10 Tips for Tired Interiors

Freshen your bedroom with these easy, affordable ideas.
Robert Martin

Fed up with the same old bed, hand-me-down nightstands, and your spouse's college dresser? Looking for a refreshing change to your master bedroom? Don't throw everything out and buy all new stuff--there's a better, less expensive approach. Maybe, just maybe, the furniture and accessories you already own aren't so bad after all. Follow these tips, and give new life to the objects you consider worn out.

1. Take Stock of What You Have
Assess where to spend your time, energy, and, most importantly, money.

When interior designer Angela Bromenschenkel was hired to overhaul a master bedroom, she began by taking inventory. Most of the furniture, particularly the bed and dresser, seemed sparse, but they were solid wood pieces--keepers. The room had hardwood floors, but the two rugs were nondescript, so out they went. The windows were outfitted with plantation shutters but lacked distinction. Providing privacy, the shutters could stay, but their look needed attention.

2. Paint the Walls
You may think that this step is no big deal, but look at it this way. The amount of wallspace within a room far outweighs any other element. In fact, everything else (furniture, accessories, artwork, etc.) must complement the wall color. Remember that paint sets the mood of a space.

In this bedroom, Angela wanted the backdrop to be clean and fresh. "In fact," she explains, "I had both the walls and trim repainted. The trim is done in a high-gloss off-white finish, which offers a crisp contrast to the flat, golden tone of the walls."

3. Paint or Refinish Wood Furniture
There was nothing really wrong with the bed, dresser, and armoire. "I applied a polish to the armoire and bed," states Angela. "Then, I hired a local artist to paint the dresser and one of the end tables in a Swedish style." Both decisions proved to be effective and inexpensive, compared to buying new pieces.

4. Replace Dated Light Fixtures
Updating existing lighting is a great way to breathe new life into a room. The ceiling fan is now history. In its place, Angela selected a decorative fixture that greatly enhances the space. Other lighting changes include new bedside lamps and a floor lamp in the sitting area, which provide balance.

Angela even went a few steps further. Placing the homeowners' candlestick lamps on the refinished dresser, she topped them with new shades, which take up less space.

5. Switch Furniture From Other Rooms for a Better Mix
Because the homeowners wanted to keep the sitting area, Angela considered several options, including reupholstering the sofa already in the room. Wanting more space for an additional side chair and ottoman, she and the owners decided to reuse the sofa elsewhere, and then replaced it with a love seat.

 

 
6. Add to Your Existing Pieces

If you need to buy some items, start shopping. It's a good idea to take measurements and some pictures of the room in progress, so you'll have the pertinent information on hand.

Here Angela added an upholstered ottoman, a French-style chair, and a pedestal table. "I also replaced one of the existing nightstands with an affordable skirted table," she explains.

7. Seek Out Attractive Window Treatments
Keeping the plantation shutters, Angela spruced them up by installing fabric panels and painted valances to give a touch of softness. Plus, because the shutters already provided enough privacy, the decorative panels required less fabric than full-width draperies. By choosing fabric within the same color palette as the walls and other elements, she successfully brought the fresh, golden colors of the room full circle.

8. Don't Forget the Floors
You may have carpet or another surface that will stay in place. But what about layering your floor coverings? Rugs and runners are great for changing things up without committing to a complete floor overhaul.

Both Angela and the homeowners appreciated the bedroom's hardwood floors. Still, there was a need for some warmth. In lieu of several smaller rugs, the designer opted for a large coordinating area rug, which unifies the space.

9. Incorporate Accessories
Decorative accents are important to the room's overall appearance. To complement the colors and fabrics, Angela and the homeowners sought out objects that reinforced the look. "I found a wonderful mirror to hang above the dresser, along with some antique plates that I arranged over the headboard," Angela says. Other elements consist of a pine serving tray, new picture frames, books, vases, and a beautiful orchid. Also, don't wait for company to add fresh flowers. Grocery store blooms can brighten a room with little expense.

10. Rethink the Ordinary
Angela saw the opportunity to include new bedding and decorative pillows as finishing touches.

One vast improvement in the room focused upon the entrance to the adjacent bath. Before, only a cased opening separated the spaces. By adding French doors with sheer fabric inserts, the homeowners have the privacy and elegance they wanted.

Now that Angela's done her job, it's your turn to take stock in the differences that you, too, can make.

Need confidence to design your interior color palette in a variety of rich hues, then read "Inspired by Color," beginning on page 136, in the March 2003 issue of Southern Living.