6 Ways to Freshen Up Your Living Space
With the big kids shipped off to college and the smaller kids heading off to school each day, the house is likely a little bit emptier than it has been for the past three months or so. In their absence, it’s easier to notice all of those handprint smudges on the walls, chair scrapes on the hardwood floor, and that stain on the rug where the coffee spill was only hastily cleaned up. So with the extra time you’re now afforded, sprucing up the house seems like a desirable and actually feasible thing to do! But before we begin, let’s get one thing straight: sprucing doesn’t mean we’re doing an entire home makeover. Spruces are meant to be manageable, affordable, and relatively easy for the average Joe or Jane. There will be no demolition; there will be no multi-day projects, and there will certainly be no Ty Pennington lingering nearby with a megaphone, yelling some nonsense about moving that bus.
These six simple tips from Nashville interior designer Jason Arnold, founder of Jason Arnold Interiors, are easy changes to make, ones that don’t have to cost a boatload of money, and best of all will leave your home feeling refreshed and re-energized — just like you!
1. A Fresh Coat of Paint
“It sounds so obvious, but a fresh coat of paint does make a huge difference,” said Jason. “Paint can really brighten up a room and change the whole feel of it.” Jason says he tends more towards neutral colors like soft white, creamy beige, and light grays since they can be a little easier to live with long-term and also make designing the space less of a challenge. But if you’re feeling a little funky, try painting one wall a different color than the rest. Go for a bold hue to make a dramatic statement or simply choose a darker shade of the wall color to bring more dimension to the room. “I also like painting the trim the same color as the walls,” said Jason. “It can really open up a small space because there aren’t so many lines breaking everything up and sectioning it off; the same-color trim and walls make everything feel more fluid.”
Psst - I’m thinking about giving this removable wallpaper from Chasing Paper a whirl to create an accent wall in our guest room / home office. I figure it might be fun to try something really fun and funky!
2. Drapery Panels
Say what you will about drapery panels — “They’re so grandma!” or “They’re so much trouble!” or “They’re so expensive!” — but whatever you say, you will likely be proven wrong. Drapes do a nice job of adding softness to the windows and can also make a room feel bigger than it actually is. “If you hang them from an iron rod near the ceiling and use long drapes that extend to the floor, they’ll make the ceilings seem higher,” says Jason. Plus, they can help to insulate your home, offer privacy, and block light if that’s your thing. “I like getting as much natural sunlight into a room as possible, but I understand that some folks want to block the light, so drapes afford you both,” he continued. “And you can really get them just about anywhere.” From Target to TJMaxx, and West Elm to Macy’s, it’s easy to find drapes that suit your style and your budget.
3. Put Down A Rug
Not only do rugs feel cushy underneath your feet, but they can help to brighten up and bring definition to your space. Jason suggests choosing a rug that will sit about 12 to 18 inches from the wall on all sides; by choosing a run that fills up the space, it will make the room feel larger. “I always tell clients to buy as big of a rug as your budget will allow,” he says. “Don’t buy a rug that’s too small or it will shrink the room around it.” Of course, most rugs (and especially big ones) can cost a premium, but there are ways to make the statement you want without paying an arm and a leg. “West Elm has fabulous rugs at a really reasonable price,” said Jason. “And Myers Flooring has some nice area rugs if you’re wanting to go the local Nashville business route.” For sisals and grass rugs, which are perfect for brightening up a dark space and tend to cost less than the wool variety, he suggests checking out Amazon and Overstock. If you’re willing to do a little shopping around, you’re certain to find something that hits all the marks and makes a big impact.
Note: I’ve also had some pretty good luck finding good quality rugs from RugsUSA.com. I typically only consider items that have been reviewed (so I have a real-person account of the rug’s quality) and it’s worked for me two out of two times!
4. Refresh the Lighting
“Lighting is really important for every room,” says Jason. “So simply swapping out a lamp or choosing new sconces can make the whole room feel different.” Use light fixtures that have a clean chrome finish for a bright and fresh feel, or add in a shaded lamp to help diffuse the light and make the room feel softer. For unique pieces that will give your home a little more character and interest, Jason suggests checking out antique stores like Preservation Station or Gas Lamp Antiques. Even if you don’t find the right shade to go with the fixture you find while antiquing, chances are you could find something compliment your vintage piece at a large retailer.
5. Update the Hardware
When it comes to the kitchen and the bathroom, a little hardware refresh is an easy way to make an impact. Especially if you don’t have the bandwidth to go so far as to refinishing or re-painting the cabinets, a simple hardware swap-out is an easy way to make an update. Best of all, doing so typically only requires a screwdriver and a little elbow grease. But just remember: if you currently have handle pulls, you should probably stick with handles, and the same goes with knobs for knobs. Otherwise, you may be stuck drilling new holes or filling pre existing ones
6. Buy New Bedding
The bedroom is supposed to be a serene retreat for rest and rejuvenation (and perhaps a little bit of reclusiveness). Right? So is there anything better than giving that sacred space a little refresh to make it even more peaceful? No there isn’t. Jason suggests buying new bedding to give everything a welcome zhuzh. “I love all-white bedding with a simple throw at the end — either in white or something with a pop of color.” His favorite line for such a look? The Charter Club striped sheet sets, available from Macy’s. Hot tip: they’re available in an abundance of colors if you want to opt for a little more punch!