From new cabinets in the kitchen to a better carpet in the dining room, every homeowner longs to redo some portion of their house. But life (and your bank account) tends to get in the way, so you just let that rug lie and you move on.
But instead of trying to rehab a room in a big way, employing small, offbeat tweaks might be your best bet. A quick splash of paint, a new fabric, or simply shifting that big couch from one wall to another might be all you need to achieve a fresh, fun look.
Just be sure to go beyond swapping out throw pillows (it’s a ho-hum move) and consider something more unusual with your home decor. To help, we polled the pros to come up with 10 upgrades that’ll wow your family and friends.
1. Paint an interior door
Who says your closet door color has to match the trim? Most homeowners save that bright red or blue for the front door and slap boring beige on the inside, but the experts say painting an interior door is a fast upgrade for any room.
“A shot of color adds freshness and energy to a room, so put it here or try bright paint on the inside of a bookcase,” suggests Michael Boodro, director of editorial and strategic initiatives at Dering Hall.
Other smart spots for a coat of paint include window frames or moldings, or a thin stripe around the edge of a room near the top of the wall (it adds interest and gives the effect of a heightened ceiling).
2. Create a gallery wall
Go overboard with your artwork and group it together for maximum impact.
“Combine objects like plates, fans, fabrics, and mementos from past trips, and hang it floor to ceiling, close together,” says Darla DeMorrow of HeartWork Organizing.
Or change the framing.
“Swap wood frames for brass for a more formal look, or mix and match frames of different colors,” offers Marty Basher, a home design expert at Modular Closets.
3. Add a bit of wallpaper
A kitchen island swathed in white is an expected move, but hanging fabulous wallpaper on the side that faces out is decidedly not. You can also apply a small piece of wallpaper to a dishwasher front by cutting it to size and securing it with four strong magnets.
4. Swap lampshades
Back in the day, people used to change out lampshades in summer and winter. But while this practice is pretty much kaput, you can still make the swap in your living room.
“Consider patterned fabric shades or trimming the edges of paper shades with ribbon—or even drawing or painting shades yourself with stripes or flowers,” suggests Boodro.
5. Layer your rugs
A new rug is pricey, but adding one on top of the other is simply smart. You’re combining your resources and giving the room a lift, too. Layering smaller rugs over a large sisal or neutral carpet is a favorite decorator trick, notes Boodro.
6. Apply some upholstery
A little fabric can go a long way, especially if you put it where it’s least expected.
“Contrasting upholstery adds flair to dining or living room chairs,” notes Boodro.
Stephanie Plymale, president of the Heritage School of Interior Design, likes cowhide or aged leather on the backs of chairs.
Or paint your plain wood chairs—Boodro says some decorators take traditional brown chairs to auto body shops to have them coated in a color with a glossy, modern finish.
7. Change the room’s purpose
Flipping a room’s functionality takes just a few hours—and it’s free.
“Turn a bedroom into an office or reading space, or create a bar out of a small closet,” suggests Basher.
Or switch tables and chairs from room to room, or redo the whole layout (like by pushing the couch to a different wall).
8. Hang tassels and trim
“Considering their small scale, trims and tassels add a lot of impact,” says Boodro.
Some pieces can be expensive, so use them wisely. Ideas to try: Add trim to a pillow’s edge, or fringe at the bottom of a chair or sofa.
9. Bring in the green
A bathroom shelf or kitchen window sill is brought to life by a pretty row of succulents and cacti, says Plymale. Just about any type of greenery or cut flowers add a fresh feeling to your rooms.
10. Install a new shower curtain
A funky shower curtain is usually inexpensive, and it’ll keep people talking every time they use your loo. Other bathroom upgrades might include new hardware on the cabinetry (all you need is a screwdriver) or decorating the ceiling.
“Paint or gold or silver leafing is especially dramatic in a small bath or powder room,” says Boodro.
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