As spring approaches (please, hurry up!), many of us get the itch to do some spring cleaning and give a little refresh to our homes. A client asked me to come give a talk to her book club on ideas for refreshing your home and so I thought since I put together my thoughts on the topic, it might also be good to share it here. I broke my thoughts into seven categories of easily achievable ideas that anyone can easily do themselves.
1. Never under estimate the power of paint.
A fresh coat of paint can do wonders to give a space a whole new look for a very low price tag. It doesn't have to be a dramatic color switch either. Over time paint can fade, chip and walls and trim can easily get scuffed. Fresh paint helps things feel and look fresh and updated immediately.
And you don't have to limit paint to walls. My client's family room had a dated fireplace surround. We painted it a beautiful dark blue/gray, added a mirror and accessories and now the fireplace surround just fades away and the whole fireplace looks sleek and much more updated.
2. Shop your house.
Most people put something in one spot and then leave it there indefinitely. When that is the case, it becomes difficult for people to think about the item in any other context. But if you push yourself to think about a new spot or a new use for an item, you may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Try rearranging a room or some accessories in a room and see what happens. It's addictive (to me anyway!) And, even better, it's totally free.
Easy things to change up:
Switch lamps around. It not only changes the look of the room but it can also change the lighting at night.
Restyle your shelves. And move accessories around from different rooms.
Switch out the location of your art. Art tends to be some of the most color people use in their homes so it can drastically change the look and feel of a room.
Change out your throw pillows by switching them from different rooms.
3. Break up dated and/or large collections.
I've worked on two styling projects just in the past two weeks where people had really great collections but they were just overpowering when displayed all at once. And some of the collections were a little dated.
As one of my clients explained to me, not only did she love the pieces but she spent a ton of money on them and hated to just toss them out. In this case, my client had a large egg basket collection and an overwhelmingly large pewter collection. My solution - break them up. We couldn't display all of it but she's safely tucked it away the pieces we didn't use so that the whole collection can be saved together. And to fill in on the rest of the accessories, we just shopped her home (refer back to refresh idea #2).
4. Purge, purge, purge!
My husband jokingly calls me a hoarder. Although it irks the daylights out of me, there is some truth to it. A lot of it has to do with my sentimentality with things, which a lot of my clients can relate to. Sometimes the reason I'm holding on to something is because it was passed down from a loved one. Sometimes the particular piece just brings back fond memories. Sometimes it is laziness (we're all guilty of it) and, if I'm being honest, my inner-hoarder.
If you have a pulse, you've probably heard of Marie Kondo's new show on Netflix, Tidying Up. Her famous question is "Does it spark joy?". While cheesy, it's a valid question to ask yourself. Start with the low hanging fruit - if you don't truly love something and it isn't serving a purpose, let it go. Donate it, throw it away, sell it but get it outta there.
What purging does is a) de-clutters things (obviously) but b) allows the things that you do have that you truly love to shine and gives them a higher prominence in your home. I recently restyled another client's shelves. They are avid readers and had accumulated lots of books over the years. While I think bookshelves are called BOOKshelves for a reason and that they should absolutely house books, too many books makes it so the beautiful accessories that share the shelf space get lost. Remember, negative (i.e. blank) space is almost as important when styling shelves as the objects and books displayed on the shelves themselves.
5. Shop small ticket items for a quick refresh.
Big ticket items like furniture can mean a big hit to the budget. So many times when I am helping clients refresh spaces, there are some smaller ticket items that can be sourced affordably and can make quite an impactful update to a space.
Lighting: One thing that I frequently see is a need for updated lighting. A lot of time lamps are too small for the spaces my clients have or there are not enough of them. Wayfair and HomeGoods are two spots to find really pretty lamps that aren’t too expensive.
Pillows: Another thing that can really freshen up a space are new throw pillows. Target and HomeGoods are two of my favorite spots for picking up really affordable options. And you can get a whole new look changing things out for different seasons.
Art: Art and pillows tend to be the places that people feel most comfortable bringing in color into their homes. A lot of people go really neutral on their furnishings for fear that they will tire of something bolder. That’s an understandable fear and so finding some cool art is a wonderful way to update a space. Art, like rugs, is another thing that can be pricey but it doesn’t have to be. Consider visiting a local gallery where up and coming artists are show casing their work or check out a local art school. Etsy is another great place for art as are thrift stores and flea markets.
Rugs: Rugs can be VERY expensive but they don’t have to be (see my recent post about affordable rugs that look expensive). Getting a new rug to update a space can do wonders for helping it feel totally redone.
Just look at what a difference a new rug made in pulling our living room together (and only cost around $300!):
6. Recover and reuse instead of purchasing entirely new (and likely lower quality) furniture.
Reupholstering a good quality piece of existing furniture is not cheap by the time you total up the labor and the fabric BUT it is considerably less expensive compared to buying the same quality furniture new. So, when possible, as long as the lines of the piece in question are good, I encourage my clients to think about reupholstering to breathe new life into something. And if my clients don't already have existing pieces, I can also find some good deals when I'm out and about like these recent barrel back chairs I picked up for a client for $20!
7. Get a fresh perspective.
Sometimes an instant refresh can come from a little rearranging. It may be that you think a piece of furniture has to go somewhere just because that's where it's always been. But a fresh pair of eyes can go a long way to helping freshen up your space. An interior designer is always good to help with that and sometimes just an hour or two of a consult can help. But, if you're tight on budget, grab a friend whose style you admire and have them come over and help brainstorm ideas for different layouts or different places to use furniture and accessories you already have.
Here's an example from my own house. I inherited this awesome elephant who belonged to my grandmother. We had a tiny house in Washington, DC and I used him as a side table next to one of the couches. He was the perfect height and spot to sit a drink down without taking up too much space. We had more room when we moved to NC but in my head I always viewed him as a side table. My aunt (who has a great decorating eye!) suggested that I turn him sideways and use as a plant stand on a wall in our living room flanking our fireplace. I had NEVER thought of that and now I love him like that!