Sometimes your home just feels “off” (like a date with a good-on-paper person who doesn’t quite do it for ya.) You know what I’m talking about: the boxes are checked, but there’s just no zsa zsa zhu. It’s frustrating. And I have no advice for you on the dating front. I’m a design writer, remember? I do, however, happen to know a handful of (nearly) free-ways that can instantly transform your home and infuse that intangible ~spark~ into your space. Even better? You can tackle all of these tips in a weekend. Fear not: your love affair with being at home is about to get heated.
1. Ditch overhead lighting
Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who has overhead lighting on dimmers, you may now pretend your ceiling lights don’t exist. Create some ambiance, people. Use table lamps, wall sconces (if you have them), and even candlelight to create layered lighting throughout your space. You’ll instantly find yourself feeling more zen without harsh lights streaming in at all hours of the day, and it’s much more forgiving toward any eyesores around the house (i.e. dingy carpet, unfortunate wall colors in a rental, or even just baseboards that could use a bit of a scrub).
2. Bring furniture off the walls
If you’re not comfortable laying out furniture just yet, it might feel the most natural to put all of your furniture against the walls to maximize space. Instead, try to focus your floorplan around the function of each room. In a living area, you want to highlight opportunities for easy conversation and relaxation, so anchoring couches and chairs around a focal point—like a fireplace or television—is a great practice. Placing furniture against the walls tends to create a void in the middle of the room that can feel like dead space, and dead space isn’t sexy.
3. Add texture with flowers and plants
Homes are best with at least three living things in them: people, plants, and pets. If you can’t have pets, make sure you have plants! They literally breathe life and fresh air into your space, and they add texture and color that works with any style of decor, from traditional to mid-century. Try an oversized potted plant in a corner, and smaller, seasonal flower arrangements on surfaces like your coffee table, kitchen counters, entryway table, or nightstand.
4. Style empty surfaces (coffee table, nightstand, etc.) with items you love
Purchasing special styling accessories can feel overwhelming when you’re already furnishing an entire room, but there are plenty of items you probably already have on-hand that can be used for this exact purpose. Think of styling pieces as sculptural art—you want to choose items that add a bit of shape or dimension. Maybe you have a vintage bowl on-hand from your grandmothers that can be added to your entryway table (perfect for holding keys!), or to your coffee table as a vessel for putting cherished Instax photos on display. Feel free to think outside the box!
5. Re-hang art at eye-level
In my former life as an interior designer, 95 percent of my clients were previously hanging their art far too high on the wall, yet they couldn’t quite figure out why it didn’t feel right. Instead, try re-hanging your art at eye-level for a person of average height (or about 60 inches from the floor). Your whole space will feel more balanced.
6. Freshen up trim with white paint
The power of paint can never be underestimated, but even if you don’t have the time or budget to paint your whole home, a can of glossy white paint for baseboards and trim can be totally transformative on even the most modest design budget. Dingy or yellowed trim tends to add an unintended grungy vibe, while fresh, white trim feels light, bright, and clean.