Little Magic Tricks to Make Your Living Room Look New Again

updated Jan 24, 2020
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(Image credit: Katy Cartland)

Now that we’re in the depths of winter, you’re probably spending more time at home than you have in months. And as fun as it is to hunker down indoors, nothing zaps the fun out of a Netflix binge or a board game marathon quite as quickly as sitting in a space you’re just meh on. The good news is that January is actually the perfect month for a little living-space spruce-up—and the better news is that you don’t even have to scrap all of your stuff! Here are some smart ways to put all those extra hours you’re spending indoors to use, all while creating a hangout that makes your heart sing.

(Image credit: Mikael Lundblad)

DIY new covers for throw pillows

This sounds scary, but hear us out: You don’t need to be an expert seamstress to make new covers for your throw pillows. The easiest way to do this is to find pieces of fabric that already have finished seams, like large fabric napkins or vintage scarves, because most of the work is done for you. Use heavy-duty fabric glue to glue three of the sides together, then fit one of your old pillows into the open side, and glue the final edge together. Of course, if you want something with more staying power, stitching works, too—you can use a sewing machine, or check out our guide to hand stitches.

Paint furniture feet and legs

There’s no need to go all-in on paint if you don’t want to. Instead, give a ho-hum chair or that old sofa a mini makeover by coating its feet or legs in a bold color. This works especially well on wood legs and feet you can unscrew from the base—flip the chair or sofa on its side so you can remove the legs, then brush or spray on paint. It’s a smart way to hide scuffs, and while you’re at it, you can replace the glides or furniture pads at the bottom of the legs or feet, which will help protect your floors.

(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

Rearrange your art

You don’t always need to buy or make something new to refresh a space—sometimes tweaking the layout is more than enough. Rearranging your furniture can drastically change your living room’s look, but so can moving around your art. Have a gallery wall over your sofa? Use the existing hooks to hang one big canvas or framed print instead. Or switch out that single framed photo for a mirror or wall hanging. Another fun way to jazz up your art display: Keep the frames, but swap out the photos for fresh ones. (Seems like the right time to show off some warm-weather vacation photos, we’d say.)

Give shelf edges a pop of color

If you want to add a little bit of color to a bookcase, decorate just the front edge of the shelves. This afternoon project won’t require you to take out all your books (what a relief!) but still gives major happy vibes. Bright hues are a fun add, but you can also go for a metallic paint for a glam feel. Renters can get in on this project, too, even if paint isn’t allowed: Trim edges with wide pieces of ribbon adhered with Command strips, or roll out colorful washi tape. Both options are easily removable later.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Make over a lampshade

Drum up the interest on a basic shade by wrapping it in yarn or rope—try jute for a rustic look, or chunky cotton for a nautical one. Start at the top, hot gluing the rope to the shade as you go. Or get the look of the shade above by gluing ribbon on in alternating rows to make a cheeky striped look.

Add nailhead trim to furniture

Nailhead trim looks fancy, but it’s actually pretty easy to install—especially if you buy it as a strip, rather than individual nails. All you need to install it is a mallet or a hammer with some fabric wrapped around the head as padding. Line up the trim along the edge of an upholstered chair or sofa and tap the nailheads through the upholstery and into the wooden frame. Make sure the frame is solidly underneath where you want the nailheads to go so they have something to grip into.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Paint the back of a cabinet

If you’re feeling more adventurous with paint—and like you have a little more time on your hands—this is a great afternoon project. Slide out your cabinet’s shelves, then coat the cabinet back with an unexpected paint color. A light, bright color can add instant cheer; super dark shades like black and navy will make everything on your shelves really pop. But not to worry: If you’re afraid to make the commitment to paint, you can still get a similar look. Instead of painting the back, cut cardstock or a thin piece of foamcore so that it’s the same size as your cabinet back and paint it instead. Stick it to your cabinet with double-sided tape or Command strips, then slide back in the shelves.

Resurface a table

You don’t have to replace your entire table to give it a whole new look. Transform a coffee or side table with a wood or glass top by wrapping it in contact paper, which these days comes in all kinds of chic patterns like wood grain, marble, and animal-print. Just make sure to cut the paper a couple of inches larger than your tabletop so you have enough excess to wrap around and under the table’s edge.