27 March 2023

Interior Design Masters winner Banjo Beale on affordable and sustainable ways to update your home

27 March 2023

Winner of las year’s Interior Design Masters, Banjo Beale knows how tricky it can be to find exactly what you want for your home at a reasonable price.

Living on the remote Isle of Mull means Beale – who won the popular design series last year – often has to get creative, making the most of whatever resources are available.

With the cost-of-living crisis hampering many of our home design plans, you may be wondering how you can adapt your space to make it feel like the chic haven you want – while being as friendly as possible to your bank balance and the planet at the same time.

Here’s what the interior design champ suggests…

Use tech to your advantage

“There are tools like the Google multisearch lens that save the hassle of the endless scrolling,” says Beale, explaining how tech can make it easier to create a look and find inspiration.

“My whole phone is full of screenshots of what I like, taking pics of things like taps in loos in restaurants, so being able to just take a picture and upload and find what else is out there is amazing,” adds Beale, who has partnered with Google to showcase how multisearch can help people find more  affordable and sustainable options for creating the looks they want.

“For me, it saves so much time, and the keyword feature allows you to narrow down to affordable or sustainable or vintage options, so it takes so much of the legwork out of searching.”

Use wallpaper wisely

Getting creative with patterns you love could be a game-changer.

“I think everything I do is pretty much on the cheap,” says Beale. “Living on an island means we have one hardware store and it sells everything. Anything I can’t get, I buy online, and I handmake a lot of things.”

To elevate a room cheaply and easily, Beale frames wallpaper like a poster.

“I love framing wallpaper on the wall and adding beading. Framing is expensive and I don’t trust myself with glass, so I put a print on the wall and paste it on and cover it with a frame,” he explains.

“You can also put a peel substance under the wallpaper, which means you can take it off. I do posters pasted onto the wall like this too.”

Saturate with colour and gloss

Colour is a great way elevate a space – and often make it look more expensive than it is.

“I have recently painted my kitchen mustard,” says Beale, noting that “saturated colours in a room” can enhance the look.

“Paint a room one colour to completely envelope the space, and perhaps gloss paint your trims or ceiling and it will look super expensive,” he suggests. “I like a moody green or dark navy, perhaps. Everything else will pop against that.”

Invest in fabulous hardware

The hardware already on your furniture may not add anything too exciting – but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. And swapping these details for fancier ones is often a lot more affordable than buying very pricy furniture, or completely refitting your kitchen, for example.

“Always swap out your hardware,” says Beale. “Invest a little in it. I swap out all my cheap hardware for nicer ones. If you can, change knobs and light switches – it will make the space feel more expensive.”

Shop around for second-hand paint

“Loads of great companies reuse paints now, and there are loads of different local groups where you can go and pick up paint that is remixed from old paints into new colours,” says Beale says.

You could also just get creative and try creating your own colours (ensuring you do it safely, of course).

“I have rubbed tea bags and coffee into the wall for a vintage feel, and then added botanical prints. Similarly, lime wash paint is expensive but you can get the lime yourself and mix it,” suggests Beale.

Be more environmentally-conscious 

With the cost of living so high, Beale acknowledges “people are probably thinking twice before starting projects at home”, and instead “thinking of how they can live with what they have, and elevate it”.

He adds: “That is making people look for cheaper alternatives for anything and everything. It is permeating every single decision people make, and this can now be a good chance to be more mindful of what we use and the impact on the planet.”

One way Beale does this is putting things aside for future projects – switching your mindset to thinking how can I reuse or repurpose something I’ve already got? Rather than buying new all the time.

“I keep a lot of things for a rainy day. I am Marie Kondo’s worst nightmare – I keep things that might spark joy in 10 years’ time!

“You will have things that might already serve a job,” he adds. “My neighbour asked me to come round and put some hooks up. I turned some of her old walking sticks into a coat rack.”

One man’s trash…

Haven’t got something you need? Someone else is probably trying to get rid of one.

“See what people are getting rid of,” says Beale. “My whole kitchen is made of church pews. I took all of the upper cabinets out of my kitchen and, because I prefer open shelves, I put those in my laundry, making myself a new pantry cupboard.”

He recommends checking sources such as Facebook marketplace and salvage yards – especially if you’re after materials and timber. It’s better for the planet and your wallet to try this route first.

“Everything I do has a sustainability and affordability lean,” says Beale. “Try and start thinking differently about what you are doing. You don’t need to buy the first thing you see – dig a little deeper.”

Try out multisearch in the Google app 

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