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10 Budget-Friendly Ways to Liven Up a Dull Room

US interior designer, Saudah Saleem, shares her top tips for updating your living space.

Transforming a space from drab to fab is really not as difficult as one might think and only takes a bit of ingenuity and creative thinking. Adding just one or two design elements like a fresh new wall colour or a few updated accessories can really make a huge impact! Here are 10 budget-friendly décor tips guaranteed to make a huge impact and up the ‘wow factor’ in your space.


1. Introduce new colour to your space
Painting is probably the cheapest, most noncommittal home update. The best way to begin decorating with colour is to make small changes first. Ease into using bold colours in your space by using them on pillows, rugs, accessories or by painting an accent wall. Using a subdued or neutral colour palette and infusing bold shades as accents will make your colour choice stand out and be the star of the room.



2. Use an area rug to add pattern and update style
Cover up a bland floor with a patterned or textured area rug. Area rugs can help define or reinforce your room’s colour scheme, pull together a seating arrangement, change the feel of your room and even help direct attention away from areas of the room you don’t love.



3. Personalise your space with lettering or monograms
Using lettering and monograms in a room is tres chic and evokes a sense of customisation. Spelling out your name or an inspirational verse from the Qur’an on the wall via stencil or freehand will add an extra layer of style to the room’s design.



4. DIY lighting
Update your lighting with creative DIY tricks. Spray paint the base of your current lamp with a bold new colour. Then add a decorative trim to your lampshade. Your “new” lamp base and updated shade will be a unique and cost effective addition to your space.



5. Don’t forget the ‘5th wall’!
Colour, pattern and even sheen on the ceiling, or the ‘5th wall’, can completely transform your room. Though most people default to white paint overhead, painting your ceiling an unexpected colour or finish gives you something interesting to look at. Just imagine how much of a conversation starter having a metallic gold ceiling would be! Or capture the essence of the sky by painting the ceiling a soothing shade of pale blue.



6. Style your bookcase like a pro
For a subtle pop of both colour and pattern and to showcase your books and treasures, line the back of your bookcases with a pretty wallpaper remnant or high quality wrapping paper. Choose from stripes, floral, bold colour, or faux snakeskin patterned prints. Use double-sided sticky tape to adhere the paper. This will allow you to switch and update your look whenever you’re ready for an update.
7. DIY cushions
Update a boring neutral-coloured sofa or introduce a new colour in your room with easy and inexpensive DIY pillows. Sew two printed cloth napkins, vintage scarves or pieces of fabric together, and then fill with cushion inserts to create cushions unique to your space.



8. Use a stencil to create an amazing focal point
A custom wall treatment sets your room apart from all the rest. Wall stencils are reusable, cost-effective and allow for limitless colour combinations. Use a stencil to highlight an area or feature of a room. For example, stencil a wall opposite your seating area or highlight an entryway by adding stencils around it.



9. Spraypaint!
Spraypaint can change the look of anything instantly and costs next to nothing to do! If you have an old bookcase or even a nightstand, spray it with a bold colour in a glossy finish and it will be a great ‘new’ addition to your room! Or shop at local thrift stores or flea markets to find inexpensive decorative accessories and accents with great shape and structure, then use spraypaint to transform the item into your own masterpiece.



10. Create a gallery wall
Give your room an artistic lift by creating interest on a blank wall. Purchase vintage or inexpensive frames and paint them a unifying colour. Then use the frames to display favourite ahadith written on decorative paper, vintage postcards or even fabric remnants to create an eye-catching art installation.
Saudah Saleem enjoys the challenge of creating a beautiful space on a budget. Using unexpected colour schemes, pairing new and vintage pieces, layering modern and traditional style, Saudah prides herself on her ability to effortlessly create beautiful spaces with any budget.

Saudah has been featured on and consulted by MSN.com as an Interior Design expert. Her work has been recognised by fellow interior designers and featured in a selection of interior design publications in the U.S. View her portfolio, design inspiration and tips at www.saudahsaleem.com