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A Few For Your Todo List...

The 10 Easy Things In Your Space You Could Update This Weekend

black spindle bench entry way
Photo by Tessa Neustadt for EHD

**Disclaimer: A few early commenters expressed that they felt bummed by the original title of this post – which used the would “should” instead of “could”. They felt that it implied that everyone must make these updates to their homes in order to feel happy living in them. The usage of the word was an oversight on our part and we never, EVER want to make anyone feel like their home isn’t already a happy place or that they NEED to change anything to be happy. We’re so sorry if the original title of this post made anyone feel this way. Our posts, including this one, are only intended to inspire people with ideas and possibilities. Every house is already a home if you and your family are living there.

Moving into a new place is exciting, it is a place to nest, to make your own, and to really take control of. It allows you to create a space that is uniquely yours. So today we are rounding up a handful of the quick and easy changes that can be made to your home that will give it a new lease on life and have you feeling proud of your space at the same time. Every home is different and will have its own set of “design challenges” and some of these things may not apply to every home or space but here are the ten easy things you could start with this weekend to drastically change the look of your place.

Replace Lighting:

diy headboard wall sconce neutral
Photo by Tessa Neustadt for EHD

There is nothing worse than low-light, and dated “landlord lighting”, so swapping out your old fixtures with a few new ones is an easy and transformative trick to give some life to your space. You’d be surprised how different the space can look with just a new fixture or some additional light. Although this one sounds intimidating it isn’t. Swapping out a light involves a little bit of hard wiring, which can be DIYed if you are feeling up to it, or you can call a handyman or an on-demand service like “Handy” or “Task Rabbit” to do the labor for you. If possible we also recommend adding additional lighting to illuminate the space. So if you used to have a pendant light in your dining nook with just one bulb think about swapping in a new unit with a few additional bulbs to bring some light into the space.

Install Dimmer Switches:

living room credenza bar tray
Photo by Sara Tramp for EHD

This goes along with the previous trick. Installing dimmers on some of the lighting in your house is affordable and will change the way you use your space. Our tip is to install lighting that has “too much” light output (for instance a double sconces vs. a single) and then turning the dimmer down on it to create just the right amount of glow. You can pick up a new dimmer switch at your local hardware store for around $5-$10 and it’s easy enough to install yourself. It doesn’t need to be done to every room, but a few here and there can help change the way the space feels just with the click of a switch (no pun intended).

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Swap Out Hardware: 

Shot 2 001 Shade Down Copy
Photo by Zeke Reulas

Swapping out your hardware is one of the easiest, cheapest and quickest things that you can do to drastically give your kitchen or cabinetry a facelift. There are no real tools required other than a screwdriver and just an hour or so to take out the old ones and swap in your new favorites. Much like a little bit of blush or mascara on that face of yours, a new handle or knob can take your cabinets from drab to fab.

Paint or Temporary Wallpaper:

Pink Nursery Temporary wallpaper bunny wallpaper
Photo by Tessa Neustadt for EHD

“Landlord White” is not one of our favorite neutral paint colors. So do yourself a favor and if the landlord is repainting before you move in ask him/her if you can suggest the paint color and have them paint it. If they aren’t feeling so generous most landlords will allow you to paint as long as it isn’t too crazy of a color (black, red, purple, etc). Here are some posts with our favorites neutrals and non-neutrals ( if they say it’s okay). If your landlord isn’t into the whole painting idea or if you are looking for something a bit more graphic then look into temporary wallpaper which is an easy weekend project and will give the room a new look. We walked you through how to install it in this post and we also used temporary wallpaper in this nursery.

 

Hang Art:

Styled The Book Emily Henderson Design Davidperalta Designbydavidperalta 1416
Photo by David Tsay for EHD

Don’t be afraid to hang art on your walls. Making holes in your walls can be scary, but the payoff is worth it. And if your art isn’t too heavy you can always get away with hanging the piece with a command-strip. If you need a few ideas for large-scale pieces check out this post, for a few of our favorite places to shop online for art see this post and lastly here is a post on how to properly hang your art so it looks it’s best.

Invest in Organization:

laundry room organization labels cleaning
Photo by Tessa Neustadt for EHD

Picking Monday’s “meeting outfit” out of a disorganized mess of a closet can be almost as depressing as having to go to an 8:30am meeting on a Monday. The same goes for trying to find a bottle of Windex under your sink that is mixed in with 34 other half used bottles of cleaner. Do yourself a favor and invest in some organization not only for your closet but for the rest of your space as well. Think vertical with your storage. There are so many good options out there for small space living that can help you organize every inch of your life.

Replace Window Coverings:

rattan swing chair little girls room
Photo by Tessa Neustadt for EHD

Mini blinds are functional but unfortunately not beautiful. If you have the budget for it invest in readymade curtains and hang them up on a rod. They will make your windows feel twice as large, give the room another layer of texture and can help to cover up less than beautiful windows (or neighbors) when necessary. In case you missed it here is a post on how to hang those nice new curtains the right way.

Furniture For the Space:

mid century modern dining room turquoise chairs
Photo by David Tsay for EHD

We get it, you might love that reclining sectional you and your friends all fell in love with during your college days, but when you have your own space it is important to find furniture that fits within that space and works the best for the layout. For instance if you have a small dining nook area, consider using a round table to help with flow and floor space. If you are in the market here is a roundup of some great small space dining options. If your space is tight, consider multifunctional pieces that have built-in storage or can expand when needed. If your space isn’t so tight then use our Living Room or Dining Room rules post to help make sure you have all the right pieces picked out for your place.

Add Rugs or Peel and Stick Flooring:

black an white kitchen removable floor tiles
Photo by Tessa Neustadt for EHD

Typically this is one of the last things on peoples todo list which means it often gets forgotten about and the same floors stay in your place from tenant to tenant. But, that doesn’t mean that you should take a little time to give it some TLC. Brady covered his old linoleum kitchen floors with peel and stick vinyl tile (which we covered here) and was able to completely transform the look of the space for just $50 and a few hours. If you don’t have an area to do this in then don’t underestimate the power of a good rug. There are so many good affordable options out there that can bring a lot of new life to your floors. Check out our budget rugs post if you need a few ideas.

Bring In Your Personality: 

cool eclectic living room pink ottoman gold pendant vintage
Photo by David Tsay for EHD

Last but not least, don’t forget to make the place feel like your own. Your space isn’t truly yours unless there are elements in there that you love and make you feel at home. Whether that is your family photos displayed on the fridge, a vintage textile draped over your sofa, or a little trinket mixed into your bookshelf that might not be the most beautiful thing but has sentimental value to you – don’t be afraid to mix it up with your own stuff to make the space feel unique and personal.

So there you have it, your weekend TODO list may have just gotten a little longer, but your home just got a little bit of love as well. These are meant to inspire and hopefully one or two of them are something that you might be able to attempt on your own. Let us know if you have any questions or if you have any other good (and easy) hacks that you have seen online that we can add to this list. TGIF friends, we will see you on Monday.

  1. Love these ideas! When I was renting I always spent time on littl touches that made it feel like home. Most things didn’t cost any extra money (repurposing what I already had in new ways), and the few additional touches, like the ones you mentioned here, really do make a space feel like home.
    Chelsea | http://www.thebiglakemi.com

  2. These are indisputably great ways to transform a space. Nothing new here but sometimes it helps to revisit the basics. That said, having done everything on this list many times, I believe the only truly quick and easy tasks here are hanging art, organizing, adding a rug, furniture shopping, and arranging personal items in new ways.

    A new table or floor lamp would be quick/easy, but replacing ceiling/wall fixtures can be tricky if you’re replacing older fixtures, changing from incandescent or fluorescent to LED or any variation, need to touch up paint and/or repair drywall, etc. I’ve installed dozens of dimmers and a few times have had to bring in an electrician who I’d watch also struggle for an hour getting wires to fit back into the jbox, in buildings constructed after 2000. Be prepared for this stuff to take longer than you expect and the possibility that you’ll have to hire a pro to finish the job.

    Swapping out cabinet hardware can be quick and easy as long as the hardware footprint is the same size or larger than what you have, the holes line up, and you’re not dealing with painted or laminated doors/drawers that have to be refinished around the new hardware. Remove an existing handle/knob and look at what you’re dealing with before buying replacements. Another cabinet upgrade that I highly recommend is soft door closers, a cheap and quick DIY install. Not aesthetic (they’re installed in the interior cabinet corner) but these are a game changer in kitchens and bathrooms, cabinets feel more expensive/well-built. The luxury of quietly closing doors cannot be overstated.

    Hanging curtains is not fun. It could be quick and easy if you happen to need the exact height and width available in ready-made sizes and you’re not replacing/moving the existing rod. Anything outside of that will take some doing. Removing old, dirty mini blinds is soooooo cathartic, though. I’ve done that twice before in otherwise charming 20s apartments, instant transformation.

    And a note to perfectionists on temporary wallpaper and peel & stick tile: you will spend all weekend working on this. Proper alignment, straight edges, smooth texture… manage expectations when working in spaces that don’t have perfectly straight or smooth surfaces to begin with.

    1. When I want to change a space and haven’t exactly figured out what to do…or I’m hesitant to spend more money on something…I clean. Like really clean the lovin’ sh*t out of it. Curtains down and be beaten and aired (or laundered and ironed), pillows, throws, anything fabric. Everything off the wall to wash the walls and baseboards, every little item moved to clean and dust underneath, etc. And then I put it all back and rethink…I am just bored and looking for a project or is there really something that needs to be changed. It works for me.

      1. I like this idea a lot.

      2. I do the same. And it usually changes how I feel about the space. Whether it is loving it more or deciding I own way too much stuff.

      3. great idea!

      4. I do the same thing except I call it “spring cleaning.” I like your term of “cleaning the lovin’ sh*t out of it” much better. 😀

    2. I couldn’t agree more with you more on all your pointers. These are all good, old ways to transform a space, but some require a little more effort than others, just as you have pointed out.

  3. I love these ideas Emily. Can you please point me where the source is for the fantastic black light in the first iage “replace lighting”

    Thanks again for all the inspiration .

    Happy Friday!

    1. Hey Jennifer, Brady sometimes posts on Emily’s site, here is a link to his whole bedroom project (the photo you are referring to) https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/bradys-bedroom-makeover-parachute

      And, here is a link to that specific black lamp— but it is currently out of stock https://www.allmodern.com/lighting/pdp/the-gothenburg-swing-arm-lamp-stno1330.html?SSAID=687298&refid=SS687298&creative=65867&m=11035

      that website does suggest alternatives, though

      1. Brady got it at allmodern, but sadly they are out of stock. They have the same one at wayfair though:
        https://www.wayfair.com/lighting/pdp/stilnovo-the-gothenburg-3-light-armed-sconce-stno1228.html?source=hotdeals

  4. I’m counting on paint, new hardware, and new lighting to completely transform my kitchen, haha. No time or money for bigger updates, but these should still pack a punch! https://www.andthenwetried.com/2018/04/one-room-challenge-week-two-making-choices/

  5. I love this! My rental needs a surge of personality and these tips are awesome. Thank you thank you!

  6. Having all these tips in one place is so great! I need you replace my hardware asap. Thanks Emily

  7. Where is the black spindle bench from?

    1. I’m pretty sure that it’s an outdoor bench from Target—$79!

  8. I was working on a super budget staging project a few years ago that meant I couldn’t put a ton of holes in the wall but the wall over the sofa needed *something*. We framed some fabric in very lightweight Ikea frames and used command hooks to hang. We just did 2, but it would look really cool to hang in a tight grid, maybe behind a bed. Inexpensive and easy–a level is your friend!
    Here’s the picture:
    http://www.christineschwalm.com/woodside-staging.html

  9. Loving the “could”, not “should”. The latest issue of Bon Appetit was chock full of shoulds, and it really annoyed me. Not loving the trend of media telling people what they should be doing.

    1. It’s funny. I am pro-‘could’, too and generally don’t like ‘shoulds’ but sometimes I like the authority of a ‘should’ and I definitely click on more ‘shoulds’ than I probably should 🙂 Good to hear the feedback.

  10. I know electrical work sounds scary at first, but I switched out all the electrical outlets and switches in my 1950s apartment in a weekend! I wanted to install white plates and outlets (instead of the weird beige color that came with the apartment), so I ordered them on Amazon (along with a current checker thing, to make sure the power was indeed really off), they came in two days, and then I pulled up a youtube video, found the breaker for my unit, turned off the power, and did all the wiring myself. I felt SO accomplished when I was done, and it took MAYBE two hours total (I got pretty fast once I got the hang of it). I had zero experience with electrical work before this. As long as your power is OFF there’s not really anything that can hurt you, so you can fumble around with the wires as much as you need to, to figure it out. And there are a LOT of online videos for just about any type of wiring from any decade on youtube. Hope this helps anyone who’s scared of tackling this project! Great ideas here.

  11. Great post!! I never feel your tone is telling people what they must do or that their space should look a certain way. It is inspiration and I know you know about real world living- especially with kids!! Thanks for the push nonetheless!!

  12. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. So sensitive and literal these days, I’m sure it takes a lot of the fun out of blogging and making simple recommendations. Thanks for all that you do. Always look forward to each blog!

    1. Amen to that. Lighten up people.

    2. Yes, my first reaction was “Oh good grief” but then Emily in her always gracious style addressed in so kindly. Emily is an amazing spirit woman!

    3. I feel exactly the same. Why is everyone so sensitive these days? It’s a blog post for petes sake. Who cares what it’s titled? Not everyone in the world is judging you specifically. I don’t like that Emily even had to address it.

      1. I agree! I find it depressing how quickly we are as a culture to be offended. It’s almost as though people are going out of their way to feel offended. There is plenty out there in the world to get genuinely upset about, but a blog post about a quick design refresh?!

  13. Loving this post, and loving the dialogue as well between the readers and the edits that you made. This is why I come back here every day. Not only do you offer inspiration every day but you listen to your readers and respond. I love this post and you.

  14. where can i get the open plastic bins with cutouts? Great ideas!

      1. Thanks for taking the time and adding direct site.

  15. I appreciate the change from “should” to “could” , but you don’t need a giant disclaimer. Just change the word and add a comment of “thanks, we’ve made the change!” on the OP. There’s a growing trend of apologizing for too many things on this blog that aren’t really needed. We’re not all that sensitive, you can’t please everyone, and it’s just a fun design blog for pete’s sake!

    That being said, I love the idea of changing some light switches out to dimmers. Now I’m dreaming of one for my bedroom and living room in my rental and I’m going to e-mail my landlord 🙂

  16. This is great! I just moved into a new (rented) loft and have been struggling to make the space more mine. Your posts ALWAYS inspire me. Thank you for all of the ideas, and sharing your magic with us!

  17. Organizing is like therapy for me! And I can personally attest to what a difference swapping out hardware does for a space. I bought some simple vintage glass knobs at a flea market a few weekends ago, popped them onto our kitchen cabinets, and they really help the whole kitchen feel pulled together and so much less like a “flip”.

  18. So silly how easily people are offended these days. And they feel the need to let you know how you “SCREWED UP”. Where’s the love? We all need to chill out a little. Try and see the good in people instead of the bad! Life is too short to be so angry 🌈🦄☀️

  19. Hey Emily! My house is thanking you for our fresh look and evolving style, all thanks for your blog! I love the glass ceiling light in the Hang Art section. Where is that from? Thanks! -Sarah from Boston

  20. I agree that could and should are powerful words in your personal vocab. However you COULD just let it go when an article uses a word you have attached more power and meaning to than the Author and you def SHOULD not be so entitled as to comment and have someone make a change and publish a disclaimer and apologise. Oh boy. Keep up the great job EHD.

  21. Hi! In the interest of helpful feedback, I was disappointed in this article. It almost feels like you didn’t write it but outsourced it to some generic home site because it felt so off to me. Further, most of these items require a lot of preordering and thought. Maybe because you posted it on a Friday, I thought these were going to be more manageable weekend items. Yes, I would love to install new hardware but the stuff I like won’t come in a weekend (and will require me to bite the bullet and make a design decision to boot.). It also felt so general: “go install a new fixture” or “buy furniture.” Well, yeah… but what? Anyway, I am a big fan of your site but want to give helpful feedback if you are going down a strange road and also to express a point of view on what content makes me come back to read. Saying all of this, I applaud you for actually posting as much content as you do. That is tough!

    1. Applause for politely worded feedback! But I kinda have to disagree with Brookie. The EHD team produces SO. MUCH. ORIGINAL. CONTENT. every month, that I don’t mind when they recycle some of their own content every now and then. Especially compared to some other sites out there. First of all, it’s a free site (which, yes, depends on keeping us as readers, but also provides generally awesome content to us on a regular basis for FREE, so I think it goes both ways). Secondly, they’ve linked back to some of their own posts for a few of the suggestions to add helpful guidance if someone wants more info (like what rug to buy and from where). Plus this post feels like it’s just supposed to serve as a jumping off point for ideas. Not trying to fan girl defend here, but just my two cents about reading one post out of many every month that maybe someone didn’t like as much!

    2. Agree, love the blog in general but this post was a little mediocre compared to the usual really high standard.

      1. while I kinda agree, I also like compiling a lot of ideas in one place as a good summary for motivation…. we strive every day to not be generic …. I promise. thanks for the feedback. xx

  22. Geez! I am sorry you felt like you had to write a disclaimer about using the words “should” vs “could”. Unbelievable how touchy or sensitive people can be. I have found meditation helps. I love your style, ideas and posts. Keep doing an amazing job and remember one of the Four Agreements : Dont take anything personally.

    1. In the install dimmer switch section, can you tell me where the curtain and rod are from? I am so in love! Also would love details on the rug 🙂

  23. I recently renovated my office, and the walls were empty since then. Hanging art gave me the idea to make my office space more personal, and more living with hanging some family portraits, arts, group photos, and some certificates.

    I guess this will make my office space more loud and active!

    Harry,
    https://ios12guide.com/

  24. Ughh way too serious. This blog is starting to feel wayyy too self conscious and the content suffers as a result. Now that WE are your primarily clients, Everything has become too defensive. This is why I’m a millennial wo instagram—content creature culture fatigue. Designer first, content creator second.

  25. Love the post and the rumination / apology on could and should. When I first read the first paragraph I rolled my eyes at the people who got annoyed by ‘should’ but the apology made me reconsider and be like, yeah I guess that word is a bit agressive so WHY NOT change it to could and be like, yo we didn’t mean it like that, just like you did. Classy as always, EHD.

  26. Sometimes I get tired of people who split hairs and criticize because it’s the 9only way they can feel good.
    Thank you for great “suggestions” to consider and personalize.

  27. People gotta get a grip! “Could” – “should” eh!! Call your therapist peeps!

    Keep rocking the design world!!

  28. Omg! Where is that couch/sofa from in the last photo?

  29. I could not agree more: Dimmers are the best! Well worth the update to add them.

  30. I can’t believe people have the time to actually be upset if someone use “should,” rather than “could.” This just shows what kind of society we live in. Pathetic!!!
    By the way, great article!

  31. I didn’t get on this on time to comment on the use of the word “could” vs “should,” but in general coulds feel better. I am conscious of this when I teach yoga, life coach, or “inspire” my husband to do anything. The original title would not have bothered me, but I appreciate you guys took the time to change the title and add the update about why. Let’s keep these things in the positive. You are teaching about home design and I teach exercise.

    For example, I don’t say, “Don’t lift your shoulders!” I say, “Shoulders away from your ears.” Tell us WHAT “could” be possible in our homes.

    🙂

  32. hello. i love hang art. that’s wonderful. thanks for this article.
    خرید هدیه تولد

  33. EH…. great AND EASILY DO-ABLE weekenders. Thanks for collecting them into one list!!!

  34. That vinyl tile in the kitchen, does it damage the floor underneath? Will it be easy to remove later? I have wood floors in my kitchen and they are taking a beating. They were refinished about three years ago and they already look terrible. I’m not ready to rip them out though.

  35. Hi- In the bring in your personality photo where are the two coffee tables from? The pink velvet one & the wood one?
    Thanks,
    Amber P

  36. Nothing feels better then the satisfaction after completing a little weekend project ; )

    http://www.shopthecoconutroom.com

  37. I love your kitchen remodel… I have been in the market for a gas range and really like the one you picked… but I can’t see the brand. Would you mind sharing the brand and model number?

  38. I love this article! The photos are all beautiful and really inspire me, as does your easygoing personality, Emily. I especially love some items in the nursery photos (for me!), like the heart-shaped white ottoman (no longer available) and the house-shaped pin board, the lamp with the tiny hearts, and the little side table. You have the best taste!

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