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The Rites Of Spring

Spring’s here and maybe it’s time your breathed new life into your home. Here’s how to do it the inexpensive way

Spring’s here, bringing with it the promise of new beginnings and transformations and as you try and imbibe some of the positivity, isn’t it time you made a new beginning at home? After all, there’s no better a season to plan a makeover. Here’s the simple ways in which you can refresh your home without spending a fortune. After all, nothing beats a warm, lived-in and welcoming ambience to return to every evening. 

Start right. Letha Jose, who’s moved five cities in 21 years and has learned to make her husband’s company-provided accommodation home, offers a tip. Go for quality. “Pick up quality stuff, be it furniture, accessories, china or crystal. I have, over the years, picked up classy, but versatile furniture that can be mixed-and-matched. One must buy furniture and accessories that can be rearranged  depending on the layout of any house,” she says. 
Dress the walls. Walls are to a room what clothes are to us—they maketh them! Create an accent wall to overhaul the proportions, look and the scale of a room. Creative types can start with a can of oil paint. “A solid-coloured wall (think sunshine yellow, cobalt blue, turquoise or fiery red) can add vibrancy to any room, as can a graffitied wall. If not, wallpaper, decals and stickers (Rs. 199 upwards) are the perfect option, says Anjali Garg, a Pune-based interior designer. If your landlord won’t let you paint, go for wallpapers—they are available in a wide range of colours, patterns and designs. Choose from single-coloured, textured, faux finish, digital, or those surfaced to appear like wood or fabric.
Functional furniture. Opt for furniture that multitasks—box beds (Rs. 10,000 and above), coffee tables and ottomans with storage options (Rs. 6,000 and above), entertainment units with drawers (Rs. 12,000 and above), and hollow poufs (Rs. 2,000 upwards) are ideal. “Modular furniture is a good choice. A one-time investment can work for every apartment you move into eventually,” adds Garg. Wall décor, furniture and accessories can often be picked up at discount prices through online classifieds (olx.in and quikr.in). Old markets and bazaars are a treasure trove of old laundry boxes, coffee tables, cabinets, settees, four-poster beds and so on (Rs. 2,000-1 lakh). 
“If you are not keen to invest in furniture, you can look at renting a furnished apartment or renting furniture,” says Shweta Kaushik, a Mumbai-based interior designer.
Light up. Good lighting is essential to create the right mood in a room. Lighting must be variable to create an atmosphere conducive to various functions—lounging with a book, enjoying a candlelit dinner, or working on an Excel sheet. Have a mix task lighting (essential for routine work) and mood lighting. Says Garg: “Lamps are now available in a variety of materials, such as fibre, glass, plastic, paper or metal. If your budget is low, go for rice paper lamps (Rs. 100 upwards). String fairy lights (Rs. 35 upwards) on curtain rods or drape them around plants for mood lighting. 
Window dressing. The right window can completely alter the look of a room. Besides adding to its aesthetics, window dressing provides privacy, security and protection from the elements. Choose from a wide variety—curtains, drapes, roller shades, fabric shades, blinds (aluminium, wood, plastic and polyvinyl chloride) or cellular shades (upwards of Rs. 199 per square foot). You may also choose from bamboo, grasses, jute and paper—choose what suits your home, lifestyle and budget. Garg advocates buying full-length (seven feet) curtains. “If you are bored of your room décor, changing the curtains is a no-fail way to revamp it,” she says.
Think out of the box. If you are a DIY-er kind of person, there are hundreds of projects available online. Try transforming glass bottles into lamps or paint existing furniture. If your landlord won’t let you paint the wall, nail a sturdy sheet of cardboard and glue some gorgeous fabric for a standout.
DIY element. Chart a family tree—photos, stickers and fabric for a one-of-a-kind wall. A decoupage project can breathe new life into an old bookcase or a table. If putting up shelves, paint them bright, or else, tack the back of closed bookshelves with bold wallpaper or bright fabric for a customised look. A swap party with like-minded friends is a good way to connect and get new stuff at zero/no cost.
Finishing touches. Add streaks of colour to transform the atmosphere—vibrant cushions (Rs. 99 upwards) to perk up the sofa or a bright vase (Rs. 199 upwards) to add spark to a dull corner. According to Kaushik, soft furnishings soften hard spaces. “Choose colours and patterns that are characteristic to you—it will ensure your apartment reflects your personality,” she says.   
Personal touches, such as framed family photographs, memorabilia, artwork or an eye-catching mural breathe life into a dead wall. Jose believes nothing adds a more personal touch than photographs. She says: “Pick up interesting frames and group them in various combinations—they make for inexpensive wall art. The bonus is that you are surrounded by many happy memories.” Garg recommends using books as accessories. “Display dozens of books, whether you read or not. They make any space look interesting, add colour and are sure to kick off conversations,” she says.
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