Give your home decor a spruce up with these easy and budget-friendly decorating tips.
Revamping your home decor needn’t always be a major project and you don’t always have to spend a king’s ransom to do it. Here are 25 ways to give your rooms a fresh look in record time, without breaking a sweat – or your budget.
1 Update lampshades with new ones in more contemporary shapes or simply fresh white shades.
2 Paint is the classic makeover potion. Instead of repainting a whole room, just paint one wall in a focal colour or paint a contrasting rectangle over a sofa to use as a “gallery” space. You can also paint the insides of bookshelves in an unexpected colour or paint your ceiling a lighter version of the wall colour. Update your kitchen with paint or any other space in your home.
3 Update your window dressings. IKEA and other home stores have reams of readymade draperies you can hem to the right size (or leave to puddle on the floor), or you can make your own from sheets or lengths of designer outlet fabric. Hang from an attractive new curtain rod, also available in stock sizes.
4 Pull a room together by choosing two contrast colours – black and white, say, or white and one bright colour – and use them as a repeating theme throughout, such as a row of yellow and white pillows on a sofa, or robin’s egg blue walls and all-white furnishings.
5 A simple but effective tip: Edit your accessories. Too much of a good thing is too much. Try taking all your home decor accessories and putting them in a box, then putting them back one by one where they’ll have the most impact.
6 Take down all your paintings and other art and move them around to different walls or different rooms. It’ll be like seeing them for the first time.
7 A classic display scheme ever since Victorian times: Create a gallery wall of family photos and other small pictures in matching (or contrasting) frames, arranged in a collage on a large wall such as a stairwell or hallway. (For best results, first create a plan by arranging them on the floor till you find the right composition and “balance.”) The art of arrangement is always stylish.
8 Inexpensive frame mouldings from the box store can transform a plain wall or hallway into an instant paneled look. Paint the mouldings in a contrasting shade or white.
9 Replace overhead lighting with thrift-store (or box store) chandeliers. (Note: it’s recommended to hire a professional electrician to install them.) A dated-looking chandelier can be painted white. You can also add extra crystal drops, available at lighting stores.
10 Peruse Craigslist, eBay or freecycle.org regularly for finds. It’s amazing what shows up at a bargain or even free – but like any good flea market shopper, be sure to check regularly, as good things go fast.
11 Carpet stores often have remnants of high-end carpet at rock-bottom prices that make a great area rug. The store may bind the edges for you, or you can do it yourself with carpet binding tape and some tidy hand-sewing.
12 Some paint stores sell mixed paint for much less than custom-mixed paint because the colour was off or it was returned to the store. Great if you’re willing to experiment on the colour.
13 Re-tile kitchen backsplashes. Most backsplashes require only a few square feet of tile, so you can treat yourself to a fancy style or use plain porcelain tile for most of the surface. Then intersperse a few hand-painted or high-end tiles as accents.
14 Small details make all the difference: Beautiful coasters, interesting desk frames, a small but exquisite crystal vase filled with fresh flowers.
15 Buy a half-dozen four-inch terra cotta pots and paint in a trio of coordinating colours. Plant with herbs and line the pots up on a kitchen windowsill.
16 Big box stores have come a long way in terms of cheap and chic bathroom accessories and stylish storage options. For a fraction of what you’d pay in a high-end bath boutique, you can often get pretty designs in wood or china, or sleek modern accents.
17 A trick made famous by Woody Allen in Annie Hall: Change the lightbulb in your bedroom lamp with a pink one for a rosy, romantic glow. Or opt for a pink lampshade, which can produce something of the same effect.
18 Replace the drawer and cabinet pulls in your kitchen, bath, bedroom, or on a furniture piece. Inexpensive stylish options can be found at Lee Valley, Summerhill Hardware, IKEA or other big box stores, or you can scour a thrift shop or antique store for vintage ones.
19 Replace your bathroom shower curtain and curtain hooks, for an instant freshener for even the most dingy bathroom. Create a sparkling bathroom makeover.
20 You can now buy ready-made slipcovers that with a few judicious tucks, fit much better than the wrinkly versions of yore. Or, for a little more investment, have loose-fitting slipcovers made.
21 Replacing an ugly old faucet with a new one is a relatively simple DIY project. Many big box store styles are designed for home installers and include all the fittings and instructions in the box.
22 Purchase an inexpensive but attractive frame, or rescue an old one from an antique store or your parents’ attic. Paint flat white and attach small rings to the upper corners. Place hooks on the wall to correspond and hang. Hang a couple of vintage plates or smaller framed pictures artfully inside, or leave the framed space as-is, for an artful and simple focal point.
23 Maximize light in a darker room by hanging a framed mirror directly opposite the window.
24 Take a walk in the park, woods or beach and pick up interesting (and free) seasonal accents for your home. A tray filled with pinecones, a tall vase of dried pampas grass stalks, or a bowl of colourful pebbles, beach glass or shells all make eye-catching home decor accessories.
25 Spruce up your entrance by painting your front door a cheerful colour. Pair it with a new lighting fixture, mailbox and house numbers - all available at the box store.
You'll love these lavender shortbread cookies.
These sophisticated shortbread cookies are a wonderful pairing of citrus and herbs.
You're likely familiar with the wonderful results that come from pairing citrus and herbs, but our guess is that you tend to reach for rosemary or mint when preparing a lemony summer treat. Up the ante this month and try a combination that's a little more unexpected, but just as powerful. Delicate lavender imbues desserts with a distinct floral note and flecks of pale purple, and when combined with lemon, the flavour is even stronger. These elegant shortbread cookies are a satisfying snack and the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea in the garden -- complete with big hats and sundresses, of course.
1 Cream the butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Stir in the flour, sugar and salt; beat on low speed for 1 minute. Add the lavender, beating until just incorporated.
2 Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and roll to a 1⁄4" thickness. Cut out the cookies using a round cookie cutter and place 1" apart on a greased baking sheet.
3 Bake on the centre rack of a 300°F oven for 20 minutes; let cool.
4 Make the glaze by whisking the icing sugar and lemon juice together. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the glaze over each cookie, spreading to cover the whole surface. Let set for 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.
Makes: 36 cookies
Pretty powder room.
We designed a Deco-inspired powder room on both a Gatsby and a Carraway budget. Can you tell the difference?
1 Laundry Studio Diamante wallpaper in Turquoise, Hygge & West, $140 US per double roll. 2 UberHaus metal Naples sconces with fabric shade and faux crystals (removed), RONA, $32 each. 3 Aluminum-bordered Ronglan mirror, 32", IKEA, $119. 4 Town Square widespread cast-brass faucet in Polished Chrome, American Standard, $460. 5 Fitzgerald 3-hole fireclay pedestal sink in Canvas White, 24", DXV, $520. 6 Ceramic Hexagon floor tiles in White and Black, 1", Saltillo Imports, $5 per sq. ft. each. 7 Cotton terry cloth Linen-edged bath towel in White,Anthropologie, $48 US. 8 Vintage monogrammed linen hand towel, Putti Fine Furnishings, $25. 9 Moen Iso steel towel bar, 18", RONA, $43. 10 Illume poured candle in glass vessel, Indigo, $18.
1 Paper & Ink Coastal Chic Lace Doily wallpaper in CO10412, through designers, Crown Wallpaper & Fabrics, $159 per double roll. 2 Hudson Valley Lighting 1-light brass Sanford sconces in Polished Nickel with silk shade, Sescolite, $551 each. 3 Mother of Pearl mirror, 30", Cocoon Furnishings, $1,046. 4 Keefe widespread cast-brass faucet in Polished Chrome, DXV, $680. 5 Town Square 3-hole fireclay pedetsal sink, 24", American Standard, $705. 6 Enamelled-glass mosaic Hexagon floor tiles in White, Cobalt Blue and Light Blue, 2", Saltillo Imports, $19 per sq. ft. each. 7 Cotton terry cloth bath towel in Off-white with linen border in Natural, per pair, Zara Home, $50. 8 Embroidered-linen Honeycomb hand towel in White & Silver, Au Lit Fine Linens, $48. 9 Valsan brass Porto towel bar in Chrome, 20", Upper Canada Specialty Hardware, $129. 10 Tom Dixon poured Eclectic candle in brass vessel with marble lid, Medulla & Co., $95.
Simple sconces against patterned wallpaper will brighten up any powder room, especially when framing the mirror over the sink. Low (left): UberHaus metal Naples sconces with fabric shade and faux crystals (removed), RONA, $32 each. High (right): Hudson Valley Lighting 1-light brass Sanford sconces in Polished Nickel with silk shade, Sescolite, $551 each.
The stars of our high and low powder rooms are the statuesque art deco-inspired pedestal sinks (these gals have got some gams!). Though their silhouettes are quite different, each embodies the celebrated glamour of old Hollywood and makes for one lavish lavatory. Low (left): Fitzgerald 3-hole fireclay pedestal sink in Canvas White, 24", DXV, $520. High (right): Town Square 3-hole fireclay pedestal sink, 24", American Standard, $705.
Racks and hooks are great hanging options, but consider a towel bar, whatever your price point. It allows plenty of ventilation for speedy drying, so your towels stay fresh. Low (left): Moen Iso steel towel bar, 18", RONA, $43. High (right): Valsan brass Porto towel bar in Chrome, 20", Upper Canada Specialty Hardware, $129.
When the first residential bathrooms began appearing around the turn of the last century, the floor covering of choice was mosaic tile. The diminutive size of the tiles – an inch or so wide – suited the scale of the generally cramped spaces and allowed for a wide variety of patterns, which ranged from simple to intricate. To lend our powder rooms that signature old-world charm, we recreated the look by installing hexagonal tiles in a scattered flower motif. The Low features basic one-inch black and white tiles, while the High comprises bolder two-inch white, navy and powder blue ones. We combined segments from single-colour mesh sheets, but you can buy a sheet with a preset pattern for easy installation. The options are as pleasantly plentiful as ever. Low (left): Ceramic Hexagon floor tiles in White and Black, 1", Saltillo Imports, $5 per sq. ft. each. High (right): Enamelled-glass mosaic Hexagon floor tiles in White, Cobalt Blue and Light Blue, 2", Saltillo Imports, $19 per sq. ft. each.
If you're going to add a softly-scented candle into your powder room, you might as well make sure it stays with the glam look of the room by placing it in a gold candle holder. Low (left): Illume poured candle in glass vessel, Indigo, $18. High (right): Tom Dixon poured Eclectic candle in brass vessel with marble lid, Medulla & Co., $95.
Faucets are never a bathroom item to overlook. They are the element of the powder room that will pull the sink, mirror, sconces and added accessories together so choose wisely. Low (left): Town Square widespread cast-brass faucet in Polished Chrome, American Standard, $460. High (right): Keefe widespread cast-brass faucet in Polished Chrome, DXV, $680.
Anticipate your guests’ needs with a toiletry essentials kit. Stock basic hair, nail and dental care products, as well as common medicines. Toss large items, such as dry shampoo, right in, but corral small bits like bobby pins in mini envelopes. Brass and glass Callie box, Pottery Barn, $104. Large cotton Fouta bath towel, Au Lit Fine Linens, $98.
For a special touch, layer hand towels in various materials and textures with unique details, such as pleats, fringes or embroidery. Stick to a single palette for uniformity. 1 Cotton terry cloth Heather Fringed in Oatmeal, Pottery Barn, $24. 2 Cotton terry cloth in Off-white with linen border in Natural, Zara Home, $20 per pair. 3 Cotton terry cloth Linen- edged in White, Anthropologie, $28 US. 4 Fringed-cotton honeycomb-woven Fouta in Powder Blue, Putti Fine Furnishings, $22. 5 Vintage linen with crocheted edge, Putti Fine Furnishings, $295. 6 Antique-French-linen with vintage-linen pleated edge, Putti Fine Furnishings, $80. 7 Vintage monogrammed linen, Putti Fine Furnishings, $30. 8 Embroidered-linen Tangier in Oat & White, Au Lit Fine Linens, $48. 9 Cotton terry cloth jacquard Isaac Floral Sculpted in White, Pottery Barn, $30. 10 Cotton terry cloth jacquard, Zara Home, $14 per pair.
Getting and staying organized isn't easy. If you're struggling to conquer clutter once and for all, our simple 99 organizing tips should help get you started.
We know, we know: getting organized at home can be easier vowed than done. But even if you’re short on time (and budget), there are dozens of ways you can get your house in order. Here are 99 of our favourite low-cost organizing tips; many of them are environmentally friendly, too!
A stunning kitchen design that proves open display may require more organization, but it's so beautiful it's worth it!
1 Use old baby-food jars to hold spices. Stash them in a drawer upside down so this recycling trick looks sleek, not cheap.
2 Store all your instruction manuals in one binder in the kitchen or pantry.
3 Collect your takeout menus in a binder. Or stuff them into a Ziploc bag and stash 'em – where else? – in the fridge or cupboard.
4 Use a cardboard six-pack container to carry condiments from kitchen to deck in BBQ-casual style.
5 Keep a tray or basket on the kitchen counter where kids can drop off permission slips and adults can put mail requiring immediate action. A second tray can handle lower-priority paperwork.
6 Don’t waste time constantly topping up cereal-sized food storage containers with dog or cat kibble. Use a metal trashcan to store one bag at a time in rodent-proof style.
7 Use a recharging station to keep your cell phone, MP3 player and other portable device cords untangled and your gadgets fully charged.
8 Can’t find fresh garlic or onions? Keep them in clean knee-high nylons. Hang in a cool, dry place.
9 Post a sheet of paper on the fridge and note groceries and supplies needing replenishing. On grocery day, just grab the sheet and go.
10 Reduce spoilage of fruits and veggies by “rotating” your crops. Put new ones underneath ones that were already in your crisper.
11 Use small jam jars to hold cotton swabs, balls and other essentials inside your bathroom vanity drawers.
12 Use an old wooden stepladder to hold bath and hand towels.
13 Cut the amount of time you spend going from linen closet to bathroom by installing extra towel storage via a hotel-style double towel bar.
14 And a stash of bath towels rolled inside a basket helps, too.
15 Store kids’ bath toys in a fine-laundry bag. Hang from the faucet 'til fully drained.
16 Use a shower organizer and just the basics: mild shampoo, conditioner and a body wash.
17 Stash extra shower products in plastic caddies – one per family member.
18 Keep cleaning products in a caddy, too.
19 Post a sheet of paper in the bathroom and note bathroom supplies that need replenishing. On grocery day, just grab the sheet and go.
20 Assign teens and tweens their “own” towel sets by colour. Sorting laundry becomes super-easy and sharing-aversive kids are content.
21 For the living room or family room, get an ottoman or bench with hidden storage under the seat.
22 Large woven or wooden baskets stash clutter effectively, so stock up.
23 Got kids? Get large tubs that can be used to deploy toys – and quickly move them out of living spaces when company’s coming.
24 Don’t hold on to magazines. Just rip out any pages you want to keep for future reference, keep in a file folder, then recycle the rest.
25 Toss dirty socks into mesh fine-laundry bags. Orphaned socks will be a thing of the past.
26 Dollar store plastic caddies are perfect for grouping cleaning products upright in cabinets – no tipping!
27 Recycle old plastic shopping bags. Store them in an empty Kleenex box ‘til you need them.
28 Store batteries in plastic berry baskets until you’re ready to drop them off at the recycling centre.
29 Ditto for compact fluorescent bulbs and orchard fruit baskets.
30 Big, busy family? Paint one entire wall in your mudroom in chalkboard paint so everyone can easily leave messages for one another.
31 Keep one basket per person in your mudroom or front entrance, so everyone knows where to drop off/find their personal on-the-go essentials like keys, bags, homework etc.
32 Designate a back-to-car zone by your entranceway, and put anything there that requires returning to the trunk – i.e. reusable grocery bags, empties – so the next person to use the car will remember to bring them.
33 Remove the front and back from a picture frame and string rows of wire across the centre. Hang it or lean it against the wall and hook earrings onto each wire.
34 For easy jewellery storage, use an old dressmaker’s dolly to hang necklaces and hook earrings into.
35 Shopaholics can put those pretty boutique bags to use by hanging them on the wall or arranging them on a shelf, where they can store scarves and belts.
36 Do a card run – birthdays, holidays, new baby etc. – once a year and store cards in a file tote.
37 Use ice cube trays to hold clips, erasers and other desk-drawer essentials.
38 Use an old wooden stepladder to hold books.
39 Use white address label stickers to label what each cord in a power bar is for.
40 Paint an oversized canvas in one bold colour and hang it from the wall. Pin a rotating collection of your kids’ artwork on it.
41 Post a sheet of paper on your bulletin board and note office supplies that need replenishing.
42 Use a canvas over-the-door shoe organizer to organize small kids toys and art supplies.
43 Those ubiquitous Danish butter cookie tins can be both an art project and art storage unit for kids. First let your child decoupage it. Then use it to hold crayons and pastels.
44 Post those novelty basketball rings above anything you want your kids to slam dunk stuff into rather than the floor: garbage cans, laundry baskets, etc.
45 For preschoolers too young to use hangers with ease, install a low bar in the closet and simply drape dresses and pants across it to keep them wrinkle-free and easily accessible.
46 Have your child plan their wardrobe one school week at a time. Store outfits within five stacking cubbies or on five combination hangers (hangers with a bar and clips to hold pants as well as a top) to streamline their morning routine.
47 Keep sheet sets organized by folding and storing the fitted sheet, flat sheet and pillowcase inside the second pillowcase.
48 If you don’t want to buy stacking shoeboxes, recycle the cardboard boxes your shoes came in by cutting out a panel at one end for visibility and ventilation.
49 Install a closet organization system: it’ll pay itself off with time and aggravation saved!
50 A well-lit wardrobe is easier to keep organized. Install a Solatube, skylight or adequate artificial light for your needs.
51 Don’t limit closet storage to hangers. Hang hooks on the door for frequently used items.
52 Tackle that kitchen junk drawer problem head on. Today. Purge, edit and keep things in place with a drawer organizer.
53 Are you a piler, not filer? That’s fine, just keep piles of paperwork organized by using folders and write-on clips.
54 Recycle leftover gift-wrap ribbons by using them to tie up extra electrical and other cords in your utility closet.
55 Dedicated tie, belt and scarf holders are closet must-haves.
56 Upgrade your address book for a classic Rolodex. They’re retro-chic and easy to keep updated.
57 Buy a framed corkboard, hang it in the kitchen and pin up favourite recipes, clipped from magazines.
58 Make space by putting your CDs in organizers, by genre. Recycle the jewel cases or put them into storage in the attic.
59 Or, purge your CD clutter once and for all by having your CDs converted to digital files at riptopia.com. Sell or donate the used CDs.
60 Buy a hotel-style hairdryer that can be installed on the wall to save space, time and energy in a small bathroom.
61 A pot-lid holder puts the vertical space behind a cabinet door to good use.
62 A wrap-organizer does the same, creating the perfect spot for plastic wrap, aluminum foil and waxed paper.
63 Organize vanity essentials on a vintage tray. Très organized and très chic.
64 Use an extra wine rack to hold rolled-up magazines.
65 Use cutlery trays in your drawers, but to save even more time, stash everyday flatware in a countertop caddy.
66 Shrink-wrap out of season clothes, blankets and duvets to save space while storing.
67 You’ll never fit sheets back into those reusable vinyl zip pouches they were sold in, but you can stash cloth napkins in them. Use one pouch per set and label the quantity with a Sharpie.
68 Buy 10 pairs of the same gym socks, to minimize sorting.
69 Do the same for your hubby.
70 Do the same for his dress socks if he can get away with always wearing the same black ones during fall/winter at least.
71 Stash kids’ art supplies on a lazy Susan so everything is easily accessible.
72 Organize household bills in an accordion file with month-by-month pockets.
73 Hold onto paint chips, fabric swatches and brochures from your last redecorating session. You never know when you’ll need to reference them. Store them in an accordion file.
74 On your mudroom wall, hammer in two nails, then string wire between them. Provide clothes pegs and have your kids hang their wet mittens and gloves to dry overnight.
75 Banish tiny piles of coins and start saving in style. Get a designer piggy bank and keep it by the entranceway, laundry or kitchen—wherever you’d like to dump your change.
76 Tired of that circa-90s cast-iron pot rack? Move it from the kitchen to the garage or potting shed and use it to keep garden tools organized.
77 Get – and use – a garden hose caddy.
78 Edit your hangers. Choose: wire, plastic or wood and unify the hangers in every closet.
79 Use pillboxes to stash your earrings and rings when traveling.
80 Use a soda-can dispenser in the fridge so you can access your pop easily without tipping.
81 Use a wall-mounted broom and mop holder, or tie ribbon loops on the end of poles and hang them from hooks in your closet, garage or utility closet.
82 Make a party kit. Stash napkins, extra glassware and plates, votive candles and holders, extra vases, cocktail picks and other necessities in an old wine crate and pull it out pre-party or pre-holiday entertaining so you don’t waste valuable cupboard space.
83 Use a binder to store all medical records and information for everyone in your family, including each pet. Use dividers for each family member and include plastic pouches or expandable pockets to contain receipts and tiny record cards.
84 Stash awkward, easy-to-misplace necessities (extra hairbrushes, lint roller) in decorative reusable tote bags. Hang them off a doorknob in every room.
85 Burn digital images to CD once a month so you’ll never lose them if your computer (gasp!) crashes. Or print them ASAP!
86 Store photos in archival-quality, acid-free boxes until you have time to organize them in albums.
87 Get a heavy-duty paper shredder for peace of mind – and efficient shredding without risk of overheating.
88 Place your shredder where you intercept daily mail. If that’s the kitchen, so be it.
89 Put a small plastic caddy in your gym bag so you can manage hair care and skincare products without dropping anything. Excess water will just drain out.
90 Stop losing lock combinations and computer passwords once and for all. Jot everyone’s codes and combinations down in a notebook and store it in your family’s fireproof lockbox.
91 Store reusable shopping bags one inside the other.
92 Always keep one cute, foldable shopping tote in each of your heavy-rotation purses so you’re never caught without.
93 Avoid the last-minute drugstore run by always having a kit of your favourite travel-sized toiletries (and common OTC meds like allergy pills) packed and waiting in your suitcase.
94 Get a gift-wrap organizer and stock up on a year’s worth of wrap and ribbons, or ready-to-fill bags and tissue.
95 If perishables regularly go to waste in your fridge, start planning weekly dinner menus. Just buy ingredients for those meals, plus lunch basics. Post the menu on your fridge so you’re on track.
96 Mount a magnetized knife rack to a wall in your utility closet or basement, to keep your most commonly used screwdrivers and wrenches handy, not buried in the toolbox.
97 Donate your battery-powered emergency flashlights and stock up on windup models so you never have to worry about replacing batteries.
98 Stop stressing over the emergency preparedness kit the Canadian government recommends all families have. Just make one and get on with your life. Visit getprepared.ca to learn what to put in it. Stash it in a rolling suitcase so it’s mobile in case you have to be, too.
99 Plan a closet clean-out once per season. Less mess makes staying organized a lot easier.