It happens to everyone eventually. You look around your house and think, “This furniture is looking old. When did this carpet get so stained? And why isn’t there more light in here?”

Things that probably looked great 10 years ago are… tired. It’s time for a refresh! But what can you do if you’re not ready to chuck it all out the back door and start over?


1.  Deeeeeep clean
When we live with things for a while we don’t notice how dingy they get over time, even if we’re careful to avoid big spills or scuff marks. If you haven’t done so in a while, hire a steam cleaner to thoroughly clean carpets, area rugs, upholstery, window coverings, and even tile and grout. The difference will surprise you, and you will feel much better about your home.

Before and after sofa cleaning

Before and after sofa cleaning


2.  De-clutter
Remember how great it felt when you first moved in? Things have a way of piling up and becoming part of the landscape when we’re not looking. Are you still using the fruit basket you thought would transform your family’s diet? Is there a box of doll clothes in the corner whose owner is in college? A bag of old batteries that need to be disposed of? Take the time to look at one area per day or weekend and really critically evaluate what’s there, then ruthlessly purge the things you don’t need. It’s like adding square footage to your home for free, and decreasing your stress level at the same time.




3.  Update accessory color
Just like with clothing fashions, stores carry new wares all the time to tempt us to buy. While it’s smart to go classic, it’s very difficult to create a room that will never look dated, and even if you succeed, the time may come when you’re tired of it anyway. Take a look through the catalogs or websites of some of your favorite stores and notice the color trends you see, then replace smaller items, like pillows, throws, area rugs, plant pots, etc. to reflect those trends. Just a few touches throughout the room will draw the eye and make a connection in your brain that packs a big punch. (Photo: Williams-Sonoma Home)

Williams Sonoma Home Neutral sofa blue pillows

Blue accents bring this room together


4.  Add a metallic, glass, or plexiglass accent
Shiny objects feel new! Take your pick, from weathered pewter to glimmering gold–all metals used in moderation add an update that feels substantial. Metals can be showcased in chair legs, picture frames, vases, and woven into textiles. Likewise, glass tables, vases, or decorative light fixtures bring a bit of sparkle without cluttering the visual landscape of your room. (Photo: Restoration Hardware)

Gray sofa and chair with gold and white accent tables

Gold and marble accents


5.  Layer textures
Never have so many textures lived so happily together. Experiment with velvet, macrame, burlap, and berber textures in similar colors to add interest to your room in a modern way. (Photo: Pier 1)

Neutral and metallic pillows layered on navy sofa

Layered textures


6.  Add an oversized element

Your room will leap to the next level of style if you add one dramatic point of interest. Two categories that work well are oversized canvases and very large pendant light fixtures. Unless you’re particularly bold, it will be hard to leap beyond “large” to truly “oversized,” but for a really fresh look the idea is to exaggerate one element and visually simplify the others. So how about filling your entire entry wall with one huge painting? Or hanging a pendant that’s almost as large as your dining table? If you just can’t wrap your head around it, use painters tape to outline the space on the wall, or suspend paper in lieu of the light fixture. Leave it in place for a few days so that you have time to acclimate to the new look and see if you like it before purchasing.

Blue oversized art with white chair

Oversized art


The beauty of these six steps is that you can implement most of them in a weekend if you schedule right, or spread them out over a couple of months in your free time. Just keep your receipts and track the time you have to return items that don’t work.


DesignFix is a Silicon Valley home design + functionality partnership that combines design and engineering expertise to quickly maximize the beauty and usefulness of your home. Questions? Book a free 15-minute phone consultation.