Aug 27, 2023
Designers Swear By These Clever Things That Make Your Home 10x Nicer
Shopping These upgrades are so genius. Whether you live in a large house or a
These upgrades are so genius.
Whether you live in a large house or a studio apartment, making your home look nicer really doesn't have to cost you a lot of time or money. In fact, according to these trusted designers, there are plenty of clever things for your home that spruce the place up without putting a dent in your wallet. In fact, something as simple as polishing your wood furniture or setting up some ambient lighting can greatly impact the overall look and feel of your home. Here are the expert-recommended products that will take your living space to the next level.
"Revamp your kitchen by changing out your hardware," says Selena Lewis, interior designer at Selena Lewis Designs in Atlanta. "Try out a different metal color or a metal with some added texture!" Available in a variety of shades such as brushed satin, champagne bronze, and matte black, these metal cabinet pulls give your kitchen a sophisticated touch. Made from durable zinc alloy, they come in a range of sizes to fit your cabinets and drawers perfectly.
"Change out your outlet covers to add a little character to your powder bath," Lewis suggests. "It's a small change that will never go unnoticed when hosting friends." Made out of zinc alloy, these outlet covers lend an elegant, contemporary vibe to your bathroom — or any other room in your house. Choose from three classic shades: crisp white, matte black, and neutral beige. Also included along with the pair of covers is a set of screws with a matching finish, so you can install them for a seamless look.
"Changing out the artwork in your home is an easy and inexpensive way to bring back some excitement on your walls," says Lewis. For fans of abstract art, this set of four graphic prints really can't be beat. Printed on semi-gloss paper with UV-resistant ink, the pieces are designed to be hung together to create an eclectic collage. If you have your own frames, you can order them as is — or, you can go for a framed option in either beige or black.
Another one of Lewis’ home design hacks? "Give your old, dated light fixtures a refresh with a metal finish spray paint," she says. "Rust-Oleum Paint makes beautiful, high-quality metal finishes." Safe to use on metal, wood, plastic, and fiberglass, this shimmery paint instantly transforms your dull fixture into something sophisticated and eye-catching. The lightweight formula acts as both primer and paint, drying to the touch in just 30 minutes. One can covers up to 15 square feet, so you’ll have plenty to upgrade multiple fixtures, if desired.
When repainting a doorframe, Amber Shay, National Vice President of Design Studios at Meritage Homes, suggest neutral tones if you want to play with other accent colors. For a statement, however, she advises charcoal gray for some drama or blue or green for something fun that "still blends well with natural elements." This chalk-style paint can be used on indoor and outdoor surfaces, drying to a smooth, matte finish that can easily be distressed if desired. A 16-ounce can covers up to 60 square feet, which is enough to paint a standard dining room table or dresser.
According to Shay, natural materials "add texture and warmth" to a space — and this jute rug is a fantastic way to make a room feel more inviting. Its light beige hue and handwoven design bring a summer-all-year-round vibe to any bedroom, living room, or kitchen. The long, rectangular shape would also look particularly good in your entryway.
It may be a little detail, but dressing up your box of tissues in a cover can boost the overall ambience of your space. This rattan cover has a laid-back, island-inspired feel, making any room feel a bit more relaxed. The open-bottom design allows you to easily slip the cover over any standard square box of tissues — a slot at the top allows you to pull each tissue through.
Shay recommends incorporating "light and bright" colors and textures into your home. "It can remind you of your favorite vacation and is versatile enough to work for every season," she explains. For instance, you can freshen up your current throw pillows with these striped linen pillow covers. Available in navy, gray, khaki, and black, the subtly patterned covers incorporate both vertical and horizontal lines into your decor. They come in a wide range of sizes, so you can find a set that works with the inserts you already own.
When it comes to decorating your kitchen, Shay mentions that a nice backsplash can make a huge impact on the overall look of the space. However, you don't need to shell out a ton of money on professional tiling behind your sink. Instead, invest in these peel-and-stick tiles. With a three-dimensional texture, the self-adhesive tiles look like the real deal — and they couldn't be any easier to install or remove. Choose from sophisticated shades of black, white, and gray.
Tiled flooring can also make a big impact in your kitchen, according to Shay. Updating the look of your floors doesn't have to be a huge investment — these peel-and-stick tiles can easily be installed without any grout or special tools. The ornate pattern livens up an otherwise-simple kitchen, and since the vinyl is water-resistant, you don't have to worry about the tiles becoming damaged by spills. Each pack includes enough tiling to cover up to 10 square feet — each piece can be trimmed to fit your space.
Moving to the living room, Shay emphasizes that furniture makes the biggest impact in defining a space — so if your wooden pieces are looking a little dull, you can perk ‘em right up with this orange oil polish. The deeply penetrating formula moisturizes and renews fine wood surfaces that have dried out or faded. Not to mention, it leaves behind a refreshing orange scent that makes your home smell ah-mazing.
Decorative accents can make a significant impact in your living room, as well, says Shay. This trio of hardcover books adds an aesthetically pleasing touch to any coffee table or bookshelf — and you’d never guess that the inside pages are actually blank. Each book displays the name of a different city — Paris, London, and New York — infusing your space with a touch of curated culture.
As for the bedroom, Shay believes that your bedding has a big influence on the overall feel of your space. You really can't go wrong with this ultra-soft duvet cover. Made out of smooth, breathable microfiber, the cover effortlessly fits over your comforter and secures with a set of eight corner ties. There's a wide palette of neutrals and jewel tones to pick from — opt for a subdued hue like khaki or linen, or go for a bold shade of forest green or burnt orange.
Complete with a flat sheet, fitted sheet, and four matching pillowcases, this microfiber set will keep you in comfort year-round. It's all thanks to the luxurious, lightweight material, which wicks away sweat in the summer while keeping you cozy in the winter. Pick from seven calming shades, including crisp white, ice blue, and charcoal gray.
"Exterior light fixtures can enhance your sidewalks or driveways and the overall style of your home," says Shay. What's especially great about these solar-powered stake lights is that they’re so low-maintenance. They charge in the sun during the day, then automatically light up at night. The durable, waterproof design also makes them resistant to rain and frost. Each pack comes with six lights for lining your pathway, porch, or garden.
Another way to illuminate your outdoor area? One of these stunning globe-shaped stake lights, or — even better — a collection of them. Constructed from artful cracked glass, the warm white LED light is incredibly hands off — it automatically charges throughout the day and powers up at night. And, since it's waterproof, it's hardy enough to withstand some inclement weather. Choose from three sizes.
"Add hardware to garage doors to make them feel more upscale," suggests Shay. It's actually quite easy to do — these magnetic accents attach directly to your door and can be adjusted to your liking. While they may look like solid iron, the decorative pieces are actually constructed out of rust iron-finished plastic — making them both lightweight and wallet-friendly.
It may be a small detail, but ensuring your rug's corners are flat on the ground can make your space look instantly more put together. Victoria Holly, owner and designer of Victoria Holly Interiors in Los Angeles, recommends using these sticky grippers to keep your rug flat, once and for all. "These are my favorite product to help smooth out stubborn rug corners and prevent tripping on rug corners," she says. "They're great because they have a rug side and a floor side, so it works well for both rugs on hardwood floors and cushions on wood benches." Not to mention, the flexible grippers are easily removable and reusable — just wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to reactivate the adhesive.
"I love the Scotchgard Fabric Protector spray and it's the first thing we spray on our clients' furniture after an installation," says Holly. The long-lasting formula dries to a clear, odorless finish, creating a water-repellent barrier on your couches and chairs. You can even mist it over throw pillows, curtains, and clothing. Scotchgard's spray shields against water-based spills without affecting the breathability of fabrics — it's even safe to use on delicate fabrics such as silk and wool.
Whimsical and eclectic, this set of patterned cocktail napkins will be a hit at your next dinner party. "These block-print cocktail napkins are so playful and beautiful and perfect for entertaining!" says Holly. Made of airy cotton with a contrasting scalloped edge, each napkin has its own distinct personality. The multipack includes a variety of different designs, so each guest can pick their favorite. You can also opt for dinner napkins in a variety of designs.
Holly reminds us that not all faux plants are created equal, but this faux Spanish moss is definitely worth picking up. "I love this faux Spanish moss. I use it for styling with larger faux trees around the base for a more organic look," she says. The lifelike plants are great for accenting larger arrangements, but they can also be displayed on their own as well — let the fronds spill out of a planter on a bookshelf or allow them to cascade down a wall.
Available in eight wood-colored shades — ranging from cherry to ebony — this stain marker allows you to touch up small scratches in your wooden furniture and floors. "I love these markers — I have them in almost every color," says Holly. "I use them for quick touch-ups on antique or vintage furniture." Apply the pigmented formula with the narrow felt tip, then wipe away any excess. The stain is also quick-drying, so you can go back to using your furniture immediately.
"Easily paint grout lines between tile to completely transform the look of the area," advises Thomas Borcherding, certified kitchen and bath designer at Homestar Design Remodel in St. Louis. This white paint marker makes application easy as can be — with wide-tip and narrow-tip options, you can cleanly fill in the space between your tiles and wipe away any excess product. The water-based formula is made with gentle ingredients and quick to dry, leaving your grout lines looking fresh and bright.
Borcherding recommends using a paintable caulk to "easily fill any imperfections in cabinetry or trim, such as baseboards." This highly rated acrylic caulk creates a durable seal that adheres to a wide variety of surfaces, and it can be painted over in just 30 minutes. Not to mention, the addition of silicone makes it highly flexible.
"Choose strategically placed wall mirrors or mirrored decor items to create an illusion of space and increase light diffusion," instructs Julio Arco, architect and interior designer with a specialty in pet-friendly design. This hanging mirror is particularly great — you can easily adjust its placement by shortening the rope. The rounded frame features a lustrous gold-tone finish, adding a sophisticated touch to any room in your home. It also comes in a matte black option for those who want something with a more contemporary feel.
"Mirrors can significantly impact our perception of space, making a room appear larger and brighter," says Arco. This mirrored tray, for instance, reflects the light that falls onto your coffee table. Perfect for holding candles, vases, and small trinkets, the tray gives any room an elegant, sophisticated edge. A pair of handles even makes it easy to transport it from one room to another.
"Adding textures is one of my top recommended tips to enhance a home," says Arco. "Textured accessories like a shaggy rug, a knitted throw, or wall art with a tactile component can create a sensory experience, enhance visual interest, and provide comfort and soothing effects." Speaking of shaggy rugs, this faux fur piece comes in so many sizes and unique shades. Opt for natural-looking gray or brown, or switch it up with a pop of coral or turquoise. The high-pile faux fur on top is ultra-soft against your feet, while a nonslip rubber backing keeps the rug from slipping around on your floor.
Another way to add texture? This cozy cable-knit throw blanket made from 100% cotton that makes any living room or bedroom instantly more inviting. Toss it over your sofa, chair, or bedspread — the subtle design livens up any furniture piece you pair it with. There are two dozen hues to pick from, ranging from neutral gray and khaki to vibrant mint green and orchid purple.
"Choosing multifunctional, efficient furniture that can be arranged to optimize space is especially useful for small apartments or homes," says Arco. For example, these floating shelves add a bit of extra storage to a bare, empty wall. Constructed from solid wood with metal guardrails, the trio of shelves features three different sizes — arrange them on top of one another, or stagger them horizontally. Choose from sleek black, crisp white, and rustic exposed wood designs.
Just by looking at it, you wouldn't be able to tell this tufted ottoman is completely empty inside — but it is. Thanks to its hollow design, it serves as the perfect storage space for extra blankets, throw pillows, dog toys, and more. Planning a move? The tweed-covered fiberboard collapses flat for efficient transportation.
Here's another multifunctional piece: a rounded end table that's just as versatile as it is stylish. The top portion can actually be removed and used as a serving tray, while the bottom tier works as extra storage. Plus, its compact size makes it perfect for tight corners and small spaces. Made of sturdy, sleek metal with a powder coating, the modern-looking table won't go unnoticed —even if it doesn't take up a lot of room.
"One of the easiest ways to add depth to a design is to use wallpapers, rugs, and curtains with patterns that you can use to create rhythm, emphasis, and harmony in a space," says Arco. He's particularly a fan of nature-inspired designs, such as this peel-and-stick wallpaper with a lily pad pattern. The self-adhesive paper is easy to install without any water or paste — just peel off the backing and place it along your wall, sliding closet door, or even your dresser drawers. The soft, calming shades promote a sense of serenity in any room.
"Indoor plants not only add a touch of nature to your interiors but also promote physical and mental well-being," says Arco. "Choose pet-friendly varieties that are easy to maintain." By far, the easiest plants to maintain are succulents — and you can pick up a variety pack for a wallet-friendly price. These little beauties only need the occasional drink, so you don't have to worry about watering them on a regular schedule. Line them along your windowsill, on a bookcase, or atop a coffee table.
"Light-filtering curtains or translucent window films can help maximize natural light during the day, which can positively impact mood and perceptions of happiness," explains Arco. These sheer curtains diffuse the light that enters your living room or bedroom, so you can enjoy just a subtle amount of sunshine. The airy fabric has a linen-like feel, which makes your space feel more elevated, as well. Choose from dozens of relaxing hues, including ivory, sage green, and sea mist.
This frosted cling film keeps onlookers from peering into your home — but unlike a set of drapes, the vinyl panels still allow light to pass through. The film also filters out most UV rays and prevents moderate glare, so you can feel more comfortable lounging in your sunny room. Not to mention, installation is quick and hassle-free — just spray your surface with a bit of water to activate the film's static cling.
"For the evening, consider warm, dimmable lights to create a relaxing ambiance," says Arco. That's easily done with this smart light bulb — it pairs with both your phone and your smart assistant, so you can quickly adjust the brightness level with a single tap or voice command. You can even set a schedule, so your light automatically dims at a certain time each evening.
"Having a tidy and well-organized space is linked to an enhanced feeling of wellness," says Arco. "Therefore, baskets, storage boxes, or wall-mounted organizers can help reduce clutter, thus reducing stress and creating a more visually appealing space." These hanging storage baskets are one aesthetically pleasing storage solution — they offer plenty of room for your accessories, books, toiletries, and more. The trio of rustic baskets suspends from a sturdy over-the-door hook, so you can easily access your items as you enter your space. For added security, each basket has a buttoned strap that keeps your things from spilling out.
To keep clutter at bay in the bathroom, this wall-mounted toothbrush holder has space for up to six brushes, a tube of toothpaste, and a handful of other small toiletries. You’ll also find three water cups that fit conveniently over your toothbrush heads — so you can keep your counter clutter-free. The durable unit mounts easily to any smooth surface with the included adhesive pads.
When it comes to tidying the bedroom, utilizing the space under your bed for storage is key. These large fabric organizers are designed with reinforced handles and a zipper closure, and they’re ideal for holding extra clothes, spare blankets, pillows, shoes... anything that's currently filling up your closet. A transparent window on top allows you to easily take stock of your stored items at a glance.
One of Arco's favorite wallet-friendly additions to a room? Scent. This aromatherapy diffuser comes with 10 fragranced essential oils, so you can create a custom blend that promotes a feeling of calm in your home. "Scents can significantly impact our emotions and mood, so choose fragrances that are relaxing and soothing, such as lavender, or invigorating, like citrus," he says. With a sleek wood-grain exterior, the whisper-quiet diffuser looks great on any coffee table or bookshelf.Claire Epting