Image: Donna Griffith
Liven up your living space with these easy decor updates that will take anywhere from a day to a week.
When it comes to remodelling a home, we often can’t help but dream big – because who doesn’t want a walk-in glass shower, marble backsplash and ample storage space? But before you let your design vision overwhelm you, allow it to inspire you to make tiny tweaks that still have a big impact.
Whether you’re tight on time or worried about stretching your budget too thin, we’ve compiled a list of affordable home makeover ideas that can be done on any schedule – from a day, to a weekend, to one week. It’s time to set your decor hesitations to the curb along with that outdated side table, and read on.
For an instant refresh, switch up a space’s furniture placement. Think seasonally: Make your fireplace the focal point in winter and reposition pieces in summer depending on how the light streams in. Don’t be afraid to think beyond a room itself either – that armchair in your living room might look even better in your home office.
Lend a bright new look to your home by displaying eye-catching accessories. Uplift your sofa with playfully patterned toss cushions or scope out a stylish area rug to add comfort and texture to your space.
Think of bookshelves as fanciful art displays that should be carefully curated. Spend a quiet Sunday afternoon arranging your paperbacks by colour or wrapping unsightly book covers in pretty paper. Showcase decorative objets and prints for extra visual appeal. See here for more shelf-styling tips and tricks.
Don’t have time to paint an entire room? Create an accent wall instead to achieve the same decorative punch. Paint the wall a vivid hue or select a graphic wallpaper pattern that demands to be seen. Learn how to design a show-stopping feature wall here.
Wake up tired furniture with a fresh coat of paint. Whether you want to refresh dated cabinets or revamp a dull dresser, new-and-improved furniture pieces will cheer up a room without breaking the bank. Find out how to make this DIY dresser makeover here.
While creating an accent wall can be completed in a day, devoting a weekend to the task affords you the opportunity to be more creative, and you’ll have time to update a few walls. Try your hand at colour blocking or brighten a bedroom with intricate stencils and wall decals like these ones. Urban Walls, $71.66, etsy.com.
You don’t have to rely on marble or glass mosaic backsplash tiles to achieve a timeless look in your kitchen (cue the sighs of relief). Instead, try self-adhesive wall tiles like Smart Tiles. The budget-friendly alternative is simple to install and will still give your space an effortlessly elegant feel. Mosaic Decorative Wall Tile Peel and Stick in Subway White, The Home Depot, $8.97.
Sometimes purging your pad can have just as dramatic an impact as redecorating it. Release yourself from constant clutter by editing every area in your home. Toss tattered items, corral products in stylish baskets and bins and opt for multi-functional furniture. Find 99 more easy organizing tips here.
First impressions are lasting, so spend a few days improving your home’s porch area. Start by painting the front door an energizing hue that suits the exterior (here’s how to choose a front door colour). To enhance the look further, dress up your porch with planters and replace your mailbox, doormat and number signs with more modern styles.
Bedeck your living room with a DIY gallery wall comprised of well-loved prints. Hang art pieces that range in size and shape for added dimension, and choose stylish frames (whether vintage or modern) that complement each other. Once all is said and done, you’ll earn some serious bragging rights. Follow our steps for creating a DIY gallery wall here.
Making a few slight changes to your kitchen and bath will have big payoff. Begin by trading in timeworn hardware for sleek knobs and pulls, and paint your kitchen cabinets if they’re looking a little worse for wear (here’s how). Give yourself time to update other fixtures too, such as the faucets and vanity mirror.
Enhance the look of your dining or family room by adding decorative moulding. It’s an architectural accent that will instantly uplift your space and lend it more character. Now is also the time to consider reupholstering old furniture (get inspired here) and revamping your floors, whether that means refinishing your hardwood (read: sand and stain) or installing new tiles.
Take your bedroom from boring to beautiful with a few creative upgrades. Get crafty by upholstering your own headboard, which creates an eye-catching focal point. For an even easier hack, use a bedsheet as the fabric like we did here. Boost your room’s comfort factor further by adding an area rug, buying new bedding and installing drapery.
Once the weather warms up, our attention quickly shifts to the outdoors. Make your yard more inviting this year with a gorgeous garden path or walkway (materials like natural stone, brick and concrete all work well). Don’t stop there. Take the time to paint your home’s exterior – or at least the trim! – as well as the fence. Other easy tasks include washing the windows, staining the deck and painting outdoor furniture.
Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.
A basket makes the perfect vessel for a potted tree in this kitchen.
Trends come and go, but these four stylish accent pieces are here to stay.
This tropical beauty is coveted for its wide, glossy leaves and towering height. If you can’t find the real thing (or discover it’s too fussy), try a good-quality imitation. Artifical Fejka tree, IKEA, $15.
Towering above the mantel, this tree in a burlap “bucket” is a fresh, organic counterpoint to a contemporary hand-painted wall mural.
A basket makes the perfect vessel for a potted tree in the California-modern kitchen of Style at Home design editor Stacy Begg.
In a handsome den, a fig adds a sculptural note to an empty corner.
Whimsical and eye-catching, the juju hat, a type of African headdress, has become a contemporary decorating staple. The piece’s round bull’s eye shape makes it a natural focal point over fireplaces, beds and sofas. Plus, it injects a note of softness to hard-edged modern rooms. Feather headdress in White 30", Snob, $500.
A canary yellow headdress is a can’t-be-missed feature in an otherwise neutral dining room.
When matched with the beautiful bedding, this hot pink juju hat offers a decorative one-two punch of boldness.
White feathers keep the mood calm in a home office nook, adding texture without the distraction of colour.
Soft underfoot and graphic in impact, Berber-style rugs can be made from nylon, synthetic fibres or wool. But it’s the natural creamy tone and black zigzag or diamond design that really set these rugs apart, making them a perfect fit for spaces both contemporary and traditional. Wool Souk rug 8" x 10", West Elm, $1,139.
Preppy splashes of green and pink liven up the neutral rug in this youthful living room.
A feminine bedroom gets graphic impact from the black lines of the rug and the Hollywood Regency-style ribbon trim on the valance.
Distinctly Italian in flavour, this living room vignette shines with just three colours: cream, black and honey brown.
The versatile Moroccan-style leather pouffe – a more sophisticated version of the beanbag chair – comes in almost any colour imaginable, with metallic versions on offer as well. Pouffes can present as playful or polished – it’s all about the context. For a dash of global flair, this piece can’t be beat. Moroccan leather pouffe in Pink, The Cross Decor & Design, $395.
A white pouffe with reverse stitching goes upscale as a spot to put on shoes or makeup in this dreamy dressing room.
In this stylish nursery, a pink pouffe provides a chic footrest for a nursing mother.
There’s no need to worry about little ones running into sharp edges – pouffes are super soft and toddler-safe.
Follow these tips for hosting the perfect outdoor party.
Consider this your go-to source for hosting warm-weather soirees with ease and flair.
It’s summer, and you want to be outside, hanging around with friends, eating garden-fresh fare and sipping refreshing drinks. Let our guide be your go-to for hosting warm-weather get-togethers with simplicity and style.
1 Ambient lighting: To keep the party going beyond sunset, simply hang strings of lights along the fence and among tree branches. Make sure to also include lights above your entertaining zones (lounging and eating areas, for example) to create an intimate atmosphere. We recommend café-style string lights with elegant rounded bulbs that give off a warm glow and lend a casual bistro vibe. As for running cords throughout the yard, be strategic: Choose strands that can plug into one another so only one extension cord is needed; don’t run the cord across high-traffic areas (tuck it along the fence line instead); and select a cord that coordinates with your surroundings (white to match your trim, for example).
Task lighting: Illuminate sitting and dining areas with pillar candles set in glass lanterns. In spots where more light is required (such as the drinks station or buffet table), include a grouping of three or more lanterns. Keep mosquitoes at bay by using citronella candles in lounging zones (but never place scented candles on the dinner table). Be sure to light up stairways and footpaths for safe movement throughout the backyard.
GlucksteinHome Edison Bulb string lights, 11', Hudson's Bay, $30.
Metalic Dipped string lights, 9', Pottery Barn, $79 US.
Canvas Montmarte string lights, 34', Canadian Tire, $90.
Clear cafe string lights, 10', The Home Depot, $20.
2 Drinks station: A general rule of thumb when serving drinks: Unless you’re a pro mixologist, keep cocktails simple. Always have chilled beer and wine at the ready and master one or two refreshing mixed bevvies that are easy to put together.
Bar cart must haves:
1 Outdoor-safe glasses: Choose shatterproof ones for barefoot-friendly entertaining
2 Spirits and garden-fresh garnishes: Bring out everything you need to make your signature cocktails.
3 Ice bucket: Keep chilled wine and beer close at hand.
Marilla goblet in Blush, Anthropologie, $6 US.
GlucksteinHome Tritan martini glass, Hudson's Bay, $5.
Stemless wineglass, Crate and Barrel, $6.
Hobnail wineglass, West Elm, $9.
Chenco Edge cocktail glass, Wayfair.ca, $44 per set of 4.
3 Party prep: If it can be done ahead of time, do it. Do you have enough plates and cutlery? Bags of ice? Do you need to dig out a few platters from the backs of your cupboards? Have you calculated how many drinks you’ll need? Here’s some handy party math: assume each guest will have at least one drink per hour (10 guests over two hours equals 20 drinks); there are approximately five glasses of wine per bottle; a 750 ml bottle of liquor contains enough for 24 mixed drinks.
4 Bottle service: Eliminate the flow of guests moving in and out of the house by keeping refreshments near the action. With two sturdy galvanized iron tubs, this stand keeps alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks separate and allows partygoers to help themselves (so the host can sit back and enjoy the festivities). Double beverage tub with stand, Pottery Barn, $159 US.
5 Lawn games: So adult guests can kick back with a mojito, have some distractions for the little ones: plenty of lawn games (and ice pops, of course).
Must-try summer lawn games:
1 Badminton Set, Crate and Barrel, $200.
2 Bocce Set, Lee Valley, $159
3 Wooden 6-player croquet set, Lee Valley, $239.
4 Sterling Games Lawn Bowling Set, Wayfair.ca, $49.
5 Sunnylife Play on Ping Pong Set with portable net in Pineapple, Indigo, $52.
6 Yard dice, Snake Eyes Yard Games, $50 US per set of 6.