of a home makeover, our fingers are itching to add to cart but our gut is asking, “Do you really have the patience to wait another six weeks for that bandhini print lamp to arrive and will you still want it then?”
If the home makeover fever is starting to shoot up — confined as we are to the same space and desperate for change— consider this a timely intervention.
Instead of making impulse buys or taking your watercolours and going all Taimur Ali Khan on the bedroom wall, a few tweaks to the existing bric-a-brac could give your home a fresh coat of paint, metaphorically speaking.
The zero-cost home makeover guide
“The first thing to do when attempting a home makeover is to clean everything thoroughly, which people have probably already done by now,” says interior designer Sara Sham of Essajees Atelier. “That gives you a chance to look at what you have left and use it in unique ways.”
Your bookshelf is a wannabe art installation
While our inner book nerd arranges our favourite titles alphabetically or from most read to ‘I didn’t even know I owned that’, Sham suggests grouping books by colour for visual impact.
“Then you can style the shelves with accessories you already have in your house, maybe separate the piles of books with photo frames, small planters or even souvenirs.”
You could even stack your books on a side table or a console, repurposing them as design elements.
One person’s twig is another person’s floral arrangement
Instead of relying on the usual suspects, roses and carnations, designer Ravi Vazirani has been repurposing garden variety flora. “Play with scale,” he advises, when crafting a table set up. “Look for beauty in the mundane.”
In his own home, Vazirani snapped off a branch of Indian jasmine to fill his pristine white vases, angled jauntily for added drama. You could try this yourself with dried twigs and leaves too.
Go fabric shopping in your sari cupboard
Those chiffon saris you’ve been stockpiling since you were 18? While you’re social distancing from sangeets and Sunday brunches, co-opt them into your home makeover programme.
“Take saris or even dupattas and use them as throws at the end of your bed or draped across the couch. Those vibrant Indian prints could really refresh the space,” says Sham.
She even has a suggestion for the former loves lurking at the bottom of the cupboard, abandoned after a plate of butter chicken made a crash landing in your lap.
“It’s very easy to hand-stitch cushion covers out of them, even if you don’t have a sewing machine at home. Just cut off the parts that are stained or torn.”
Submit to being a crazy plant lady
“If you have a money plant, take cuttings and put them into bottles of water or empty liquor bottles — which I’m sure everyone has since they’ve finished their alcohol supply,” suggests Sham.
You may also consider using this time to get started on that kitchen garden, a low-cost high-yield activity that the designer herself has begun.
“You can take any kind of vessel or receptacle, and start using your kitchen waste to begin the planting process. Reuse seeds and bits that you might otherwise have thrown away, start reading up on the plants that you can grow from literally nothing.”
You can’t spell function without fun
Until you have the space for a walk-in closet straight out of The Devil Wears Prada, rethink the way you’re storing your knick-knacks.
A clear glass bowl or antique tray from the kitchen could find new life as your accessories holdall.
Interior designer Kelly Wearstler says, ““People don’t always have time to put their jewellery away. A tray or bowl provides someplace to stow it in a rush. They’re also useful when packing.”
Sham also encourages you to take advantage of having everyone within shouting distance to craft a solid home makeover strategy.
“Look at everyone’s needs in context to the space you have, and lay the groundwork for any major upgrades you’re considering,” she says, like a new paint job, added storage space or furniture purchases.
“It’s usually difficult to get everyone’s opinions because of conflicting schedules, so use this time to make a plan as a family.