High-Impact Decorating Ideas

Make small decorating changes at home that yield results to give your rooms an easy boost.

Hang It Up

A freestanding coatrack provides a space to hang robes and clothes that are prone to ending up on the floor. It’s an especially handy addition to a guest bedroom. With pretty hangers placed on a few of the hooks, guests can have a temporary closet so you can keep the real one to yourself.

--Donna Smallin, author of A to Z Storage Solutions

Layer It On

Layers keep a room from being one-note. Prop framed pictures or mirrors against a wall, overlapping them slightly. Top a stack of books with a fun little accessory. Drape a throw blanket over an arm chair. And voila, you have depth.

--Jenny Komenda, littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com

Lighting Matters

A new table lamp works wonders for very little money -- as long as you size it right. A too-tall lamp can make it seem as if a spotlight is shining on you. A general rule of thumb is that the bottom of the shade should be at ear or cheek level when you’re seated.

Bookshelf Pick-Me-Up

Calm chaotic bookshelves by organizing books by color. Leave some upright and stack others, placing decorative objects between them. Painting the inside of the cabinet a fun color or covering it with wallpaper or wrapping paper is another easy lift.

--Melissa Gulley, designer

Fireplace Facelift

Don’t let the fireplace be a black hole in the off-season. Fill it with pillar or three-wick candles, a woven basket filled with silk flowers, or a plant in a colorful pot.

Cheap and Chic

A fabric shower curtain is full of decorating potential. Clip rings on and slip it onto a rod for curtains (you can cut the curtain down the middle and hem the edges to get two panels). Or use the yardage for pillows or as a throw at the foot of a bed. With a wide range of solid colors and prints -- from classic paisleys to animal prints -- the bath aisle has never been a better source for frugal decorators.

Beautify Your Bath

Give your bathroom the spa treatment. Add lots of white -- towels, a shower curtain, floor mats -- and contain countertop clutter with a bamboo tray. It’s a surefire way to refresh your space.

A New View

Relocate your art. People often stop noticing things that have been in the same place for a while.

--Aubrey Smiga, designer

Punchy Patterns

Every room needs some pattern, but using it can be a little scary. Conquer the fear with a graphic pillow cover. Just slip it over an existing pillow when you want a change-up. It’s amazing how much oomph one little fabric square delivers.

Cutting the Clutter

On open shelving or in an armoire, match storage bins, baskets, or boxes to make a room look more pulled together and less cluttered. Toss in DVDs, phone books, and other small items. Stick with solid-color neutral containers for flexibility in moving them to other spots when your needs change.

Sofa Solution

Spread a lively fabric or shawl on the back of a tired sofa. Tuck a dowel or broom handle deep between the back and seat cushions to keep the fabric from slipping when someone sits down.

Mirror, Mirror

A big mirror is a great way to instantly transform a space. It can act like another window, practically doubling natural light. Find an interesting mirror at a thrift store, and paint the frame.

--Jenny Komenda, littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com

Lights on Display

Light kitchen countertops with inexpensive desk lamps rather than paying an electrician to install undercabinet lighting. The extra illumination is more than functional -- it also makes countertops shine.

--Jean Normal, stylist

Serving Up Style

Pretty much everything -- from decorative accessories to everyday items like remotes and mail -- look better and more organized when contained on a serving tray.

--Meredith McBrearty, designer

Such Great Heights

Raise a low ceiling with nothing more than paint and a roller. Paint walls and trim the same neutral color, using a satin or semigloss finish on the trim. Then have the paint store mix a 50/50 mixture between the wall color and white to use on the ceiling. The lighter color allows a smooth flow from walls to ceiling, unlike a stark white ceiling that creates a jarring visual stop.

--Meridy King, designer

Beautiful Backsplash

Hang a few artsy tiles, trivets, or trays on the kitchen backsplash. Just because you haven’t splurged on sparkling tile doesn’t mean you should neglect the space completely.

Making an Entrance

First impressions count, so considering sprucing up your entryway. Start by bringing in a small dresser, table, or bench to create a focal point. Then lay a rug and some accessories. A porcelain umbrella stand or a copper boot tray can beautify the everyday stuff. A mirror also adds great style and function.

Creative Centerpieces

Do away with tired and expected dining table centerpieces. A collection of interesting objects -- an old pewter pitcher, a big bowl filled with mounded moss and a crystal sphere, an antique mercury bottle -- is much more interesting than a pair of candlesticks. The more unusual the better!

--Aubrey Smiga, designer

Fooling the Eye

Hang curtains near the ceiling rather than just above the window trim. It gives the illusion of height -- great for a small room or a low ceiling.

Magazine Scene

Let a colorful sturdy tote or bucket function as a magazine holder. It adds instant personality, and the portability is always a plus.

Lighten Up

Swap out that serious, heavy Oriental rug for a sea grass area rug to lighten both the room and your mood. Go a step further by layering a smaller, patterned, flat-weave rug for a graphic punch.

--Liz Levin, designer

Everyday Updates

Swap out the coverlet, pillows, or throw on your bed. Any, or all, are easy enough to change and will make it seem like you have a new room every season.

--Janna Lufkin, stylist

Artwork Adjustment

If your art seems to float in space, move it closer to the sofa or table it’s hanging above. The items should relate, not disconnect. You can also make small art seem large by butting several frames against one another so they read as one piece.

Wonderful Wallpaper

Wallpaper the drawer or door fronts of a painted dresser or cabinet. You’ll get a custom-looking piece with loads of impact.

The Little Things

Add a new trash can or canisters in the kitchen, or a soap dish and countertop accessories in the bathroom. You might be surprised to see how the really small things often make the biggest difference.

Bringing the Outside In

Cut branches from trees or shrubs in your yard and put them in a vase. You’ll have a bouquet that lasts about a month -- way longer than fresh-cut flowers. You can also buy cut greenery, such as leatherleaf or coffee plant, for about $1 a stem from a florist and arrange it in a vase.

--Donna Talley, stylist

If Walls Could Talk

A puzzle you put together, plaster-cast handprints from elementary school, or a map showing a favorite destination can be a conversation-starting art piece that personalizes a space. While you’re at it, get Grandma’s old plates and platters out of the cupboard. Family treasures are more meaningful hung on a wall than stashed away.

Splash of Color

Paint the rear wall of an upstairs landing a color that you only discover upon ascending the stairs. What a fun surprise!

--Elaine Griffin, designer

Organization or Decoration?

A decorative basket at the bottom of the stairs is so much easier on the eye than the stacks of stuff that tend to accumulate there. Drop things in it, then disperse items in one swoop when you’re already making a trip upstairs.

--Donna Smallin, author of A to Z Storage Solutions

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