5 new, and rather easy, design projects for the New Year

Happy New Year! And while we're talking of the new, here are some exciting new projects you might want to dabble with in 2013. They may not be the most obvious tasks, but they can create an amazing transformation...

Go open plan – and we’re talking really open plan, not just knocking through one wall. The advantages? A great sweep of space and light, an airy feel, a modern look – and obviously the opportunity to put your grand piano centre stage in your home. The downsides? Forget to build in storage and you’ll be sorry as there will be a serious lack of walls to put storage furniture against. Balustrade by Bisca.

When it comes to staircases, swapping plain wooden spindles for a stunning balustrade like this one (also Bisca) will create a fabulous change. Here it’s teamed with stone treads and very lovely built-in storage, but imagine for a moment, the transformation in a dingy hallway. Convinced?

Embrace the whitest of whites. No, we don’t mean your washing powder but we do urge you to try out architectural white. Clean, pure, precise and showing off form and composition. You don’t need to go all-white, of course. Where's the fun in that? Instead, contrast it with other materials to reveal the qualities of both as this Alno kitchen demonstrates above.

Many homes have stunning interiors that are let down by ugly light switches and electrical points. Why invest in great design and amazing buys elsewhere and then let white plastic be a blot on your landscape? Swap them for a more pleasing material or, for wallpapered walls, a transparent design that won’t interrupt your pattern. This switch is from Schneider Electric.

Get more space without moving or extending. OK, we can’t entirely deliver on that one, but you can create a convincing illusion, which is as good as it gets in a rational universe. Choose a flooring that’s as suited to making your living room look gorgeous as to standing up to the best and worst of the weather outside, and lay from one space to the other. Blurring the boundaries works wonders for a spacious feel. This Brabazon limestone is from Stone Age, and looks s

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Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor

View all posts by Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor