9 Sep 2016
You’ve wandered through home tours and popped your head into enough swanky open houses to know that your home is in need of an update. The problem is, renovations are costly and time-consuming.
Luckily, there are several ways to freshen up your home without investing a lot of time and money.
Less is more
“My biggest thing is to de-clutter – get rid of pieces you don’t use and don’t need,” says Mary Jo Finley of Finley, Jones and Harris Design Group. “Even if you replace larger pieces with others scaled to the room, it doesn’t have to be a big expense. Sometimes people tend to overfill a space. They think they need an overstuffed leather sofa because this is their mountain home, but they can get a comfortable sofa without a giant arm that takes up half the room.”
When de-cluttering, accessories that are essential in a room, according to Maria Markel of Markel Design Group, are lamps, particularly in the entry area to greet guests.
“So many people say, ‘I hate lamps.’ They walk into a room at night, they have their overhead lights and that’s all they want,” Markel says. “But that lighting is usually way above your head and has a tendency to give a glow that can be harsh. Having adequate lighting – more than one lamp in the room – can make a big difference.”
Shopping for lamps and fixtures that accept bright bulbs is also important and also shades that fit the lamp and fixture. Markel says lighting in most rooms should contain bulbs that are at least 100 watts and a small bathroom should illuminate with a minimum of 300 watts (i.e.: at least three 100-watt bulbs).
When it comes to kitchen lighting, consistency is key.
“Make sure all of your light bulbs are the same type and equally bright,” Markel says. “Some kitchens still have fluorescent tubes. Some of these older light bars have globes on them that you can replace at Lowe’s. You can get a more contemporary one, as long as the housing matches what you have.”
Does your armchair look like an invisible 250-pound man is sitting in it? Having cushions re-upholstered can be costly, but flipping them around is free.
“No. 1 is that the upholstery has to be fresh,” Markel says. “Sagging seats, stretched fabric … if the upholstery isn’t clean, it can make the whole room look bad. Let’s assume that the upholstery isn’t pretty. Adding a new piece of artwork is a great way to make a fresh impact.”
Nobody is saying you have to go drop a few G’s on an original oil painting. Plenty of Websites (icanvas.com, wayfair.com …) offer a fantastic variety of canvas wraps and Giclées (canvas prints with a refined texture and color accuracy to make them look original) that are remarkably affordable. The cardinal characteristic is that it is large.
“When I say big, I mean scaled to the room,” Markel says. “People have a tendency to put up more pieces of smaller artwork, but a large, attractive piece of artwork can change a space, no doubt. I’m a fan of oversized art because it gives the room a cleaner, less jumbled look.”
Even if distraction from old, unattractive furniture is a primary goal, the piece should not be too busy or loud, as this can, as Markel puts it, “shut the space down.” Also, a few pillows or a sparse decorative piece (a basket, vase, etc.) with a like color can “anchor” the art piece and draw the eye around the room.
“I love accessories, but sometimes having too many little accessories is not a good look,” Markel says. “I usually go for a couple oversized accessories to go with the art. Like a large basket bowl on your coffee table with some pine cones or colorful, inexpensive faux apples and pears.”
Bedroom simple makeover
Regardless of artistic taste, the most alluring look of a bedroom is a space that beckons you to fall asleep. This can be achieved simply without buying an expensive bed or frame.
“Nothing looks better than a nice, fresh bed, a bed where just looking at it makes you want to crawl into it,” Markel says. “You can do this with white pillows, a nice duvet cover and matching shams. IKEA makes cotton ones that are machine washable. You want lightweight duvet covers and – like hotels do – fold them back so you know all the sheets are clean and fresh.”
Replacing outdated tile or porcelain usually does not fall into the “affordable” or “easy” categories, but refreshing a color scheme in the bathroom on a smaller scale still makes a big difference.
“Go for simple blocks of color,” Markel says. “Obviously the shower curtains are an easy change. If your towels are clean and soft and you have bright lighting and light colors – say the shower curtain is grey with a hint of white, the floor mat and towels are white – now everything looks a little more ‘spa.’
Kitchen quick fix
Do you want to replace all of your cabinets or paint them? Not simple. Not easy. Instead, after the lighting is brightened and refreshed, hone in on the smaller parts of the cabinetry – the knobs and handles.
“If you want quick fixes, you can change the cabinet hardware. A lot of the times that’s dated,” Finley says.
That’s it. Take these tips to your abode – de-clutter, turn up the lights, discover a large piece of wall art, change some accessories in the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom and voila, your home has a facelift.
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