A frumpy sofa, ugly ornaments, a worn carpet – you probably hate something about your interior, but still put up with it every day.
With a new year upon us, what better time to give your relationship with your home some therapy? With good counsel, you can tackle petty irritations and learn to adore every inch of your living space again.
If you're worried you'll never be able to rekindle a spark of passion, take heart: subtle changes work wonders. Here's a checklist of gripes, with advice on how to deal with them and turn domestic discord into harmonious living.
1 OUT WITH THE OLD
Make a resolution to pare down your home, where possible leaving only furniture and accessories that reflect your current taste. Get rid of anything that irritates, like the ugly vase you got for Christmas or the broken picture frame that keeps collapsing on your coffee table. Put a box together for a charity shop or flea market – one person's junk is another's treasure. The next flea market is at Safa Park on February 7 between 9am and 3pm.
2 REVINVENT THE LAYOUT
How can you update a room without spending money? For an instant facelift, try rearranging the furniture. Experiment with ideas like bringing chairs and tables into the room, or positioning furniture at an angle, rather than pushing it up against the wall. If you have a large room, start by drawing a scaled plan to figure out what works and what doesn't.
3 FRESHEN UP PAINTWORK
If your walls look jaded, treat them to a lick of paint. Prepare by filling holes and cracks and sanding down other blemishes. Follow up with a coat or two of one of this season's new hues to smarten and update the interior without too much effort. Colours inspired by nature are a strong trend for 2009: cream; warm, earthy colours like ochre; and blues and greens. Visit the Dulux shop at The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence.
4 UPDATE WALLPAPER
If you're not moving house soon, there's no need to be a slave to please-all décor that makes homes more saleable. Stamp your personality on a room with fancy wallpaper – papering the whole room, or a single wall or alcove. This year, flamboyant abstract prints and flowers dominate designer wall covering collections. Try homeware company NGC Nafees for some modern ideas. Call: 04 269 7272
5 REVIVE TIRED FLOORS
With the throughput of traffic in our homes, carpets end up grubby and wooden or tiled floors lose their gleam. Badly neglected floorboards may need to be sanded, stained and refinished using a wax or varnish to bring them to life. For minor damage, the process is simpler: Wash away grease, dull the surface with sand paper, vacuum, then apply your chosen finish. Carpets are easier still – a steam-cleaning machine gives them a deep clean, leaving them almost as good as new. For marble floors use a light cleaning solution with warm water to mop the first. Finish by drying and polishing with a towel.
6 RESTORE FURNITURE
Some sofas suit the lived-in look, others look like crumpled faces crying out for Botox. Give yours a love injection by re-upholstering it in a vibrant new fabric. For wood furniture, a makeover starts by cleaning it with a wood cleaner, then sanding gently using fine wire wool. A wood sealer must be applied, followed by wax. Then buff vigorously until you see the rich patina of the wood restored. Feshwari specialises in upholstering and interior design. Log on to www.feshwari.com
7 REVISE ACCESSORIES
The littlest things in your home play a big part in the overall impression people get when they walk through the door. One way to keep space looking up to date is to introduce details, such as vases, lampshades and cushion covers. So, if your home features decadent baroque style accents, you can swap a few pieces to develop a 50s style retro look, which will be big in 2009. The One, Home Centre and Debenhams all have great new year deals. Contact Mall of the Emirates for individual store numbers. Call: 04 409 9000
8 CREATEA NEW MOOD
Up-lights, down-lights, floor lamps, table lamps, desk lamps, pendants and spots make sure that you've got the combination right. A good lighting scheme strikes a balance between decoration and function, as well as highlighting architectural features. One emerging trend is for giant lamps and shades – introduce an over-sized floor standing Anglepoise lamp in your study for an 'of the moment' look.
9 RETHINK WALL ART
Many people struggle to hang pictures creatively, which is why you often see one solitary artwork slap bang in the centre of a blank wall. Walls become a much more striking feature when pictures are grouped. To create a sense of unity, bring together pictures that are the same size, share a theme, or have identical frames. Alternatively, go for a more eclectic feel, grouping different shapes and styles of frames. Riot Art in The Meadows, Dubai creates dramatic art work using hi-res pictures from a digital camera or make something unique by having your family photographed and printed onto canvas. Call: 04 422 4166.
10 SMARTEN THE EXTERIOR
There's no point in spending time and effort creating an immaculate interior if your home is let down by its external appearance. A few simple steps will complete your home's transformation. Make sure that your garden is tidy, plants and shrubs pruned and lawns mown. Don't forget exterior walls, window frames and fences.