1 “Flor carpet tiles—as opposed to wall-to-wall-carpeting—are a good quick fix because you can purchase and install them on your own.”
—Carole Post


2  “Rearrange the contents of your shelves. In my living room, I took out all the old paperbacks and yearbooks and put in personal objects—the room was transformed.”
—Stephanie Wohlner

3 If a kitchen or bath remodel is out of the question, replace the hardware on the cabinetry. Think of it as new jewelry. To create a lounge feel in a rarely used kitchen, Don Raney and Jaymes Richardson of Civility Design painted the cabinets a glossy mocha brown and completed the look with Lucite pulls. For the bathroom vanity of a fashion-minded client, they used hardware reminiscent of a belt buckle.


4 Use lacquer on dated wood furniture to modernize it. For a client who wanted to update her dining room without overhauling it, decorator Laura Soskin kept the existing traditional table but lacquer-finished the chairs in black and re-covered the seats in a modern lime green. The designers at Hudson Home updated a sad-looking mid-20th-century dresser with a coat of white lacquer.

5 Make a statement with a pair of big planters with date palms in them. For a touch of drama, interior designer Carole Post suggests putting one on each side of a dining room, on opposite sides of the table—“You can get the same effect as a sculpture without spending as much.”

6 Use organized clutter to make a modern space feel less austere. To “clutter up” a dining room that was looking too sleek, interior designer Stephanie Wohlner filled a contemporary sideboard with stacks of country-feeling dishes in yellows and creams. “For a similar look you could use a shorter stacking bookcase or a shelving system,” she says.

7 Replace a boring flush-mount light fixture with a chandelier. Decorator Anne Coyle designed her own chandelier made of hand-pitted wrought iron that she has used to enliven many a space.

8 Use bold black-and-white art to create drama in a room that might otherwise look staid. For a young Chicago couple who wanted a traditional look that wasn’t stodgy, Stephanie Wohlner used some traditional silhouettes, such as a wing chair, but with exaggerated proportions. Then she pushed the room to the modern side with a bold black-and-white diptych painting over the fireplace—“If you’d had an oil painting of the Tuscan countryside in its place, the room would have looked completely different.”


Photography: (Item 1) Courtesy flor.com; (Item 2) Jon Miller/Hedrich Blessing; (Item 4) Millicent Wong; (Item 10) Boodalee pattern courtesy 2modern.com; (Item 12) Wayne Cable/Cable Photo; (Item 13) Linda Oyama Bryan


9 “A reclaimed fireplace mantel can provide a one-of-a-kind headboard—and reduce the need for nightstands when bedroom real estate is scarce. You can wire it for reading lights, too.”
—Don Raney and Jaymes Richardson, Civility Design


10 “I love removable wall decals, especially for kids’ rooms. For about $50 you can transform a nursery or create a great playroom.”
—Hillery Estes


11 “Wallpaper always works for a quick fix. I like to use big-scale designs with high-contrast colors like black and white, or a toile with a bold color background and a white print.”
—Anne Coyle


12 Paint a room black or another dark color to make everything, even neutrals, suddenly appear more dramatic. Anne Coyle used this trick in the bedroom she designed for the Merchandise Mart’s DreamHome (above) last fall—Benjamin Moore’s Raccoon Fur provided the arresting backdrop and helped her create a clubby feel.


13 “Use collections to make a space feel more warm and personal. I stacked books on a modern Holly Hunt bench at the foot of a bed—it softens the space and the homeowner loves to read in bed.”
—Stephanie Wohlner


Photography: (Item 1) Courtesy flor.com; (Item 2) Jon Miller/Hedrich Blessing; (Item 4) Millicent Wong; (Item 10) Boodalee pattern courtesy 2modern.com; (Item 12) Wayne Cable/Cable Photo; (Item 13) Linda Oyama Bryan



Anne Coyle Interiors

Carole Post

Don Raney and Jaymes Richardson,
Civility Design

Hillery Estes,
Estes Interiors

Hudson Home

Laura Soskin Design

Stephanie Wohlner