These quick solutions can make your home feel brand-new.

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The past several months have brought us closer to our homes than ever before, making us familiar with every room's quirks and flaws. For those spaces that just don't feel quite right, a few critical design mistakes could be to blame. However, the remedies might be easier than you think. I sat down with designer Leanne Ford of HGTV's Restored by the Fords fame, to discuss fast fixes for those problem areas that have become even more obvious during this extra time at home. Here are three top design mistakes that have simple solutions you can try today.

Kitchen with wooden table and white cabinets
Credit: Ann VanderWiel Wilde

1. You haven't updated your lighting.

Dated light fixtures instantly reveal a room's age. To refresh your lighting, shop vintage stores for an antique chandelier or pendant, paint your old fixture, or purchase something new. Ford notes that in most cases, you can replace an existing fixture yourself in about 10 minutes. "You can swap out a light really easily and now, all of a sudden, you love your room," she says. And don't forget about outlets and switches, too. Upgrade any dated or damaged switchplates with ones that more closely match the room's style or blend in better with the wall, like this graphite-finish pop-out outlet from Legrand ($48, The Home Depot) that disappears into the wall when not needed.

vintage decor living room black leather sofa
Credit: The Wilde Project

2. Your furniture is pushed against the walls.

Your furniture arrangement has a big impact on how a room feels, and it "should not be smooshed against the walls," Ford says. This creates an awkward open area in the middle of your furniture and makes the room feel closed in. To fix this decorating mistake, pull your furniture in toward the center of the room and rearrange until you find a pleasing layout. Simply adjusting the furniture arrangement can give an entire room a fresh look. Plus, by moving the furniture inward, you create a cozy seating area that's more conducive to conversation. Even in small spaces, giving your furniture some breathing room can make a space feel more open and inviting.

vintage design office with inspiration bulletin board
Credit: Jay Wilde

3. You're not thinking outside a room's designated purpose.

Don't restrict a room to how it's listed in your home's floor plan. For example, many homes include formal dining rooms that are currently going unused when what's truly needed is a functional home office. Ford suggests clearing out the dining room furniture and repurposing the room as a work-from-home space. Alternatively, consider swapping the furniture between two rooms to trade a tiny family room for a larger dining space, for instance. Smaller areas, such as closets or blank wall space, can also be repurposed in unique ways to suit your needs. "Give yourself fresh eyes to reimagine your space and explore," Ford says. "How you lived a year ago or five years ago isn't how you live now. Think of your home in terms of what you need it to be today."


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