1. Start with a blank canvas of white and off-whites for floors, walls, and furniture. Then use collections and accents to bring in vivid color that can change with the seasons.
2. Punch up a room with an accent wall in a dramatic paint or wallpaper color.
3. Paint the inside of a frequently used closet for a refreshing burst of color.
4. Fall in love with a favorite fabric or pillow, then find its dominant color and play it up throughout the room.
5. If you're uncertain how much each dose of color should be, use a 60-30-10 formula as a foolproof guide. According to the formula, a predominant color should cover approximately 60 percent of the room (usually the painted walls). A secondary color should cover 30 percent (window treatments, upholstery, and rugs), while accent colors account for the remaining 10 percent (artwork, accent tiles, and accessories).
1. Play with a variety of fabrics in pillows, cushions, and draperies. Make sure the fabrics share at least one common color to hold the look together.
2. Just because a piece of furniture is old and worn doesn't mean it's past its prime. If it's still sound and has nice lines, use paint to transform it into an accent piece you'll be proud to use and display.
3. Dress a wall with pieces you love. Combine interesting groupings of objects, such as round plates over a square sofa or thin vertical objects for a hallway.
4. "Shop" at home and pull pieces from one room into another for a fresh look.
1. Surround a bank of windows or a set of French doors with simple built-in shelving to add storage and style to walls.
2. Install pullout drawers and lazy Susans to maximize cabinet space.
3. Outfit open shelves with attractive, woven baskets for a natural look or metal bins for a more contemporary feel.
4. Install ready-made storage or shelf units in clothes closets.
5. Choose furniture pieces that double for storage, such as a storage bench or ottoman.
1. Lay easy-to-install carpet tiles to define a conversation area or to add color throughout a room.
2. Install light-color laminate flooring as a substitute for natural wood or dark vinyl flooring. It can be applied quickly and is exceptionally easy to maintain.
3. Arrange vinyl tiles in contrasting hues for a retro look.
4. Refinish hardwood floors with a light duty sander and new stain.
5. To break up an open floor plan, use multiple area rugs to define certain areas.
6. Add inviting personality to a foyer's hardwood floor by stenciling a design or pattern.
1. Raise curtain rods to the ceiling, then add floor-length drapes to visually enlarge a room.
2. Line French doors with simple curtains that can change seasonally.
3. Replace boring finials with models made of dramatic, sculptural metal or colorful painted glass.
4. Use full-height draperies to treat a small window, creating the illusion of a larger window.
1. Paint woodwork and trim white to outline and visually enlarge the architecture.
2. Play up cozy under-eave nooks and dormers by adding built-in seating.
3. Add stately columns as transitional elements to help define rooms in wide-open floor plans.
4. Build a wall niche for displaying collectibles. Target an open wall area in a hallway or pass-through and see what you can fit between the studs.
5. Brighten dark or oak-stained built-in bookcases or cabinetry with paint. Replace dated hardware with new knobs, pulls, and hinges.
1. Run a thick horizontal stripe of a color around the perimeter of the room, two-thirds up the wall. Then set off the color with thin stripes of white paint or chair rails above and below the stripe.
2. Install picture molding just below ceiling height to extend the look of crown molding and provide a place hang artwork.
3. Mat and frame special black-and-white photographs. Then arrange them in a grouping at eye level.
4. Stencil a favorite quote in a font style that suits your decor.
5. Install a chair rail in the dining room.
6. Line the backs of bookshelves with wallpaper.
7. Add texture by installing beaded paneling horizontally so the lines follow the perimeter of the room.
1. Add coziness to a plain vaulted ceiling with richly stained beaded board to visually lower the space.
2. Install crown molding to embellish where walls meet ceiling.
3. Create a simple grid pattern with molding to draw the eye upward.
4. Highlight exposed beams by staining or painting them a dark, contrasting color.
1. Add glass blocks to let soft sunlight in while retaining privacy.
2. Light and reflective surfaces deliver the illusion of extra square footage. Incorporate mirrors, metal, glass, glossy paint, and ceramic tile to reflect more light.
3. Introduce sparkle, shine, and elegance by adding crystal accents to lampshades and chandeliers.
4. Mount backless, open cabinets in front of a long run of windows to highlight collections with dramatic backlighting.
1. Add a splash of red in a white or neutral kitchen. Red stimulates the appetite, improves one's sense of smell, and sensitizes the taste buds.
2. Show off your dishes, glasses, and serving pieces with open shelves.
3. Create a family message center by painting kitchen pantry doors with chalkboard paint.
4. Add casters to a small shelving unit for a rolling cart that goes wherever it's needed.
5. Add an eye-catching chandelier over the kitchen island for a touch of glamour.
6. Retrofit a silverware drawer with dividers and cabinets with stackable wire shelves.
7. Tile a backsplash. For low-cost customization, choose a simple 4x4 tile with just a few accent tiles to break it up.
8. Cut off the toe-kick on a cabinet and add a bun leg on each corner or end so it looks like a freestanding piece of furniture. Then paint or stain them to match the cabinets.
1. Transform an old dresser into a custom vanity for vintage character and charm.
2. Add glass cabinet pulls for a light cottage feel.
3. Transform a freestanding cabinet, armoire, or pie safe into a medicine cabinet.
4. Instead of a traditional boxy vanity, soften the look with a sink skirt and gain hidden storage space in the bargain.
5. Bring in a small chair for comfortable seating that doubles as a landing spot for towels or toiletries.
6. Splurge on a small amount of decorative ceramic tile for a stunning vanity backsplash.
7. Re-grout existing tilework to freshen the look.
8. Create a luxury shower by replacing a standard showerhead with a shapely rainshower-style model and bringing in a waterproof bench.
9. Limit bath linens to just one color. That way, they'll always look coordinated.
1. Create a dramatic focal point by hanging a few panels of wallpaper behind a wall-hugging sofa.
2. Take advantage of a sunny bay window by adding a window seat. Include drawers or a lid for secret storage space.
3. Introduce contrast by adding a black coffee table to a room with all-neutral tones.
4. Play up an accent color in the room by tiling the fireplace in an eye-catching color.
5. Arrange a mantel display by gathering a half dozen decorative items with a range of silhouettes. Try out different compositions until you have a look you like.
6. Refresh a brick fireplace with several coats of crisp white paint, then top it with a wooden mantel with decorative moldings.
7. Define an open floor plan with a freestanding divider wall.
1. Upholster the headboard in a favorite color and pattern.
2. Paint all four walls and the ceiling in a soft shade of blue for a cozy, restful retreat. Use low-VOC paint to minimize fumes.
3. Add light-blocking liner to the drapes or shades for a cozier feel.
4. Cover the walls with paintable textured wallpaper.
5. Store out-of-season clothing in underbed storage.
6. Pile on accent pillows to add color and pattern.
7. Bring in an upholstered chair and small side table for a comfortable resting spot.
8. For the ultimate in coziness, install a remote-controlled gas fireplace.
9. Dress up plain closet doors with glass inserts, picture frames, or molding.
1. Install manufactured stone veneers or brick facing around an entry for visual texture and instant curb appeal.
2. Replace the entry light with a handsome coach lantern-style fixture for historic appeal.
3. Build a stone or brick paver entrance walkway.
4. Add shutters or accent trim around windows and doors.
5. Replace standard garage doors with elegant, carriage-style models.
6. Paint the front door in a can't-miss-it shade of red.
7. Cut back plantings that block views of the front door and spill over walkways.
8. Replace the front-door hardware with a sleek, updated handle set.
9. Create an instant garden with container plantings.
1. Use paint to downplay less-appealing architecture. Keep your color palette neutral or low-contrast and wrap the room--the walls, the ceiling, and even the flooring--in the same tones for a seamless look that visually expands space.
2. Paint '70s-era wood paneling a creamy yellow to make the space feel warmer and brighter.
3. Install a false-lighted window to simulate daylight.
4. Build a small wine cellar under the basement stairs, away from light or any heat-generating systems. Wine stores best at a temperature of 55 degrees and a humidity of about 70 percent.
5. Install a floating, engineered-wood floor directly over concrete subfloor.
1. In the laundry room, install a countertop to crown front-loading appliances and give yourself extra work space for miscellaneous chores.
2. Reupholster a standard-issue office chair in a chic, colorful fabric to wake up a tired home office.
3. Create a simple mudroom by lining an entry wall with a long bench and several wall hooks. Stash baskets underneath for hats, scarves and sports equipment.
4. Resurface the floor of a children's play area with easy-clean vinyl.
5. In a hobby room, use a ready-made plate rack to organize craft supplies. Paper easily slides between plate dividers and shelves hold paint, ribbons, glue, and other supplies.
1. Push three small workbenches together along one wall to do the work of one long bench.
2. Paint concrete floors with an epoxy garage floor covering.
3. Take advantage of unused space with an overhead garage storage system.
4. Cover an entire wall with pegboard to hang most-used tools and yard equipment in plain sight and within easy reach.