By Karlo Hendriks

How can I make my flat look prettier on a budget?

This is a common question among flat owners. Whether you own your own flat or you you are renting a unit, you can make internal improvements without breaking the bank or losing your “investment” when the lease runs out. Just remember, if you are a tenant, please run any permanent changes past the owner or landlord.

Just to give you an idea and to keep the list short, we will stick to improvements that can be put down and eventually taken away with you, screwed on and off, attached and removed, and so on.

Go green

This topic is hot at the moment. The usual problem is the price tag that goes along with being “green”. However, there are ways other than owning your own hybrid car or installing a solar heater. Start with the basics – plants. Keeping plants in your unit or on the balcony is a great idea. There is a large range of amazing flowers, veggies, herbs, Bonsais, shrubs and smaller trees, to name a few. Plant them in a nice pot (or even a DIY wooden crate). They can be moved indoors between summer and rainy seasons, or taken along when you have to move on. There are a numbers of wonderful nurseries all over town to help you to get started and provide you with a great selection of plants and tips.


Here you can get very creative. Lightening up a room can make your place look bigger, change the atmosphere, or set up the desired mood. There is a huge variety of low-voltage options out there, which also help reduce your carbon footprint. You can have fluorescent lamps, halogen lamps and, lately, LED lights; the latter give you the same light at much lower electricity consumption and without all that heat, especially useful in summertime. You can also get creative with “track lights” under your kitchen counter or behind the picture rail. The well-known Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi was a master in making small areas to look big, going so far as to design false doors and windows with lights behind them to create the illusion of space – so play around a little before drilling holes. Just remember, with electricity comes responsibility – so if you are doing more than just replacing bulbs, make sure you have your electrician’s number handy.


Playing with natural light and mirrors can create a new dimension to your space, and no, we are not talking about attaching them to the ceiling in the bedroom. The trick is to arrange mirrors to direct sunlight (without blinding yourself). You can be adventurous and get a couple of floor-to-ceiling mirrors (with or without frames). Hang a collage of different types of mirrors in a tiny hallway and direct borrowed light from other rooms; or make a masterpiece and have pieces cut out, make shelves partially of mirror or install a couple of fairy lights, if you don’t have a natural light nearby.

Think colourful

I’m not talking painting the walls. Here, we are talking art. A wall of photos, lamp shades, cushions, drapes, curtains and screens can make a huge difference to your place. You don’t have to go out and buy the most expensive throws, master art pieces, room dividers or screens. There are many material shops and markets out there that sell the most amazing fabrics, sometimes at bargain prices, and they can be used as they are, with minimum effort put into it. Draping beautiful fabric thoughtfully from the ceiling could change the look of your room completely and create the feeling of height and airiness. Interesting items can be found everywhere, to hang on the wall or down from the ceiling. And don’t forget the young and up-coming artist with an amazing talent, who won’t charge you an arm and a leg for their work (and could do with your support). Our country is not called the rainbow nation for nothing.


We all know we can not live without it, so make water part of your day-to-day life. Creating a small water feature is fun and you can really get creative in making your own little oasis on the balcony or even in a living room. Alternatively, they are not too expensive to purchase. Think of the pleasant sound of water trickling, and the calming effect it has on you after a stressful day in the office.

Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 6, Issue 4, Page 3

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license

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