The advent of a new year often brings with it a desire—even enthusiasm—for a necessary refresh. While I think we can all acknowledge that it’s just a date on the calendar and improvement can come in many forms and during many months of the year, I can’t help but also be drawn to the idea of a refresh for 2021.
Like many people, I’m skipping resolutions this year (can we all agree to just not put that on ourselves?), but I am game for a few easy-to-pull-off ideas to help make my home feel fresh and new—all without a lot of time or money.
To help us brainstorm, we went straight to the source and tapped some of our favorite design experts for their simple solutions for adding a very big, bold 2021 energy to our spaces. Here’s to making our homes peaceful, practical, and pretty for the next year—and beyond.
Mix Up Your Kitchen Staples
With all the home cooking we’re doing lately—not to mention the reinvestment into more thoughtful eating that often comes with the new year—it’s no surprise that the kitchen is the number one pro-approved room to focus on this year. But don’t worry—before you go thinking 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 corral game is on-point. Swap functional items like store-bought salt and pepper shakers for beautiful hand-milled accent grinders. You can house them—and more—stoveside atop a vintage chopping board, layered with a fresh candle and maybe a glass olive oil decanter for some great light refraction in the kitchen.”
Curate a New Pillow Combo
Hoping for a home that feels fresh and new for 2021? 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 design of your 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.”
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.”
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 Bridgerton 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.”
Take a Colorful Leap
We’re calling it now—2021 is the year color comes mainstream again. White walls have been the perennial favorite for a while, but more and more we’re seeing homeowners take bold risks with hues in their home, 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. After closing out 2020, I decided to update my own bedroom with black paint. I’m daring to go more bold in 2021!”
What's a quick decor trick you use to bring new life to your home? We are all ears!