Photo Gallery: Fast Decorating Fixes
Tips for easy updates.
A rich wall colour like this creates the perfect bold backdrop for a shocking pink sofa and acid-green side table. But let the paint and furniture take centre stage, and eliminate any clutter in a room like this. “In both traditional and contemporary homes, giving things breathing room keeps them looking fresh and new,” explains designer Timothy Mather. “And it helps you appreciate furniture pieces like this even more.”
“Use books as a propping surface to give objects or decorative pieces more importance,” advises H&H design editor Joel Bray. If the stack looks a bit lost, define it with a glass top: “Place a square piece of glass or mirror on top to create a stylish side table,” adds assistant design editor Kathryn Bala. If bookshelf space is limited, this is a great way to store books elsewhere, while still giving them function.
H&H style editor Michael Penney recommends picking up some tossed-away cans from curbs, garage sales or flea markets and making them into eclectic vases for flowers or houseplants. For deep cans, add some crumpled newspaper to the bottom to elevate the plant a bit.
To watch Michael Penney and Joel Bray demonstrate a few arrangements, watch Styling Tricks: Floral Arrangements.
“This idea from designer Summer Thornton is a great example of an easy way to give a space architectural interest, colour and pattern all in one go, while keeping the project budget manageable,” says Apartment Therapy‘s managing editor, Janel Laban. “She simply framed out a wallpapered section of the wall with painted moulding for maximum impact and minimum cost.”
Or, try these DIY Wallpaper Panels for a less permanent display.
Update a tired room by changing up the wall colour — or better yet, the walls, trim and ceiling. Use a mid tone on walls and a paler tint on the ceiling with trim in goes-with-everything grey as the basis for a rich, regal space. Add a complement to enhance the look: try experimenting with colour wheel opposites (think shades of red with greens, shades of blue with oranges, and shades of yellow with purples) in soft graduated shades. Here, H&H senior style editor Morgan Michener added gold-hued upholstery, embellishments, art and accessories to make lilac walls pop, with hits of black to anchor the arrangement.
Ty Pennington, host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, says that adding new hardware will immediately refresh a space. And you don’t have to splurge — head to a big box store to save money, or rummage through thrift shops for mix-and-match pulls that will add an eclectic look to builder-basic cupboards.
“Stretch a piece of remnant fabric over an artist’s stretcher to make instant art,” advises Joel Bray. Or frame fabric for a higher-end look. In former H&H staffer Emily Walker’s home, framed Donghia Suzani jacquard fabric takes centre stage in her mostly-white living room. Frame a small sample of a pricey fabric you love, or even a bold but inexpensive option to save even more money. Framed fabric adds a personal touch, and is cheaper than most art. Match a series of similar frames like Emily did here for a contemporary look.
To watch Michael Penney and Joel Bray demonstrate framing fabric, watch Styling Tricks: Instant Art.
A light fixture like this is most often mounted horizontally over a mirror or medicine cabinet. But here, installed vertically, it becomes an instant sconce — and when it comes to applying makeup, two bulbs are better than one.
H&H design editor Joel Bray made this pale setting pop with dark furniture accents. Look for shapely items in this dramatic shade, like leggy cocktail tables or a curvy webbed chair. Scattering black items throughout a room creates a grounding effect without getting all matchy-matchy. For a budget update, pick up some flea-market finds and paint them black.
Mismatched lamp bases demonstrate the charm of thrift store finds in this Colette van den Thillart designed cottage. Still, matching lattice-print lampshades unify them and tie in with the blue and white palette of the room. “Switching up dated lampshades is an easy way to freshen up a space,” says Kathryn Bala. Splurge on a pair in a timeless colour or pattern you love, or pick up a garage sale set and add quirky personal touches to them, like ribbon trim or paint. “Give a lamp new life by painting the shade,” agrees Joel Bray. See how Michael Penney transformed a basic lampshade with glossy lilac paint.
Woven beach mats tacked or stapled to the wall are more textured than grasscloth wallpaper and a fraction of the price. They also create a fun tropical feel, emphasized by the capiz shell blind.
A fabric valance like this turns a ho-hum window into a showstopper. Ribbon trim that echoes its shape creates the effect of millwork and brings an architectural element to the room. Contrast the contemporary valance with full-height drapes in a traditional pattern — keep the look tailored by allowing them to just skim the floor.
Learn how to make a DIY valance in our January 2011 issue.
As H&H senior features editor Kimberley Brown notes, trim painted something other than ubiquitous white instantly makes a space feel more decorated. Since windows are a natural focal point, they’re a great spot for an unexpected hit of colour. And it doesn’t take long to apply a few coats of dark paint to window trim.
For more inspiration photos with dark window frames, see Kimberley’s blog post.
“Putting likes with like — grouping art on a wall, displaying vases on one buffet or console, arranging a collection of small scale objects on a mantel — can have more visual impact than scattering them around a room,” points out Joel Bray. This delicate and colourful arrangement of glass bottles in various shapes and sizes offer contrast to the clean lines of the window and metal table. Try a similar arrangement with objects you already own: vases, jars, bottles, jewelry dishes, or vintage teacups are just a few examples.
Michael Penney organized the bookshelves in his Toronto apartment according to the colour of the book spines. This is a fun way to add pops of colour to a room, and gives your shelves a sense of order. Kathryn Bala also loves this trick. Spend a rainy weekend afternoon organizing your shelves for a fast decorating fix.
A major appeal of the increasingly popular white-painted floor is flexibility: the neutral but fresh tone creates a clean canvas. In this oasis-like bathroom, it sets an airy and romantic mood, and the matte finish works with the white walls to give prominence to the raw wood beams and organic egg-shaped tub.
“Paint out a bunch of cheap thrifted mismatched frames in one colour to create a gallery wall,” suggests Kathryn Bala. These frames are from various thrift stores — some were even found in the garbage! A few coats of matte white spray paint made them like new. Insert your favourite drawings, paintings, children’s artwork or photography, and voila, a personalized gallery wall. When the frames are all one colour, feel free to display different styles of art — landscapes with portraits, black and white with colour, objets in shadow boxes with contemporary photography — anything goes!
See our Budget Decorating Ideas for even more fast fixes.