[Illustrated Interiors] Banishing the Winter Blues

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In the first edition of 'Illustrated Interiors' for 2018, our assistant editor Greg McIndoe shares a few suggestions on how to brighten up your post-Christmas home.

For most of us, the new year guarantees two things. Firstly, none of our bank balances look overly healthy come January. And secondly, our homes all look a bit like they have been burgled by the Grinch. Even though they look exactly how they did at the end of November, taking down our festive decorations is guaranteed to leave us feeling a little somber.

With this in mind, we’ve drawn up a list of low budget ideas to inject some colour and fun back into your home – without a fairly light in sight!

interior design, Illustrated Interiors, ideas, design, art

Photograph by Ambers Interiors

1. Bring nature indoors 

There are few better ways to breathe new life into an interior than with actual life. Plant life makes an uplifting and totally on trend addition to any interior. Stretch those legs with a trip down to your local garden centre and pick out a selection of cactus, hanging planters and colourful clay pots.

The biggest thing most houses feel lacking in January is a great big tree. You can easily combat this with some slightly less seasonal greenery.

Greg McIndoe
interior design, Illustrated Interiors, ideas, design, art

Illustration by Amber Davenport

Alternatively, if the up-keep of real plants seems like a commitment too far, how about an illustration or two for far less hassle. Sandra Dieckmann, Jacqueline Colley, Amber Davenport and Abi Overland (to name just a few) sell a selection of leafy prints. All the life with no watering required – drawings of plants will win over the real thing for me every time.

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Coasters from Ohh Deer

2. Add a touch of nostalgia

My second idea is the sweetest from the selection. This list is all about adding little touches to your home that will bring a smile to your face every time you see them. And nothing warms the heart like a touch of nostalgia. These Mr Men coasters from Ohh Deer will remind you of your favourite children’s book character every time you rest a drink on them. Ohh Deer teamed up with John Bond last year to reimagine these classic characters.

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Photograph by Ikea

3. Inject some colour on your walls 

A simple yet effect idea is to simply get creative with some paint. The days of all white walls in interior design are slowly fading and colour is back in. If you can’t commit or afford a whole room transformation, a few simple shapes may do. Simply mask off your favourite shape with tape on the wall and then fill it with your favourite colour of paint. Use it to frame an art print, or collection on a shelf to create a true statement of your style.

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A piece from Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodmans “Quotes On Shit” project

4. Upcycle 

Another paint-based idea is to upcycle an old object. Whether it’s through a new found desire to become a minimalist or just boredom, you will inevitably end up clearing out a few cupboards in your home this January. Instead of throwing out unwanted items however, why not give it a makeover? You need to be careful with this idea to make sure it doesn’t just look like you have painted trash. Taking inspiration from Timothy Goodman and Jessica WalshQuotes On Shit” project will help you keep things stylish. The addition of handwritten typography will add a contemporary twist and cheeky personality.

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Giftwrap from Wrap Magazine

5. Rethink patterned papers

One of the most obvious ways to brighten up an interior is the addition of a new piece of artwork. A large piece of art however can be quite pricey. A much cheaper alternative can be framing up a piece of wrapping paper. Online stores such as wrap magazine sell beautifully designed sheets of gift wrap that can easily double as posters. No one will ever know that your beautiful new print cost only a few pounds.

Pattern is often used to cover entire walls or soft furnishings. Using just a crop however can create an eye-catching statement.

Greg McIndoe
interior design, Illustrated Interiors, ideas, design, art

Blackboard wallpaper by Livettes

6. Make your own blackboard wall

Painting a wall black might sound like an odd suggestion for a way to brighten up an interior, but it’s what you fill it with after which cheers things up. You can draw out a calendar to fill with plans, sketch out ideas for things to create and jot down inspiring quotes and things to remember. Before long you won’t be seeing a wall which used to have a tree in front of it but a wall filled with things to look forward to in the year ahead instead.

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Leopard doorknob from Ohh Deer

7. Add quirky details

To add that uplifting touch to your home, you don’t need to go big. A fresh and quirky new detail will do the job. For example, replacing a tired door handle with a playful new one. Ohh Deer sell a range of ceramic animal head doorknobs, perfect for any animal lover’s homes. Alternatively, if you are feeling crafty, you could also try your hand at making one of your own.

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Image by Oliver Jeffers

8. Try paint dipping

Old paintings are easy to find in charity shops. Hanging them as they are however can look a bit like you’ve been raiding your gran’s attic. Dip them in some paint and you can create a unique piece infused with a graphic sensibility and antique charm. Paint dipping has been a micro-trend in interior design over the past few years. For the best results, you need a basin of paint big enough to dunk whatever painting you have to hand in.

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Upcycled chair by Cocolia

9. Upcycle a piece of furniture

A much bigger interior trend in recent years has been upcycling. You might be surprised how much new life a lick of paint can breathe into an old piece of furniture. Simply painting a table or a cabinet a new colour can make all the difference to a room. If you want to take it one step further, you could take inspiration from the team at Cocolia and illustrate a chair.

You could paint sections of a chair different colours to create a graphic piece or doodle all over a table with a sharpie. The options are endless and infinitely more interesting than the original.

Greg McIndoe
interior design, Illustrated Interiors, ideas, design, art

Drawing by Greg McIndoe

10. Blind draw art

Finally, drawing some of your own art is a super low budget way of adding interest to an interior. Creating art can sound scary to anyone who might not consider themself as being “creative” but there are some fun and easy drawing techniques to try. Blind drawing (drawing whilst looking at a subject, not the paper) can have some brilliantly eccentric results. Brands like H&M Home and Oliver Bonas have used loose drawing styles like these in their latest collections. Sketch some flowers or plants using a thick inky pen and quality paper and you can create some quite sophisticated looking art. Or you could throw a party and have all your favourite people draw each other. By the end of the night you could cover a wall in friendly (if a little warped) faces.

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Prints from Oliver Bonas

After all the Christmas decorations come down, a home can feel like it has lost a bit of it’s personality. All ten of these ideas aim to add a bit of spark back into any room. If you do decide to try any of them, I hope they help banish those January blues from you and your home. Illustrated Interiors will be back soon with yet more idea for making an interior your own.


Posted on Feb 6th, 18 by

Greg McIndoe - also known as Headless Greg - is an illustrator and design writer based in Glasgow, Scotland. He regularly writes for design magazines and online platforms, interviewing fellow illustrators and leading creatives.

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