Whether you’re thinking of selling your home or simply looking to update your digs, here are 10 steps you can take to make your home more stylish without a full remodel. From upgrading light fixtures to mixing textures, these minor improvement projects will also make your appealing to the next generation of buyers.

1. Update old lighting fixtures

Lighting can make or break the ambience of a room. Overhead lights, like the flush-mounted ceiling lights often seen in rental apartments, can make the room dull and and incredibly dated.

You can change a lighting fixture on your own if you’re brave enough — here is a great step by step guide — or hire an electrician.

Consider adding a pendant light or two over a dinner table for an intimate cozy feel. In other rooms, experiment using floor and table lamps rather than one overhead light source.

2. Use neutrals

The new combination of gray and beige is known as “greige” in design circles.

An easy way to make a home look expensive is to use a combination of white, grays and soft beige. (The new combination of gray and beige is known as “greige” in design circles.)

By decorating a room this way you provide a neutral, calming space to which you can add pops of color and personality with wall art and colorful throws. Style often comes down to simplicity.

3. Update hardware

This is a quick and very inexpensive way to make a kitchen or bathroom look like it’s just been installed. Handles and knobs really give away the age of a room.

These days it’s all about sleek, simple and mid-century modern designs. Gold is the most popular color in home design right now, but silver also looks great (as does matte black). Just make sure the hardware is simple — the more ornate looks belong in the 90s.

4. Add moulding

Crown molding is the best budget way to beautify your interiors. Crown molding draws the eye up and gives a room instant architectural character. 

You can even install it yourself. Popular Mechanics has a great step-by-step tutorial on how to install the molding without the help of a professional. Crown molding comes in several options, wood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) are the most budget-friendly, starting as low as $1.50/linear foot. You can also explore plaster or polystyrene/polyurethane foam. Do some research to find out which is best for you.

5. Paint your front door

Painting your front door charcoal gray, smoky black or rich jet black can increase the value of your home by up to $6200.

But not just any color. If you are updating your home in order to sell it, then might I refer you to our previous article on front door colors.

Painting your front door charcoal gray, smoky black or rich jet black can increase the value of your home by up to $6200.

But if you’re updating it for yourself, any color you like will work. I’m particularly partial to the soft muted shades of Farrow and Ball paints, most often found adorning the front doors of homes in London.

6. Mix textures

By adding a variety of natural textures to a room, you create a look that seems custom and expensive. Mixing bare woods with a Turkish rug and gold accent lamps can make you feel like you are walking into the home of chic world-traveler.

Keep curtains light and airy as heavy drapes are very 80s and make the room feels tactile with silk and velvet cushions. A room should delight at least four of the senses.

7. Ditch the clutter

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
William Morris

I cannot underline this point more strongly. Clutter is never chic. A lot has been written lately about the negative impact clutter can have on your mental health, but it also really drags down the look of a house or apartment.

Commit to decluttering a room at a time. If you really need to hang on to some things, invest in some contemporary storage options that marry form and function.

As the textile designer William Morris once said, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

8. Plants are back

The 70s were all about houseplants, but they seemed to die a death during the the intervening 40 years. Plants, however, are back — and they’ve had a makeover.

The most popular plants now are palms, monstera, rubber plants, fiddle leaf fig, philodendron and succulents.

Make sure your pots are ceramic in neutral shades. Mid-century modern pot holders are also really popular.

9. The golden touch

Gold is always glamorous, and anything that was silver in the 90s is gold in 2020s. From cupboard handles to picture frames, we are all about that Midas touch.

The good news is that gold spray paint can work wonders on old furniture, making a beat-up coffee table seem right up to date. Gold spray paint can be used on almost anything and it’s very budget friendly, buy it here and go to town.

I re-sprayed my Ikea coffee table and bookshelf with gold spray paint four years ago and they are still chip-free.

10. Wallpaper, but not as you know it

Wallpaper has made a reemergence onto the interior design scene in recent years, but it’s not what your grandmother had up in her parlor. These days wallpaper is made to be removable and comes in hundred of designs and prints.

The most popular seem to be geometric styles that have a graphic feel. Others are more fun, like leaf prints or peacocks. You can use this wallpaper on an accent wall or throughout the entire room. I used this flamingo wallpaper to paper my bedroom door for a pop of color and whimsy.

You just peel off the backing paper and apply the wallpaper like it’s a large sticker. It takes a few attempts to get the hang on it, but the results look fresh and modern.