50 Great Ways to Make Your Home Less Boring
These interior design tips will make your home magazine-worthy in minutes.
Those design decisions you made when you first moved into your home may have seemed like a good idea at the time. But after years of looking at them, those initial aesthetic choices now seem anything but interesting. We don’t blame you for wanting to spice up your décor, and the good news is, all it takes is a little creativity and some design know-how to change it up. You don’t need to start knocking things down to the studs to completely reinvigorate your space. Here are some practical interior design tips from some of the world’s top designers that are guaranteed to turn those lackluster living quarters into a standout space in no time.
Bring outdoorsy things inside.
Want to make your living spaces livelier? Bring those patio pieces indoors!
For example, “use colorful metal garden chairs around a vintage farmhouse dining table,” says interior designer Lori Wiles of Lori Wiles Design.
Turn clutter into collections.
Those tchotchkes may look like little more than clutter when they’re randomly sitting around your home, but making them into mini collections and displaying similar items together can make your home more interesting without going full kitsch.
“Combining several small things with a few larger elements, like hurricane candle holders or simple potted plants, becomes an interesting collection that is meaningful to you,” says Wiles
Go dramatic with your lighting.
“Just like theatre lights can change the appearance of a stage, lights in your home can make a huge impact. Use up lights in large plants or behind furniture to highlight their shapes and create interesting shadows,” says Wiles.
Not ready to invest in a totally new lighting scheme? No problem! “Candles (real or battery operated) make dark shelves glow with warmth and help you see the more interesting spaces in the room,” she adds.
Incorporate accessories from your travels.
Who says the only thing you can bring back from your trip is jet lag and expensive artwork? You don’t need a huge travel budget to find interesting pieces for your home. “People always think you have to spend a lot of money, but a kitschy postcard in a cool frame is chic,” says interior designer and lifestyle expert Courtney Cachet. “Maps are free and look cooler in other languages.”
But you don’t have to fly overseas to add your travel findings into your home. “If trips to Paris, Bariloche, or Mumbai aren’t on your agenda, don’t sweat it,” Cachet notes. “A scarf you bought on the street at a flea market in San Antonio can be just as cool as one purchased in Montmartre. The things you cannot buy at Target are the little details that create conversation, that make a room unique—and you’re documenting your history in your home.”
Take a “less is more” approach.
While too many objects can make your home look cluttered, thoughtful culling and curation of your objects on display can create serious visual appeal.
“Stop filling every single nook, cranny, walkway, shelf, and table top with objects,” says J. Pickens, host of HGTV.com’s The Work Around. “Empty space will make the objects that you do have ‘pop’ all that much more.”
Add some new molding.
If you want to spruce up your space, it’s time to switch those moldings up. “Change your baseboard, wall casings, and crown molding,” suggests Pickens. “I bet I have toured 1,000 homes and nearly 80 percent of them have the same three molding profiles. Change it up if you are remolding; and if it’s not in your budget, consider painting the molding with a color instead of just your walls.”
Mix up your door knobs and hinges.
Your identical door hardware might look consistent, but that can be a snooze. “Not everything in a house has to be so perfectly matching. Variety is a good thing,” Pickens says.
“Use different door hardware throughout the house,” he suggests. “Bonus if you can find some cool antique ones.”
Add some 3D art to your walls.
Are your walls looking a little too flat? “Add a sculpture piece. It’s a great alternative (or accent) to a large, flat canvas on a wall,” says Pickens.
Embrace colorful accent furniture.
A pop of a bright shade of yellow, red, green, blue, or even purple can really liven up a room.
“Don’t be afraid of color!” says Pickens. “I’m not saying that you should paint your walls fuchsia. But, certainly a fuchsia chair in the right spot might spice things up a bit.”
Open up your kitchen shelving.
Why hide those beautiful ceramics behind wooden cabinet doors?
“Use open shelving in the kitchen,” says Pickens. “I love kitchen cabinets with clear doors, or no doors at all. Kitchen dinnerware and tools come in wonderful shapes and colors and can be beautiful when styled appropriately.”
Make cushions part of your seating arrangement.
Sofas and chairs aren’t the only way to add seating to your living room. There’s a less expensive and cozier option right in front of you. “Add some floor cushions to open up the ways and places that you can sit and relax,” says Pickens.
Create some interactive displays.
Good art doesn’t have to be admired from afar. Encourage your family and friends who visit your home to create their own with an interactive display. As Pickens says, “Things that are interactive are never boring.”
The interior designer has nondrying modeling clay all over his house on little pieces of wood. “Everyone who comes in loves it. You can play with it and make shapes or sculptures. It’s a fun thing to interact with while you are having a conversation and has been a big hit with adults and kids alike,” he says.
Decorate with pet portraits.
Pets can be just as integral family members as your human children and siblings, so why not honor them with some artwork? If you want to make your space more interesting, add pieces that include your furry friends. Easily commissioned on Etsy, pet portraits make any space more whimsical.
Paint your flooring.
If your floor looks worse for wear, try painting it instead of the more expensive option: replacing it.
Sand the floors down to remove existing paint or polyurethane. Then, you can use an oil-based paint to cover the imperfections in your flooring and to give your room some major visual impact.
Soften up your basement.
“Basements rarely have good natural light or windows, so bringing nature indoors via light fixtures can correct both issues. Light shades of natural materials and organic shapes can soften the often-harsh lines in a basement,” he says. “Fixtures with minimal profiles and depth lend themselves to basements as they often have low ceiling heights. Always put light fixtures on a dimmer so that you can control the environment–bright for game night and reading, low for parties and relaxing, and off for movie night.”
Use letter boards.
A little signage can bring a lot of character to any space.
“Letter boards allow you to effectively inject humor into a space that’s otherwise low on energy,” says Nicole Gittens, principal designer at New Vision Interiors and Events. “Purchase a letter board or box in colors that coordinate with your home, and if you don’t know what to make it say, search the internet! There are tons of fun things you can spell out that’ll make your space come to life from one season to the next.”
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to make your home a whole lot more interesting.
“I’m a big believer in thrifting to find unique pieces that are serious conversation starters. Yes, it takes more time to find these one-of-a-kind pieces, but they bring such a great element and interest into an otherwise boring, ordinary space,” says Gittens. She recommends Googling the best thrift stores in your area before heading out to help narrow down your search.
Make your own art.
Not every piece of art needs to be done by a professional. “Art is everywhere,” says Gittens. “Think outside the box when it comes to nabbing some cool pieces for your home and even try your hand at creating your own art if you have an artistic flair.”
Add a wallpaper accent wall.
Love the look of patterned wallpaper but don’t want to cover an entire room? Do a wallpaper accent wall instead. Since you’re only papering a single wall, you can go bold with your pattern and color choice without overwhelming the space. You can even use peel-and-stick wallpaper that’ll make changing things up easy.
Bring on the built-ins.
If you have a bit more cash in your decorating budget, have some built-ins added to your bedroom or living room. They keep things organized and add a touch of old-world charm to even the most modern spaces.
If your budget’s a bit smaller, you can always buy prefabricated bookcases and measure them to fit a certain space, anchoring them to the walls and each other for a seamless look.
Make a chandelier the centerpiece for a room.
Seating doesn’t have to be the focal point of your room. If you have a space that looks cluttered with too much furniture in it, go minimal with your tables and chairs and let a dramatic chandelier steal the show.
Install some wainscoting.
That beat-up looking drywall makes your house look dingy and dull. To spruce it up, install some wainscoting and a chair rail to your walls. It’s a relatively inexpensive addition to any space, and you can have the boards cut at your local hardware store.
Add a large leaning mirror.
If you want to make a room look bigger and more cohesive in one fell swoop, anchor it with a large mirror. Since the mirror reflects the room around it, it will give the illusion of depth to any space, even one with minimal square footage.
Invest in a few hanging plants.
Turn your room into a veritable indoor garden with the addition of a few hanging plants.
They also draw the eye upward, making low ceilings look taller, to boot.
Install a gorgeous fireplace surround.
Even if you don’t have a working fireplace, you can make your room look like a million bucks with a pretty fireplace surround. Look for intricate wood or marble ones at antique shops and home improvement centers, like the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
Use sconces instead of overhead lighting.
Feel like those track lights aren’t cutting it? Add some wall sconces, whether built-in or plugged in, to cast a more attractive light and to give your home some vintage charm.
Install some faux tin tiles.
That cracked plaster on your ceiling isn’t doing your room any favors. However, adding some faux tin tiles to cover it up can instantly add appeal, and also disguise those flaws.
Recover old furniture in exciting fabrics.
If a piece has good bones, there’s no reason to get rid of it just because the upholstery is faded or ripped. For a modern twist on a classic piece, have your old furniture covered in brightly-colored fabrics or ones with vibrant, modern patterns.
Add some picture frame molding.
Picture frame molding can make your home look like it’s right out of a Wes Anderson movie without cluttering up your walls. It’s the perfect decorative addition for the minimalist who also doesn’t want to be bland.
Install a patterned tile backsplash.
Mosaic tile may be the go-to for practically every interior designer on TV, but if you want to make your kitchen look a bit more elegant, go for patterned ceramic tiles in white and blue instead.
Stick up some removable wall decals.
If wallpaper is too much of a hassle, go for a similar look without the commitment. Stick-on vinyl wall decals will instantly add character to your space.
Add interesting light switch covers in every room.
Little details matter. If you want to make your space less boring, take out those outlet covers that came with your house and replace them with more visually-exciting variations, like wooden ones or those with ornate details.
Don’t stick to a single store.
If you want to spice it up, you’ve got to shop around.
“Don’t shop for everything for your home in one place. That is most certainly the formula for boring,” says interior designer Vincent Wolf of New York-based Vincente Wolf Associates. “You want to mix up the look with different ideas, giving your home depth and individuality.”
Mix and match your dining room chairs.
A little whimsy goes a long way when it comes to making your house look more interesting. To achieve this look in your dining room, mix and match chairs in different styles, but with complementary tonal palettes.
Add some floating shelves.
Need a new way to display your books that’s more appealing than those stacks on your nightstand? Add some floating shelves to your walls for a look that’s truly magical.
Have some patterned woodwork installed.
If you have some cushion in your décor budget, have new flooring installed in a pattern, like herringbone, instead of just a typical vertical orientation.
Add color to your hallway.
Adding some bright color to a small space, like a hallway, can have a major payoff. And since hallways are typically smallish spaces, the color won’t overwhelm your home the way painting an entire room in a dramatic hue might.
Paint a patterned wall.
Who says that accent walls have to be a single color? If you want to spruce up your space without spending big, you can completely transform any room by painting a patterned accent wall—think stripes, polka dots, or a chevron pattern.
Add some intrigue with a coffered ceiling.
Make your ceiling the centerpiece of your room by having a contractor add a coffered ceiling (of if you’re handy, DIY one yourself). You can even paint the inside of the woodwork to add more dimension and allure.
Install a patterned runner on your stairs.
Instead of covering your stairs with a boring roll of beige jute, opt for a patterned runner instead. This small change will turn your staircase into a talking point, rather than an afterthought.
Combine classic and modern elements in a single room.
You don’t need to stick to a single time period in a room to make it look cohesive. Combining modern and antique elements in a space can liven it up, highlighting those older items without making the whole place look stuffy.
Go for the gold.
Gilded pieces have come a long way since the brass-heavy days of the 1980s. If you want a fresh take on gold décor, opt for brushed metal instead of the shiny stuff, and pair it with pops of rich color, like jewel-toned furniture and accent pieces.
Hang long curtains in your kitchen.
While kitchens often have short café curtains that only cover the window, if you want to upgrade your space, try long ones instead. Going longer will not only make your ceiling appear higher, it’s also an easy way to add a pop of color to what might be an otherwise monochromatic space.
Invest in a set of stylish bookends.
A pile of books on a shelf looks messy, but adding some stylish bookends will suddenly make it an accent piece instead of an eyesore. Opt for fun ceramic or even geode bookends, instead of plain brass ones.
Brighten up your front door.
Want a one-hour project that can make your house stand out? Simply repaint your front door. A pop of color on the outside won’t clash or take away from your interior design scheme, but will add some serious curb appeal.
Add glass doors to your cabinets.
Even if you’re not ready to commit to a kitchen full of open shelving, you can still improve your aesthetic by removing your wooden cabinet doors and opting for glass-paned ones instead. Just make sure that, if you do so, those shelves are lined with pretty plates, bowls, and stemware, and not plastic sippy cups and novelty mugs.
Create a gallery wall.
One of the easiest ways to make a room come together is by putting up a gallery wall. Since gallery walls typically look better when they aren’t too matchy-matchy, this is the perfect opportunity to use frames that don’t quite go with the décor in your other rooms.
Wallpaper your ceiling.
Don’t have the time or cash to install a coffered ceiling? Try some wallpaper instead. Not only can a wallpapered bedroom ceiling cover up a myriad of plaster and drywall flaws, it can give you something pleasant to look at when you’re lying in bed at night.
Spruce up a side table with a coat of black paint.
While black and gold were hallmarks of ‘80s design, you can still use them independent of one another to create a modern look. For instance, if you have a side table that’s seen better days, painting it with a few coats of high-gloss black paint can camouflage its flaws while making it look more au courant.
Go easy on yourself.
Sometimes, putting too much thought into your design instead of listening to your impulses can make for a space that feels fussy. Design is an art form, so allow your creative side to take the wheel.
“Don’t judge yourself too much or overthink it. Go bold, get creative, and make mistakes!” says Pickens. “It’s all part of the learning process.” And for more design inspiration on a small scale, check out 50 Tiny Houses So Adorable We Want to Steal Them.
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