Confinement to barracks has at least given us pause to contemplate our surroundings.
We haven’t been able to go to the shops for months, but from Monday we will finally have a chance to act on any ideas we might have had about improving the look of our homes.
Here, eight of the UK’s top interior designers give their tips for easy and inexpensive transformations, from adding colour to your walls to simply rearranging your furniture.
Cool palette: A cosy sitting room with neutral walls and rug. You can transform a space by adding colour to your walls or simply rearranging your furniture
Founder and director of Elicyon (elicyon.com)
I liken designing a house to a musical symphony, with the repetition of certain elements across the property.
It can be something very subtle, such as a motif that is abstracted and scaled up or down in different rooms.
Or a stronger reference, like a light fitting that you can see from room to room, drawing your eye across and creating a familiar base for variations of design.
Founder of Thorp Design (thorp.co.uk)
Batoning fabric to the walls, both in living rooms and on staircases, creates a wonderful ambiance.
Then run a fine picture rail along the top of the room. These inexpensive metal channels are typically about 1 cm high, so fit in seamlessly with the bottom line of a cornice and means you can hang your art wherever you like. Move it around if the mood takes you, and the fabric walls stay intact.
Design director at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler (sibylcolefax.com)
Moving furniture and pictures is a great way of reinventing your surroundings for free. With only a hammer, nails and a tube of toothpaste to fill old holes, you can create a completely different look.
Kettle’s Yard gallery in Cambridge has long been a place of inspiration: follow Jim Eades’s practice of hanging a painting at a low level or on a door, somewhere unexpected to catch your eye, or arrange pretty pebbles found on lockdown walks on a table-top.
Founder and CEO of Nicholas Haslam Ltd (nicholashaslam.com)
Don’t be afraid of mixing old and new: putting modern art in a very classic room, for example. And be sure to add a personal touch to your interior, with a family treasure or something you brought back from your travels.
Humour is also important: an object that makes you smile whenever you look at it. And no room is complete without flowers.
Inform your design scheme: Designer Sharon Lillywhite of Oliver Burns
Founding partner of architectural interior design studio Oliver Burns (oliverburns.com)
Select a key architectural feature of your home and use this to inform your design scheme.
For example, a circular table can be used to mirror the shape of an arched doorway.
To build design confidence, begin with a neutral, understated palette and add colour, pattern and texture to create visual interest with art, unusual objects and accessories.
Founder of George Bond Interior Design (georgebond.tv)
Thank goodness for the growing trend for colourful walls. ‘Drawing-room yellow’ is back, as are shades of green and aqua (think mint or teal), while dusty, earthy tones remain perennially popular.
If you can’t find exactly the right wallpaper shade for a room, look at different textures: raw silk or velvet as a wall covering adds an extra dimension of opulence (and you can match it with a selection of cushions and other soft furnishings).
For small rooms, covering a wall with mirrored panels is a great way to make the space look larger and brighter.
Creative director at Osborn Interiors (osborninteriors.com)
Buy large, costly items in neutral tones, adding any desired colour with less expensive pieces, such as cushions or throws, which can be easily changed — and place the nicest object in the room so it’s in your eyeline as you enter.
Use large objects, even in small rooms, to make the space feel bigger. It may seem counter-intuitive — but it works.
Founder of Johnny Grey Studios (johnnygrey.com)
I like to imagine us ‘glamping’ while confined to our homes. In lockdown, the kitchen is our main gathering spot, so make it an emotionally engaging and fun space.
Add a multi-coloured kilim rug. Paint a wall a crazy colour. Hang some posters. Then find a surface that can be used as a bar (add plywood, say, to a windowsill and paint it) and drag in bar stools.
Or find a comfortable ‘throne’ that would survive spills, and position it so the occupant dominates the room while relaxing with a book.
What your home really needs is… a gazebo
If you are hoping to socialise in the garden — come rain or shine — while following social distancing rules, then you’re going to need a gazebo.
While the word sounds pleasingly classical it is, in fact, an example of 18th-century marketing-speak: it is said that architect William Halfpenny devised it as a description for the Chinese or Gothic-style garden edifices he designed for grand estates.
The Latin suffix bo (as in amabo, ‘I will love’) was attached to ‘gaze’ to produce gazebo — I will gaze.
Take cover: If you are hoping to socialise in the garden — come rain or shine — while following social distancing rules, then you’re going to need a gazebo
It may be best to keep in your head the soothing image of an aristocrat gazing out over the view from his gazebo while you put together your 21st-century version.
Some of the more expensive rattan and steel structures come ready-made, but many others require self-assembly. This involves slotting together the poles that support the canopy, which is secured by guy-ropes.
But the effort is well worth it — and with the addition of LED festoon lights, you have yourself a party tent.
Robert Dyas has an extensive range, including the Charles Bentley Pop-Up Gazebo (£69.99, robertdyas.co.uk), while B&Q’s Suhali (£27, diy.com) is elegantly minimalist. Or try the Kingfisher Pop-Up Party Tent (pictured, £79.90, amazon.co.uk).
Whichever you choose, keep the assembly instructions for future summer fun.