The insider: How to fill a big, blank wall

Alun is a man. And his flat is "too manly", says his new female flatmate, who harbours makeover urges in a Calamity Jane style (where Doris Day's cowgirl shack gets a girlie gingham spruce-up). The main concern? Bare walls. Big bare walls. Small budget. Tips?

Shelve it

To fill a bare corner, I had wonky box shelves built – different sizes and depths. Painted to match the wall, the effect is sculptural and, MDF-made by a builder, cheap too. Or try

Off-piste tiling

Away from the kitchen/bathroom, tiled walls are striking. Mismatched means more affordable, so pick odd tiles (one colour but different thicknesses) or mix patterns in the same palette. Try eBay.

Feature walls can look passé

The "books" wallpaper from deborah, however... wow (£173 per generous drop). Or make a patchwork of favourite samples, but limit the palette.

Use what you have

Odd plates (above,, from £9.75), record sleeves or cherished postcards and photos: for the latter, place in frames of the same type/colour for cohesion and build a grown-up collage.

Paint your own decoration suggests painting a loose, random pattern in favourite colours on a giant canvas.

Purse-friendly portraits

Think you can't afford a large likeness? Try – from £299 for a quirky, collaged commission or for Old Masters.

Flower power sells gorgeous repro antique botanical prints from £15-£100. Create your own wallpaper by pasting up a selection.

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at