by Joni Spear | photograph by Nichole Kennelly
House envy: It can strike at any time. Whether during a model-home tour or while perusing an interior-design photo spread, you imagine a perfect family living their best lives in their ultimate home. Every inch tasteful and not one accessory out of place.
But it’s an illusion. After finishing a design project, I have it professionally photographed. My team arrives and removes most of the homeowner’s personal belongings. The rooms are meticulously staged, down to the colorful Le Creuset Dutch oven on the kitchen range.
The truth is, most homes reflect our busy lives. We return from work, burdened by laptops, mail and groceries, and before you know it stuff is everywhere. But you can change the look and feel of your space in no time – and affordably, too. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Declutter – Allow yourself a couple of hours to walk through your home and gather all the items that don’t serve you on a daily basis. Put away your Instant Pot, mixer, smoothie machine or any other small appliance sitting on your kitchen counter. Remove shoes, mail, keys, coats or bags that have collected in the entry; try to find a place for these items. Later, you may discover they’re no longer needed, in which case consider donating or recycling them. Try to declutter at least once a week.
Clean – Fetch your vacuum cleaner, Swiffer and a bucket of soapy water and get to work. You would be surprised how much dust and dirt accumulate on baseboards, corners, chandeliers, doors and furniture. Seeing your space lighten and brighten will make you wonder why you hadn’t tackled this chore sooner.
Lighting – The simple act of changing out a light fixture can dramatically transform your space. Have you been admiring something you saw online? Go ahead and order it. You needn’t be an electrician to accomplish this task; online tutorials can show you how to safely remove and replace light fixtures. But if a new sconce or pendant lighting simply isn’t in the budget, replacing lightbulbs with softer or brighter alternatives can change the mood of a room. Just be sure all the bulbs are the same wattage and shape, particularly in a chandelier, if you want to achieve maximum impact.
Paint – A can of spray paint goes a long way. I have painted everything from lamp bases to sofas. Don’t like your kitchen chairs? Try painting them a new, bold color with a can of spray paint. As a designer, I tend to move a lot and I love vibrant colors. My last home was a midcentury ranch and every room was painted a different hue. When I decided to move again, I had it repainted in shades of white for market appeal. The transformation was so dramatic, it felt like a different house.
Color – Develop a color scheme. Take a cue from those kitchen chairs you painted and add some dinnerware or napkins and dish towels in the same color. Bring that same hue into the family room by adding throw pillows, blankets and accessories. A new rug and towels in the powder room can also reflect the new palette.
Add nature – Be it live or faux greenery, adding some foliage to your space will calm your soul. I don’t have much of a green thumb, so I like to add moss balls, topiaries or faux plants to every room. Replace that 8-by-10 framed photo on your bookshelf with a succulent. Put topiaries on the window ledge or on the island in the kitchen. Add a tall plant to an empty corner, or place an orchid on the coffee table. Just be sure to take note of a live plant’s light and watering needs.
So, there you have it. The bottom line is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a tidy and tasteful home.
Joni Spear, a professional interior designer with more than 20 years of experience, specializes in high-end residential projects. She recently relocated to Smithfield. See some of her work at www.jonispear.com.