How To Take Your Home to the Next Level (With Stuff You Already Have)

published Jul 10, 2017
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(Image credit: David Telford)

Surrounded by the same sofa you’ve had for ten years and the coffee table you’ve lugged from apartment to apartment, it can be hard to see how your style has evolved through the years. But just because you have the same stuff, doesn’t mean your style can’t evolve; it doesn’t take all new stuff to elevate a home’s elegance. Need proof? This side-by-side comparison of two homes with nearly identical floor plans and stuff will show how — with some curation and careful arranging — you can take your home to the next style level with the furniture and accessories you already have.

At first glance, Jules and Josie’s new home might not look all that different compared to their last place. Not only did they bring much of the same furniture with them in the move, but they actually moved to a nearly identical home across the street! But, their old home and their new home are far from exact. Even with the similarities, it’s easy to see that they actually learned from their past design choices to make better ones in this new home…and you can see an evolution in sophistication in the new home. There are subtle design tweaks this couple made that you can borrow to elevate your home’s elegance.

Pare down

Though slight, look at the differences between their older living room and the newer living room. The newer living room features areas that are pared back in terms of “stuff.” Instead of an out-of-place shelf in the corner, they opted for a sleek console table behind the sofa. No sheer curtains in the new living room give a cleaner look to the window. Ceiling molding adds architectural interest and draws more attention to the light fixture, allowing them to do more with less. Throw pillows in softer, paler shades adorn the sofa. Another plant is added to balance the room and give harmony to the space, while the blue chair is moved so as not to obstruct the window’s view.

In small ways, the couple pared back — on large unneeded furniture, on softer colors, on extra unnecessary items when fewer would do. The effect is a living room that has almost all the same items, but feels a touch more sophisticated.

Focus on details

Because of updates to storage in the newer, renovated home, the couple was able to forego the storage around the bed. This allows the new bedroom to be a more minimal, relaxing space. But what makes it a rich and interesting space is focusing in on the quality of the pieces left. The upgraded, tufted headboard in a rich gray adds elegant sophistication to the room; it holds more visual interest than the plain white headboard they had before. More textured linen joins the same pink linen pillows that are in the old and new room, but gone are the unnecessarily patterned pillowcases.

Style shelves

You can even see the evolution of their style in their shelf curation! In the old home, they had a perfectly lovely arrangement of elements on their living room shelves. But in the new home, they went with floating shelves (no shelf brackets gives a cleaner look to this corner) and a more refined, balanced approach to shelf styling.

In the new arrangement, the color palette of the shelf accessories — much like the living room’s throw pillows — has been pared back. Gone are harsh primary colors and dark wood picture frames. In the old arrangement, some of the accessories felt like they were “floating” by themselves. But on the new shelves, each shelf vignette feels tight and cohesive.

Take it section by section

The commonality of all the rooms in the couple’s new home is intentionally focusing on smaller, more manageable “spots.” In the living room, the window area, the shelving, the soft…each of these areas were improved in small ways that greatly affected the whole.

If you were going to apply this method to your own home, do the same: Divide your rooms into sections you can tackle one at a time. Pare down and focus on the styling of a bookshelf. Clear out and streamline your coffee table. Evaluate your bedding. By improving small areas, you’ll see an uptick in elegance throughout the whole space.