Q.Dear Andrew, my hallway seems to have become a general dumping ground – how can I make it more welcoming?

A.The appearance and design of the hallway is often overlooked since you often just walk straight through it. But it is also the first room that you (and others) enter so make it welcoming and calm – warm colours work well and an interesting wallpaper can add to the ambience. Make sure you will still love your choice even after a long day in the office.

Neutral colours are not essential but consider the natural light – dark heavy colours won’t work in a dim hallway. Try to use a paint finish that is durable and washable – this is important for a high traffic area and will ensure you aren’t constantly repainting.

Proper storage is often overlooked so a hallway easily becomes cluttered. The limited width of a console table makes it an ideal solution and it is a great place for a putting a table lamp, keeping fresh flowers and storing your keys – a deep bowl makes a stylish receptacle. You should consider shoe storage, especially if you have a family, and Ikea is particularly good for this.

The area under the stairs often houses little more than the hoover but it offers a great opportunity for storage. If you want to maximise its potential, consider using a carpenter to make a bespoke solution. Pull out drawers are very useful and can add an interesting design element.

When choosing flooring, remember this room can be exposed to the British weather. A light-coloured carpet may look good but on a wet midwinter day it won’t be practical. A solid floor, either wood or tiles, is a good option but to add colour you could carpet the stairs in a smart stripy runner and pick up on the colours in other accessories.

After you have solved your storage issues and have a new smart hallway you can complement the design with the addition of a couple of pictures and a mirror. Add just a couple of items so the room doesn’t become crowded again – remember the space should always remain welcoming.

Q. Dear Andrew, I’m planning to stay at home this year to save money. I want to spend some time refreshing my home – what can I do?

Investing some time in refreshing your rooms can pay huge dividends and make your interior feel like new. The first priority is to clear the clutter so you can see what space is available. We all live with things we don’t love so step back and take a critical look – if you don’t love it, need it or haven’t used it in a year, consider donating it to charity. Having less clutter will make the rooms appear larger.

It is possible to refresh your rooms without buying anything new. You might find that you can move the lighting around – will a lamp currently in a bedroom work in the living room? Can you move the pendant shades between the rooms? Also look at the furniture – how about moving some furniture between the rooms? Alternatively, reposition or reframe your pictures. Frames don’t need to be custom-made since good options are available on the high street.

You can add colourful inexpensive accessories from high street shops such as Zara Home. If you choose to use these, you can easily refresh these on a more regular basis. Consider buying ones that remind you of a holiday destination and, when summer is over, pack them away until next year. You can then bring out autumn accessories, so your interior always remains fresh.

Having your carpets cleaned is another very inexpensive but often overlooked trick – it cleans away the winter grime to make the house feel like new. Upholstered furniture can usually be cleaned by the specialist at the same time. You might consider recovering small pieces of upholstered furniture, for example a footstool, in a loud colourful fabric – it will add an instant new element to your interior for little cost. Reupholstering your entire sofa can be almost as expensive as purchasing a new one but a quick inexpensive fix is to replace the cushions. Save money by just replacing the covers; you can reuse the existing pads. Again, it is good to rotate cushions through the seasons.

If you do want to add a wow factor to your living rooms, consider a feature wall. Painting a wall can easily be achieved in a day but will add great feature to your home.

Andrew Dunning is head designer at APD Interiors, an interior design consultancy, www.apdinteriors.com. Follow his design tips on Twitter: @andrewdunning