The 11 Best Never-Before-Seen Ideas from This Year’s House Tours

published Dec 27, 2021
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Credit: Carina Romano

Sometimes, in home design and decor, it can feel like you’ve seen pretty much everything, whether it’s a painted arch, floating shelves, or an open-concept living space. But every Apartment Therapy house tour has something special about it — and this year’s tours didn’t disappoint. Some of them revealed especially clever never-before-seen ideas, from a gold-fringed wall to a truly ingenious bed alcove.

These 11 ideas will get your inspiration flowing — and make you want to think outside the box when you start your next reno or DIY project.

Credit: Shea Keating

1. Wallpapered Fan Blades

Sure, anyone can use wallpaper, but Shea Keating used it on the ceiling — and the ceiling fan — in the main bedroom of her Sag Harbor, New York, home. The wallpapered fan blades blend in seamlessly with the ceiling for a trippy, camouflage experience when you look up. Keating used peel-and-stick wallpaper for this fun DIY.

Credit: Franco Cheng

2. A Clever, Space-Saving Bed Alcove From a Mirrored Closet

When Franco Cheng bought his 450-square-foot studio apartment in Toronto, he wanted to make the most of the small space. Taking advantage of his training in architecture and design, he tore down a built-in mirrored wardrobe near the front door and set up a clever bed alcove in the space. He installed a series of half-height louvers and floor-to-ceiling curtains to filter some light and provide a bit of privacy. “With the bed tucked away, I was able to fit proper living and work spaces in the rest of the apartment,” Cheng said in his tour.

Credit: Shar Taylor

3. A Glossy Yellow Bedroom Ceiling

Sure, plenty of people choose gold accent pieces, from hardware in the kitchen to bedside decor. But Shar Taylor took it to a new level in her colorful Colorado home. Her bedroom is complete with a painted yellow high-gloss ceiling, a bright yellow rug, and a corresponding gold chandelier. “I can be mad and stressed and everything in between,” Taylor said in her tour, “but walking into my room to the sunshine yellow and big windows just envelops me in warmth and happiness.”

4. A Festive Gold-Fringed Wall

The glittery wall in illustrator and mural artist Ginger Taylor‘s Australia apartment looks like it’s straight out of a New Year’s Eve party. Why not capture that excitement all year around? Here’s how Taylor did it: “I ordered party photo backdrops off Amazon and layered them — it’s perfect for renting because they just have an adhesive strip on the back.” Now she’s considering doing it to every wall in her home.

Credit: Jenny Davis

5. A Playroom in an Unused Alcove

Living in a 650-square-foot Manhattan apartment with three kids, one of Jenny Davis‘s biggest challenges is managing clutter and avoiding chaos. She and her husband, Cory, managed to turn a previously unused part of their open-concept living room into a whimsical playroom. “Instead of seeing rooms used for just one function, I imagine ‘zones’ where we can play, create, think, or rest,” Davis said in her tour.

Credit: Erin Derby

6. A Room Divider with So Many Purposes

It’s storage. It’s a room divider. It’s an art piece. It’s all of the above. In the ultimate example of multipurpose design, Christine Leahy created a workspace/room divider/bookshelf/lofted bed/storage space combo in her 350-square-foot Brooklyn apartment. Oh, and it’s the perfect home for her plants, too.

7. A Wall Entirely for Shoes

Laura Horstmann‘s Los Angeles rental apartment was full of vibrant patterns and bold colors — a friend described her style as “Lisa Frank meets Hot Topic,” but she thinks there was also a “level of suppressed theater kid, rhinestone cowboy, and disco daddy mixed in there too.” One of the most unique features in the home was an entire wall dedicated to shoes. From hot pink sequin booties to feathered platform sandals, her footwear is pretty much art.

Credit: Carina Romano

8. A Round Wallpaper Accent

Why cover the whole wall with wallpaper when you can cut it out and make completely unique designs? Sue Liedke‘s Philadelphia home is full of ’70s-inspired decor, including this clever room accent made with floral peel-and-stick wallpaper. Throughout the home, there are seven different wallpaper prints, but Liedke says she “tried to use it in ways that don’t overwhelm you in the space.” Here’s to using wallpaper as art!

Credit: Viv Yapp

9. A Colorful Tray Wall

It’s hard to keep track of all the fun, vibrant details in this quirky London home, but something you’ve probably never seen before is a tray wall. Homeowner Tania (aka Ms. Pink) said in her tour, “I acquired my first tray about 30 years ago at a car boot sale; I used to go most weekends and soon I was actively looking out for more of these colorful gems.” Now her eclectic mix of trays doubles as artwork — another unique detail that sets her home apart from the rest.

10. Art Turned into a Coffee Table

Willow Rothbart‘s proudest DIY project in her Hollywood studio apartment is her coffee table. Her friend Tony Camaro, a Los Angeles-based artist, sold her a piece he painted on a wood pallet. “My original plan was to keep it propped up next to my couch as-is but I loved it so much that I needed to figure out a way to make it the center of my space,” Rothbart said in her tour. So she added legs, another pallet beneath it, and a set of wheels, for the ultimate blend of art and function.

Credit: Natia Cinco

11. This Clever DIY TV Mount

If you aren’t wanting your TV to have the spotlight as the centerpiece of your living room or bedroom, you can try a ceiling-mounted TV, which allows it to be stored out of sight when it’s not in use. In her Tennessee cabin, Rachel Baiman used a folding TV mount and an old belt to create a ceiling cradle for the TV, allowing her to fold it up into the ceiling. “It’s a perfect combination of getting to lounge in bed watching TV, but not having the aesthetic of a TV in the bedroom when not using it,” Baiman said.