Sofa covers, stick-on tiles and bold cushions — how to transform your house for under £100

LOCKDOWN is fuelling a growing trend in home improvements as we spend more of our our time surrounded by the same four walls and furnishings.

Winter sales are up at B&Q and Screwfix thanks to DIY during the pandemic – and TV shows such as BBC’s Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr and Michelle Ogundehin.

Here Medina Grillo, who has written a book on practical ways to refresh decor, shares clever ideas to revamp your rooms on the cheap and gives tips for the trickier jobs.

  • Home Sweet Rented Home: Transform Your Home Without Losing Your Deposit, by Medina Grillo (Mitchell Beazley, £15),

Living room: £45.97

In the frame

YOU don’t necessarily need to whip out a paintbrush to add character to a space.

One of the easiest ways to make a house or apartment feel truly like your own is to hang things up on the wall.

In other words, create an awesome gallery wall.

You can attach clipboards to the wall with adhesive strips or hooks.

This is a clever way to change or rotate art or photos.

TRY: A4 masonite clipboard, 89p,

Throw away

ADDING cushions and throws can be a really easy way to bring colour to a room.

Buy them in bold fabrics or classic designs, then mix them up.

They are also pretty practical since throws and cushion covers can be put through the wash – unlike the sofa itself.

TRY: Red throw, £4,

Storage space

WOODEN crates are a fantastic and fairly cheap way to create storage.

Simply stack old ones on top of each other to make room for miscellaneous items including books, clothing and shoes.

Secure the top crate to the bottom one using 25mm (1in) screws. It shouldn’t be necessary to drill holes first.

Or use wood glue or heavy-duty adhesive to fix them together – although this will mean you won’t be able to unstack the crates in the future.

Attach wheels to the corners of the underside of the bottom crate.

Make sure the screws are not too long and will not pierce through the crate floor.

TRY: Castor wheels, £6.09,

Mirror mirror

PUT mirrors on the walls opposite the windows so they reflect daylight and create a brighter home.

Sofa so good

SEATING looking a little the worse for wear?

One simple trick is to buy covers for your chairs. For example, consider adding a stylish new twist to an old, tired leather sofa.

Covers come in many shapes, colours, fabrics and patterns and some can even be custom-made to fit.

Size is important. You really don’t want your sofa standing out for all the wrong reasons.

TRY: Sofa covers, from £12.99,

Be creative

PUT on your thinking cap and get creative about how you use your furniture.

A tall, narrow bookcase can be laid on its side to become a bench with seating and storage.

TRY: Kallax shelves, £22,

Kitchen: £16.99

Vinyl records

STICKY-BACK vinyl paper is the solution to ALL problems.

It can help with the age-old issue of scratched counter tops that don’t match the decor.

When choosing the right vinyl paper for your countertops, limit your choices to the more heavy-duty, high-quality type you know will withstand whatever you throw at it.

Marble, wood grains and granite papers look the most authentic when applied.

The vinyl paper will work on most types of counter-top material, such as laminate or marble.

But I would be a little cautious about applying them directly to natural wooden tops.

Wooden surfaces require quite a high level of maintenance and care, so it’s best to leave them exposed.

TRY: Grey marble-effect self-adhesive film, £5 for 5m x 455mm, B&Q at

Joy sticks

WALL stickers are made from a very thin matt vinyl and can be used to create an all-over pattern.

You can buy them ready-made in different shapes, colours and designs or make your own from vinyl sticky-back plastic sheets.

People often tend to associate wall stickers with kids’ rooms but they can be used in many other settings.

Use wall stickers to create a polka-dot or triangle wall – or perhaps you would like to spell out a slogan or inspirational quote.

TRY: Designs from Stickered Deco, £7,

Cover up

IT’S easy to update old stools. This works for drop-in or screw-on seats and all you need is pliers, fabric and a heavy-duty staple gun.

One warning: It won’t work for all types of furniture. Sprung seats and antique items should be upholstered professionally.


  1. Put on gloves and give your seat a clean.
  2. Remove the screws under the seat to detach it. Keep them in a safe place.
  3. Take off the fabric by removing the staples. A flat-head screwdriver and pliers will help. If the upholstery foam is in good condition, you won’t need to replace it. But if it is old or damaged, remove it and use it as a template to cut a new foam pad.
  4. Place the fabric right-side down. Position the stool seat centrally on top and rotate it to suit the grain or pattern of the fabric. Draw around the outline with a pencil.
  5. Draw a second outline, 15cm (6in) outside the first, to give a wide border that will be wrapped around the edges of the stool seat. Cut along this line with scissors.
  6. Place the foam in the centre of your fabric, aligning it with your original outline. Place the seat face-down on the foam pad. Pull the four corners of your fabric up around the seat, fold the raw edges under (to prevent fraying) and staple them in place on the underside of the seat.
  7. Work all the way around the seat, pulling the fabric tight (but not too tight).
  8. Reattach the cushion to the stool.

TRY: Patterned cotton fabric, from £4.99 a metre,

Bedroom: £17.45

Feature me

WASHI tape comes in lots of different widths, patterns and colours – and is removable.

No matter how long you leave it up, it doesn’t damage the wall.

This makes it ideal for creating a feature wall in a rented property. The possibilities are almost endless.

TRY: Various designs, 50m, £2.50,

Ladder up

BULKY furniture such as dressers, wardrobes and nightstands can take up a lot of wall space and make rooms feel smaller.

But they all have an important role to play, so I’m not suggesting you get rid of them completely.

Instead, opt for thinner versions or think about storage ideas that serve the same purpose but take up much less space.

This will allow the flow of natural light and create a roomier feel.

TRY: White towel ladder, £9.95,


DESIGNER curtains are expensive, so why not jazz up your existing ones with a little fabric paint, dye or iron-on decals?

TRY: Dylon all-in-one fabric dye, £5,

Bathroom: £16.86

On the tiles

THESE decorative stickers are made to look like real tiles and can be applied to existing ones – and removed again – without much fuss.

Most are made from heat and water-resistant vinyl and can stand up to daily wear and tear.

They are available from a range of online shops in a huge variety of colours and patterns. They can usually be applied to floor tiles.

Simply measure the space to buy the right amount, peel off the backing and stick the tile sheet to the wall.

These are a fairly new product to the home-improvement market and aren’t something I have yet tried myself.

But it is worth giving them a go.

TRY: Stick-on tiles, 30.5cm x 30.5cm, £4.98,

A bath and beyond

COVER the bath panel with removable paper or sticky-back vinyl.

As long as you are using paper that is bathroom-specific or, at the very least, glossy and wipeable, there is no reason why your panel can’t be given a refresh in this way.

TRY: Hode self-adhesive wallpaper green leaf, 45cm x 2m, £10.99,

Grout and about

OK, you probably aren’t going to re-grout.

But if grungy grout is bringing down the overall appearance of the tiles, a good scrub will help.

You can use grout-specific cleaning products or make your own cleaning solution.

I use a mixture of one part baking soda to one part vinegar.

Apply to the grout then, after 30 minutes, use an old toothbrush to scrub it clean. It is hard graft but totally worth it.

TRY: The Pink Stuff, 89p,


Instagram inspired

WANT some Instagrammable inspiration for your house?

Follow these influencers for plenty of ideas and projects.


@thecarpentersdaughter (5K followers)

Carpenter’s daughter Vikkie Lee shares tips on everything from plastering to changing locks. Head to her YouTube channel for in-depth tutorials.


@lucyhamiltonathome (35.3K followers)

Interior designer Lucy, from Oxfordshire, is never short on ideas for decals and washi tape in her brightly coloured home.


@lynsey_queenofclean (217K followers)

Move over Mrs Hinch. Lynsey Crombie, from Peterborough, shows fans how to clean everything in their home – from limescale on loos to glitter on carpets.


@design_at_nineteen (71.4K followers)

London interior designer Justin Coakley styles discoveries from H&M and Ikea to look super-luxe in his minimalist pad.


@Plumandcrumble (12.9K followers)

Shrez Ghelani and her husband Tom Fairburn have charted the renovation of their Grade II-listed Leicestershire terrace from start to finish – with lots of handy tips along the way.


@cassiefairy (4K followers)

Suffolk-based blogger Cassie Fairy shares her tips and tricks on how to salvage crumbling furniture and make it look better than new.


@kezzabeth_blog­ (12.5K followers)

Kerry Allen and partner Grant Nukis, from ­Notts, show how to make everything from pallet seating to your own lighting.


@swoonworthyblog (34.4K followers)

Kimberly Duran is based near Manchester and helps you make the most of your space – from what to leave on a chest of drawers to using faux plants around the home.


@youneedavicky (13.7K followers)

Fed-up with clutter? London-based professional organiser Vicky Silverthorn has storage tips – from kitchens and wardrobes to home offices.


@renovatinganightmare (24.9K followers)

Nadege and Joseph Allen, from South London, can often get a steal on furnishings using auction sites and they will show you how to avoid hidden costs.

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