Refreshing a room that’s feeling drab or dated is easier than you might think. A room makeover doesn’t need to involve new furniture or a big budget. In fact, you can achieve an updated room that delivers on style with only a couple of simple tweaks to the decor.
Take inspiration from these points below and discover how to easily update a room.
1 / Paint
You didn’t hear it here first—a fresh coat of paint on the walls can truly transform a room. Even if it’s white, it’s guaranteed to brighten up your space and make it feel new again. If you’re craving more colour after years of white and greige, try a muted version of a hue that’s already in the decor. In Jean Stoffer’s design above, soft grey-blue walls paired with deep blue velvet curtains make this bedroom feel extra cozy.
Thinking beyond walls, apply fresh paint to doors, trim, well-worn floors or dated-looking furniture. In the image above, contrasting doors and trim – along with the jute runner and contemporary art – freshen up an older home’s hallway.
DIY-ers: don’t forget to research surface prep and the best paint sheen. For inspiration, see our paint guides: Paint Colour Picks for 2022 reviews the colour trends, while Update With Paint lists our interior designers’ go-to hues as well as sheens.
2 / Wallpaper
If you haven’t noticed, wallpaper is having a serious moment. It’s being embraced in every room of the house—even the kitchen. Like paint, wallpaper has the ability to recast a room in a different light. Even better: you don’t need to fully commit when you use a removable (peel & stick) type or apply it selectively on a feature wall or niche.
We’re slightly obsessed with all the design options available, from landscape murals and botanical prints, to geometric patterns and abstracts. Go bold and bright on one end of the scale or muted and minimalist on the other. Scenic panoramic murals look stunning in dining or bedrooms while maximalist prints work well in smaller spaces like a powder room.
3 / Lighting
Arguably one of the simplest, highest-impact ways to update a room is lighting. Especially now, when bold lighting statements are abundant and available in a wide range of materials, styles, and prices. Replacing an outworn light fixture with something special – new or vintage – sheds a whole new light on a room. Imagine the dining room above without that spectacular bubble chandelier and simple brass wall sconces enhancing the painting?
4 / Rugs
The perfect rug brings character, colour, warmth, and polish to a space. Add or change out a rug to define an area or give your decor a more unified look. Larger floor coverings can be pricey, so find a style that you love and keep an eye out for seasonal sales.
Jute or natural rugs are a fresh-looking option and less expensive than wool. Jute looks fantastic layered under a smaller vintage rug (seen above). Whatever you do, be sure to buy a big enough rug—this Rug Guide has handy tips for sizing and placing rugs in each room.
5 / Pillows & Linen
Swapping out pillows or covers for new ones is probably the one of the easiest steps you can take to change the mood of your room. It’s also a swift way to change the colour scheme. Looking for more luxe? Add a couple of velvet pillows in jewel tones. More coastal? Add saturated beachy hues in natural fabrics.
Don’t forget to choose a variety of textures: Neutral bedrooms become a more stylish, inviting haven when you incorporate layers of linen, such as a quilted coverlet, a knit throw, and different-shaped pillows. The layered-texture effect not only makes the bed look extra-cozy, but also provides warmth when you need it.
6 / Wainscotting & Wall Panelling
Adding a wood wall treatment is another way to transform a room. It injects character and texture while being surprisingly cost-effective (i.e. it’s more affordable than wallpaper). We also love how expressive wall panelling can get once you decide on the look. Think beyond the traditional white wainscot—take a peek at our post on wainscotting & wall panels or your favorite design publication to see what we mean.
7 / Rearrange Furniture
Here’s a fantastic idea: instead of figuring out what to add or replace, rethink the arrangement. Your wallet will thank you!
It may sound daunting, but rearranging furniture only involves a few steps and an extra pair of hands:
- Purge items that you don’t like, use, or are cluttering the space.
- Review images of room layouts online (look at your favourite designers’ portfolios or an interiors magazine), making note of what might work for your room.
- Recruit a friend or family member to help you move furniture around.
Some tips to try: Angle accent chairs with a side table in a conversational grouping, place furniture away from the wall, and/or swap in a piece from another room.
Last but not least, here’s a formerly dated dining room that incorporates several of the elements that we reviewed above. Can you spot them? The end result is a refreshing room that’s full of character—who wouldn’t want to spend time here?
As you can see, a tweak (or two) with the wall treatment, decorative accessories or furniture layout, can make a huge difference without having to splurge on new furniture or a whole new design.