Quick spring updates: old place looks like new

Perhaps you were hoping to move into a new home this year, but high house prices put you off. Maybe it’s just the arrival of spring that makes you look around your rooms and want something fresh.

To make an old place look like new or just updated, designers and home editors say you can do a lot without spending a lot of money. These include replacing a few pieces of furniture or decorative items, rearranging others, and possibly changing the purpose of a room.


New perspectives are often just as refreshing as new things.

Caroline Utz of home and lifestyle website The Spruce says there’s a simple trick for renters in particular that costs nothing but time.

“I like to place artwork on chests of drawers, tables, mantels or bookshelves. When I need to change something, I move the paintings around to different rooms until I find a new combination,” she said. “The best part is that there are no nails, drywall repair kits, or hanging hardware needed.”

Real Simple’s home director, Erika Finamore, also likes to rethink where she places art in her home.

“It can really make a difference when you add it in an unexpected place,” she said. It makes my little galley more elegant.”

She stuck the drawing on with super sticky gel tape (Duck Brand makes a version) and can easily take it off whenever she wants.

The right scale work of art can almost function as a window. But great art can be expensive.

“Here’s an affordable option,” said Better Homes & Gardens editor Amy Panos. “Dig through your photo album to find an outdoor shot, like flowers, the sky, or a landscape,” and print it out—large. She took a photo from a recent beach holiday and asked Parabo Press to print it on a 24-pixel printer. She said 36-inch paper cost about $30.

You can buy larger frames, or follow Panos’s lead and use wooden bars at the top and bottom to hang the picture.

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Another option is to print your photo on canvas without a frame from sites like Snapbox, Vistaprint, and Canvaspop, or from local stores.


Jessica Dodell-Feder of HGTV magazine follows the classic three steps of spring cleaning: sort, donate, organize.

“Rethinking the litter box or tidying up the closet is a must if you want to feel relaxed at home,” she says. “If you don’t have a system, you can quickly feel overwhelmed.”

To start, she says, take every item out of a closet or drawer before you start sorting.

“It looks messy at first, but it’s so rewarding to look at everything at once. You realize that you can get rid of more than you think,” she says.

Once sorting is complete, set up the system to move forward. Dodell-Feder has an “outbox” – a box or basket for donations or returns. “Items to leave your home.”


Jessica Shaw, director of interior design at architecture and interior design firm The Turett Collaborative in Brooklyn, New York, uses curtains to create “soft walls” for storage areas and to define space.

“A design trick I often use to make a storage space a little more inviting is to use a drapery wall to hide it. Hang a rolled ceiling track or stretch wire – IKEA has options available. This floor-to-ceiling drapery creates a textural addition and acts as an effective room divider.”


Surprisingly small changes in texture or color can make your home look new, says Utz.

“Adhesive tile is the little sister to the more popular version of wallpaper, but it can do wonders on a budget, creating an instant backsplash or adding a fun pattern to your bathroom floor,” she says.

She also suggests replacing cabinet hardware: “Anthropology is my secret source for the most unique handles and drawers, but any hardware store or thrift store can help.”

According to Finamor, refreshing upholstered furniture in the bedroom can transform it.

“Changing out a duvet cover or comforter for a bright color or an unusual fabric like velvet can make a big difference in the look of this space,” she says.

Dimmer switches or smart bulbs are another effective and effortless way to make a room look luxurious and hotely.

Do you have outdated sliding doors? Covering them with stylish removable paper is an instant upgrade.

“Or, if you have old wooden ones like mine,” Fenimore says, take them out and replace them with a tension rod and curtains.


Spring is a good time to lighten up the look of rooms, and besides bedding, there are many things that can be easily replaced. Try a less bulky flat weave rug. Bring in more light with window coverings made from cream-colored opaque fabrics or airy fabrics such as rattan.

“Your sofa is probably the biggest thing in the room,” says Panos. – And, probably, by spring it would be possible to lighten up. Large textiles will do the trick. Check the bed linen aisle for pimply bedspreads. Tablecloths sometimes work too.”

Panos advises looking for something with a visible weave that will stay in place better than a silkier, thinner material when wrapped and tucked around pillows.

Another option is to reconsider how you use space. Perhaps you’ll move your home office to a different room, or position your desk for a different view. A new perspective and purpose will feel fresh.

No matter how you change the look of your home, there’s one last thing experts say should be part of the process: clean everything. Vacuum or polish furniture well, clean windows, door frames, mirrors and all nooks and crannies.

You will start the new year with fresh and renewed energy.

New York-based writer Kim Cook regularly covers design and décor topics for The AP. Follow her on Instagram at @kimcookhome.

For more AP Lifestyles stories, see

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