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You don’t have to be an interior designer to transform your house into a home with character. The place you live should be an expression of yourself and your loved ones, mirroring that collective personality – whether it be tranquil, exuberant, refined, or all of the above. With some creative thinking and a little DIY, you can put your own twist on things, without breaking the bank.

Step 1: Declutter

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Being surrounded by clutter can make it difficult to relax – it disrupts the harmony of the home. It’s therefore important to make the most of the space you have by addressing the clutter:

  • Wardrobe/closet clean out. Sort your clothes into three piles: definitely keep, maybe keep, and discard. Once you’re done, go back through the ‘maybe’s and then take all of the unwanted items to a charity shop, liberating your drawers and wardrobes.
  • Move things off the floor into a shoe rack near the front door. As well as holding shoes, they make a great general purpose tidy zone for umbrellas, magazines and other miscellany.
  • Make as much use of your loft as possible! If you don’t use an item regularly, it’s just needlessly hogging space. If you have a loft, fill it – and the same goes for cupboards, basements, and closets.
  • Put up shelves in the kitchen to hold regularly used spices and condiments. This will free up the sideboard, making it even easier to prepare a meal in celebration of your newly uncluttered home!

Top tip: If you’re not sure exactly where to start your decluttering, why not print off a checklist from one of the many cleaning sites online, or download an app? For example, Cleanipedia offers a number of articles with decluttering checklists and cleaning tips, while the UFYH app is a great help if you struggle with motivation (and don’t mind a little profanity).

Step 2: Lighting

Good lighting can really open up a room, transforming dark corners into cosy, calming spaces and enhancing your mood. Give these simple tips a try:

  • Uplifters look great in hallways and porches as they throw light across the ceiling and the surrounding wall for an elegant effect.
  • Corner lamps are a softer alternative to a glaring pendant light in the centre of the room. Classic fabric lampshades create that homely, retro feel, while steel angled lamps meld perfectly with minimalist furnishing.
  • A remote-controlled LED lamp is the ideal choice for bedrooms. The Philips LivingColours range lets you choose from up to 16 million colours to suit every mood.

Top tip: Energy efficient light bulbs are an effective way of brightening up a room. Although they cost a little more than regular bulbs, the lower power consumption soon translates into savings.

Step 3: Decorative Touches

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Often it’s the little things that make the difference. This is especially true when it comes to making your house a home:

  • Personalize living areas with decorative ornaments. Flea markets are a great place to find unusual bits and bobs that reflect your personal taste, often at a more-than-reasonable price.
  • Potted plants and flowers – as well as imparting a softening effect to your home, a fresh, floral scent can really lift your mood, especially during the winter months.
  • A welcome mat at the door is a crafty finishing touch. As well as welcoming guests, it also encourages them to wipe their feet, making it one of our top quick-fix cleaning tips.

Top tip: Pinterest and Etsy are great places to get inspiration for decorations, particularly if you’re interested in upcycling or recycling some of the things you have in the home already.

Step 4: A Good Clean

While you’re moving furniture, sorting out your clutter and deciding where to put your new vase, it makes sense to give the house a quick sprucing up. Before you get started, remember the following:

  1. Frequent routine cleans are the way to go. Draw up a weekly housekeeping checklist and pin it on the fridge; that way the dirt won’t have time to accumulate.
  2. Professional cleaning products should be your first choices for most jobs, particularly when cleaning metals and bathroom fittings (always check manufacturer’s instructions).
  3. That said, white distilled vinegar, baking soda, and vinegar feature in many homespun cleaning tips. Just test these options on a small area of the surface you want to clean first, to make sure they’re safe to use.
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Posted by Joshua Wallace

Josh is a freelance writer with a passion for tech, the internet and all things interactive. When he's not researching the latest gizmos online you can probably find him looking for what phone to buy next to hold his ever growing library of apps.

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