50 Mini Makeovers You Can Do Now

A makeover doesn’t have to mean pulling down walls and buying a roomful of new furniture. Sometimes one small change is all it takes to make a room feel fresh

Joanna Linberg
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Painted Frames

Paint doors and window frames—inside and out—in a vibrant color. If that seems like too much to tackle, try it on the interior frames in a room that's relatively closed off, like a powder room or bedroom.

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Plant Life

Buy a tree (we like the height and shape of the fiddle leaf fig), put it in a basket, and place it anywhere that needs a little love—bare corners are especially good homes.

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Color Contrast

Paint baseboards and molding a contrasting color from your walls. It's like contouring for your home's architecture.

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Light Fix

Switch your white lampshade for a black one. It will add drama and definition to your room. (And a shade is much less expensive than a new lamp base.)

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Curtain Secret

Hang drapery over doorways to soften transitions in between rooms. Bonus idea: Accentuate the height of your windows or doorways by adding trim to the drapery.

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Look Twice

Hang a mirror opposite a window or fantastic piece of art to double view or style in the room. When it comes to mirrors, the bigger the better.

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Pillow Quick-Change

It's an oldie but a goodie: Swap your throw pillows for something totally different. If you had neutrals, try a wildly colorful ethnic print. If you favored prints, try color blocking with solids. And almost any sofa or chair will look fresh with a fluffy Mongolian lamb pillow.

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Lighten Up

Try this: Clear all the shelves and horizontal surfaces in one room, then be incredibly picky about what goes back on. Err on the side of spareness and be amazed by how much bigger the room seems.

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Bedtime Upgrade

Buy new bedding! Even a new duvet cover or shams will invigorate your bedroom. When in doubt, choose stripes—they're classic and go with anything.

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Frame Everything

Fill those bare walls. Hang art, sketches, kids' drawings, maps, pretty notecards—almost anything looks legit when it's framed. The resulting eclectic gallery wall adds major style points.

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Play up a Window

Where's your best view? Rearrange the furniture toward that view and see how much more often you find yourself sitting there.

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Sofa Refresh

Tuck a textile over a sofa to add color and pattern to your living room. Hang it over the back if your sofa is floating away from a wall. You can also bring it up over the cushions and tuck it in either where the seat and back cushions meet, or under the seat cushions if the fabric is long enough.

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Soften Hard Edges

Throw a sheepskin rug or lamb's wool throw over any un-upholstered chairs. They'll make you look well-traveled and entice you to linger even longer.

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Quick Gallery

Head to a hardware store to pick up a piece of scrap lumber or crown molding at least 3 inches deep. Mount it anywhere for a picture ledge.

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Stripe Treatment

Paint wide stripes on the wall and it will feel like you've changed every single item in the room. You can either pick up an accent color already in the room, or, for a more subtle tone-on-tone effect, use a neutral color.

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Small Touch

Paint or paper the interior back wall of your bookshelves. It's a great way to bolster an accent color from somewhere else in the room or introduce pattern in a limited way.

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Hardware Exchange

You'll be shocked by how updated your bathroom (or kitchen, or dresser) will feel by simply switching out the hardware. This is an easy change, but not necessarily an inexpensive one, so here's a tip: Check the web sites of big-box hardware stores for good deals. They often have a larger, more interesting selection available online, and a bigger sale section.

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Color Highlights

Introduce a new accent color to your home. Here's a simple formula: Sprinkle the new color in three or five different spots in the room, such as a pillow, a throw blanket, artwork, trays, vases, etc. Prune away other colors to get even more impact.

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Light on Your Feet

Does it feel like your home is heavy and dark? Pull up all your rugs and replace them with relatively inexpensive jute rugs (you can find good options at West Elm and RugsUsa). They'll lighten and brighten every space.

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Strategic Groupings

Gather up all your accessories, vases, and ceramics that share a theme (shape or color) and display them together. All together, they'll create a striking moment that could be another focal point.

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First Impressions

Hang a large piece of art or gallery wall, paint an accent wall, or even wallpaper your entryway. That first impression will have a shine effect on the rest of your house.

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Black Out

Have a older piece that seems plain old tired? Paint it black, like these dining room chairs. Suddenly, the lines will appear more distinct and modern.

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One Bright Pop

Take a look around your home and find a feature that could use a little highlighting. This could be a niche, a built-in, or a focal point like this fireplace. Then be brave—paint it a bright color for more visual weight. That one splash of color will transform your whole room.

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Unexpected Color

Staircases are often forgotten when it comes to decorating. Paint the risers a bright color to bring excitement back to this hard-working part of the home. Leave it at that, or paint the rail and balusters as well.

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Front Door Makeover

Set the tone for the whole house by painting the front door an energetic color. This is a good place to experiment with a new accent color since it doesn’t have to match anything inside the house.

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Add a Pop of Red

Red is a universal donor—it adds welcome zest to almost any color palette. Try it somewhere small first—like a painted side table, lampshade, or bookcase. If you like it, add some pillows, too, for more impact.

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New Nightstand

Replace a traditional nightstand with a stool or even a chair. It will give your bedroom a more relaxed, modern vibe.

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Outline Furniture

Walk around the house and look at everything you own that has legs—tables, chairs, even the kitchen island. Paint the legs or base of one of them to dip your toe into a brighter palette and update older pieces.

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Dining Chair Makeover

Unify disparate styles of dining chairs by painting them all the same color. This is an easy way to make a set out of hand-me-downs and thrift store finds.

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Metallic Sheen

If a room seems dull, metal finishes can give it a lift. Try to add an odd number of items—and be consistent with the metal finish. Here, gold leaf turned an aging fireplace into a glam focal point.
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Graphic Update

Paint a design on the back of a standard-issue hollow-core door for surprise color and style inside. Think of the design like a piece of art and stick with simple geometrics for the most pro-looking execution.

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Blank Wall Fix

Set up a rotating informal gallery of snapshots with rice paper tape. It’s colorful and removable, so you can switch out shots seasonally.

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Inch Closer

Give an existing gallery wall a new look by butting all the frames up next to one another. Shifting each piece just a little bit closer to the next lets them read as one giant piece and can refresh art you’ve had for years.

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Rising Trend

Decoupage photocopies of photos on stair risers for a sophisticated surprise underfoot. Keep the photos black and white so the overall look isn’t chaotic.

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Instant Collection

Gather everything you own in one category—vases, candlesticks, elephant figurines, whatever you have a lot of—and put it all in a prominent place. The mass of it will make each piece feel new, special, and intentional.

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Just Add Green

Sprinkle small houseplants in unexpected places: kitchen shelves, the coffee table, the bathroom, a nightstand. It will instantly perk up the room and, no surprise here, make it seem fresh.

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A New Seat

Reupholstering a sofa is expensive and buying a new one is even more so. Go for the middle ground by reupholstering just the seat cushions of your sofa in a contrasting fabric. Or, have a seamstress make slipcovers so you can go back to the original whenever you want.

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Headboard Trick

No headboard? No problem. Find a decal online—or try your hand at creating one out of colorful electric tape. It’s an inexpensive solution to an empty bed wall.

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Rearrange Shelves

Take ten minutes to reshelve books, mixing horizontal stacks in with normal vertical volumes or organizing by color. The change will help you see your shelves with fresh eyes.

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Seeing Double

Here’s a twist on a gallery wall. Hang multiple mirrors on the wall for a funhouse-style surprise. Shop thrift stores for deals on mirrors, then paint the frames all the same color to unify them
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Uniform Organizing

Pick one drawer or cupboard and give it a big clean-out. Remove everything, discard or donate what’s no longer needed, then dispose of packaging where you can and opt for multiples of one type of container to house what’s left. Life changer!

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Power of Multiples

Grab your prettiest bowls and trays and fill each with a multiple of something: glass beads, spools of metallic thread, even natural items such as twigs. Place the bowls throughout the house for a new layer of style.

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Closet Shortcut

Want to make your closet more organized without a lot of work? Buy all new hangers, all in the same style. Simply rehanging your clothes on standardized hangers will help them fit better and make the closet look fresh to your eyes.

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Everything Is Illuminated

Play around with different lightbulbs in your sconces, pendants, or chandeliers. Try losing the shade in favor of showy Edison bulbs for a past-meets-present look.

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Just Add Flowers

Fresh flowers uplift whatever room they’re placed in. Make a habit of picking up a bouquet at the farmers’ market or grocery store every week and getting a few beautiful vases to display them in. Want a little more? Put your lights on dim and put on music. Instant boutique hotel vibe.

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Accessorize All over Again

Our eyes stop noting items we’ve looked at for a while. To shake things up, take every knick-knack, accessory, paper, piece of art, and bowl off every surface in your home. Then set them back out again in new rooms or with different arrangements than what you had before.

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New Color, New Room

Yes, it takes a little more work than many of the mini makeovers here, but painting a room a new color will make every piece in it feel fresh. Plus, a gallon is about $50, making this one of the least expensive makeovers with the highest impact.

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Do-It-All Benches

There’s always room for a bench. Slide one up to the foot of a bed, along the wall in a wide hallway, in your entryway, or by the back door. Feel free to be bold in your choice—this is a small piece that won’t overwhelm.

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Layer Up

Place a colorful patterned rug over a natural fiber one. This is a good way to use vintage rugs that might not be technically big enough for your room—just make sure the rug beneath is. The extra layer can make a traditional room a little more eclectic.

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Say Cheers

If you don’t have one already, get a bar cart and stock it with the best accouterments and spirits you can buy. Roll it into your living room and say hello to the lounge life. The best part is that after a drink or two, everything in the room will look better.