8 Easy Home Upgrades for a New Year

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on January 5, 2021

Somewhere between refresh and renovation lies the sweet spot of interior design known as the easy home upgrade.

The easy upgrade makes a bigger impact than rearranging a few pieces here and there, and it costs significantly less than knocking down walls. 

Best of all, these are projects you can tackle on your own or take to the next level with the expertise and trained eye of a designer.

To inspire you to refresh your space without the huge headache, we present eight easy home upgrades for a new year:

Look at the Walls

A new wall color packs the biggest bang for your upgrade buck. 

When it comes to paint, there is no ceiling on the options. Go for a fresh coat of a neutral shade and paint all the trim a glossy, rich blue. 

Or dip into one of Pantone’s colors of 2021 — the calming Ultimate Grey or Illuminating, a cheerful yellow. Commitment issues? Stick to an accent wall

If you want to take your wall makeover a step further, reach for a roll of wallpaper. A modern geometric print or traditional floral automatically resets the look of a room. Go for a simple design if you’re papering an entire room or try something bold on a statement wall. 

And don’t overlook the possibilities of peel-and-stick wallpaper.

Do More with Your Floors

It’s almost a design cliche to say that a rug really ties a room together, but it’s true. 

A strong rug game also adds warmth and dimension to a space. Change out your rugs, change the personality of the room. Or try layering rugs that complement each other but also have different textures or patterns. 

Consider a small tiling project. Tiling the floors of an entryway or mudroom offers functional benefits year-round, capturing dirt and mud before feet can reach carpeted areas. 

Light It Up

 Lighting is one of those elements of design that’s about both form and function. 

If your overhead fixtures, floor lamps and table lamps are uninspiring, make a switch for something that illuminates your room and makes a statement. 

Hanging a dramatic chandelier or minimalist pendant in a space is like putting on your most fabulous pair of statement earrings: the perfect finishing touch.

Edit, Edit, Edit

Easy upgrades tend to be about enhancements or additions to a room.

But removing things packs a punch, too. With fewer objects in a room, you may notice architectural elements or items of decor that were hidden in the relative clutter: 

  • Could your living room lose a chair or side table for a little visual breathing room? 
  • Would your dining-room walls be more dramatic with fewer pieces of art? 
  • What about that vignette in the entryway? Would removing an item or two increase or decrease its visual and emotional impact?

Get Your Furniture Fix

Beyond wall color, the biggest change you can make in a room is changing the biggest piece of furniture in a room. 

Maybe it’s time for a new sofa, new dining room table or new bed. 

These are investment pieces, so bypass trends and go for either something timeless — with good bones, as they say — or something that is you through and through.

black and white glam dining room

Touch Up Your Textiles

Instantly transform the style of a room by refreshing its textiles: curtains, throw pillows, blankets or bedding. 

Textile swaps allow you to play with a new design style without a huge investment. Adding pillows with global patterns, for example, to a minimalist space lets you inject a bohemian feel without a complete design overhaul. 

Swapping out bedding seasonally makes sense from a comfort standpoint — who wants to sleep on flannel sheets in August? — but also gives your eye something new to look at.

Curate Your Art

Want to instantly change the feeling you get in a room? Change the art on the walls.

Arrange your favorite pieces in a different way or swap them from room to room. 

If you want an all-new look, browse for pieces that speak to you online or channel your inner Georgia O’Keeffe and create a new work of art over an old one. 

A few other DIY art ideas: 

  • Hang your home’s blueprints (tips on where to find them)
  • Frame a map, whether it’s a vintage world map or a subway map
  • Hang a mirror with an interesting shape or patina
  • Frame a large black-and-white print of a favorite photo you’ve taken
  • Create an elevated wall collage
Art work

Rearrange for Change

Look around your house for items you can use as decor, then reshuffle and use them in new ways. Designer rule of thumb: have fun with it.

Style your console around that antique typewriter you inherited. Swap your dining room candlesticks with the sculptural vase on the mantel. Borrow accessories from your little-used guest room to add new touches in your home office.

Or simply move the chairs and/or sofas in your living area. The room will automatically look different, and when you sit down, you’ll gain a new perspective, too. 

And a new perspective is perhaps the best thing a new year can offer.

Upgrade your home with help from a Havenly designer. Start by taking our quiz to learn what style suits you.

Words by Staci Sturrock