Your choice of flooring or floor covering – whether it’s part of living room, bedroom, kitchen or even bathroom design – can change how you, and visitors, perceive the size, function and atmosphere of the various spaces within your home. Replacing the flooring in your home need not necessarily be expensive and there are countless cost-effective alternatives to choose from.
Swirly, patterned carpet, for example, is making a comeback although, nowadays, in combination with neutral wall colours to avoid a dated Seventies look. The subtle continuation of a carpet motif – a floral or botanical print for example – in blinds, curtains, etc. can help to provide a unified, contemporary look. If you are on a budget, carpets with foam backing are less expensive – albeit less hard-wearing – than some of the alternatives if you intend to change your floor covering fairly regularly. Off-cuts of carpet can also be bound at the edges to produce inexpensive matching rugs.
Vinyl flooring can be used as an alternative to carpet in high-traffic areas although it can be torn easily, so you do need to be careful if moving furniture around. Its waterproof nature also means that it can be used in bathrooms to give the appearance of mosaic tiles, for example, at a fraction of the cost. If wooden flooring is more to your taste, do remember that scratches in real hardwood, or engineered wood, floors can be difficult to disguise or repair. Once again laminated engineered wood flooring – which often simply clicks together – can provide a cost-effective alternative to real wood, parquet flooring.
There is, of course, nothing to stop you combining different flooring types in a single space with your home to effectively define “zones” within than space. If you have a walkthrough living room and dining room, for example, you might like to carpet the living area but use laminated or real wood flooring to designate the dining area.
A well designed bedroom can not only provide a calm, tranquil environment in which you can escape the pressure of modern living, but also add value to your property through its appeal to potential buyers. The emphasis in any bedroom is on relaxing and sleeping, but depending on what else you what you want to do in your own space – working, watching TV, etc. – there may be other elements that you wish to incorporate into your bedroom design.
You have the choice, of course, of fitted or freestanding bedroom furniture. Fitted furniture allows you to create your own, coordinated look, and can be useful if your bedroom is an odd shape, or there are awkward areas to be filled. Fitted wardrobes also usually extend from floor to ceiling, creating extra storage space for bedding, etc. that needs to be stored separately from your clothes, shoes and accessories. You do need to exercise a little caution when planning fitted furniture, however, as filling more than one of your bedroom walls with fitted wardrobes may make the room feel a little claustrophobic. If you prefer the flexibility – in terms of being able to rearrange various items, at will – of freestanding furniture, you can mix and match pieces that suit your needs, both externally and internally. If you wish to store long winter coats, or party dresses, for example, you’ll need the full height of a wardrobe to hang them in, and don’t forget drawers and shelves, for sweaters, shoes, etc..
The bed is the focal point of any bedroom, of course, and dressing the bed is as important as your choice of furniture. The trend in bed linen this year is likely to be towards brighter and warmer styles, which are reflected in colour and texture in curtains, blinds and other soft furnishings to create a sense of style in the bedroom.
The British obsession with the weather is well known – it’s always too cold or too hot or too wet or too dry – but complaints about the weather often stem from lack of preparation on our own part. So during the current cold snap with snow on the ground in many parts of the country, why not think ahead to the summer months and how you’ll keep yourself and your home cool?
Modern blinds, for example, are manufactured in a wide range of styles and materials all of which are practical, durable and cost-effective. The latest sheer fabrics can gently filter solar radiation so that you can still see the screen of the computer in your home office, for example, and don’t run the risk of fading your soft furnishings or floors but can still experience the beautiful sunny day outside your window. Blinds can be used as an alternative to or combined with, curtains to create the look you desire and, of course, also block heat so that you can keep your home cool without air conditioning.
Roller blinds, for example, can give your room a neat uncluttered look, whilst Venetian blinds can be adjusted to let in as much, or as little, light and heat as you want. Venetian blinds made from wood or faux wood can be a stylish accompaniment to a solid hardwood or laminated floor, although they need to be resistant to warping and mildew if used in areas of high humidity. Many modern blinds are resistant to moisture, dust, etc. and therefore suitable for use throughout your home. As far as cleaning is concerned blinds can be dusted and/or vacuumed in the same way as other soft furnishings or, in the case of Venetian blinds, treated once in a while with a specialist cleaner.
The current economic downturn and the fact that housing prices are likely to fall by a further 15% or 20% during 2009, according to the most pessimistic estimates, dictates that for many people moving home does not make economic sense. By the same token, the credit crunch means that the amount of disposable income available for home improvements is limited so the emphasis for 2009 is likely to be on affordable, practical improvements.
Even something as simple as a new coat of paint on exterior woodwork can vastly improve the appearance of your home, not to mention providing essential weatherproofing of say timber window frames. Exterior paint is available in a number of different finishes – gloss, matte, eggshell, etc. – and while you are likely to err on the side of caution colour-wise on the exterior of your home, 2009 is likely to be all about bright colours and bold patterns when it comes to the interior. Warm, autumnal colours – natural greens, yellows and reds – are destined to be popular, as are fig or aubergine. Furniture is likely to be rounded and more comfortable although there may also be moves towards abstract shapes, geometric patterns, and, of course, bold colours associated with a retro Fifties look.
Small but carefully chosen flourishes such as cushions, vases, lamps, curtains, and blinds – complete with interchangeable covers, shades, etc. – can be used to brighten up an interior without breaking the bank and with green energy very much on the agenda, make sure you opt for energy efficient light bulbs. A colourful piece of furniture can likewise form the focal point for a room, and be complimented by affordable, but stylish, accessories spread throughout the room.