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big change for small change

From Habitat magazine - issue 10

With a little planning you can rejuvenate your living space in a weekend for $200 or less!

If you’re tired of your current house but don’t want to move in this uncertain market, but also can’t justify spending lots of money renovating, don’t despair. At the very least a clean and declutter will work wonders and once things are cleaner and emptier, it may be easier to decide on what your next step might be.

Affordable decorating 1
Affordable decorating 2
Affordable decorating 3
Changing the wall colour is an easy way to make over a room. This is, from left, Resene Poprock, Resene Wild Thing and Resene Fiji Green.

Clean and declutter

A good spring clean can do wonders. Thoroughly clean everything from windows to curtains, and dust in places which normally escape more regular cleaning.

If your paths and driveway have become home to lichen and the like, apply Resene Deep Clean, following the instructions on the bottle, and leave it to do its work. Resene Deep Clean will, over time, loosen the lichen. If you’re too impatient to wait, try Resene Paint Prep and Housewash for an instant clean of exterior surfaces – the house as well as your paths.

Don’t forget to clean the soffits – they are generally protected from the rain and can accumulate a lot of dirt. Or, hire a waterblaster for a day to clean the driveway and paths.

If you’ve finished the outside or that seems a daunting place to start, cleaning finger marks off your walls inside with Resene Interior Paintwork Cleaner can make a huge difference to how fresh your home looks. Consider hiring a carpet shampooer regularly.

If you have items that are getting in the way, detracting from the look of the room or are just collecting dust, get rid of them. Don’t just put them away in a cupboard; get rid of them altogether.

A good clean-out can also make you money if you sell unnecessary items on websites like TradeMe. Charities like the Salvation Army always welcome good condition used items and many of them will collect for free.

If you are a hoarder, consider lending things to family members who may have a use for them, or else put a date tag on unused items. If you haven’t used it within six months, you probably never will.

Rearrange and rug up

Rearrange your furniture to give your interiors a new lease on life. In the living room, avoid foot traffic running directly through your conversation area. A new rug can give a space a fresh look. They’re also a way of covering up unsightly stains on carpet or of saving wear and tear on a much-used part of the carpet.

Rugs are also a useful way to define spaces – such as conversation areas in your home in larger open plan areas.

If you have off-cuts of your carpet, consider getting the edges finished to use as mats for entry and exit points – particularly by sliding or bifolding doors leading to decks. These protect carpet, can be used for warmth and comfort on hard flooring, and won’t clash with your existing décor.

A pep-up with paint

One way to get a new look with minimum investment is to repaint the room. If the ceiling and trims are in good condition, then just concentrate on the walls.

Painted bedroom alcove
An alcove painted in Resene Red Red Red gives this bedroom a focal point.

If your room is looking a bit hodge-podge, create a focal point. This may be the wall behind the bed, or a fireplace wall. Consider using a striking colour for that wall, then choose appropriate artwork or accessories to complement it. A simple colour change on one wall can make an incredible difference to the room without a lot of work or expense.

If you feel creative, try paint effect techniques, stencilling or have a go at creating stripes by masking out areas to paint in different colours. Grab a Resene The Range 2009 fandeck for the latest Resene colours plus tips on matching colours.

The best thing about paint is that if it doesn’t turn out quite as envisaged, you can easily paint over it.

Outside, consider repainting your front door, garage door, letterbox and feature pots and planters if you are after a quick new look. Staining your deck and wooden furniture (or giving it a fresh coat of paint) can also do wonders for the entrance and entertaining areas of your house.

The larger the area being decorated, the greater the impact, which is why paint can have such a striking effect. One can of paint can go a very long way.


A few cushions, a new ornament or vase, can do wonders for the look of your room, and requires minimal effort apart from some wandering around stores to find the right item.

Or refresh your favourite photos by investing in new photo frames or switch the frames around on existing photos. If you like the frame design but are tired of the colour, use Resene testpots to repaint them.

Desk and chairs accessories
Mirror accessory
Desk and Chair: Clever arrangements of accessories add interest to corners of the room. Mirror: Mirrors can make a small space seem much larger. The walls are Resene Fiesta.

Add coloured towels and accessories to a bland bathroom – these small rooms don’t take much to liven up. Try to choose accessories that are not overly detailed, to keep such a small space looking less cluttered.

In the dining room, a new table runner or centrepiece can rejuvenate the space quickly and easily.

Cover and rejuvenate

If your sofa upholstery is looking tired but you can’t afford to invest in new furniture, consider a slipcover. This is a great option for those with kids and pets as the cover or sheet can be thrown into the wash. Similarly in the bedroom, the duvet is generally a key feature of the room so a new one will make a big difference.

Consider repainting tired furniture. Generally, this can be done in a day with minimal paint. Or if you want an antique look, try out some of the Resene Paint Effects techniques (see the Resene website or pick up a brochure from a Resene ColorShop) for an aged effect or crackle effect. If you need more furniture but can’t afford to buy new, buy second-hand from garage sales or online, and then repaint them.

Cleaning and painting the kitchen cabinetry doors and replacing the handles with something more modern may be all you need to makeover your kitchen. Or remove a few doors and turn the cupboards into display shelves, either with a neutral coloured background or splash out with a bolder colour.

DIY art

If your walls look a little barren but you can’t afford expensive artwork, create your own. You can now buy pre-primed artist canvases at very reasonable prices. A series of canvases each painted a different colour or colours with a bold geometric or splash pattern may be all you need to jazz up a room.

Diy home artwork
Consider using a striking colour for one wall, such as Resene Sanguine Brown, then choose appropriate artwork to complement it.

Get your children involved. Paint a base colour onto the canvas to suit the room scheme and then select some other colours for your child to work with. Family photos and artwork can also be transferred onto canvas, by canvas art companies. These can be an ideal way to create a striking work of art for the walls using favourite family keepsakes rather than hiding them away in albums and drawers.

Mirrors and lights

Mirrors can make a small space seem much larger. When hanging a mirror make sure you place it so that it reflects a pleasant view – not a blank wall or a closet door. Also ensure the mirror is at a height that won’t cut the heads off tall people, which is considered bad feng shui!

An interesting lamp or candle selection can add interest to a space, particularly if you select something bold or unique. They can become a talking point and late in the evening can make a nice change from strong overhead light.

Whether you decide to clean, declutter, paint, light or cover, you can create a whole new look in a weekend without blowing the budget.


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Printed copies of habitat highlights are available from late March 2024 at Resene ColorShops and resellers, while stocks last. You can view back issues of habitat magazine online.

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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.

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