By Linda Marx –
How to update your décor without collapsing walls or breaking the bank. (Yes, it can be done!)
Whether you want your kitchen to become the new living room, the bathroom to resemble a European spa, the dining space to take on an air of romance, or the bedroom to provide more tranquility, there are plenty of ways to improve your home without suffering through the hassle and expense of a renovation. From painting to adding new appliances, art, accessories, wallpaper or lighting, there are creative options that don’t require a significant amount of time, work or money, but will greatly update and improve the look of your home.
To start, a simple way to create instant excitement is by adding a fresh coat of paint to any room. This will erase the dull, outdated, or washed-out walls that have been begging for a change. Choose a new color scheme—white, off-white, taupe, light gray—and within a day or two, you’ll notice a big difference. “Painting a wall in any room is a wonderful, inexpensive way for a quick refresh,” says interior designer Susan Schenkel of Design Soul-utionS, a firm that moved from Davie to Parkland. “Make the open and common areas the same color, like light gray with undertones and some brown for a taupe feel. Then add the accent colors with pillows and accessories.”
Designer Ken Golen of Weston agrees that painting is an easy way to refresh a room as long as things don’t get too complicated. “Light colors are ideal for interior walls,” he says. “But it’s just as important to declutter and keep things simple.”
Wallpaper is another quick fix that adds finesse to a room without major hassle. There are lots of options, including some types that use organic materials like wood and leather. Placing paper on a primary wall can be cost-effective and create as much buzz as doing over a whole room. Designing and fabricating millwork can also add refinement to the walls. “Using millwork and wallpaper together can be a gorgeous combination,” says Shalina Jaffer of Equilibrium Group in Fort Lauderdale. “This makes the room feel more put-together and finished.”
Some of the newest wallcovering products include refinished natural veneer, which installs just like wallpaper but for a lot less money. These products offer a homeowner a cozy, wood-paneled look. Also, experts say, for an unusual and stunning effect, use wallcovering on your ceiling; it’s the single unobstructed surface in a room and is too often left white. “Since natural light and artificial light reflect off of the ceiling, simple, subdued texture can provide a great deal of pop,” says Voytek Faber of Equilibrium Interior Design.
Another creative boost can come from Tempaper, a self-adhesive, removable wallpaper that provides a whimsical, high-impact look in a range of styles and colors from solid to ornate. The novel product offers diversity, but since it’s not permanent the look is a safe change for the trepidatious owner. “Tempaper is a cool idea because you can just remove it if you ever get tired of it,” says Liz Hohmann of the La Vie en Blanc home decor store in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s relatively new, looks nice, and is easy to use.”
Lighting is another easy way to make a maximum impact on any space. Tossing your incandescent for LED indirect and down-lighting with dimmers can change the ambiance in any room with the flip of a switch. Some companies offer plug-in sconce options that can be easily mounted on a wall with an outlet below. “For an especially dramatic effect, consider multiple grouping of hanging plug-in pendant fixtures in a corner of the room,” says Faber. “The more interesting the cords, the better, and consider wrapping them in rope, ribbon or unique sleeves made of colorful fabrics.”
Adding vibrant artwork, especially an oversized piece that offers a unique glimpse into the homeowner’s soul, is another recommendation by Faber, as well as changing accessories in the public living areas.
China Luschen, co-owner of It’s a Mid, Mod, Mad World in Wilton Manors, which carries Midcentury Modern furniture and home decor, believes that adding accessories is really the least invasive method of updating interiors but is affordable and impactful.
She suggests taking three pieces of Viking or L.E. Smith glass and arranging them on the dresser in the bedroom or atop a coffee table in the living space to lend the rooms a punch. She favors wow-factor colors like electric blue, burnt orange or sea green. “It’s quick and easy, with really cool results,” says Luschen.
Cactus Flower, a gift and home decor store in Fort Lauderdale, owner Candace Johnson advises elevating an ordinary scenario in the living room or den by adding a few smart accessories like pillows, area rugs or tabletop items while decluttering the old. “Use sharp pillows and blown-glass hurricanes with candles and white sea turtles,” she says. “I like minimalism, too. Get rid of the clutter. It changes the whole look with a small expense and very little effort.”
In the kitchen, once you’ve established that your fading cabinets are an eyesore and need an update, the options to do just that are plentiful. The first question: Are the cabinets
chipped, cracked or water-damaged? If not, painting is easier and less expensive than replacing them. Changing the countertops and backsplash and modernizing the faucet, fittings and hardware are also quick fixes that lend a contemporary touch, and today’s offerings are often both beautiful and durable. “These kinds of kitchen improvements can be made in a day or two and don’t require any major demolitions or construction,” says Wendi Mannix of Inspired Interiors by Wendi in Weston.
Designer Jeffrey Einhorn of The St. James Design Group in Fort Lauderdale believes the association between darkness and depression has been established, and that homeowners should look into the amount of natural light that is available in the kitchen when opting for any kind of change. “Time in the kitchen can feel like time outside when a remodel includes an oversized window that brings the outside in,” he says.
Lots of light is also one of this year’s biggest bathroom decor trends, along with natural materials and a clearly defined room layout that opens up space for relaxing in much the same way that people enjoy a full-service spa. Little touches like friendly textiles, plants and candles that convey tranquility and serene European living can bring coziness and beauty into the bathroom. Showerheads from contemporary companies like Hansgrohe look great with their minimalist design and high-tech devices. “As the home grows ever connected to our beautifully designed smart devices, a control system that allows you to manage the volume of music you’re playing is a savvy update that instantly refreshes your space,” says Kristen Rees, senior showroom manager for Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Fort Lauderdale.
Finally, what completes the effect of the home’s interior is an appeal to the feelings of its owner. These easy improvements can be made in myriad smart ways once you select the projects of interest and stay focused on improving them.