50 Instant Face-Lifts
Freshen with paint and nature
1. Paint the walls a vibrant color (left). It's a quick, easy and inexpensive way to freshen up any room in your home.
2. Bring nature inside. Gather fruit, pinecones, beach glass, moss balls or stones and pile them in bowls.
3. Decorate in pairs to add balance in a room. Use chairs, lamps, sconces, vases, candlesticks or potted plants.
Regroup, rearrange, reframe
4. Group collections of pottery, candlesticks or other items on a shelving unit, bookcase (left) or mantel. Instead of placing single pieces throughout the home, grouping adds a little more importance to the collection.
5. Rearrange the furniture. Pull sofas and chairs away from the walls, or switch furniture between rooms. Group chairs for easy conversation areas; angle a sofa for a new perspective.
6. Take everything off your bookshelves or fireplace mantel and put only half back. Editing what you have will give you a cleaner look.
7. Reframe family photos. Buy matching frames (or spray-paint mismatched frames all one color) and group on a table or on the wall.
Small changes for big effects
8. Enlarge a small room by hanging a framed mirror on the wall (left). Or buy a large mirror and lean it against the wall in a hallway or room. It reflects light and adds space to an area.
9. Make a window appear larger by hanging extra-long curtain panels above the top of the window. A good rule of thumb is to look at the space above your window and divide it into thirds. A third of the way up is where the rod should go.
10. Change out a rectangular coffee table for two smaller squares, a round one or a glass-topped version, giving the illusion of more space.
Fun with fabric
11. Cover a piece of plywood with padding and vibrant fabric for a catchy custom headboard (left).
12. Splurge on a small amount of expensive fabric for new pillows to renew a tired sofa. Try finding remnants of silk, velvet or crewel fabric at your favorite fabric store.
13. Exchange old, patterned fabrics with textured ones for pillows, curtains or slipcovers to give a room a calming effect.
14. Find a funky chandelier, or paint an old one, and add chandelier shades with bright fabric (left).
15. Refresh a lamp with a shade in a new shape, color or pattern.
16. Add elegance to a serene bathroom with decorative light fixtures, such as a simple chandelier or vintage sconces from a flea market.
Add colors and patterns
17. Add new wallpaper or fabric to the inside back of a bookcase (left) for a dash of color and unexpected pattern.
18. Change out your towels seasonally with new, bright colors. Just as you do with your wardrobe, change your spaces to fit the season.
19. Spray-paint a piece of old furniture an unexpected color to give it fresh personality.
20. Monogram one throw pillow or a simple white pillowcase for a personal accent on your bed (left).
21. Sew ribbon to pillowcase edges for subtle yet dressy trim.
22. Create a vignette with your favorite coffee-table books. Enjoy gardening? Display garden books on a table with flowers. Prop art against the wall. Love to travel? Group books of your favorite destinations, along with travel keepsakes.
Family room fashion
23. Slipcover a sofa or chair with inexpensive sailcloth or canvas (left).
24. Use area rugs to designate seating areas in a great-room (even over wall-to-wall carpeting).
25. Mix styles. For instance, a traditional Chippendale sofa looks modern when flanked by trendy glass end tables.
26. Put shelves above windows for additional space to display favorite plates or pottery collections.
Drama with art
27. Group pieces of disparate-style art on the wall above a mantel, sideboard or entry table to create a dramatic display (left).
28. Replace a tired print with new art to spark conversation. Try putting a large piece in a small space (such as a powder room) for drama.
29. For simple art, frame maps, menus and graphic fabric or wallpaper in poster frames.
30. Take pages from a botanical book and mat and frame four to 12 of them. Arrange them to form a rectangle, taking the place of a large piece of art (left).
31. Bring in a tree (real or artificial) or tree branches to add height and balance opposite a tall armoire.
32. Create seasonal arrangements to put in your fireplace. Use fresh plants, stacked baskets, candles or mirrors.
33. Change out the fabric on your dining chair seats (left). Usually, it's as easy as unscrewing the seat and stapling on new fabric.
34. Install a dimmer switch to add romantic atmosphere to a room (or replace too-bright bulbs with lower wattages or tinted bulbs).
35. Add spa touches to the master bathroom. Put in an open shelf or small cabinet to display sweet-smelling lotions, bubble baths, soaps and fluffy towels.
Casual and breezy
36. Use an outdoor wicker chair in a room (left). The differently textured material and scale will give the room a casual, relaxed look.
37. Replace dated curtains with breezy, fresh cotton linens or twills. Or make inexpensive curtains out of bright-color shower curtain panels.
38. Stack vintage suitcases, small-to-large baskets or hatboxes to match your decor as a side table; three different sizes work best. Fill the insides for easy, additional, hidden storage.
Storage and clutter solutions
39. Cover an end table with a to-the-floor skirt (left) for a new-to-you look that hides books and magazines underneath.
40. Cut kids' clutter in main living areas with furniture that doubles as storage, such as easy-to-open ottomans, benches or trunks that can hide toys and crafts supplies.
41. Use a utility cart to organize supplies in an office or hobby room.
42. Organize your mudroom or back entry with wall hooks, large floor baskets or a storage bench. If you're going in and out of your mudroom a lot, you want it to be useful and inviting.
43. Organize small objects, such as stationery and crafts supplies, onto trays or in decorative boxes to reduce clutter.
Install decorative knobs
44. Install decorative knobs or pulls on a dresser for a personal touch in the bedroom.
Make entrances appealing
45. Revive your front entrance (left). Paint the front door a contrasting color, and add potted flowers.
46. Liven your entrance with a monogrammed or bright doormat to greet guests.
Use a variety of paint techniques
47. Repaint a bedroom or bathroom using a faux paint technique, such as combing (left), which requires a hard-bristle brush to create delicate lines in the paint.
48. Paint the upper cabinets in your kitchen a lighter color than the lower cabinets to create a more custom look.
49. Paint your wood moldings or woodwork white for an update that makes bright walls pop.
50. Paint the ceiling in one room a sky blue, just for a change. It finishes any room when you paint the ceiling a color.
(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® May/June 2007.)