Creating a mood board for a room renovation
So you've a dark room and a limited budget. Your instinctive reaction is to hire an electrician, carpenter, plasterer, painter, upholsterer and scour the county for the best glass and steel artisans money can hire. New spots for the ceiling to throw a soft, translucent warmth onto the space – hence the carpenter, plasterer and painter. If you're putting your first option onto the 'maybe next year' list, there are some less permanent but equally beautiful options you can compile.
Firstly, strip down the room to the absolute uses you picture for it – is it to be a family room primarily, where you all watch tv, or where you watch tv while doing your ironing and your partner or kids work on computers for an hour? As a for instance our tv room is the biggest room in the house and is sometimes the gym (the bike's got to stay), sometimes the visitor's room (the sofas have to stay), sometimes where one's trying to learn something complicated while the other's goofing off (the partner's got to stay).
Stripping the room down to its essential functions will determine what storage you need as well as the flooring, wall-coverings, window treatment and lighting. The spillover from the other rooms in your home, such as fact that you put a clothes horse in there fairly regularly to dry clothes, or stash the good wedding presents you refuse to use as day-to-day dinnerware, and if you've no attic or loft, your holiday fare like bulky winter clothes, Christmas decorations or your treasure trove of mementoes, all these are lurking in a cupboard or cabinet that you're afraid to open often because it's too traumatic trying to fit it all back in there.
So the mood board of colors and textures you're compiling is your first check list of what things you want to replace in an already functioning room.
In fixing your budget for the renovation bear in mind the last thing you bought as an "interim" measure – so the next point of your mood board is to find something you'll be happy to live with for longer than you imagine.
Paint and plywood are stalwarts in the needs must category of home decor. If you've plywood or wooden fitted furniture it can be repainted fast annually to freshen up your walls and wall-mounted cabinetry. Maybe you've an alcove where you're currently storing your out-of-season stuff on open shelving? Beside the ironing board when it's not being used. Behind the exercise bike. Unless you've the skills and energy of a store-window display artist, it's jammed in there higgledy-piggledy and doesn't often approximate the serenely ordered arrangement of interesting objets it does when you put your mind to it. Paint and plywood are fast fixes here, as you can disguise the storage as part of your wall.
Fabrics and wallpapers are clever fast fixes too, as depending on the layout of your room, the alcove could mimic the window treatment with a new curtain rail and curtain. Or you can draw the attention away from the other functions of the space with a spectacularly dramatic wallpaper that covers both the newly closed off alcove and its surrounding wall.
Flush with specific metallic color options
Metallic pendant lights
Changing the function of an under-used space in your home sometimes means you need to boost the available light. Most homes have at least one wall socket included in the spaces that haven't been set up as discernible rooms. A big landing space above stairs, corridors, and larger, 'walk-in' storage like wardrobes, or in older houses, the small room next to the kitchen that was for food storage and may now be your laundry or a half-bath. Re-arranging the function of the small space still means you've to keep the minimum amount of furniture you can get away with in mind when planning it. Re-purposing the niche under the stairs so you can permanently leave the printer there, is one way of keeping the 'one-of' devices you need in a home when everyone has their own smart-phone or tablet, out of the rooms you've allocated as a bedroom, sitting room, the dining room or any other room you share as a family.
This is where task lighting and textures are the key elements to focus on.
Plug-in lamps with metallic bases or shades will reflect any natural light in the area. Glass shades in metallic colors give the same effect and add an element of sophisticated glamor to your overall theme. If you've one pendant light in the middle of the room, the flex can be split and extended to add two or more hanging lights over the area you want to highlight – using more bulbs isn't wasteful or bumping up your actual use of electricity as you'll be using the new LED lights rather than old halogen ones, but you will double-up the shade's reflective sheen when there's adequate daylight. You may have some odd-looking hooks on your ceiling – but who the hell looks up there? – and you can fit them so that you can move the pendant around the room to light different things as you need them.
A word to the wise: if you're using this option instead of fixed sconces on a wall you need to have the electrician also fit an on/off switch beside whatever furniture you're using the task light for. If it's over a narrow console table for a lap-top and you've a sofa/bed in the same space, the original on/off switch will become a bug-bear when your guest finally settles in to sleep and realizes they've to get up, and then negotiate from the switch at the end of the corridor back to the bed in the dark. Yes, you're right. They should be grateful they've a bed at all.
Planning a contemporary room makeover
Dark spaces aren't limited to bright, primary colors to remain attractive and inviting all year round. Neutral palettes of grays and beiges will remain fresh for you even in mid-winter when you've ticked the basics of your own personal tastes. The glamor of this photo styled for the Harlequin Group's spring collection in Britain and Ireland for 2014 rests in the composition of the textural elements.
The wallpaper is part of its Anthology range, its got a slight sheen to the finish and its horizontal stripes will draw the eye along the horizontal plane (these stripes are narrow so will work in both short and long rooms, whereas the one below depicting wide-plank boards of a walnut-style wood cladding will automatically make a small room feel smaller).
Harlequin fabrics and wallpapers are within the mid-price range so are very versatile for DIY home-decorators. Wallpapering is a lovely past time once you've mastered the basics of pattern-matching and gliding the wet paper onto the wall before the paste sets. It can save you time and money in disguising plasterwork that's too pock-marked to leave as a smooth plane of painted color. It can disguise different materials such as a plywood door in the middle of a plastered wall, a plywood panel closing off an old fireplace and chimney or be the actual focal point for the part of the wall you'd like to highlight.