In this post: If you’re empty nesting or made other lifestyle changes, you may want to update your decor. See how to update your homestyle to fit your current lifestyle.⇒
Updated is not the same thing as contemporary.
Or even modern.
It just means not out-dated.
And that’s a reasonable goal in itself.
For many of us, when we make a change in our lifestyle, it’s the perfect time to reevaluate our homes.
Maybe you’re an empty nester. Or you could be thinking of downsizing. Perhaps you’re newly single or instead there are more people living in your house. You might be working at home now or you simply want to create a new hobby room.
Or maybe you never even finished decorating your house when you were concentrating on raising a family.
The fact is, as we travel through the different stages of life, many of us change our daily routines but forget to ensure our homes accommodate and reflect our evolving needs.
If you’ve recently gone through one of these changes or did so even some time ago, it’s a good time to assess your home with an open mind and address any much-needed updating.
To be clear, this post is not centered on specific design trends for any given decor style. It’s not about adding a sputnik lamp or installing sliding barn doors. It doesn’t obsess about the latest fads that will be gone by the end of the year.
Nor does it ask you to abandon the things you love, including timeworn antiques.
Instead the focus is on the general direction of interiors that spans the decorating spectrum.
While it does consider what looks new and fresh, the ideas are broad and all-encompassing. They can be applied to a wide variety of decor styles and should resonate regardless of your taste.
And even if you haven’t changed a thing about your lifestyle and just want a bit of updating, this post is for you, too.
Following are 20 ways to update your homestyle without spending a fortune.
1. Neutrals – If you do nothing else, paring back the color and utilizing neutrals is perhaps the easiest way to get an updated look. This is particularly important if your style is on the traditional side and you’re looking to infuse it with a jolt of freshness. For my French Country style, peeling away the color and using lots of white with cool neutrals was the number one way I updated without replacing my beloved antiques.
Does this mean using no color? Not at all. You can always accent with pops of color or even use soft tones more liberally. Just think calm and tranquil and you’re in the right realm.
2. Understated accessories – The current orientation is to use restraint when styling your vignettes and decorative accents. Sometimes one planter is all the coffee table needs. Leave open space on the mantel between carefully situated objects. Play with symmetry and balance. The words you will hear me use in this post, over and over, are clean and pared back. Try three of the same object repeated in a row or one bold statement that draws all the attention. Limit ornamentation to what’s essential and beautiful, and if you have a collection of multiple objects, group them by color for an orderly presentation.
3. Subtle pattern – Like color, stripping away some of the intricate patterns can give your home a new flavor. Replace dense florals and other heavy patterns with subtle texture or clean linear imagery. Keep wallpaper limited to tonal motifs or similarly lightweight prints. One exception: a single wall with a chic modern floral can add a dose of energy.
4. Modern accents – There’s no need to change your design style if you still love it, but a playful injection of a couple of modern accents can breath new life into it. Try a modern crystal vase or lucite tray in your classic living room, or a sunburst mirror in your vintage bedroom. And yes, even that sputnik lamp if it speaks to you. A few well placed trendy items can mix well with your existing decor and add a note of unique character along with a shot of rejuvenation.
5. Light wood – Along with the move towards cool, clean and neutral, wood stains are trending pale and light. Blonde wood, ash grey stains, bleached wood floors and painted furniture are all looking current right now. Smooth grains coincide with this shift toward tranquility. Even porcelain tile that’s made to mimic wood looks best in these lighter tones, as does concrete for another updated surface material.
6. Clean lines – Uncomplicated shapes with clean lines are generally perceived as modern. If you’re looking for an ultra modern home this means lots of straight lines without adornment. But if you’re just looking to add a little freshness, you can tap into this idea minimally. Shaker cabinets, waterfall counters or sleek accent furniture can all add a bit of present-day style to an otherwise vintage-inspired space. Try sleek trays or stacks of monotoned books.
7. Lighter fabrics – Washed linen with a soft drape is looking very of-the-moment now. Likewise other flowing fabrics that communicate a relaxed vibe. Put away the heavy brocades and complex upholstery fabrics. The idea is to impart a serene tenor that suggests easy living. White linens in the bedrooms and towels in the baths will look bright, crisp and airy.
8. Organic textures – Rattan, bamboo and wicker have been completely updated from the pieces we’re familiar with from the past. They look super fresh in the more refined styles of today, yet still lend a natural vibe to the home. Whether in lighting fixtures, seating or even coffee and end tables, organic textures bring the outdoors in and add warmth and comfort to a room. Organic fabrics, like burlap and grain sack, complete the look.
9. Mixed metals – There are several metals that have been popular for a while, with gold tones leading the pack. But freshest of all is mixing metals together that a space really becomes au courant. Mix un-lacquered brass with brushed nickel or mix either with oil rubbed bronze. The key in the mix is that they’re different enough to be sure it looks intentional.
10. White kitchen and baths – If you love dark wood, then ignore this one, but there’s no doubt white kitchens and baths have become ubiquitous. The food you’re cooking simply looks better on white marble and a shower feels cleaner in a white bath. I’ve been a fan of white kitchens for at least 20 years when I was talked out of installing one by a contractor. He said it would look dated as time passed, yet here we are 20 years later and they look as fresh as ever! I finally got my white kitchen and I’m not changing it any time soon… 😉
11. Open spaces – It’s undeniable that updated homes often have open floor plans and while I’m not suggesting you buy a new home or raise your ceilings, you might be surprised at how easy it is to open up existing spaces. Yes, this isn’t as budget friendly as removing a few accent pieces, but if you look at your home, you may find a piece of wall that could be easily removed for a more spacious feel.
I was slow to embrace the open space concept, as I love little nooks and crannies, but not every room needs to be completely enclosed either. And though it’s not so easy to go from 8′ ceilings to 9 or 10′, you can sometimes create a vaulted ceiling without much trouble.
12. Smart technology – This one is more for functionality than style, yet smart switch plates and outlets often bring with them sleek design in addition to the performance they upgrade. Also consider LED bulbs, updated dimmers, and smart thermostats, as well as state-of-the-art sound systems, TVs and other electronics. And don’t forget to streamline your cords into a well organized bundle.
13. Comfortable seating areas – So many of these updates aim for living an easier and more convenient life and arranging comfortable seating areas is key to achieving that goal. Deep sofas with overstuffed pillows and adequately proportioned chairs placed in inviting conversation areas will be the most used areas in your home.
Even on patios and other outdoors spaces keep the same principles in mind, decorating “outdoor rooms”, much like you would inside. A settee in the bedroom or guest seating in your home office should all be designed with the same attention to comfort and cozy utility.
14. Lush architectural details – Want to quickly update a room? Install wider moldings and you’ll be amazed at the difference. The same goes for window trim. Paint them crisp white for an instant refresh. If you have more motivation consider bead board, shiplap or board and batten trim.
15. Visible storage – You’re probably seeing open shelving everywhere. It looks very ‘of-the-moment’ in the kitchen instead of upper cabinets, but if you’re a more practical type, you can take advantage of this look in a less utilitarian region. Whether a simple over-the-desk treatment of a few wooden shelves or a full wall of built-ins in the living room or library, open shelving provides a nice opportunity to neatly display some of the things you collect. Change them up from time to time for seasonal updates.
16. Updated lighting – A very easy way to incorporate a touch of fashionable decor is by updating your lighting in a few high visibility areas. Try new lanterns over the island or a pendant over the kitchen table. It will cost some money but not as much as replacing the furniture.
(I will admit, I have not yet embraced this one, as I’m still loving my vintage chandeliers. But I find myself looking at new styles more and more lately… ;-))
17. Focal point – In a time of interiors that are trending toward simplicity, it’s important to remember that simplicity doesn’t mean boring. Neutrals can have texture, clean lines can complement more ornate pieces and rather than having over-decorated rooms with various objects competing for attention, it’s ideal to have a focal point in a space. A mantel with a fabulous mirror, an entry table with an oversized urn, a kitchen with a decorative range hood, a dining room with a magnificent centerpiece. Let the focal point do the heavy lifting and leave the supporting characters understated.
18. Updated materials – In addition to what you can add, I should include a note about what you can remove. Updated materials can take the place of wall-to-wall mirrors, dark paneling, and popcorn ceilings. Feel free to paint over brick walls, as well.
19. Relaxed window treatments – I’m a huge fan of washed linen drapery panels puddling softly on the floor. The days of heavy formal draperies with tie backs and decorative fringes, tassels and embellishments are over, or at least put aside for now. Anything contrived or overdone will look dated in an updated home. Instead try simple drapery panels, clean roman shades, eco-friendly blinds, or plantation shutters.
20. Reduced clutter – Along with paring back the color, one of the simplest, cheapest and most effective things you can do to modernize your home is to keep it free of clutter. This refers not only to cleaning and organizing, although those are essential too, but also to limiting the decor and furniture in the first place. Consider removing one item from every room. Those little extra tables and bookcases that creep into a space over time, along with their related knick-knacks, are what clutter up your spaces without you even noticing. Try to pare back each room to only the number of pieces you chose when you first decorated it. You’ll have so much more room to breathe!
There’s no reason to give up a decor style that you still love and that works for you. But updating your home can breathe new life into it and add a fresh perspective.
It keeps things from getting stale and helps underscore the things you’re passionate about.
Whether you start from scratch and pick a new decor style or simply update the one you’ve loved for years, refreshing your homestyle to fit your current lifestyle is a great way to add a dose of optimism to your life!
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