Five DIY decor cheats

Living Well | Clare Barry | Posted on 04 August 2017

You don't need to be an expert handyman or interior design guru to quickly refresh a room without breaking the budget.

Outside in

Blessed with a brown thumb? If pot plants aren’t your friends, take the whole soil and watering thing out of the equation by literally bringing the outdoors inside in the form of beautiful foliage snipped, pruned or hacked from the garden. Asparagus fern is an invasive pest in some states, but trimmed and arranged in a gleaming jar or glass it is all feathery green elegance that will stay vibrant in water for a week or longer. Japanese maple cuttings are gorgeous in summer green or autumnal garb, and fruit-tree prunings from citrus or olive trees are kitchen-y and rustic. Try herb or nasturtium cuttings on a kitchen bench or window-sill, and fragrant lemon or apple blossom sprigs in the bathroom. It’s cheerful and really cheap. 

Brush up your tilework

If a kitchen reno doesn’t feature in this year’s budget, and your current tiles are dating the room, hit the refresh button with a paint job. Invest in specialist tile primer and paint, or use two coats of wipe-clean high-gloss enamel after the primer. Carefully follow instructions for cleaning, degreasing and priming the tiles, before adding your life-changing top coat.

Prop art picture on shelf

Prop art

If you’re renting and can’t hack into the walls, or you don’t know a spring toggle hook from Blu-Tak, the art of the prop is for you. Simply prop or lean a painting or print against the wall instead of hanging it. Really big framed prints or mirrors can rest on the floor, others on a sideboard or cabinet or shelving. Group it into a still life with a couple of vases or a plant or ornament. Prop a framed food-themed poster at the wall end of your breakfast bar, or requisition a kitchen chair or painter’s easel to hoist a little art into a neglected corner. Propped on a footstool, a vintage album collection is a mini gallery on rotation.

Tap into change

Like tiles and cabinet handles, last decade’s taps can seriously date a kitchen or bathroom. The good news is that replacing them will update the room instantly. This job is beginner territory for amateur plumbers, but you can always pay a handyperson or get a Dad to help. Pay a little more for better-quality tapware.

Get a (new) handle on it

Cabinetry or drawer handles and knobs might seem insignificant in the context of a full renovation, but a little updated hardware can lift a tired kitchen or a set of drawers cheaply and almost instantly. A set of four hand-painted ceramic knobs, for example, can set you back less than $10 and will cutesify a kid’s bedroom drawers. Hop online for an endless array of options, from glam cut-glass or carved resin knobs to stately ‘antique’ brass handles. Match your new purchases to the drill holes of the existing hardware and you’ll barely need the toolbox.

Get advice from RACV

When tackling our five DIY décor cheats, don't forget about our RACV Virtual Tradie who can provide a little expert guidance or advice over the phone or by video call. And if DIY isn't for you we can help! From electrical to plumbing, RACV Home Trades and Services can help you find the right tradie for the job.