Home design ideas
Turn off the switch
. De electrify your dining room. Put candles on the sideboard and in the sconces and even in your chandelier Marjorie Skouras makes one thats dripping with coral. So romantic. Who cares what you serve.
Use something natural
. Buy a tree in a basket or planter and put it in your loneliest corner. I love a fiddle leaf fig for its sweet platypus bill like leaves. If you want to go the extra mile, stick some uplights behind it.
Divide and conquer
. I once had a friend stay with me for a week and she cleaned out all my drawers. It was a life changing experience. So go to the Container Store and buy all those drawer dividers and start organizing.
Contrast with dark paint
. Paint your baseboards a contrasting color such as Spanish brown or dark gray. Its like applying eyeliner it will make the wall pop. Plus, it wont show scuffs.
. Consider setting the furniture and the carpet on an angle. It will change the whole dynamic of a room.
D i y art gallery
. Go to Home Depot, buy a length of crown molding at least two inches deep, and nail it to the wall to create a picture ledge. Id do it in a family space, like a kitchen or a hallway. Buy standard frames and pop in your childrens art or family photos and change it around every few weeks.
Try a new scent
. I was visiting a friend in the south of France, and every night she would light a Jo Malone candle in my bedroom and close the door. When I walked in to go to bed, there would this waft of scent basil, lime, and mandarin orange. Now, whenever I light this candle, I think of France.
Hide led lights
. Buy a bunch of those battery operated LED Everywhere lights for only $8.99 each. Theyre like little hockey pucks, with adhesive on the back. Put them under a console table, on top of a bookcase, or use them to backlight some interesting object on a shelf.
Try a new style lightbulb
. Experiment with different lightbulbs in your sconces and chandeliers. Instead of the traditional flame tip, try using clear Edison bulbs. Ditch the shades for a more modern look.
Create dramatic light
. If you want a little drama in your life, change the color of your lampshades to black. Much more dramatic, and it creates lovely pools of light along with a little punctuation in a room. Line the shades in gold paper to add a little sparkle.
Use seasonal accessories
. Get some wicker baskets or nice bowls whatever you might have and fill them with Lady apples, pears, or English walnuts, depending on the season, and put them all around the house. The multiplication is what makes the drama.
Give rooms seasonality
. In winter, I bring out cashmere blankets, fur throws, and my quilted bedspread from Leontine Linens. In summer, out come the monogrammed seersucker and cotton piqu? coverlets. Im also a sucker for L?ron hand towels.
Curate your closet
. Purge, edit, and organize your closet. We love beautiful linen covered boxes in different sizes, shapes, and colors to respond to the different categories of your possessions. Buy all new hangers. Add a personal accent, like scented shelf liners.
Dress up curtains
. If you want to accentuate the height of a room, apply braid, tape, or trim to the leading edge of the draperies.
Liven up dull spots
. f your bookshelves look bland, paint the back and sides a contrasting color. Pick up the color across the room with an accent pillow or a throw.
Add light to your room
. Place a large mirror opposite a window to open up a room and double the amount of natural light.
Primp in style
. Go to Restoration Hardware and get all new bath accessories. I love their polished nickel soap dishes, and I bought their polished nickel trays in all three sizes.
. Change your throw pillows. A couple of bright Turkish print pillows by Madeleine Weinrib could transform a living room. The same goes for your bed. John Robshaws hand blocked shams would add a little exoticism.
Hang a mural
. Photo murals are back. Coloredgevisual.com or duggal.com have a great selection, or you can submit your own photos and they will scale it according to your wall. Do an entrance foyer, the end wall of a long, dreary hallway, or the ceiling of a tiny powder room, just for fun. Christopher Coleman.
Create an oasis
. Make your bathroom feel like a spa. Get rid of the clutter. Buy fabulous overscale towels in a new color. Add a few small candles and light them at night when you have guests.
Pull in extra seats
. I found the best little Japanese style benches at Pearl River that could be used for extra seating in almost any room. Theyre available in teak or mango wood or you could paint them a fabulous color.
Give your bed a boost
. You know youre really confident when you put your bed in the middle of the room. Add bed curtains and it becomes a private domain. I like the mattress to be a little high, so Ill buy bed lifts from Bed Bath and Beyond. Theyre like high heels for beds.
Try a tropical style
. First, I took down the curtains in my bedroom and lacquered the walls a sexy tan color. Then I made my own moldings with tortoiseshell bamboo split lengthwise so it lies flat. I used it to outline the windows and the doors and the tray ceiling. Handsome and tropical.
Revive your bedroom
. New bedding can make a bedroom feel fresh and new again. Areahome.com or dwellstudio.com have gorgeous and sophisticated patterns that wont empty your wallet. They even make baby bedding.
Rethink that empy wall
. Create the perfect picture wall. I organize my photos according to theme. I like to print my travel photos out in sepia tones and then order frames and matting from the picturewallcompany.com. They make it so easy that the photos practically arrange themselves on the wall. Amy Lau
Think outside the box
. If youve got a flat screen TV, dont leave it blank. Program it with video art.
Create countertop storage
. Find attractive containers for all those items on the kitchen counter. Im thinking white modern canisters for flour, sugar, pasta, with a matching tray for oils and vinegars.
Forget the logs
. For an instant fireplace, add a biofuel fireplace unit. Its a wonderfully simple installation, with no ventilation required, and theyre fueled by ethanol easily purchased at the hardware store.
Play with color
. For high drama, paint the walls chocolate brown. For something fresh, Herm?s orange. And for serenity, theres nothing like silvery blue. Go for a semigloss finish, which gives life to the color.
Wow with window treatments
. Purchase ready made window treatments and add something to them, like a trimmed edge or a contrasting fabric border. I like the stainless steel grommeted curtains from West Elm. Ive also tea dyed them or thrown the into a bath of Rit dye to make my own colors.
Try a higher perspective
. Instead of the usual coffee table, try a pedestal table at tea height. Its more versatile you can even pull up a few chairs and eat at it. And the scale and height creates a different landscape in the room, which is much more interesting.
Consider the space overhead
. Dont dismiss your ceiling with a coat or two of white paint. The least you can do is tint it with a dollop or two of your wall color. Or paper it with pattern. Or make a sky of golden stars with rubber stamps and a metallic ink pad.
Switch and rotate textiles
. Ive always collected textiles, and you can make a fast, easy change with bedding, towels, and table linens to create a different mood. Switch things out seasonally, or for a special event, or whenever you want to play with a certain color or pattern.
Start a windowsill garden
. Collect small succulents and pot them in an assortment of vintage ceramics. Line them up on a sunny windowsill. Forget to water them, and watch them grow.
Accent with red
. Add a splash of red to your room. It could be a lampshade, a cushion, a carpet with some red in the pattern. Red is so uplifting.
Let photographs inspire you
. I love black and white photography, and often mix my own photos in with a known artists work. I even added black linen pillows to my sofa to echo the photography and create a more graphic look.
Use a striped rug
. Put a striped rug over your solid color carpet to create a new feeling in any room.
. Paint the inside of your lampshades a very pale pink. This will combat the cool light from those green fluorescent corkscrew bulbs.
Cast a new glow
. Buy lampshades in unusual shapes. Have them made out of fabric that will cast a glow. I also love the look and texture of brown string shades from justshadesny.com. Change the color of the light by buying bulbs in amber or pink.
Brighten behind closed doors
. Wallpaper a closet. A linen closet only needs a couple of rolls and you will feel sheer joy every time you open it.
Work magic with an antique mirror
. Find a great antique mirror for your powder room. The slight mottling of vintage glass seems to make those tiny lines and wrinkles miraculously disappear. And when people know they look great, they have more fun.
. Art doesnt have to be a huge investment. Cut out 20 pages from a favorite book. Buy 20 inexpensive frames and place them side by side in rows on a wall. Repetition is powerful.
Impress with wallcoverings
. Wallpaper your front entry with a bold paper. It creates a strong first impression and makes it seem like you have done a total makeover.
. Paint your living room doors Chinese red with a high gloss finish, and slipcover the sofa in red and white mattress ticking. The result will be young and vibrant.
Build extra counter space
. Create your own kitchen island. Buy one of those stainless steel wire mesh trolleys by Metro shelving and get a big slab of stone, or butcher block to put on top.
Gauze over it
. Slipcover a sculptural chair in gauze. Youll see the form in shadow. Very intriguing.
Think on a larger scale
. Use fewer pieces of art, but bigger in scale. These could even be oversize posters.
. Send that dowdy wooden table you inherited from Aunt Sadie to Maaco and ask them to do a high gloss spray automobile finish in a great color, say BMW Racing Green 1994.
Dress up end tables
. Make tableskirts for your end tables in some offbeat color, with a contrasting flange at the bottom. If your tables are round, put a square piece of plywood on top before you start. Square just feels more contemporary.
Fool the eye
. Paint all the terra cotta pots on your balcony or terrace with a polyurethane stain in high gloss black or brown. Theyll look like Chinese porcelain by the time youre finished.
Swap a closet for an office
. Turn a closet into a home office. Take off the door. Make a huge bulletin board for the wall. If you can, nudge in the perfect Parsons desk from West Elm. Have fun buying file drawers and desk accessories. Add a little desk lamp for atmosphere.
Top with marble
. Buy a piece of marble from a stone yard and have them hone it and make it into a new top for a table you already own. Instant patisserie!
Fabricate an exotic look
. Create a tented effect with Indian fabric. Suspend it from the center of the ceiling to the corners of the room and then drape it down the walls, over horizontal rods mounted just under the ceiling.
Add luxury with a throw
. I draped a Mongolian lambs wool throw over my lumpy old sofa and suddenly it was luxurious and exotic.
Make a tile collage
. Instead of tiling a whole wall, just pick out a selection of tiles and arrange them on the wall. You can find beautiful old tiles at flea markets or architectural salvage stores.
Use colorful shelf liners
. Line the backs of your shelves with raffia. Phillipjeffries.com has all sorts of colors and weaves. Ive used it in kitchens and bathrooms. It gives a little depth and texture, and anything you put in front of it looks great.
Be creative with party ware
. For a quick pick me up, I buy oversize wicker wrapped glass hurricanes from larsbolander.com. Pass the rum punch!
Create visual warmth
. Since darkness comes so early in the winter months and windows look like black holes at night, get handwoven shades from conradshades.com. They will visually warm the room and insulate you from cold drafts.
Find new uses
. Upholster an ottoman with carpeting. You could use an old kilim, a striped dhurrie, or something really wild like a David Hicks geometric.
. Take a dull set of dining room chairs and spray paint them black. Then splurge on a glorious fabric, perhaps something from Raoul Textiles, to cover the seats. Or what about pink patent leather.
Protect your furniture
. When we got a puppy, we casually draped and tucked those white canvas painters drop cloths over the furniture. It calmed everything down and looked so good that we kept them on a lot longer than we had to.
Tile in leather
. Ill put leather tiles on a front hall floor or on the walls for a subdued glamour. I also see them in a library or around a fireplace or on a headboard. I buy them at edelmanleather.com or artistictile.com. And the more scuffed up they get, the better. Eric Cohler
Upgrade the tabletop
. Add a glass top to a table for a more sophisticated look. You can put fabric or wallpaper underneath, or even paint the underside of the glass to give it a little more jazz. Kendall Wilkinson
Bake a cake
. Buy a cherry red mixer from Williams Sonoma and bake a cake. Its a very 1950s fantasy. Even if you never bake, it would cheer up your kitchen.
Optimize your seating arrangement
. Whats the best view in your room? Rearrange your furniture in such a way that you can enjoy it. Sometimes that just means pulling a chair out of a dark corner and moving it next to a window. Suddenly, its your favorite place to sit and relax.
Build in layers
. Make a folding screen. All you need is four pieces of plywood and some hinges. Im doing one for my office and upholstering it in linen, with cork on the other side so I can take up pictures. A screen adds texture and scale to a room. Its another layer.
. Upgrade your electronics. Nothing dates you faster than an old stereo system or a clunky TV. Get a flat screen in a cool color to add a little edge.
Cheer up the doorways
. Inset mirrors into the panels on a door. I just did it in my dining room and my bedroom, and it perks up the whole house.
. Have a party where every guest is asked to bring a plant of one color say, purple for an instant garden with a little story of friendship behind each plant.
Make it sparkle and shine
. Clean your house. And I mean really clean it. Polish silver, wash windows, wipe down the light bulbs in your lamps, wipe down the walls. Everything will gleam and glisten. The effect will be cathartic and make you feel like you have accomplished something.
Stock a bar
. Create a bar corner and buy beautiful bar accessories very Nick and Nora Charles. I like the Alvar Aalto Tea Trolley from unicahome.com, or you could just commandeer a console table.
Pick a color palette
. To give your rooms a cohesive, polished look, tell a color story with accessories. Start with the living room and strip out all the bits and pieces. Then choose one color and thread it back into the room with vases, candlesticks, pillows, and throws. Place a lacquered tray in the same color on the coffee table.
. I like to do this myself at least once a year. Take every last loose piece on every surface photos, vases, candlesticks, books, magazines whatever is cluttering up your vision and chances are you no longer even see. Put them on a counter in the kitchen, then redeploy in new arrangements. But only use half of them. Put the rest into a closet for a free shopping spree the next time around.
Create a new display
. If you have a dining table that stands dormant most of the time, turn it into a library table. Collect beautiful books and create small stacks around the perimeter of the table. Place a large scale object.
Sew your own slipcover
. I like to make simple slipcovers for the square headboard on my bed. Just get a great piece of fabric, cut out a front and a back, and stitch them together. I might do white linen in the summer, velvet in winter.
. The single cheapest makeover I know is a dimmer, a new CD, and some flowers.
Paint a thin black line
. If you have a room paneled in new wood that is trying to look old, take a paintbrush and add a thin line of black in the flutes of a column, or along the raised part of a panel. That touch of black will add authenticity.
Cover pillows in silk
. Treat yourself to throw pillows made of silk velvet. Since theyre expensive, choose a silk damask in the same color for the back side. Dont forget to use an invisible zipper.
Add glam to a door
. Upholster an ordinary hollow core door in leather, or one of the new vinyls that look like leather. If you have the patience, add nailheads in a geometric pattern.
Paint the ceiling
. Pick a predominant color from your room and paint the ceiling. It can be done in less than a day, and a can of paint is so cheap!
. I have replaced all my old cleaning products with Methods aromatic, environmentally friendly line. My favorite tub and tile spray comes in an ergonomically correct pale blue bottle and smells delightful. In fact, all of the bottles are attractive and look great on a pantry shelf.
Turn it into gold
. If you have something a lamp, a table, even a chair with great shape but not quite enough dash, take it to your framer and have them gild it.
Find the extra space
. No matter what you think, theres always room to add a bench in front of the fireplace, in front of the sofa (instead of that old coffee table), in front of a club chair so you can put your feet up, at the foot of your bed.
Create an unexpected display
. Hang art in surprising locations, like over a door or above a tall cabinet or on the pilasters of a bookcase.
. I got rid of all the mismatched rugs in my house and put down round jute rugs from West Elm eight feet in diameter. They throw you a curve and make the room feel lighter.
. Take a nap. When you wake up, everything will seem much nicer.
Thrift store gallery wall
. A wall of thrift store paintings of the same subject can have even more impact than a single, more expensive piece. Case in point: the floral filled gallery wall in this Texas homes living room.
Light and Airy
. So the interior didnt compete with views of the farm, the owner of this Alberta farmhouse opted for crisp white paint on the walls and ceiling, and blue draperies that complement the large stretch of sky outside the windows. Light pine floors with a single coat of whitewash allow the woods natural grain to show without taking away from the rooms airy feel.
. Think every living room needs draperies? Think again. Here, bare windows make for a refreshingly streamlined look that also takes advantage of this Florida cottages beautiful light.
. The all white backdrop cleared the way for a crisp and cozy color scheme of grey, black, and green. Gingham curtains and plaid pillows play up the preppy country feel of this Georgia log cabin.
. Fitted with twin mattresses, these World Market daybeds turn the living space into a guest room when needed. The walls of the charming loft are painted Silver White by Glidden.
Rustic library style
. In the library of this New York home, the owner unified mismatched wingback chairs with floral brocade upholstery and burlap cushions. The walls are painted Spanish Moss by Restoration Hardware.
Flea market daybed
. The owner of this Texas home fashioned the frame of the daybed using a $25 flea market door and pallets. The pillowcases? Old grain sacks, natch.
Hunting and Gathering
. The owner of this vintage California cottage nabbed this wool HD Buttercup sofa for half the price, and searched for the midcentury teak table on Craigslist.
Diy living room
. The owner and designer of this DIY Wyoming home had styled window displays in the past, so she also understood how to make everything look great with items culled from thrift shops.
. The neutral palette of this North Carolina house is enlivened by mixing in a variety of textures the coffee tables reclaimed wood, a nubby sea grass rug, and a steel lamp base forged from a car jack. Design Legacy linen curtains, printed with an antique script, and striped pillows introduce subtle hints of pattern. I wanted a living room that felt calming, not boring,
Wild west rustic
. Cost Plus World Market bargains a leather sofa and armchair, and a coffee table furnish the living room in this Idaho cabin. The kilim rug is from Catherine Lane Interiors in Livingston, Montana. Floor to ceiling windows frame mountains in every direction, and squared, rather than rounded, logs create clean lined walls.
Eclectic and Funky
. The aesthetic of the upstate New York home of Country Livings editor, Sarah Gray Miller, took shape based on whatever she discovered at antiques shops or her rural auction house: birdcages, floral frogs, Victorian sofas, cryptic portraits. A palette of grays and browns creates a neutral, yet still dramatic, backdrop for the cabinet of curiosities vibe.
. The owners of this Tennessee home filled in the blanks with new upholstered furniture that wears relaxed, washable slipcovers. Although the family rooms Persian rug might look fancy, it secured its prime spot based on practicality. The pattern masks spills! the owner explains.
Linear living room
. Shabby Chic sofas square off across a zinc topped coffee table in the living room of this Texas ranch. A Jim Torok painting hangs above the mantel. The walls are painted Shaded White by Farrow & Ball.
. The homeowners of this Cape Cod home painted over the living rooms dark pine paneling and then reupholstered their old sofa in a complementary hue. The rattan armchairs date to the 1940s, while the maps of Nantucket Sound are from 1874. The walls are painted Cambridge Heights by Benjamin Moore.