Style & Design
Quick Room Redos: Easy Décor Update Ideas for a Fresh Look
Sometimes your home only needs a simple refresh rather than a full renovation. Perhaps your bathroom accents are starting to show some wear and tear. Or, the room where you spend the most time—whether that's the kitchen or the living room—needs some love. Thankfully, it's easy to update any of these spaces with a quick décor fix. Read on for a simple step-by-step guide to help you reimagine the rooms in your house—using a lot of the existing décor and a few new favorites.
Step 1. Clear Out Rooms to See the Blank Canvas
If you have time and help, empty the room of furniture to create a blank slate. If not, you'll have to use your imagination. Be sure to snap a few 'before' photos for comparison later.
- Evaluate your space. Take this opportunity to envision your dream layout of furnishings, lighting, and artwork.
Rearrange your furniture for a dramatic impact. Position a sofa against a different wall, or bring several pieces together in the middle of the room to create an intimate grouping.
Pro tip: Move furniture back into the room one piece at a time, and then pause and reassess the look, feel, and traffic flow. You might discover you don't need as much, or you may decide to upgrade some pieces.
- Identify interesting architectural features. Exposed ceiling beams, a fireplace and mantle, built-in bookshelves, and windows—each of these elements makes a fantastic centerpiece in a room. Highlight them by arranging furniture and accent pieces to draw attention to them, rather than away.
- Give each room a color audit. Pay attention to how the mix of natural and artificial light affects the colors on your walls, architectural features, and furnishings. Then decide if you want to revise the entire color scheme or simply add colorful accents.
Step 2. Consider a New Color Palette
Now that you know your current color scheme, take the opportunity to make large or small shifts to the palette. Use the 60-30-10 rule:
- Cover 60 percent of the room in your dominant color;
- Use a secondary color throughout 30 percent of the space; and
- Decorate 10 percent in an accent color.
Painting the walls in a new dominant color will satisfy much of the 60 percent, if that's what you decide; an area rug and sofa in the same color will round it out. Your dominant color creates a beautiful backdrop for the remaining colors. Often this will be a neutral or light color, such as off-white, light grey, taupe, soft yellow, or powder blue.
Step 3. Choose the Primary Room Style
Do you know your design style? Some have a clear sense of the style they like; others need to explore a bit to see which style best matches their home and their personality. Here are some styles to consider:
- Coastal: Beachy and clean with soft tones, coastal style reflects the natural environment. This means earth tones, crisp whites, and layers of blues.
- Farmhouse: This style is traditional, simple, warm, and rustic. Farmhouse décor and fixtures often feature wood and weathered metal elements, as well as antique white finishes.
- Modern: Modern style often showcases clean lines (whether curved or straight) and a sleek overall design. The finishes are usually a mix of black, white, and metallic, which creates striking contrasts when paired with bright colors.
- Craftsman: Drawn from the Arts and Crafts design movement, Craftsman-style décor favors artisan designs, quality, clean lines, and simple beauty. Look for elegant, yet sturdy designs in a blend of dark wood, black, brown, and antique white hues.
Once you understand the style (or styles) you love, you can play with your favorites. Focusing on one style provides a cohesive look. But you can also mix and match styles for an eclectic look.
Step 4. Shed Some Light on Things
Lighting illuminates the colors and décor elements you've carefully curated, and the fixtures themselves serve as decorative accents. In each room, provide layered lighting with ambient (general), task, and accent light sources. If you already have these covered, you can swap out existing table lamps, ceiling fixtures, and wall sconces for new ones, or even simply switch old lamp shades for new ones.
If you're missing a light layer, add it with a signature ceiling fixture or a table lamp. Pay attention to scale and balance. For example, in a small room, you may combine a flush mount fixture that sits close to the ceiling (for easy clearance) with table lamps you can relocate easily. In more expansive spaces, a large hanging pendant light or chandelier has room to show off without overwhelming.
Pro tip: Not all accent lighting has to be electric—use candles and decorative candle holders of different colors and sizes for warm illumination and beauty.
Easy and Quick Room Makeover Ideas
Now that you understand the basics of how to approach individual rooms, it's time to begin the process of change—one room at a time. Here are some ideas to inspire you:
Turn Your Bedroom Into a Relaxing Retreat
Use your bed as the focal point of the room, with the comforter defining your style and color palette—bright and airy whites and neutral colors, for example. Swap out your flush mount overhead light with a ceiling fan in a cream finish or with weathered-wood blades. Convert an empty corner into a dedicated reading nook, featuring a high-back armchair with off-white linen upholstery. Add task lighting next to the chair in the form of a white porcelain and steel floor lamp with a linen shade. Complete the 'get away from it all' look with a ceramic and glass hurricane candle holder on a side table.
Go Bold With Your Bathroom Makeover
Because of their size, small changes make a big impact in the bathroom. Find one thing you love about your bathroom and build your refresh off that element. If needed, add a stylish focal point. For example, a stunning cottage white double vanity (already in place or newly added) makes a beautiful starting point. Complement it with vanity lights in your chosen style. A wood light fixture with hanging Edison-style bulbs lends rustic sophistication, while one featuring four opal glass globes with matte black and gold accents radiates an Art Deco vibe.
Continue the look throughout the bathroom with hardware in finishes and silhouettes that match the predominant style. Consider swapping out drawer pulls, towel bars, and faucets. Finally, add bold or refined color with bathroom accessories, such as soft Turkish cotton linens and bath rugs.
Make the Kitchen a Feast for the Eyes
Whether you have a small galley kitchen or an open-concept kitchen with plentiful counter space, you can enjoy a new look with a couple of tweaks. First, consider upgrading your kitchen faucet with an attractive pull-down or pull-out spray model in a distinctive curved or linear design. Next, consider your lighting. Swap out a ho-hum ceiling light for a show-stopping linear chandelier above the kitchen island, or a chic pendant above the sink. Under-cabinet lighting is a simple way to add an elegant light layer and brighten countertops. You can also change your cabinet knobs and pulls—even using a mix of styles if your style is eclectic and you're feeling adventurous.
Bring Light to a Dark Dining Room
Most importantly, you'll want beautiful lighting to illuminate the delicious spreads you set out for family meals or holiday gatherings. A linear chandelier with a matte black frame and candle-style lights delivers classic farmhouse style. If your aesthetic is modern, consider a chandelier with a cluster or spray of exposed bulbs.
Layer the lighting around your dining table with wall sconces or table lamps set on a side buffet table. Create a focal point on the dining room table with an oversized glass bowl with a sculptural silhouette. Choose one that works as serveware for bread or salad during meals. Other stylish options for the dining room include:
- Framed paintings
- Sculptural wall panels
- An accent table with barware
- An upholstered bench
- A storage chest for linens or dishes
Make Your Living Room Inviting
New furniture is a sure-fire way to freshen things up a bit. Instead of replacing your entire set, try removing two or more pieces, replacing them with one interesting item such as a low-back contoured accent chair or a wood and linen floor lamp. A round or oval area rug in your dominant or secondary color adds interest and color, as do accent pieces like bowls, candles, and wall art. Pro tip: Try to shoot for overall subtraction in the number of things in your living room—remove two and add one, for example—to maintain a calming, uncluttered feel.
Putting a new design twist on a room is easier than you think. Get started on your first refresh today, and you'll find yourself inspired to move on to the next room as soon as you're finished.