The collective experience of being under lockdown for much of 2020 has had one big effect for many of us: It's strengthened the urge to refresh our homes, now that we're spending more time there than ever. And not just for aesthetics, but for functionality, especially as home offices become our regular offices (and thus Zoom meeting backgrounds), living rooms become gyms (and classrooms, and second offices), and patios, balconies, and yards become the only respite available from overused indoor spaces.
In the past, if your home needed a little change, you may have swapped out the flowers in your dining room and left it at that. While that's still certainly recommended, let's be honest: Every room in your house could probably use some sprucing right about now. And considering there's nothing subtle about the year 2020, the updates in your home don't need to be, either.
That means even major changes are on the table. "All my friends are texting me right now, like, 'I'm thinking about painting my room,'" Kishani Perera, interior designer and owner of Kishani Perera Inc., tells The Zoe Report. "That's a big, common, and really easy thing to do." Perera says many are opting for lighter colors; she recommends doing a hue change that "transports them to a different place."
It's a change that can serve as the foundation of your refresh in every room — and not just in the obvious ways. "Don't limit your creativity to four walls," says Brooklyn-based interior designer Delia Kenza to TZR. "With paint, you can update a dresser [and] paint those tired floors. And don't forget about the ceiling — a little color on the ceiling can change the mood of a room."
That's not to say, though, that you need to go maximalist to make any changes — especially considering this is a time when people are feeling more overwhelmed than ever before. Instead, as Julia Marcum, CEO and co-founder of home project and renovation blog Chris Loves Julia, tells TZR, this summer is all about doing the most with the least. "I like to lighten things up, because right now I think the whole world feels really heavy," she says. "So minimizing things is one thing I've really been focusing on lately. I'm shifting my mindset to 'What can I do to make this space look its best with the least amount of things possible?'"
And, according to Emily Henderson, professional stylist, designer, NYT best-selling author, and founder of daily style and design inspiration blog StyleByEmilyHenderson.com, you don't need to make a change in every room to reap the benefits of a summer update. Just do what makes you happiest. "In terms of areas you should refresh, I don’t think there are any rules," she says. "I think focusing on areas that you spend the most time in is the way to go."
With that in mind, read on for more advice from interior designers on the updates you can make to turn whatever room you choose into a summertime oasis — plus, how to transition those changes into fall when the time comes.
How To Refresh Your Bedroom
When it comes to a summer update, nearly every expert TZR spoke with on the matter agrees: "The bedroom should be the first place that gets a warm-weather refresh," says Kenza. Because, while no one else really sees it, at the end of the day, it's where you go to retreat. Thus, you should make sure it's conducive to relaxing.
Where to start? Your bedding, of course. "We just refreshed our bed with a simple pinstriped sheet that feels so summery, and a lightweight waffle-print throw," says Marcum. "Just keeping the bedding super light and breezy in the summer makes it such a joy at night to retreat to." Plus, once temperatures start to cool down again, lighter bedding makes for an easy transition to fall since you can slowly start to incorporate cozier linens in with the lighter ones, like a cashmere throw or a heavier quilt thrown over top.
Kenza also suggests adding some fresh flowers as an easy way to bring the outdoors in, as well as opening the curtains or replacing your heavy ones with sheers to let in the sunlight. And Perera says to consider adding a rug: "Even if you just roll out a really simple jute rug, that makes it feel sort of summery, like maybe you're at the beach somewhere," she says. Bonus: "It's lighter and cooler, too," she adds.
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How To Refresh Your Living Room
Warmer months often present the perfect time to clear out clutter — a crucial update that Kenza recommends for the start of any refresh. The designer explains that having too much stuff crammed into a space can block the light, and she suggests getting rid of anything you don't need or use so you can focus on the pieces you do love.
Once things are organized, you can start infusing the area with lighter, brighter vibes courtesy of tried-and-true designer tricks. Swapping out toss cushions or lampshades can have a major impact, says Perera, though you can go bigger if you have a slightly larger budget. "I just got myself an orange accent chair and it just brightens the whole room." (Perera also loves Anthropologie's Effie Tripod Chair, since it exudes the '70s retro-modern vibe she's seen trending lately.)
And if budget is of no concern? According to Perera, changing your rug in the living room can also make a huge difference. "I really like the vintage-looking ones where the colors are kind of faded and distressed, so you have a little bit of those subdued pastels, but it's still color — it still feels light and fresh," she says.
How To Refresh Your Kitchen
According to Kelly Finley, the founder and principal designer of Joy Street Design, refreshing your kitchen can be as simple as displaying seasonal vegetables — which means all you need is a big, beautiful bowl and your weekly CSA delivery. "My counters get more colorful from the different fruits that are in season and that always makes me happy," Finley says. Pair that display with a couple of new tea towels — in brighter hues for the summer, and warm, rich ones come fall — and your kitchen will have a totally fresh mood, no big investments necessary.
Marcum suggests similarly simple changes, explaining that when it comes to the kitchen, functional decor should take priority. "I think there are so many beautiful, functional kitchen pieces that can be displayed that you'll use every day and really amp up your kitchen," she says. "Just leaning a couple big wood boards against the backsplash looks beautiful and it's also super functional. I swear we use it so much more because it's just right there." (Pro tip: That also allows you to bring in some "warm woods," a texture that Marcum says is having a major resurgence.)
How To Refresh Your Office
If you're lucky enough to have a home office, the most important update you can make right now is to add functionality and a sense of calmness. According to Perera, that starts with organization. "The biggest and best investment you can make in an office is really nice organizational supplies," she says. "Especially because you're feeling a little more stressed and scattered at home because you have distractions that you didn't have at the office, to have that level of organization is really calming."
And since pretty much everyone could use a little more light at the moment, Danielle Fennoy, owner and founder of Revamp LLC, suggests bringing in a mirror. "If you have a window and [the mirror is] opposite a window, you can make a dark, small room feel a lot bigger and brighter," she explains.
When it comes to wall decor, Fennoy also recommends adding some bright art or having pieces revamped with a lighter frame to transform older artwork. Not only will it liven up your walls, but it'll give your colleagues something new to look at in your next Zoom meeting.
Don't have a designated office space? There's another way the power of paint (or wallpaper) can come into play. Perera explains that adding an accent wall can separate one room into what feels like two distinct spaces. "Especially if you're trying to delineate the office area, like, 'this is where I work,' and [then], 'this is my living space,' it's kind of nice if you do something in that little office nook," she says. It can also "create a different mood in each area even though it's one big room."
How To Refresh Your Bathroom
Since most of the fixtures in the bathroom are permanent, it can feel difficult to make updates that are impactful. However, according to Finley, small changes and additions can still make a big difference. "At the start of the pandemic, I wanted to give each room a little refresh and found that the easiest way for the bathroom was simply to bring in new towels," she says. "I also switched out all of the loofahs, sponges, etc. and decanted our soaps into pretty containers. These small changes made a huge impact in the space."
You may also be looking to add a spa-like feel into the room right about now — and it doesn't take a big overhaul to achieve that, either. In fact, Fennoy simply recommends adding nature to your space wherever you need some peacefulness. "We're finding our own way back to Mother Nature and having more green in our lives brings calming energy," she notes. And if you have plants, you have plant holders — which she says you can also swap out each season to change the vibe in any area.
How To Refresh Your Dining Room
"One thing we love doing is opening our doors and bringing the outside in," says Marcum, and you can easily do that in your own dining room by opening any windows or doors in your space or bringing in flowers or greenery for display. Don't have the patience for plants? You can evoke the same mood with art. "We have a really big tapestry right now that has kind of a garden scene on it, and it just feels like the outdoors all year long in there because of what's on the walls," she says.
For your table, Fennoy says that anything that lives on it, such as candles, plants, or placemats, can be changed out seasonally for options that reflect the colors you're seeing outside. You can also take it a step further, she says, by changing your chair cushions to fit in with the refreshed color scheme of the space.
How To Refresh Your Patio
Whether you have a tiny balcony or the patio of your dreams, everyone can make a few small changes that'll help turn an outdoor space into an oasis. "For a little outdoor refresh, textiles and lighting [are] the easiest — and most affordable — way to go," says Henderson. "So you can go for it and replace your actual seat cushions, or you can just buy some fun throw pillows, a blanket, and even a pouf, which can double as a table if you use a tray. I promise your space will instantly feel new." Some other ideas that she says could do the trick: Going with a consistent color palette (she's loving bright red this year), or adding some string lights and a lantern or two.
And, don't forget your tableware if you have any plans to entertain (or just eat outside yourself). "I think right now is the time to really celebrate the little moments, so having a set that you use for special occasions or a set that you use for spring and summer will definitely make you feel a little more cheery, and uplift the occasion," says Fennoy.