Creating a whole new look for your home doesn’t necessarily require a complete re-do, or the astonishing price tag that can go along with it. You can refresh your humble abode, even if a full-blown renovation isn’t in your immediate future. With a bit of creativity, a tad of elbow grease and a well-thought-out plan, a little can go a long way when it comes to revamping your living space. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Clean Up Your Act – If you’ve ever breathed in the scent of a home freshly scrubbed from top to bottom, you know how enjoyable and relaxing it can feel. Take a full day (or weekend) to scrub your living space from the rafters to the floors. A clean and shining home immediately takes on a refreshed look. Pull down the curtains for washing, say goodbye to ceiling fan dust, scour appliances and polish brass and silver surfaces. Don’t forget the crusty salt and pepper shakers or crumb-entrenched toaster.
Assess Your Stuff – Consolidate and organize your possessions, discarding the things you no longer like. Refresh each room by replacing tired-looking drapes, stained potholders and cracked flower pots, and harness clutter by throwing out or donating old magazines, books, electronics and clothing. Your home will immediately feel roomier and take on a brighter appearance.
Color Your World – Change your hues by painting doorways, moldings or bookcase shelves. Use eye-catching brights to divert attention from less-than-pristine walls or furniture. Consider painting one wall rather than the whole room and use color to create interesting angles and alcoves. Decorative painting techniques such as marbleizing and color-washing are easy to learn and can make a dramatic statement. You can also use paint to create the look of wallpaper for a considerably lower price tag, with the added bonus of getting exactly the tones and textures you want. Use trompe l’oeil to create a headboard in the master bedroom or window in an alcove or den.
Do A Furniture Redux – Wooden dressers, chairs and tables can be brought back to new, revitalized life with personalized flair, a small sander and a bucket of paint. Create completely unique pieces and highlight your aplomb with ornamental dresser knobs and patterns of your own design. Refresh pieces you already have or keep an eye out for inexpensive, good quality finds at flea markets and garage sales.
Accentuate Your Assets – Look around at what you already own and determine how best to showcase the lovely things currently collecting dust in your basement or bottom drawer. Shine up your mom’s decanter or that old set of candlesticks to spotlight dramatically on a table or mantelpiece. Items such as beloved wooden toys, pitchers or vases can be grouped together and showcased on bathroom shelves, window sills or bookcases. Rotate items in your china closet with those currently on display, drape pashminas as furniture throws or use decorative hooks to hang costume jewelry, fedoras and even bags as wall displays.
Maintain Seasonal Flair – Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or the Fourth of July, there’s something to look forward to with each calendar change. Wait for end-of-season sales and shop for decorative items to fill your home with holiday spirit and an ever-changing look. Don’t forget the power of scent or its transformative properties. Delicately perfumed pine cones, candles and fresh flowers can fill your home with holiday grace.
Revamp Refrigerator Art – Give your fridge and break and frame your children’s works of art instead. Use these to colorfully refresh a hallway or other small space. You can also add framed diplomas and certificates of merit from school, tennis or karate class, giving your child a sense of pride and you a beautiful, one-of-a-kind wall arrangement.
Display A Green Thumb – Plants not only clean the air but also create a refreshing, natural atmosphere. Various plants require different levels of light, but even the dimmest of spaces can sustain plants such as colorful African violets, bamboo and ferns. Scatter these on desks and night stands as well as on window sills. You can also house oversized plants in decorative pots on small tables or feature small trees which thrive indoors, such as Chinese evergreens or lemon trees, in unused corners. Take advantage of kitchen windows by growing a spice garden that you can use to enhance your cooking skills as well as feed your aesthetic sense.
Stage A Pillow Riot – Less-than-new couches, easy chairs and beds spruce up easily when scattered with a cacophony of colored throw pillows. Look for interesting patterns, colors and textures. Old, tired pillows can be covered with quilted shams, stitched with felt patterns or hand-beaded. Go for interesting combinations, buy what you love and the mixture is bound to work, adding oxygen and an eye-pleasing design element to the entire room.
Become a Basket Case – Wicker and straw baskets can be found for under $5 each in all shapes and sizes. Baskets can be used to create unique shelving displays, increasing your storage space and creating a gracious, personalized look.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.