A friend has just moved into a box-fresh rented flat – nice. But even with pictures up and Ikea purchases in, she said: "Looks a bit sterile, doesn't it?" It did. So how to banish that just-moved-in sheen?
Resist Ikea overkill. Try twentytwentyone.com (for modern classics); bodieandfou.com (online chic), anthropologie.eu (especially its statement cushions) and rockettstgeorge.co.uk (oddities new and old).
Interiors editors hunt for homes with unique details: buy the thing that repels as much as it intrigues – try vintage taxidermy (thepeanut vendor.co.uk); unusual art (Jonathan Gould's "Bams" are an affordable risk, bamz.biz); or Katy Leigh's kooky plates on a wall (culturelabel.com).
Lean on me
Don't just hang pictures – prop them, overlapping, against walls.
Vintage softens sterility – but if secondhand isn't your thing, add new old-school touches from labourandwait.co.uk: an enamel ladle set (£40) in the kitchen, say, or beautifully packaged Portuguese cosmetics (from £2.50) displayed in bathrooms.
Make lighting a talking point: I love madeleineboulesteix.co.uk's inventive chandeliers and – less pricey – Folly & Glee's vintage fabric shades (notonthehighstreet.com, from £25).
Re-appropriate: a wrought-iron garden chair indoors is striking.
American interiors guru Martha Stewart suggests displaying flowers (or try little houseplants) in unusual food tins from cool delis.
Decorate by blogger Holly Becker (Jacqui Small, £30) is a beautiful book of practical but quirky professional decorating tips.
Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at yourhomeislovely.com