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.
A well-made bed is key to a beautiful bedroom
We've put together 4 stylish ways to make the perfect bed.
While making the bed may not seem like a glamorous task, it is the key to having a glamorous room for your or your guests to sleep in.
We've designed 1 bed 4 different ways. Which is your style?
Diamond-quilted Sham + Polka-dot Pillowcase + Soft-hued Lumbar Cushions See our feminine bedroom decor.
Diamond-quilted Sham + Cabana-striped Pillowcase + Solid Toss Cushion Check out a masculine bedroom design.
Gathered Euro Sham + Alphabet-print Pillowcase + Polka-dot Pillowcase Look at other playful bedroom designs.
Floral Toss Cushion + Woven-edged Lumbar Cushion + Polka-dot Pillowcase + Striped Lumbar Cushion If you like the traditional look try this classic bedroom decor.
How to: Hang wallpaper
Expert advice for hanging wallpaper with ease.
Wallpaper can make a huge impact on a space. The seemingly endless array of patterns and textures mean giving a room a facelift can be as simple as choosing the perfect wallpaper to complement it. The hard part for most people is when the time comes to hang that wallpaper. Despite the task seeming daunting, one with the potential for DIY disaster, the process isn’t as complicated as it may look. In fact, hanging wallpaper in any room is simple if you know the right steps.
Charlotte Cosby, head of creative at Farrow & Ball, shares her expertise on hanging wallpaper the right way.
First things first. Some prep work is needed if you want to ensure wallpaper goes on smooth and straight. “Before papering, ensure all surfaces are sound, clean and dry,” Charlotte says. She advises removing any traces of dirt, old wallpaper or flaking paint. If there any cracks, holes and open joints, you’ll need to fill those in with an appropriate filler.
Once the walls are clean, it’s time to tackle any bigger issues such as unsound paint surfaces, which Charlotte notes should be sealed with an appropriate primer. She adds that gloss painted surfaces should be sanded and damp walls should be treated. Any absorbent surfaces such as new plaster need to be sized with wallpaper paste or a suitable sizing solution and allowed to dry for a minimum of one hour.
Charlotte also recommends that walls be horizontally cross lined with a good quality, medium to heavyweight lining paper (1200 - 1400 grade) and allowed to dry for a minimum of 12 hours before you apply the wallpaper. Lining paper can make wallpaper removal easier when the time comes.
If the wallpaper you’re using isn’t pre-pasted or self-adhesive, you’re going to need to use wallpaper paste. Charlotte recommends using wallpaper paste that is suitable for hanging a paper of more than 140gsm weight so you can be sure it will hold properly. She also suggests finding a paste that has a pH of 7 to 12 since acidic pastes can damage the wallpaper. Other factors to consider when choosing a wallpaper paste include the type of wallpaper (fabric, textured, etc.) and the type of wall surface. If you’re unsure, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the type of paper you’ve chosen.
Once you’re ready to apply the wallpaper paste, start by applying a generous, even coat of paste over the paper, which Charlotte says you’ll want to do from the centre outwards. Make sure the edges are well pasted but be careful not to let any paste come into contact with the pattern side of the paper.
Before you can hang your paper you’ll need to “book” the wallpaper, which involves folding the paper onto itself, paste side in and allowing it to rest for 10 minutes (timing could be more or less depending on the paste you’re using), until it’s pliable enough to work with. Just be careful not to leave it for too long; if the paper becomes too wet it will shrink back as it dries.
Paper hanging and stretching
Now it’s time to hang the paper. Check the pattern repeat before cutting paper lengths according to the height of your wall and allowing 2-3 inches at the top and bottom for trimming. If you’re hanging the paper vertically, use a plumb line for the first length to ensure the paper will be completely straight. Once you begin, aim to have paper edges butt up to subsequent lengths of paper, but avoid overlapping the edges. As you hang your paper, trapped air bubbles are a common problem that can occur so Charlotte recommends using a good quality paper hanging brush to smooth the paper out evenly over the surface, working from the center to the edges, which will expel any trapped air bubbles.
It’s also important not to stretch the paper because it will shrink back when it’s dry, which can exaggerate the seams. Overstretching can happen when your paste is too watery or when too little paste is used. If you’re dealing with papers that have a traditional matte finish, Charlotte says it’s especially important that any excess paste be completely removed before it dries because paste left on this type of paper can show up as shiny patches later. And finally, she says, “For best results we recommend that any central heating is turned off overnight to allow the paper to dry naturally.”
A kitchen with subtle contrasts and country character.
Designer Ali Budd gives a Toronto couple the best of both worlds: a family- (and dog-) friendly home that boasts modern sensibility as well as country flair.
When the couple enlisted Ali Budd, the designer asked Michele to provide photos of what she loved and didn’t like. A binder full of clippings verified that Michele prefers clean lines and all things cottage. “The challenge was giving them something that feels fresh and contemporary and appropriate for the city but at the same time has that cottagey country vibe,” says Ali.
An addition on the back of the house allowed homeowners Michele Foster and Aaron Harlang to expand the small kitchen, which now features an eat-in area with a child-friendly faux-leather-upholstered banquette. To enhance the room’s visual flow, the table was made from the same quartz as the countertops. The lantern-style pendant light complements the kitchen’s modern-country aesthetic. “To me, a lantern is quintessentially country, but this one is done in a more contemporary style,” says designer Ali Budd.
Painting the island pale grey gives the all-white kitchen a distinctive touch. The black metal pendant lights and farmhouse-style stools lend contrast and country character.
The inset marble mosaic backsplash tiles surrounded by decorative tile trim create a pretty focal point above the range in the kitchen. “I used the same marble as the subway tiles so it wouldn’t look too busy,” says Ali. Glass-fronted doors add airiness and break up the expanse of white cabinetry.
Opening up the main floor was the first step in creating an airy, functional space for the young family. And an 800-square-foot three-storey addition provided ample room to expand the small, outdated kitchen. “I would periodically use our oven for storage before,” says Michele. “We also had a little table that only sat two people.” Now the kitchen boasts a large eat-in area defined by a built-in banquette, which seats about five people and offers plenty of drawer space.
The kitchen’s eat-in area was the perfect spot to subtly inject a bit of red. “Michele wanted to add it somewhere but was afraid of committing to it,” says Ali. “So I thought that was a great place to put in a little pop because it’s not front and centre.”
Durable indoor-outdoor striped fabric covering the family room’s armchairs adds a bit of whimsy and fun. The custom-made barnboard coffee table is both rustic and polished.
That same rustic-meets-clean-lined aesthetic is carried throughout the main floor. In the dining room, a polished live-edge black walnut dining table is paired with classic linen-upholstered chairs. The family room is designed for lounging, with a sleek sectional and barnboard coffee table. All textiles, including the striped armchair fabric, pass the pug-hair test. “I tested about 20 fabric samples on one of my own pugs to see which showed the least amount of hair,” says Ali.
A bench and rug define the entryway, which is open to the rest of the main floor. Wainscotting along the staircase adds architectural character. “Michele wanted it somewhere, and because there’s not a lot of wall space on the main level, we installed it up the stairs,” says Ali.