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25 Instant Upgrades




1. Introduce a quick coat of paint in a bold color behind your built-in shelves to add contrast and visual interest to your space. For a more conservative approach, go for a color that’s a few shades lighter or darker than your shelves.

2. If your dresser or cabinets are looking a little glum, give them a facelift with some new hardware. We love the exquisite beauties at Hutter Wholesale and the whimsical assortment at 5 green boxes. Can’t decide which ones you want? Nowhere does it say your hardware has to match.

3. When it comes to the kitchen, stainless steel is the new black. Or so they say. If you've got a little more spunk in you, try sprucing up your kitchen with these fun-colored appliances: SMEG fridges, Dualit toasters and La Cornue ranges—all of which come in practically every color of the rainbow.

4. Not yet ready for high-end art? Buy a collection of beautiful frames and hang them on your wall for a funky, modern display. Pottery Barn sells frame risers so you can overlap them for an interesting effect.

5. There’s nothing that brings life to a room as beautifully—and efficiently—as a quick trip to the florist. Swing by Moss Pink Flora or The Perfect Petal and bring home a stunning bouquet. Or, if your thumbs are particularly green, grow your own floral arrangement. (Orchids make some of the world's most exotically elegant décor—or try an annual bulb such as an amaryllis, which blooms even during winter months.)

6. It's the oldest trick in the book: a great mirror creates the illusion of doubling a space. Restoration Hardware has window-sized (and -shaped) mirrors that will open up your room and amplify your light.

7. Make your walls interactive with the latest and greatest in paint: dry erase paint. This application is marvelous in kids’ bedrooms, and rather handy for a wall in your kitchen (think grocery lists) or even above your desk for quick jots and doodles.

8. Practice the old design adage, “less is more,” by taking away your lampshades or pendant coverings. Swap out your conventional bulbs for retro bulbs (Anthropologie has great options), which pair well with a minimalist fixture.

9. For a dramatic, room-expanding effect, disregard the size of your window and fit your draperies from wall to wall: instant elegance.

10. Play up the texture on your sofa with new throw pillows (or recovered old ones). Curate an assortment of sizes, textures, patterns and sheens. Let the gorgeous pillows by Ann Gish inspire you.

11. Bring home an antique with a unique story.

12. Here’s a wallet-friendly upgrade: Rearrange the furniture by breaking up your matching sets of furniture. Try pairing a sleek red leather chair with a family heirloom table, or mirrored nightstands with your classic headboard. After all, the best mix simply consists of those things you love.

13. Wallpaper is not the predictable stuff it used to be, and the latest from Weitzner (sold at John Brooks in Denver) is proof. The company’s “Magnetism” and “Newsworthy” wallcoverings, both from the Apropos collection, are sure conversation starters.

14. Vertical stripes are right at home in a classically styled space, but try a horizontal stripe (if even on just one statement wall), and watch how it puts a modern twist on tried-and-true.

15. Invest in a piece of original artwork. Get to know your local galleries, or start your search online: Buy-original-art.com and Dailypainters.com are good jumping-off points.

16. Paint your home’s entryway a bright, unexpected hue to energize guests upon arrival.

17. We always think about the visual appeal of our homes, but what about their fragrance? Delight your guests—and yourself—with “room perfume.” L’Occitane carries a line of home perfumes with scents like Winter Forest, Provencal Landscape and Fig Tree Leaf. Or freshen a bedroom or bathroom by placing an open box of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Dryer sheets inside. This natural line is strong enough to fill a room with fragrance. (The Geranium scent is tops.)

18. Give your pet a stylish home—one that will look good with your accessories. Jon Robshaw’s dog beds are chic.

19. Reinvent the headboard by painting bold horizontal stripes in two different colors (or different shades of the same hue) on the wall behind your bed—or pick out a wallpaper with a graphic punch to cover that surface.

20. Change up your shower curtain to add some pizzazz to your bathroom. We think the Living Goods Button Blossom shower curtain at Ellie’s Eco Home Store in Boulder is particularly pretty. (Plus, it’s PVC-free.)

21. In your living room, library or den, turn your bookshelves into mini gallery spaces. Arrange your books thoughtfully (and in an orderly fashion), leaving some cubbies blank and displaying favorite objects in others.

22. Ground your room in something fresh and new with a rug from Boulder-based è bella designs.

23. If you like your dishware and have a knack for organization, take the fronts off your kitchen cabinets and replace them with mesh wire or pretty glass, so your kitchenware shines through as art. This move also serves as an instant space-opener.

24. Splurge and commission a custom piece of furniture that's just right for that unfurnished nook in your living area. We love the bold work of Newell Design Studio.

25. Add functional art to your kitchen with a gorgeous wine rack. The Grapevine Wine Rack in red by Umbra is a showstopper, and the A-Frame Bamboo Wine Rack by Molly Kinney is a a beautifully architectural.

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