search icon

How to DIY your way to a designer-looking home

How to DIY your way to a designer home

Fancy adding a little luxury to your home décor without breaking the bank? Welcome to the world of DIY and upcycling. Whether you’re setting up your first home or you’ve moving to a bigger and better place, follow these tips on upcycling second-hand furniture and unloved accessories into designer-inspired feature pieces.

Why upcycling is smart and sustainable

Rather than splash out hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of pounds on brand-new designer furniture, it’s easier on the pockets to give upcycling a go.

Not only do you have complete control over the look of your final piece, but you’ll also be doing the environment a favour, with an estimated 670,000 tonnes of furniture going to landfill each year. Plus, you’ll have the added satisfaction of telling your house guests, ‘I made that!’.

From Facebook Marketplace and car boot sales, to charity shops and vintage emporiums, there is no end to the places you can explore for potential upcycling projects. You might need to be patient to find an item you love – or for a bargain price - but it can really pay off when you have a unique and sustainable piece of décor to feel proud of. And of course, you should always start with shopping your home first and identifying any pieces that you can refresh and fall back in love with.

Our rosemont home paint tin

Image credit: our_rosemont_home

Steps for success with your next DIY project

Before you commit to an upcycling project, it’s important to visualise how your finished piece will look in the room alongside all of your other furniture. It will need to fit with your aesthetic and contribute to an overall flowing feeling in a room, with all of the furniture and accessories working together to create a cohesive interior style – a disjointed look is rarely a good look.

Take note of texture, too. Layering contrasting textures within the same colour scheme is a fantastic way to create elegance and harmony in a room without it looking too same-y – so if you’re re-upholstering a sofa or re-covering a chair or footstool, consider using tactile fabrics such as velvet, corduroy, boucle or faux fur to add visual interest within your chosen palette.

Along with texture, considering the shape of furniture is key to an elegant-looking room. Shapes play a huge part in beautiful interior design, from calming, rounded furniture to bold, unusual geometry, so when searching for pieces to upcycle look out for any intriguing shapes that catch your eye.

Littlehousearoundthecorner reading corner

Image credit: littlehousearoundthecorner

DIY to designer: what makes upcycled furniture look luxurious?

Quality materials are the key ingredient when it comes to creating high-end furniture. So when you’re DIY’ing the designer look, especially on a budget, start with second-hand pieces that are in good condition, and invest in your primers, paints and fabrics to ensure a good finish. If you require any tools, consider renting them rather than buying so that they don’t drive up the cost of your project.

From the little details to bold ideas, ensuring that a piece of upcycled furniture looks designer-inspired depends on the interior style you’re looking to replicate – in other words, you need to incorporate the key features of your preferred aesthetic. Scandinavian minimalism, for example, draws on a neutral colour palette and clean lines, whereas mid-century modern interiors host an eclectic variation of textures and tones, while in-your-face maximalism draws on interesting shapes and pops of colour. If your upcycle project is neatly finished and follows the rules of your chosen style, it will have a high-end feel in no time.

Houseintheshire dining area

Image credit: houseintheshire

Start with your inspiration

When looking at a home accessory or piece of furniture that you’d like to upcycle, sometimes a vision doesn’t instantly appear – and if it does, then half your work is done!). Take a look at a range of interior design experts, high-end furniture brands, and upmarket home accessories to get your creativity flowing when seeking out inspiration. And don’t forget that Instagram and Pinterest are all treasure troves of unique interior ideas.

Shop around in home stores or vintage furniture shops and see which pieces stand out to you, and identify why. When it comes to finally digging out your tools and getting to work, look online for help with DIY techniques, processes, and even step-by-step upcycling guides – there’s not much that you can’t learn on YouTube or TikTok!

Bellway maple newbuild vanity table

Image credit: bellway_maple_newbuild

Not sure where to start? Check out these designer-inspired ideas…

  • Upcycle with upholstery – You don’t need to be a trained upholsterer to re-cover a chair or footstool. There are many tutorials online to guide you through the process, and all you might need is fabric and a staple gun. Make sure to choose a luxurious material that ties your designer theme together, and don’t forget to staple your fabric in out-of-sight areas for a neat finish.
  • Channel your inner artist – Perhaps you have a piece of furniture or homeware that you like the style of, but the colour is feeling lacklustre or jarring with your interior design. Simply repainting it, either by hand or with spray paint, will breathe new life into the object whilst saving you money and keeping a great piece in your home – because the most sustainable items are those that you already own.
  • Get a handle on DIY – Both functional and aesthetic, a wooden chest of drawers is a timeless piece to have in your home, and vintage stores and charity shops are bursting at the seams with these items. Whether you want to modernise a thrifted antique design by applying a nourishing wood stain and new hardware, add your own personal touch to it with a bold new paint colour, or add a new façade such as reeding or rattan panels, this popular storage piece means that you can stay organised – or hide any unorganised bits – while still dabbling in the designer look.

Houseintheshire bedroom

Image credit: houseintheshire

Feeling inspired to take on your own upcycling project? Take a peek inside the homes of real Bellway homeowners for some fantastic décor ideas, or explore a stunning Bellway showhome as created by professional interior designers. Then find out why Apricot Crush is the must-have colour for your home in 2024, and if you’re motivated to make more changes in your home, here are 10 interior improvements you can make in less than an hour.

Subscribe to Your Nest

All the latest home inspiration and advice straight to your inbox

By subscribing, you agree to our Cookies & Privacy Policy

Cookies on Your Nest

We use cookies on our website to give you a better experience, improve performance and for analytics. By using this website you agree to our privacy policy and the use of cookies

Consent settings
  • Essential
  • Analytics
  • Personalisation