Home Decor

8 Totally Doable Decor Swaps to Refresh Your Home

No big purchases or renovations necessary (phew!), say our favorite experts.

January 20, 2021
Photo by Julia Gartland

The advent of a new year often brings with it a desire—even enthusiasm—to refresh our spaces. While I sometimes think that January is just another month on the calendar and that home improvement can happen anytime during the year, I can’t help but be drawn to the idea of an update in the beginning of the year—especially if it doesn't require a ton of time, effort, or money.

So, we tapped some of our favorite design experts for their easiest solutions to make over our spaces. Here’s to making our homes more peaceful, practical, and pretty in 2022—and beyond.

1. Leave Your Comfort Zone

There’s just something about a new year that makes us a bit gutsier—more willing to try new things, both inside and outside of our homes. Capitalize on that energy by choosing one or two new additions that really take you out of your comfort zone, suggests Chelsea Coulston, the content creator behind the blog Making Home Base. “The new year is a great opportunity to boldly try out something new in your space,” she says. “Instead of sticking with your tried-and-true style, try hanging a new wallpaper or an eye-catching light fixture. Both are things that can be easily replaced if they don't work out—but if they do, you'll be making a serious statement!”

2. Let in the Light

Depending where you live, natural sunlight can be short supply at the beginning of the year, which can makes us feel unmotivated and sluggish. An easy solution to reinvigorating your space and personal energy reserve? Amplify the light you already have. Clean the grime from your windows or swap your room darkening shades for a set that lets in a bit of diffused light. Relocate your WFH zone to a spot that boasts great afternoon light to help you power through the 3 p.m. slump. Or, my favorite tweak: Splurge on a few smart bulbs, like these from Philips Hue. They can be dimmed and brightened according to your needs, and the color can be adjusted to mimic everything from bright daylight to the soft glow of an evening sunset.

3. Rehome Your Plants

Those of us with big love for our plant babies know home just wouldn’t be the same without them. Still, the advent of a new year is as worthy of a time as any to examine where—and how—you display your favorite greenies. “One thing I’ve been focusing on in the new year is updating all the planters and pots I have my plants in,” says Lauren Comer, the creator behind Pinch Plate Party. “For so long there was a boho trend of using baskets to display indoor plants. Instead, I’m upgrading my decor by repotting my plants into ceramic, terracotta, or metal planters for a fresh look.”

4. Mix Up Your Kitchen Staples

With all the home cooking we’re doing lately, it’s no surprise that the kitchen is the number one room to focus on. But before you think that you need to install a new backsplash or save up for new countertops, know that reinvention is actually much closer (and cheaper) than you think. The goal? Simply swap or upgrade some of your workhorse items (think: grocery store basic spices or your mismatched cooking utensil collection) for options that feel more cohesive and stylish.

“I love to start the year off with a few fresh swaps at home, and one of my favorite places to do so is in the kitchen,” says designer Blair Moore, co-founder of Moore House Design. “Getting your kitchen looking beautiful—and acting functional—really sets the pace for the new year. One great step is to make sure your stove game is on-point. Swap functional items like store-bought salt and pepper shakers for beautiful accent grinders. You can house them—and more—stoveside atop a vintage chopping board, layered with a fresh candle and maybe an olive oil decanter for some great light refraction in the kitchen.”

5. Curate a New Pillow Combo

Hoping for a home that feels fresh and new? Leave your big pieces how they are, and play around with your accessories instead. Changing up just your accent pieces (think: the palette of your bedsheets or bathroom towels) may be just enough to make your whole space—old couch and all—feel entirely fresh. Our favorite spot to inject some playful new energy? Your throw pillows.

“Throw pillows are often overlooked, undervalued, or underinvested in, but good ones can quickly elevate any design,” says Eva LaRocque, founder of Eva LaRocque Interiors. “Consider kicking off the new year by investing in a new thoughtfully-curated pillow combination for your sofa or bed. The difference between randomly thrown together pillows and ones that layer or pull in the colors seen in your rug or throughout your room can make a major difference.”

6. Switch Around Your Collections

I’ve long been a fan of collecting vintage cutting boards. There’s just something about the worn wood and unique shape options that speaks to me. I never break them out for actual hosting (I’m sure there’s a way to clean the wood properly, I just haven’t done it), but I love to display them throughout my kitchen, like leaning against my backsplash or on an open shelf. One thing I haven’t done though? Taken them out of the kitchen. They just make sense to me there—that is, until I got a genius tip from designer Delia Kenza that made me think otherwise.

“People forget they can switch around their collections by moving them to a different room or changing up how they’re displayed,” explains Kenza. “This small swap can have a huge impact, and make your whole space feel brand new. Take the time to move around what you display where—for instance, if pottery is your thing, reorganize your pieces according to size or color instead. And, when in doubt, group your collections together—something as simple as vintage matchboxes can be more interesting if grouped in a pretty bowl.”

7. Swap Your Framing

There’s no questioning the impact art can make in a space, but most people splurge on a piece only to throw it in any old frame. This year, commit to mixing up the frames encasing the pieces around your home to styles that truly help them sing, whether that’s a gilded masterpiece that would look right at home in The Met or a sleek colored metal frame suited to the MoMA. The end result will be an artsy refresh that will have your pieces looking their absolute best.

“A fun and simple way to refresh your room is upgrading the framing of your existing art pieces,” suggests Laura Hodges, owner and designer of Laura Hodges Studio. “A picture ledge is also a great way to add and change your artwork or photos quickly and without damaging your walls.”

8. Take a Colorful Leap

White walls have been the perennial favorite, but more and more, we’re seeing homeowners take more risks with hues, bringing a whole new energy to their spaces. This year, why not commit to an out-of-the-box shade in at least one of your rooms?

“Painting is a fairly easy, affordable task that can make a huge impact,” says designer Crystal Sinclair of Crystal Sinclair Designs. “Rooms with a lot of light look best in a lighter tone, while it’s great to accent darker rooms in a mid-to-dark tone. It’s all about reading the room and figuring out what it calls for. [Last year], I decided to update my own bedroom with black paint!”

This post was updated January 2022 with even more decor swaps to try this year.

What's a quick decor trick you use to bring new life to your home? We are all ears!

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