Update your Room on a Dime

Inexpensive fixes for every room that won't torpedo your budget


The kitchen is one room that can take a lot of colour, so take a cue from the Europeans and paint your walls cobalt or a deep shade of red. Update the kitchen sink with an elegant gooseneck faucet, or buy new breakfast stools or a rolling butcher block with storage. Stash kitchen appliances in cupboards and leave out one statement piece: a vintage breadbox, an old-fashioned scale or a trio of quirky tins.

Living Room

New window treatments can be more economical than you think. Look into ready-made panels that can be customized by ironing on a grosgrain border with fusable tape in an accent colour. If you are handy with a sewing machine, buy yardage at inexpensive discount fabric stores and make them yourself in a colour that matches the walls: designers use this trick to make the space feel bigger during the day, and intimate and cocoonlike at night when the drapes are drawn.

Wall to wall carpeting is pricey, but area rugs are a more modern option. Choosing a sisal or seagrass rug will help define the space in a room.

Mirrors make a space seem instantly bigger, but look for something that has a bit of interest, such as a Venetian mirror versus a framed version. A collection of mirrors gathered from thrift stores can act as a wall of art bouncing light around a room.

Dining Room

A drum shade hung low over the dining table gives instant impact. Or, go for a chandelier that only looks expensive to add a luxe touch. Update table lamps with an acrylic or glass base. Hang artwork to give guests something to ponder while they linger over dinner. Even inexpensive framed posters can become conversation pieces.


After years of safe neutrals, colour and pattern are making their way back into mode. The bedroom is the perfect place to try an accent wall. Use paint or paper on the wall behind the headboard to create a really dramatic backdrop for your bed. Don’t be shy – avoid sweet little prints – today’s best graphics are overblown with saturated colours and metallic foils are hotter than ever.

Bedding can completely change the mood of a room: rich, dark colours are sensual; light tones are fresh; and the trendiest looks today are a heady mix of patterns. For a finishing touch, have a piece of mirror cut to fit the tops of side tables. Or add a dressing table for an injection of Hollywood glam.


New fixtures breathe life into a dated bathroom. Go classic with chrome taps inset with enamel hot and cold labels for a vintage look; or sculptural faucets and taps for a completely modern take. A new bathmat and matching towels freshen up a space. If storage is an issue, roll towels up in a basket for a spa vibe.