Have-a-go interior design enthusiasts are taking over Instagram at the moment.
And in Belfast, there’s no shortage of proud home owners taking to the platform to share their decor, design inspiration and budget-friendly make-over tips.
One such homeowner is Valerie Robinson – also known as the Belfast House Bird – from Jordanstown.
Valerie, an education worker by profession, has been transforming her 1950s bungalow which she describes as ‘a work in progress – on a limited budget.’
Her fifth home so far, the mum of two is no stranger to decorating her home but still finds bold, innovative ways to give her rooms a new lease of of life.
We caught up with Valerie to talk all things interior design – from bargains and money-saving tips and tricks to her unique rain forest bathroom and how to pull off a dark feature wall.
What is your interior design style?
“I don’t know that I actually have a design style.
“I just fill my home with things I love or that have sentimental value – it’s a bit of a mishmash!
“If something catches my eye I’ll put it in a room!
“I do like the clean lines of mid-century furniture but then I go and ruin that simplicity with my clutter!”
When did you first start transforming your home and how has your style evolved since you first started?
“I moved here six years ago and have completed a few, mostly cosmetic, changes.
“The biggest change was probably the garden.
“There was literally no room for planting, just a ramshackle shed – that was it!
“Now I’ve created borders, gravel paths and decking for an outside living room.”
What’s your favourite area of your home and why?
“I think my favourite room is my dining area and living room.
“It’s a spacious L-shaped room that opens out through patio doors to the garden.
“I love feeling close to the garden and when I’m home, I often have the doors open all day!”
Do you upcycle anything or use any budget DIY tricks?
“I upcycle so much – I tell my kids if they sit still long enough I’ll paint them!
“I’m forever updating or changing pieces I have.
“My latest project was my kitchen. I wanted to update the kitchen I inherited cheaply as I hope to extend in a few years.
“I hand-painted all of the cupboards, then replaced the worktops, sink, taps, tiles and flooring!
“I do everything on a budget!
“It has made a huge difference as the kitchen seems brighter and larger now for the fraction of the cost of a whole new kitchen.”
There are so many plants and flowers in your home. How do you stay on top of watering them and do you have any tips on keeping them fresh?
“I love plants and flowers.
“I treat myself to fresh flowers (usually pink) every week. I love the pop of colour they introduce to a room.
“I’ve a mixture of real and faux plants around the house as the faux ones work well in duller areas.
“I have a routine of watering them on Sundays and a wee drop of Baby Bio keeps them healthy.
“I have to really think which ones are real as some of the artificial ones are so realistic!
“I love having plants and flowers inside as the garden is so important to me and the flow feels like the house and garden are one.”
What tips do you have on incorporating a dark feature wall into your house without it becoming too overpowering?
“I love dark walls. The first one I painted was in my daughter’s room three years ago and since then I’ve been hooked!
“I love the drama they create and carefully chosen items or pictures can look great against them as they provide a bold backdrop.
“I make sure I just do one feature wall though and keep the other walls white.
“For me that prevents a feeling of claustrophobia and keeps the rest of the room airy and fresh!”
Tell us about your rain forest bathroom?
“I love putting plants in the bathroom as they soften the hardness of the tiling but I like them to stay ‘just so’ so I tend to mostly use artificial plants.
“They’re easy to keep clean – just pop them under the shower!
“There’s always some green to be seen in our bathrooms!”
What’s your favourite bargain you’ve purchased for your home?
“I love a bargain. I run this house on my salary alone so I have to watch the pennies.
“I’m always on the hunt for interesting vintage items and love a good hunt around charity or bric-a-brac shops.
“I feel like I’m doing my bit for the environment by recycling and I also get something unique.
“If I get bored of it I take it back to the charity shop and switch things up!
“My most recent favourite find was this little rattan chair from the On the Square Emporium.
“It only cost £30 and I’ve up-cycled it with chalk paint I already had to make it more on trend!”
Where are your favourite places to shop for things for your home?
“I love TK Maxx and get a wee buzz when I go for a browse around the Homesense section!
“Unfortunately, my finances don’t always stretch to Neptune but it would be up there as a favourite home store.
“I buy loads from eBay, Etsy and Gumtree and I really like to support local sellers when I can.
“Etsy in particular has so many unique and creative decorative items.”
Can you share five top interior design tips for those on a tight budget?
“1. Don’t be afraid to paint to update (I’ve even used emulsion on a lampshade!)
“2. Try second-hand shops if you don’t want your home to be the same as everyone else’s
“3. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you don’t like something, you can always strip off the paint or sell it on Gumtree!
“4. Move things around! Sometimes switching furniture about can change up a room for no cost!
“5. Buy what you love and fill your home with these things – your home is the story of you!”
To keep up to date with Valerie’s home make-overs, make sure you’re following @belfast_house_bird on Instagram.
If you’re a home and interiors blogger from Northern Ireland and would like to be considered for a feature – our Belfast Live Be team would love to hear from you. Email [email protected]