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Top Tips For Budget Interior Design

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On the JJ Barnes Blog, with an eye on making my house look lovely while also keeping costs down, I check out top tips for budget interior design.

Interior Design

Interior Design On A Budget on the JJ Barnes Blog
Interior Design On A Budget

Does your bank account shudder at the mere mention of “interior design”? If like me, you dream of a beautiful and stylish home, but spend most of your money on bills, food, and entertaining your assorted off spring, it can feel like a dream you’ll never be able to realise.

Well, throw open the windows and let in a breath of fresh, (affordable!) air, because I’m about to unlock the secrets to transforming your humble abode into a haven of style, without selling your soul (or kidney) to Pinterest.

To help me out, Barratt London has teamed up with interior design expert from IKEA, Mahnaz Heidari Orojloo, sent over their thoughts about creating a beautifully interior designed home, even on a budget. 

Top Tips For Budget Interior Design

A mood board can help unify the home 

1. Start with Inspiration: Dive into the vast ocean of visual inspiration! Scour magazines, browse Pinterest boards, explore online design blogs, and even peek into Instagram interiors that make your heart skip a beat. Tear out images, save pins, and gather whatever speaks to your soul.

2. Theme Time: Don’t just throw everything together! Identify a central theme or a general vibe you want to capture. Do you crave earthy, natural elements? Or are you drawn to sleek, modern lines? Define your style direction before you start collecting.

3. Color Counts: Let’s talk palettes! Grab paint swatches, fabric samples, or even magazine pages in colors that resonate with your chosen theme. Don’t be afraid to experiment – unexpected combinations can create stunning results.

4. Texture Tales: It’s not just about the visuals – think about the feel of your space. Include tactile elements like rough wood, soft linen, or metallic accents. Textures add depth and dimension, inviting touch and creating a truly multi-sensory experience.

5. Don’t Forget the Finishing Touches: Spruce up your mood board with decorative elements like wallpaper patterns, furniture silhouettes, or even light fixtures. Remember, it’s all about capturing the essence of your dream space.

A mood board can be a helpful starting place when designing your home. Keeping to a consistent style and colour scheme throughout the property ensures a cohesive look and feel across the home.

Instagram and Pinterest are perfect for inspiration online, and good old-fashioned interior design magazines and brochures are brilliant too.

-Mahnaz Heidari Orojloo

It’s all about balance 

1. Multitasking Marvels: Embrace furniture that moonlights like a superhero! Ottomans with storage, pull-out beds disguised as sofas, and nesting tables that shrink and grow like magic – these space-saving wonders maximize function without sacrificing style. Think sleek lines, bold colors, or unexpected textures to keep things visually interesting.

2. Upcycle Like a Pro: Give discarded treasures a second lease on life! Grandma’s dusty dresser? Transform it into a trendy media console with a fresh coat of paint and stylish knobs. Old suitcases stacked neatly? They become instant side tables with vintage charm. Embrace the imperfections and let your personality shine through.

3. DIY Delight: Don’t underestimate the power of your own two hands! Learn basic carpentry skills to build a bookshelf from recycled wood or whip up cozy throw pillows with leftover fabric. These personalized touches add warmth, character, and a sense of accomplishment (plus, bragging rights!).

4. Maximize the Magic: Light and space are your best friends on a budget. Ditch bulky furniture and embrace airy silhouettes. Let natural light flood in with sheer curtains, and use mirrors strategically to amplify space and bounce light around. A well-lit room feels instantly bigger and more inviting.

5. Accessorize with Intention: Skip the impulse buys and choose accents that serve a dual purpose. Decorative baskets hold clutter (and look beautiful doing it), colorful throws add splashes of personality while warming chilly evenings, and scented candles fill your space with fragrance while creating a cozy ambiance.

6. Borrowed Beauty: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Friends, family, even online communities can be treasure troves of hidden gems. Borrow vintage lamps, swap furniture to refresh your look, or barter skills – a DIY expert might trade painting your bookshelf for a homemade batch of cookies.

7. Think Vertical: Walls are prime real estate! Utilize them with floating shelves, hanging storage solutions, or even vertical gardens. This keeps your floor space clear, maximizing room for living and creating a dynamic, visually interesting space.

A professionally designed show home will combine elements of luxury, functionality and style. It will be a well-curated space with a balanced mix of colours and textures. 

A great show home will also feel inspirational, welcoming and, importantly, achievable.  When we are designing show homes we’re showcasing tips and tricks for buyers that can be easily replicated in their own homes.

-Mahnaz Heidari Orojloo

The right furniture and mirrors give the illusion of more space 

Size Matters: Ditch the bulky behemoths! Opt for sleek, low-profile furniture that allows light and air to flow freely. Choose sofas with legs, chairs with open backs, and coffee tables with glass or acrylic surfaces. Remember, less is more when it comes to creating an airy feel.

Room for Flow: Arrange furniture to allow for easy movement. Avoid blocking traffic flow with oversized pieces, and create conversation zones with cozy groupings. Leave pathways clear and make sure doorways remain accessible. A smooth flow fosters a sense of spaciousness.

Reflection Revolution: Mirrors are your allies in the quest for visual expansion. Hang large mirrors opposite windows to bounce light and double the visual depth of your space. Strategically placed mirrors can even create the illusion of extra windows or hidden rooms.

Angled Alchemy: Don’t just stick to flat walls! Tilt your mirrors slightly upwards to reflect interesting ceiling details or architectural features, drawing the eye upwards and making the space feel taller. Get creative with angles and watch your room’s dimensions magically stretch.

Framed and Fabulous: Don’t underestimate the power of a stylish frame. A statement mirror with a bold frame can become a focal point, adding visual interest and drawing attention away from the size of the room. Choose frames that complement your decor and tie the space together.

There are a number of ways that you can make a space look and feel bigger.  Multifunctional furniture is particularly useful in small spaces because it can serve multiple purposes without the space becoming cluttered.

Another budget-friendly tip is to use mirrors. These can be purchased very affordably and give the illusion of spaciousness by reflecting light. It’s also a good idea to keep the floors visible as it creates a sense of continuity.

-Mahnaz Heidari Orojloo

Start by choosing a colour scheme

1. Know Your Vibe: Before diving into swatches, take a moment to define the feeling you want your space to evoke. Do you crave the calming serenity of a coastal breeze or the energizing buzz of a city night? Do you yearn for warm, earthy tones or a crisp, minimalist vibe? Identifying your desired mood will guide your color choices.

2. Look for Inspiration: Let the world be your canvas! Take note of color combinations that make your heart sing, whether it’s a vibrant sunset, a lush forest scene, or a favorite work of art. Don’t limit yourself to home decor magazines – nature, fashion, even food can spark inspiring palettes.

3. The Rule of Three: Aim for a harmonious trio of colors. Choose a dominant hue for walls or large furniture, a secondary shade for accents and smaller pieces, and a pop of a contrasting color for visual interest. Remember, the 60-30-10 rule: 60% dominant color, 30% secondary color, and 10% accent color creates a balanced and aesthetically pleasing scheme.

4. Consider the Light: Natural light plays a crucial role in how colors come alive. Warm colors like yellows and oranges shine in well-lit spaces, while cooler blues and greens can brighten up dim corners. Test paint samples in different areas and at different times of day to see how they adapt to the light.

5. Get Friendly with the Color Wheel: This is your compass! Explore complementary colors opposite each other on the wheel for bold contrast, or analogous colors next to each other for a harmonious flow. Don’t be afraid to experiment with triadic combinations (three equidistant colors) for a vibrant pop.

6. Sample Mania: Don’t rely on paint chips alone! Bring home actual paint samples or even apply tester patches directly to your walls. Live with the colors in different lighting conditions and see how they interact with your furniture and existing decor.

7. Don’t Fear the Dark: Dark walls can add drama and sophistication, especially in large spaces. Just remember to balance them with lighter accents and pops of color to avoid a cave-like feel.

8. Texture Plays a Part: The textures of your furniture, fabrics, and flooring can influence how colors read. Rough wood tones might require bolder hues, while sleek surfaces can handle subtler shades. Consider the interplay of textures when choosing your palette.

9. One Size Doesn’t Fit All: There are no hard and fast rules in color choice! Don’t be afraid to break the mold and create a palette that’s uniquely you. Trust your instincts, embrace personal touches, and let your personality shine through.

10. Have Fun! Experiment, mix and match, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Choosing a color palette is a journey, not a destination. Embrace the process, enjoy the playful exploration, and most importantly, have fun creating a space that reflects your unique spirit and brings you joy.

Charlotte explained that you should start with a clear vision and a mood board to define the style you want to achieve. Then, tackle the following step by step: 

  1. Choose a colour scheme 
  2. Select key pieces of furniture and decor 
  3. Incorporate textures, lighting, and artwork 

Remember the 60-30-10 rule 

Think about the mood you want to create. For example, do you want the room to feel serene, vibrant or cosy? Also, consider the room’s natural light and size. 

It’s important to balance primary and accent colours, and a colour wheel can help with this.  A lot of interior designers use the 60-30-10 rule whereby around 60% of the room has the background colour, 30% is in a secondary colour and 10% has an accent colour. Lots of ideas for colour schemes can be found online.

Also remember that colour is such a personal choice and we all have our own favourites.  Choose colours you love and that make you feel good.

-Mahnaz Heidari Orojloo

Simplicity is key 

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Declutter first! Purge the “just in case” piles and forgotten treasures. A clean slate is your blank canvas, ready for a sprinkle of magic. Donate, sell, or recycle – let go of the clutter and make room for the things you truly love.

Skip the impulse buys and choose accents that serve a dual purpose. Decorative baskets hold clutter while looking beautiful, colorful throws add personality and warmth, and scented candles fill your space with fragrance while creating a cozy atmosphere. Less is more, so select pieces that truly add value and reflect your style.

Prioritise simplicity and quality. It’s important to keep the design uncluttered. And also focus on timeless elements and invest in well-crafted furniture and decor that will stand the test of time.

-Mahnaz Heidari Orojloo

Avoid short-term trends 

1. The fleeting nature of trends: Trends, by definition, come and go. What’s sizzling today could be yesterday’s news tomorrow. Investing in trendy pieces risks your space feeling dated and requiring frequent updates, draining your decorating budget over time.

2. The high cost of trendiness: Trendy items often come with a hefty price tag, riding the wave of their fleeting popularity. You could snag timeless classics for the same price or even less, stretching your budget further and creating a space with staying power.

3. Difficulty in matching: Trendy pieces, with their bold colors, unique patterns, or specific style, can be tricky to blend with existing decor. You might end up needing to overhaul your entire space to accommodate a single trendy piece, ballooning your expenses.

4. The risk of buyer’s remorse: It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of a trend and make impulse purchases. Later, when the trend fades, you might be left with pieces you no longer love and a lighter wallet.

5. The timeless appeal of classics: Classic pieces, built with quality materials and neutral palettes, stand the test of time. They’ll adapt to different trends and styles, providing a solid foundation for your space without requiring constant updates.

Avoid overly bold or niche trends that may quickly go out of style. Instead, opt for classic elements and use trends as accents such as throw cushions, prints and ornaments that can be easily and affordably updated.

-Mahnaz Heidari Orojloo

Barratt London and IKEA

Barratt London has collaborated with IKEA to make furnishing your new home in London even easier. Start with a free, remote appointment where an IKEA expert will give you personalised interior design advice. 

Then choose from one of our carefully-designed packages or customise your look to suit your needs. Plus, save time as well as money with free delivery and installation. 


Before you go, remember, your home is a living canvas, ever-evolving and reflecting your story. Don’t be afraid to experiment, tweak, and personalize. Swap out throw pillows, add new artwork, and rearrange furniture to keep things fresh. Your budget-friendly masterpiece is never truly finished, it’s a symphony of creativity that plays on, always ready for the next verse.

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