You don’t have to spend a fortune to brighten up your home for the season. SHRESHTA JAISINGH brings you smart alternatives

That time of year is around the corner. Lights will pop up, there will be bells and baubles everywhere, lamps and flowers will spring up — and your home will suddenly look just a little tired and run-down. You might want to hire a designer, buy new furniture, even get a new life… but all that takes pots of money. Instead, read on for some creative and fun ways to freshen up your home without busting the bank.

1 Change the fabrics

A new set of cushion covers; that animal-printed rug you’ve always wanted, or an unexpected pop of colour from new curtains. Don’t be afraid to experiment with bold prints, metallic fabrics or neon. You don’t have to overdo it; just one gold lamé cushion can add glamour to your living room. Or jus throw a giant cushion on the floor. A new slip-cover thrown over an old sofa can make it look like a new piece of furniture altogether. For inspiration, browse through linen catalogues or interior décor magazines and find a colour palette that suits your home. Even a visit to the mock-up rooms in a furniture shop can give ideas.

2 Light up your life

A new and dramatic floor lamp entirely changes the way a room looks; a funky lava lamp or an ornate shade on a boring light bulb adds interest. Add a solar lamp to your garden or a night lamp to your bedroom. Cove lights are a great way to brighten up dinner parties at home and can tastefully illuminate a ledge or highlight the ceiling. Sconces and wall lamps don’t come cheap, but they do help provide a brand new look to your walls.

3 Green ideas

Indoor plants need little maintenance and add a lot of freshness to a room. Buy interesting fixtures in wrought iron or terracotta to hold your potted plants and make a corner come alive. A bank of pots with cacti, old wine bottles overflowing with creepers or money plants, or small flowering shrubs in colourful holders — they are all an easy way to dress up a room. You don’t even need expert help, just visit your local florist or nursery and they will guide you through the options. Indoor plants not only add ‘green’ beauty, they keep the air fresh and oxygen rich.

4 Thrifty finds

Not all great design needs to be expensive. Browse discount stores, local flea markets, or handicraft exhibitions for a unique piece of furniture or home accessory. Or consider adding colour to your walls by framing a vintage film poster. Put up a soft-board and create a collage of family photographs. These techniques are wallet-friendly and can be easily removed or replaced. Use a vintage mug as a pen-stand or an odd wine glass as candle stand. Put an old picture in a new frame to spruce up a mantelpiece. As Thomas Johan of @home by Nilkamal says, "Diwali is when we entertain a lot of guests. Portable chairs and portable nested tables occupy minimal space.”

5 Shuffle furniture

Shifting furniture around can create the impression of space and make an old room look totally new. This is the cheapest way to give your house a makeover! Shift beds, create some space around them, centre dressers or push couches to the walls. Change all the paintings in a room or just the lighting for a whole new look.

6 Add a scent

Just changing the air freshener or adding potpourri can give your home a party air. Add fresh flowers to liven up a centrepiece, light incense sticks or scented candles, or pile up jasmine in bowls. Mood-setting fragrances include vanilla, lavender and sandalwood. Add dried orange peels to spices like cinnamon or ginger in an old-fashioned pickle jar to make your own potpourri.

7 Flower power

Whether real or plastic, flowers are an important element in room décor.

They help a room look fresh and welcoming. Wash plastic flowers, slap a coat of paint on old vases, or paint your terracotta pots. Add ferns and leaves to just a few stems of exotic orchids or birds of paradise and see the corner light up.

8 Bedroom makeover

We spend eight hours a day in bed, so it’s important that it looks and feels good. Add a colourful duvet, or buy sheets in fun floral prints or bright jungle colours. Indulge in satin sheets if you’ve never had them before. Pile up cushions on the bed, buy a new reading light for the bedside table, or invest in softer, larger pillows; good not just for the home but your body and soul too.

9 Wind chimes

Add wind chimes or beaded door hangings that sway in the breeze. Hang them on your porch, veranda or near a window. The tinkling sound makes for a charming welcome and adds to the warmth of the home. And it makes a great conversation piece too.

10 paint smart

Painting is the first thing that comes to mind, but do it smart. Pick just one showcase wall in your living room and paint it a bold colour or add a texture or special effect. Do little things in the room to match this wall. Or just clean up the walls with soap and water and add dramatic decals. All the rage now, a flamboyant sprig of flowers in the sitting room, or animals on the nursery walls won’t break the bank and yet change the whole look.