There’s no need to rush into big decisions (with even bigger costs) as soon as you move into your new house or flat.
Here’s how to make yourself at home in no time, without calling the builders in or spending a fortune...
1. Give the place a fresh lick of paint
You don’t have to put up with brown swirly wallpaper or boring magnolia walls if they’re not your thing.
From day one, a splash of paint can breathe new life into every room. It’s one of the easiest ways to make an instant impact and all you need is a paint roller and some overalls.
Decorative interior specialist Sarah Laming, who has spent several years doing up homes in London and Kent, says experimenting with paint can be great fun.
She recently revamped her daughter’s bedroom by painting a wall bright orange.
'Be brave with colour, it’s a quick fix and it’s transformative,' says Laming.
'And in the unlikely event that you hate it, you can simply change it.'
So what are you waiting for?
2. Soften rooms with rugs
An echoey space with bare floors is instantly remedied with a rug (or two, or five...).
Adding something lovely underfoot - whether it’s a family heirloom, a vintage buy or a cheap and cheerful Ikea rug - will muffle sounds and make your space feel cosier.
If your new home has a carpet that you’re not keen on, rip it out or cover it.
Kate Watson-Smyth, author of Mad About The House, recommends big rugs for the best impact.
"A large rug brings everything together and creates a unified space," she says.
"If money is tight, buy a piece of carpet and have the edges bound to turn it into a rug. Your local carpet fitter should know a place where you can have this done, and it will work out much cheaper than buying a huge rug."
3. Make your place feel private
If your new pad has bare windows and you’re longing for privacy without shelling out for curtains, frosted window film is your new best friend.
It’s easy to apply and gives seclusion without blocking out all the light. And for ground floor windows, it will add more security by obscuring your valuables from view.
Try coloured window films for real decorative impact.
Or make your own with low-tack, self-adhesive contact paper and paint your own patterns using oil based paints.
4. Add warmth and texture with soft furnishings
Soft furnishings such as throw pillows, cushions and cosy blankets will add instant character, texture and comfort to your new space.
And they’re a godsend if you want to update your old sofa without shelling out for a new one.
Layer up with faux fur throws, colourful knits, mohair blankets, patterned cushions - anything that brings you joy.
Laming, whose Instagram page ahometomakeyousmile is full of inspirational ideas, says: 'You don’t have to spend a fortune to find lovely soft furnishings.
There are loads of amazing, inexpensive designs for every taste, and they will make a huge difference to your new home.”
5. Great table covers
A kitchen table is the heart of any home - but if you can’t justify forking out for that Heal’s designer piece quite yet, it’s easy to improvise.
Dress up an inexpensive trestle table with a colourful or patterned wipeable oil cloth and you’ve not only got yourself a dining table, you’ve also created a rather fabulous focal point.
6. Create the right atmosphere with lights
Naked lightbulbs are an atmosphere killer. Dim their glare with paper or origami pendant shades - they are inexpensive and provide a good temporary fix.
Lamps are essential too - you can never have too many.
Watson-Smith recommends layering lights to create different effects and perform different functions.
'Use a table lamp for atmosphere and a floor light to throw a soft glimmer up onto your walls.
'A task light is great to read with and a light above a picture can really show it off.'
There are more ways you can use a lamp than you ever imagined.
7. Update an old staircase
If you're living in a fixer-upper, a staircase may seem like a daunting project, especially if your budget is tight. But as long as your stairs are structurally sound, you can update them without any hassle.
Rip out the stained, threadbare carpet and paint the treads and backs an interesting dark colour or zingy bright.
Decorative stair stickers are a real find, whether you want to be crazily colourful or classically Victorian. You can even customise your own.
8. Put out your favourite pictures
Placing familiar paintings, art and photos around your new home is one of the quickest, easiest ways to make it feel ‘yours’, says Sarah.
'Artwork doesn’t need to be hung; prop it anywhere - lean paintings against walls, mantelpieces or any surface,' she says.
If you want to hang things on walls, use command tape so that you can experiment, rather than banging nails in and then regretting it.
9. Give your bathroom a touch of luxury
Nothing says 'new house' like a bare bathroom - but a few accessories in colours or tones that you love will jazz it up in an instant.
Hang a new shower curtain and use accessories to distract attention.
Really nice fluffy or patterned towels and bathmats can transform a bathroom. You’ll be amazed what a difference they make.
Add some indoor plants that thrive in steamy climates.
10. Add some plants and candles
Every room looks better with a plant in it. A fern or rubber plant in an empty corner, a tumbling sedum hanging from a basket, a collection of succulents on a shelf... you get the picture.
The same goes for candles; dot them about the place, and choose scented ones to create a welcoming glow and a comforting, uplifting scent instantly.
11. Update cupboard doors for instant impact
If you’ve inherited unattractive cupboards in your kitchen or bathroom, it’s easy to update them without having a whole refit.
'Sometimes it’s just a question of changing those ugly cupboard doors for more contemporary ones,' says Kate.
'You can also make a huge difference simply by changing the handles.'
Painting the outside of your cupboards is another option, or you could simply take the doors off.
Open cabinets can make a kitchen feel more spacious, and you can paint the insides a nice bright (or white) colour to enhance the feeling of space.
12. Refresh tile grouting to brighten a kitchen or bathroom
Retiling your kitchen or bathroom is a big job, but a quick way to spruce up your space in the short term is to refresh your grouting with a grout pen, one of the best things ever invented.
Or you can recolour your grouting completely, making your tiles look much brighter.