Take a long, hard look at your home’s main living spaces. Are they looking a bit stale? Do they really reflect you, your passions, interests and style? If your answer is no, it’s time to make some changes. Thankfully, upgrading the look of a room doesn’t mean you have to completely redecorate. In fact, it’s surprisingly easy when you use these six simple tricks.

1. Rearrange Your Furniture

Sometimes all your room needs is a little reimagining. Start by rethinking the current arrangement of your furniture. Some of my friends move their furniture around all the time because it gives the room a fresh look over and again, and they don’t have to spend a penny!  In contrast, once I have my furniture where I like it, I almost never rearrange it – I have a theory that there is one best arrangement for every room, and once you’ve achieved it, let it be.

To gain a fresh perspective on your room, take every stick of furniture out and start over. Best yet, have some friends help you, or hire a designer who specializes in reconfiguring spaces (We have designers at  Nell Hill’s who do this, so give us a call if you would like some help.). Their fresh eye will do wonders when it comes to revamping your room, putting pieces in spots you never would have considered, but then love once you see them there.

2. Freshen the Paint

A coat of fresh paint is the least expensive and most dramatic way to redecorate a room. Pop open a can and go to town. Dare to experiment because what’s the worst thing that can happen? You hate it. Easy enough. Just pop open a different can of paint and cover up the offending color with something new.

When you’re repainting, don’t forget your ceilings. Gone are the days when our ceilings had to be painted white. Now, your ceiling is another spot where you can express yourself with color. When we were repainting Nell Hill’s Briarcliff this winter, I painted the front gallery our bright, clean Farm House White. Then, I warmed up the ceiling a bit by painting it our soft taupe color, Winter Wheat.

Or, you could paint the ceiling the same color as your walls. I’ve done that in a couple of the bathrooms in my home, and I love how it wraps you in a colorful cocoon. If you dare, be bold and paint your ceiling a strong, contrasting color. A friend of mine just paired the khaki green walls in her large living room with a ceiling painted in our bright coral pink color: Peony. She tied the two colors together with her linens and upholstered fabrics. For instance, she had a huge coffee table ottoman covered in a delicious fabric that featured lost of choral hues.

3. Amp up Your Art

I often see people pick out beautiful furnishings for a room, then style the space impeccably, yet still feel like something’s missing. Almost always, all their space needs is great art.  Take a critical look at the wall space in your room. Is your existing art dwarfed by big, open walls? Are your pieces faded and outdated? Do you have blank walls with nothing on them at all? If so, my advice is to start here, with art. Instead of spending your decorating dollars on accessories, start investing in art. Get a mix of large and small pieces, an array of mediums and subject matters. Then, fill your walls with arresting pieces hung in intriguing montages. You’ll be shocked by how much this one touch will transform your room.

A note to parents of young children: If you are at the stage where your little ones are exploring their surroundings and tabletop accessories just aren’t practical, it’s your season to invest in art. Brighten up your walls, and no one will notice those empty side tables.

4. Update Your Lamps

Tired out lamps completely date the look of a room. So if your lamps are from an era gone by, let them go and get some new. Or, update them with a new lampshade. Sometimes just changing out the shade can work magic.

One thing we notice when we work with customers at Nell Hill’s is that people often don’t get lamps that are beefy enough for their room.  Too often, we see skinny buffet lamps used on end tables. It’s not that these lamps aren’t lovely, it’s just that they don’t match the scale of the other pieces in the room. Instead, pick out a hefty lamp that has a sizable base so it can hold its own in a room filled with large pieces, like sofas and bookcases.

5. Invest in a Chest

If your room currently feels busy and cluttered, you may need to bring in one larger piece of furniture, like a tall bookcase or hutch, to ground the space. You’ll be amazed by how adding a big chest against a wall gives the room oomph.

Believe it or not, the same principle applies to smaller rooms. Sometimes we think we need to furnish our smaller spaces with small furnishings. The end result can be a visually cluttered room. Instead, pick fewer, larger scaled pieces for the space. That’s what I’ve done in my small guest bedroom at my home. At first, I struggled with the room’s layout, filling it full of little pieces I thought were essentials. It didn’t work.  So I cleared the room and brought in a large antique armoire, a double bed and a desk that doubled as a night stand. Success at last!

6. Rethink Your Area Rugs

Area rugs do a lot to lend character to a room. And, because they can be expensive, it’s important to make sure you pick the right ones so you can keep them forever. One detail to pay attention to is the size of the rug. A common mistake people make is to pick a rug that is too small for their space, and it ends up looking like a postage stamp. The challenge is, big rugs can cost big bucks. So we’ve found a way to get around this at Nell Hill’s. We’re big fans of layering rugs on top of each other. We place a larger, less expensive neutral rug on the bottom, like a sisal, then top it with a smaller, higher quality rug, turned at an angle so it appears to be larger than it is. In my living room, I have a huge sisal rug that spans the room. Then, to define my conversation areas, I’ve layered smaller, patterned or colorful rugs on top.

If you’re in the market for a new rug, consider one that features a fun geometric pattern. These peppy rugs are all the rage right now in the design world, and we are loving them at Nell Hill’s. We’re doing lots of geometric rugs and pillows now in very traditional homes, which gives them a fresher feel. We just got in a shipment of hand-tufted, 100 percent wool rugs in great colors like apple green and choral. They come in a huge variety of sizes and are well priced. You’ll love them!

Next Week … I just got back from the huge furniture market in High Point, and I can’t wait to tell you about this season’s hottest trends and my favorite finds.

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19 Responses to “6 Simple Tricks to Amp Up a Room”

  1. Gloria Says:

    I love these tips, especially the one about painting the ceiling, because I just did that! I put up a post about it today! I think I need to go to the chiropractor though cause my neck still aches.

  2. Patti Dame Says:

    Always inspiring! Is there any way you can make the pictures larger? I look forward to every email!

  3. Betty Cunningham Says:

    Hi Mary Carol,

    I always open your email. I love your tips and you are such a class act that I don’t want to miss a thing you have to share. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Happy Spring !

  4. Scribbler Says:

    What a great list of tips today. I am definitely saving this one.

  5. Carol Bartling Says:

    I often look on your web store for the products that you illustrate in your newsletters; but frequently/ most times can’t locate them.
    I.E. what is the price and where can I find the botanical prints hanging over the sofa found on the opening page of April 18th newsletter, I have seen your newsletter feature other botanical prints and would wish to purchase or learn more information but have been unsuccessful. Thank you for a great resource and wonderful ideas. I appreciate reading/ seeing the tips/hints and examples. carol

  6. Mildred Hoppe Says:

    The blue and white geometric rug, what size is it and how much?
    Great blog this week.

  7. Jane Elliott Says:

    I love the idea of layering rugs … but how big do those geometric rugs you have in the store run? They’re great looking!

  8. Jane Elliott Says:

    I love the idea of layering rugs … but how big do those geometric rugs you have in the store run? They’re great looking!

  9. Betty Knackstedt Says:

    Please, what is the price of the beautiful silver based lamp with the black shade (oval shaped)
    Also, In which store can I see this lamp.?

  10. Mary Carol Says:

    I know Betty one of my favorite lamps. It is priced at $622.50 and it is located at the Briarcliff store. Call Janet @877-746-4320 with more questions.

  11. Mary Carol Says:

    Carol–Thank-you so much for your inquiry on the prints featured. Each week we have items from the stores and the online shopping, so pieces may even be personal–such as a gift or antique shown in the picture. For any questions about merchandise please call Janet @ 877-746-4320. At present, we have botanicals in our stores and the online shopping.

  12. Mary Carol Says:

    Mildred–The blue and white geometric rug shown here is a 5×8 and retails for $346.00.

  13. Debra Gray Says:

    I was in your Kansas City Store a few weeks back and ran across that beautiful silver lamp. It is one of the most stunning lamps I have ever seen. Since I had just purchased new furniture and needed two lamps I talked myself out of it. I wanted to cry when I saw it in your blog. Should have bought it. I live a few hours away so I love your blog, almost gives me my Nell Hills fix, as my husband calls it. Thanks for all the great tips, and having beautiful accessories, that everyone no matter what their budget can afford.

  14. Mary Carol Says:

    Jane–Most of the geometric rugs come as big as 8×11.

  15. Mary Carol Says:

    Have a great Easter weekend—see you back next week!

  16. kim Says:

    Mary- I absolutely adore the idea of the farmhouse white and winter wheat. Sounds crisp and clean!

    Art: I have started a collection of my favorite places in Europe. They have beautiful watercolor art in just about every city, so I have starting a lovely collage for my house (when I get one).
    Paint: the other wonderful thing about Europe is the rich colors, they are not afraid to use it. Find colors you adore from places you’ve been – if you’re afraid to do the whole room- start with an accent wall.

  17. Sherry Says:

    Please consider opening a store this side of the Mississippi. I live in Virginia and would LOVE to be able to purchase any item I see in your wonderful pictures of rooms. My best to you.

  18. Robin Howes Says:

    What is the cost the the hefty silver lamp (w/ black shade) shown above and are there any left and different shapes as well?

  19. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Robin—That gorgeous lamp is $622.50. Call Janet @877-746-4320 for more details.

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