Instead of a fancy piece of art, enlarge a photo you've taken outside or in a favorite spot and frame it, says Leigh Spicher, Ashton Woods' national director of design studios. You can add color to the mantle, like in this Dallas home, without using accessories. Also, arrange shells or other natural elements that you saved because of their beauty (and free price tag) in a frame or shadowbox, as another layer of art for your mantel.
Spice up a white room with golden hues, a rich peacock blue and warm gray tones. This living room's reading nook was turned into an inviting space with splashes of color that take the space from boring and basic to bold and beautiful. To get the look at home, create a feature wall with paint or wallpaper.
Dress up four poster beds with bed curtains and tassels, suggests Susan Sully, author of “Past Present: Living with Heirlooms and Antiques." “I thought this idea of putting a framed print on top of the curtains was really elegant,” Sully says. She suggests keeping all the decor in one color tone, but varying the patterns.
Start with a theme, even in a small bathroom. Robin LaMonte, owner of Rooms Revamped Interior Design, continued the travel motif from a nearby bonus room into this bathroom, by using framed photos of planes and a faux propeller from a discount home decor store. For an interesting background, she covered the walls in grasscloth. While grasscloth can be expensive, you can find it at a discount if you look around -- this one was $45 for a roll and more than half off the usual price, she says.
Botanical prints like these are fairly easy to find at thrift and antiques stores, and they can incorporate an old-fashioned luxury into the bedroom. Framed above the bed, they add a sense of nature and calm. “Painting everything ivory and white and the curtains the same color sets off the dark silhouette of the furniture,” says Susan Sully, author of “Past Present: Living with Heirlooms and Antiques." The Jenny Lind Spool bed, an old traveling trunk and shiplapped walls create a cozy feel.
Everything about this dining room says elegance, from the round table and matching chairs to the tray ceiling to the ornate chandelier. Rich paint colors and detailed wall frame molding provide the finishing touches.
A great way to spruce up your counter space is by switching out your accessories to incorporate new colors and shapes. “Hunt down different bottles of all different kinds,” says Susan Sully, author of “Past Present: Living with Heirlooms and Antiques.” “I think adding that one cranberry bottle in with the rest really brought that to life.” She says putting family photos in mismatched frames can also give decor flair.
"The mirrored doors above the fireplace add depth and interest on their own; the fact that they conceal the TV is a bonus," says designer Vern Yip. "The severe lines of the shutters are softened by simple drapery panels that also help frame the large sectional.
Create a centerpiece vignette for your island in your favorite style, whether it’s rustic, vintage or modern. Texas designer Janna Allbritton of Yellow Prairie Interior Design says if you’re going rustic, look in your garage with a fresh set of eyes for unexpected items to use on the island. An old picture frame or caddy, like on this island, could do the trick. Use one large piece to anchor the arrangement, then decorate around it, she says.
You can turn anything into a collection. Group a trio of mirrors with an interesting finish, such as an antique patina, on a wall for instant artwork. If you find mirrors with different sizes and frames at a yard sale or thrift store, patina the frames and mirrors to achieve the same look. “Grouping affordable mirrors is a great way to add charm and interest to a wall,” says Julie Montgomery, owner of Julie Montgomery Interiors in Atlanta.
Custom choices are more and more popular in today's readily available bedroom collections. Stores like Room & Board offer the ability to select the fabric and frame so you can design your own custom headboard. "By picking just the right fabric, the rest of your bedroom choices can easily mix together. We offer more than 200 fabric options on our upholstered beds," says Katie Lloyd of Room & Board.
In a kitchen with simple style and a mostly white color palette, a splash of pattern can add personality. "Help frame a beautiful view with a valance mounted above the window. This ikat-patterned fabric, Bansuri in Slate, has a rich neutral that adds interest to the solid white cabinets," says the manufacturer.
Natural light is lovely for creating a warm, inviting environment, but when you're ready for some shut-eye, those rays need to be controlled, says Flanigan. In addition to framing window openings with color and texture, drapery allows you to have direct control over your lighting experience. Invest in high-quality drapery and line your panels with blackout material. This ensures you get sleep at any hour of the day while also protecting your furniture, rugs and art from damaging UV rays.
In loft layouts, the distinctions between different “rooms” must often come from a shift in materials, not from physical walls. Here, architect Gary Chase of Vita Design Group used this technique to great effect to create an office within a free-flowing layout. “Used in a few moments around the home, this walnut feature material creates the backdrop for this modern desk area between kitchen and family Room. As it wraps from the wall up onto the ceiling the material serves to frame out and define the space for the desk,” he says.
All it takes to create an outdoor getaway is a comfortable chair or two. Here, designer Erin Benedict chose a pair of Adirondack chairs softened by large cushy pillows. And, note the pulled-back curtain to one side: If you have a place to hang a curtain rod or wire, an outdoor curtain adds softness and privacy. “Elegant black and gold striped drapes perfectly frame the Adirondack chairs, adding a contemporary element while complementing the timeless architectural details of the early 1920s structure,” Benedict says.
Home decor blogger Amy Buchanan started with a yard sale table and layered in finds, such as a tobacco stick star, a pinecone garland and a frame from an old dresser. Ticking ribbon and wooden Christmas trees painted to look like old grain sacks are in keeping with the farmhouse theme. "I love collecting vintage items throughout the year, then mixing them together to create rustic and farm-style vignettes," says Buchanan, who blogs at AttaGirlSays.
Depending on the layout of your patio, an outdoor shower could be part of your design and create an interesting focal point. If you have outdoor plumbing, you are on your way to making this possible, says Leigh Spicher, Ashton Woods’ national director of design studios. Frame a small enclosure and treat with a teak accent. This one by Ashton Woods designers extends above the wall, but yours would be less detailed and require fewer materials. You also can use the shower to water your container plants.