After spending so much time at home, you may be tired of looking at the same old rooms. Changing things up can make a big difference, and you don’t have to break the bank to do it.


Change up the Color

It’s surprising how much a new coat of paint can update a room, a single wall, a piece of furniture or even your front door. “The most dramatic and easiest way to refresh a space is to paint it,” says Stephanie Andrews, the founder of Balance Design in Candler Park. “Accent walls are coming back, so if you don’t want to paint a whole room, you can paint just an accent wall.”

Visit a paint store or home improvement center to check out the colors. You’ll find lots of guides on colors and how to use them effectively. With a little preparation, you can DIY a new paint job in any room.

Balance Design / Photo by Christina Wedge

Update the Kitchen

You spend so much time in the kitchen; why not make it more appealing? Refurbish your cabinets with new doors, paint or hardware. Check out The Hardware Hut for stylish cabinet knobs and pulls, cabinet hinges, under the cabinet lighting, drawer organizers and more.

Add Style with Stickers

For a super-easy refresh, wall decals are the way to go. “We are very excited about removable peel and stick wallpapers. They can really update a space, especially an apartment when you don’t have the flexibility to paint,” Andrews says. “Even creating just an accent wall can be really rejuvenating.”

A wide range of designs is available, from modern to traditional. Just peel and stick – they’re even repositionable. Check out Chasing Paper for wallpaper, stickers, chalkboards, murals and more for a quick refresh on any wall in your house.

Buy High Quality

If you’re looking for ways to refresh your living room, but you think items look too classy to work for the messiness of your family, think again. “If you buy quality, things are easily cleaned, and the items can handle it,” Andrews suggests. “Buy things that are high quality and meant for high traffic. Invest in what you can invest in, and don’t cheap it out, because then it’s just throw-away furniture or rugs.”

Designate Spaces

This year, your home might have become your and your spouse’s workplaces and your children’s classrooms. Organize what you have to create designated office and classroom spaces. “Have very specific spaces set up in an organized way that make you feel like, ‘Okay, we can manage the clutter of school and the clutter of work.’ With smaller spaces, collect the clutter and put it in a box to put it away when you’re done,” Andrews says. “Deep decluttering definitely refreshes the space.”

Switch up the Textiles

Make that old sofa look new again with a few brightly colored throw pillows. Purchase a new bedspread or duvet cover to dress up the bedroom. Hide worn or outdated upholstery with a sofa or chair cover. Change what you walk on – switch out your throw rugs and doormats for an easy way to update your style.

Pottery Barn

Make a Play Area

Consign the toys scattered around your house to one area. A corner of the bedroom or basement is a great place; add bins for organizing toys, art supplies and games. Wall shelving, fabric buckets or a bookcase are great ways to keep toys organized. Add a colorful throw rug, paint a section of the wall with chalkboard paint, add a teepee or art easel – whatever sparks your kids’ interest. Check out Pottery Barn Kids for fun playroom ideas and furniture.

Inspirational Hunt

“Find pictures that speak to you and your personality,” Andrews says. “Curating those pictures when there’s millions of them is sometimes overwhelming. Put in the search bar specific words that describe you, such as global, eclectic, fresh living room. Even if it doesn’t have anything to do with your specific house, if the elements in the photo stir you, it’s helpful to identify. You save a picture of a huge picture wall, and then, you personalize it with your own picture wall that’ll make it completely you and will give you the feeling you got when you saw the original picture.”

Smart Switches:

  • Create a gallery wall of framed photos, plates and small mirrors.
  • “Keep your old sofa but get a new pair of chairs or a new light fixture, which can really make a huge difference,” Andrews says.
  • Lighten up the bathroom with a new shower curtain and rings.
  • Refresh faded or rusty outdoor furniture with a coat of spray paint.
  • If you can afford it, make plans in the winter to add a screen porch or deck or redo your backyard. “It’s a really great investment for having more usable space and giving you more nature space,” Andrews says.
  • Invest in floating shelves or ledges to display photos and special possessions.
  • “Plants can easily refresh the space,” Andrews says. “Put together a project of learning about the plants that you get and which room is best going to serve that plant.”
  • Andrews’ philosophy: “How you maintain your home, from cleaning to painting to repairing, is what keeps you invested, and it also keeps up your investment.”

ORDER by Kate


Donation Station

Donate unused items or supplies you or your kids have outgrown.

“My rule for getting rid of clothes: Pull out what you love and then decide what to get rid of based on what’s left,” says Kate Swenson, founder of ORDER by Kate. “This is a good time to do a onceover and separate your casual clothes from your business clothes and really think about what you can simplify.”

If you have a hard time convincing your child to get rid of items, Swenson has some helpful suggestions: “When you tell them there are other children who could enjoy this or who aren’t as fortunate, they’ll respond to that. Bringing a feel-good element to donating makes a difference. Sometimes, we’ll play a game with the children: for every toy you keep, you get one point and for every toy you donate, you’re going to get four points. Whoever wins gets a reward.”

For Your Furry Friend

Sort through all the items you have for your pet by gathering them together. Is there a place where your pet hangs out the most? Put most of his items there. Organize grooming supplies together, treats together and medicines together. Throw away broken toys. Create a “taking a walk” supply section by your front door. Wash pet beds and blankets. Update food and water bowls. The Richell Pet Stuff Tower for Food Storage has two bins that hold up to eight pounds of dry food, a food scoop and side hooks for pet accessories.

Sort and Label

“Look around your house, and select the area that causes the most anxiety for you and your family,” Swenson says. “Remove all the items from the space to start with a clean slate to work with. It’ll look a little hectic before it looks better. Start sorting like items together, and remove items that don’t belong in that space. Once you see what you have, create a space for those items, and decide on the organizational items and labels you need. When you label bins, you’re more likely to put things back in the right space. Everything should have a home.”

Learn to Love Less

You know your space is cluttered, but you have a difficult time downsizing. “People have a hard time getting rid of things, because they think, ‘I spent so much money on it,’ or ‘I’ll use it someday.’ If you haven’t used it in two years, it’s time to say goodbye,” Swenson says. “Once you start getting rid of things, it creates a domino effect, and it gets easier as you go.”

People might attach emotions to items. How are you going to donate that sweater from your mom, even if you’ve never worn it? Or you might think your kids will be hurt if you toss out their crafts and science projects. “If you don’t love it, put it in the donate box. Someone else will love it more,” Swenson says. To organize kids’ items, Swenson recommends getting a memory box for each child. “Keep the art the child’s most proud of and what really touches you. Display a few of the crafts in a shadow box and show them off as art. Then, you swap it out every year. For everything else, take pictures of items, and send the photos to companies who can create picture books for you.”

Declutter the Office

You’ve brought work home with you all year long, and now the line between work and home is blurring. Make work less stressful by reorganizing. File papers, whether hard copy or digital. Tidy up your desk and drawers. Make a backup of important computer files, and throw documents you no longer need in the recycle bin. Clean up your kids’ study areas, and refresh school supplies to create classroom baskets. Find organizational items to fit all spaces from The Container Store.

Forgotten Spaces

According to Swenson, people often forget the garage, attic and storage closets. When you’re cleaning, you might be tempted to add more items to these areas to deal with another day. As you’re decluttering, work these spaces into your reorganizing. While you’re sorting, you might find items that are new to you, or things that will be wonderful for someone else.

Don’t forget smaller spaces, either. Get on the stepladder to organize the kitchen cabinets that are hard to reach, clean up under the sink areas, and sort through the catch-all junk drawer.

Sort the Small Stuff:

  • “Moms are often focused on getting the kids’ and husband’s areas organized. Start with yourself,” Swenson says. “Show your family your organized space and ask them to do the same.”
  • Keep track of your lists and to-dos with an app, like Moleskine Timepage.
  • Purchase over-the-door shoe bags with pockets to store small items.
  • Swenson says, “If you purchase something, get rid of two things. Instead of adding, manage what you have.”
  • Sort through electronics and chargers. Get rid of wires that don’t work anymore.
  • “It’s OK to have a junk drawer if it’s organized. Get drawer dividers to have an organized space for your little items. It’s much easier to maintain,” Swenson says.
  • Toss makeup that’s expired. Some containers have expiration dates or symbols with numbers and months that indicate the expiration.
  • “Start small,” Swenson recommends. “Take it in strides. Don’t tackle everything at once. People look at the whole and think they need to do everything, so they end up not doing anything. Pick a certain space and give yourself a time limit. Clean the linen closet for 15 minutes, throw away what’s torn, and get rid of what you don’t use. Make it a game to get things done.”

-Emily Webb and Mary Williams

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