Think home decorating is one of those tasks that require tons of time, money, and aesthetic acumen to get right? Not so. As proof, look no further than this latest installment of “Home Hacks,” our series on homeownership made easy.
According to professional designers, even tiny tweaks to a house can overhaul how it looks. So if you’re craving an undertaking that won’t eat up your entire weekend and the remains of your bank account, try these home decorating hacks and see just how much of a difference they make.
1. Switch out your throw pillow covers
Every home needs a pop of color—and one of the quickest ways to achieve that is with throw pillows on your bed or couch. But have you looked at the prices for throw pillows lately? Insane.
“Combat this by only replacing the throw pillow covers,” says Patti Mapes, owner of Renovating Mapleson Manor, an online blog that offers home decor tutorials. Budget-friendly covers are available online for $5 to $20.
Or, hey, make your own! If you have a sewing machine—or fabric glue—you can knock out a new pillow cover in no time. You’ll need two pieces of fabric that are the same size as your pillow insert. Then simply sew or glue the inside-out fabric with a half-inch seam allowance. Make sure to leave a 10-inch opening at the bottom. From there, flip the fabric right-side out, insert your pillow, and sew the opening shut. Fun!
2. Add architectural molding panels
Olaniyi Swarn, an interior stylist and writer at jadoreledecor.com, suggests adding an inexpensive architectural panel (available at all home stores) to give your house a richer look. Most panels are modeled after historic plaster designs but are made out of lightweight urethane, so they cost only about $14 a piece.
“It’s a supersimple and affordable upgrade,” says Swarn. The moldings can be applied to either the bottom portion of the wall, like wainscoting, for a traditional look, or to an entire wall for a more refined European aesthetic.
“Not only does it look classic, the panels also eliminate the need for a lot of wall decor,” says Swarn.
3. Upgrade your lighting
Change the appearance of a room by softening harsh overhead lighting.
“I strategically place uplights behind consoles and in corners to create a splash of light cascading up a wall behind a dark space,” says Stacy Verdick Case, owner of PeonyLaneDesigns.com.
Hide small spotlights (you can grab one for less than $30) and puck lights (six will set you back about $35) to light up shelves and artwork.
4. Paint your furniture
If your furniture is getting stale, do a little DIY painting to switch things up.
“We love to choose a bright pastel for porches and sunrooms, or a jewel tone for interior wicker furniture,” says Erin Fausel, lifestyle blogger at American Freight Furniture & Mattress. Try an emerald green, navy blue, or ruby red. A can of spray paint will set you back about five bucks and covers 12 square feet of surface area.
Or paint with what Case calls “oops paint.” Most hardware stores sell premixed colors that didn’t mix correctly at steep discounts.
“Usually a gallon is $5 and a quart is $1,” Case says. Find a color you like, and paint your old furniture to create a unified look.
5. Get stainless steel for less
Many kitchens are so outdated and ugly that people spend thousands of dollars to update them.
“A few home decorating hacks, however, and you could have a completely new-looking kitchen for pocket change,” says Cristina Miguelez, a remodeling specialist at Fixr.com.
For instance: Hate your laminate countertops? Invest in some inexpensive countertop paint—a stainless-steel paint kit from Home Depot costs about $50 and comes in faux finishes such as butcher block, marble, or even stainless steel.
“And if your appliances are ugly and black, paint them with appliance paint and give them the look of stainless steel in less than an hour,” says Miguelez.
6. Fake a built-in
Use floor-to-ceiling bookshelves to create a storage statement wall.
“And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to install expensive custom shelving to achieve this look,” says Fausel.
Simply choose a tall bookshelf (the Ikea Billy bookcase is more than 5 feet tall and costs $59.99) that’s the same color as your walls or trim—or paint the shelves the same color as the walls so they match. If you can’t find a bookshelf that reaches your ceiling, simply put taller decorations on top to create more height.
7. Use a book cover to hide a router
Internet routers, Roku players, and other electronic devices can be an unsightly necessity on your shelves and TV stands. Hide them by taking the pages out of an old hardback book with a cool cover large enough to wrap around the router, says Shawn Breyer of Atlanta’s Breyer Home Buyers.
To remove a book cover, find a book with a spine that’s already loose. Open the cover and cut along the seam that connects the cover to the book with a sharp utility knife. Repeat with the opposite side of the book, and you have your new router cover!
Consider stacking one or two smaller books on top of it to add extra decoration. You can also hide your modem, home security system, video game console, or anything else you deem an eyesore.
8. Make your own wallpaper
One amazing hack to make a wall look like expensive wallpaper is to use $11 gold foil tape.
“Using a pencil and a level, mark out a grid of boxes equally sized on the wall,” says business coach Jessica Barnak of jessicabarnak.com.
Run gold tape along the lines to create the grid.
“Once the grid is done, add the cross lines randomly and as pleasing to your eye,” says Barnak, whose office wall is seen above.