Small changes can accumulate into one large impact after a while. The following ideas can be combined or selected on their own to make relatively quick differences in the look of an old home without costing the same as large-scale renovations—in both time and money. Here’s how to make an old home feel new again.
1. Set the Design Style and Color Palette
When you’re trying to tweak an old home that has a bold or obvious style, it can be overwhelming. Start with the basics: color palette and overall design theme. Once you decide on that warm color scheme or a new mid-century modern flair, it’ll be easier to wrap your head around exactly what needs to change and what’s sticking out like a sore thumb.
2. Replace a Major Focal Point of a Room
Larger items of furniture can steal the limelight. This is wonderful if it reflects the design style you’re looking to achieve, but detrimental if it’s only complementing the surrounding old details that you’re not in love with. Gargantuan sofas or an old bed frame are suggestions of typically eye-catching furniture that can be changed. You don’t have to get rid of the piece your replacing either. Instead, move it to a different room to give another space a different feel.
3. Repaint Just One Wall
Don’t underestimate the power of paint. It may not structurally adjust a place, but it can be transformative. All-white rooms are the perfect candidate for an accent wall, which can instantly refresh how the space looks and feels. If time and budget allow, repainting a room or two fully can drastically improve the overall atmosphere of a house, too.
4. Swap Out Hardware
Cabinet pulls, door handles, and drawer knobs are all excellent small details that have proven to be effective in influencing an old home—or simply any home that needs a little zhuzhing. Even the dials on a stovetop range or the faucet and handles on a sink can be replaced for something newer.
5. Rethink the Fireplace
A fixture like this may be putting a damper on your home. This can be as simple as painting old red brick a refreshing white, deep navy, or another fitting shade. Fireplaces can also be retiled (another great place for pulling out that handy peel-and-stick tile). For those that are no longer functioning or didn’t have the capacity to burn in the first place, try filling with books, similarly-sized wooden logs, or a small electric warmer.
6. Add Temporary Wallpaper
Removing antiquated wallpaper is one way to update a room, but adding temporary wallpaper is another. These semi-permanent options are simpler to apply than standard wallpaper and can be changed out every now and then for an original look. A boring builder-grade bathroom can become an ornate, Art Deco-inspired powder room and plain walls can receive a wallpaper treatment to help frame a room in a new light.
7. Switch Out Soft Goods
Textiles like curtains, blankets, pillows, and even bedding are great complementary pieces, so swapping them out can do a lot for a room—more instantaneously than anything else. An underlying coastal theme, a cozy cottage-style look, or a sleek, minimal feel can all emerge through the use of the right soft goods.
8. Implement Peel-and-Stick Tiles
Rather than calling in professionals to pull up flooring or walls and reinstalling something new, peel-and-stick tiles are much more cost-effective and for many, are easy to DIY. They can be used on floors and walls alike. If the idea of doing an entire space sounds overwhelming, try using them as a backsplash or on a countertop to begin.
9. Lay Down a Rug
A modern, abstract print, for instance, can make outdated rooms feel more on-trend. A vintage rug is also an inspired way to play into an older house’s features. For a more impactful change, replacing the carpet or flooring in a room can shake up the overall feel. The removal of outdated, faded carpeting or yellowing linoleum floors can quickly perk up an older home. Even wood floors can look brand new after restoration.
10. Paint the Trimwork
Some older homes have gorgeous trim work and molding that really add to the house’s character, but others are fairly basic. If you’re not in love with the original look, a fresh coat of paint can give it a new life. For a truly punchy change, paint the trim a hue that’s more vibrant than the walls.
11. Freshen Up Accent Pieces
Coffee tables, decorative objects, and other accent pieces might be assisting an old home in bringing out the wrong style. Think about what accent pieces are scattered all around your house and see where upgrades could be made. Antique shelving units or a retro side table may have sounded nice in theory, but if they’re playing up the other old features of a home, it might be time to switch them out for pieces that appeal to the new look you’re wanting.
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12. Jazz Up the Fifth Wall
If you’re unsure of where to start, it might be worth looking into ways that you can change the ceiling. Bare walls can really pop with a bright shade hovering up above and wallpaper or paneling can cover unsightly textures and finishes that were implemented years ago