4 Ways to Rediscover Your Home's Luster

Brighten up a room by simplifying and decluttering.
Brighten up a room by simplifying and decluttering.
Courtesy of Homemadesimple.com

We all know them. They haunt your home décor yet stay unchanged for years on end. They're design debacles, everything from bad carpeting to tired tiles, and the time to revamp them is now. We've compiled reasonable remedies to the most common décor dilemmas to help make your dream home a reality.

1. Brighten Your Basement

You've purchased a home with a "finished" basement, which translates to inexpensively paneled walls. A full remodeling project may be beyond the budget, but there is hope with some moderate changes.

Basements tend to be dark, so first address the walls. Paneling can be painted if you use a good multi-surface bonding latex primer (clean the paneling with a mild detergent first). Choose a light-color acrylic or latex paint and let the natural character of the vertical panels show through (it will go from "yuck" to "charming" before your eyes).

Depending on your intended use for the room, update curtains, flooring, and furniture as appropriate. Install recessed lighting or make room for plenty of table lamps to add warmth and a cozy glow.

2. Transform Tile

Tile replacement can be expensive and laborious. Like the paneling example above, you can paint over tile and completely update the look of your floor. Select a good adhesive latex primer and apply entirely over the clean surface (including the grout). Let dry and cure overnight, and then paint normally with a high-end semi-gloss floor paint.

Create a design with stencils, stamps, sponges, or if your hand is steady, a good brush. If you're experienced, try a faux marble or stone look. Seal with several thin coats of a polyurethane or acrylic sealer and let dry accordingly (not recommended for very high-traffic areas or very wet areas such as showers).

3. Clear Carpeting

Carpeting only looks good for so long. Instead of replacing it, consider what might lie beneath. Could you possibly have hardwood under there? Even if the floors need some refinishing, you can really update and freshen a room with gleaming floors and perhaps a new area rug.

Natural substances for floors such as tile and wood are always a classic way to enhance your home while offering good durability. If you're not sure what condition the floor underneath the carpet is in, start small-pull up a section under a piece of furniture or in an unobtrusive spot to check before proceeding. Some floors were covered for a reason; be prepared to consult a pro if yours is one of them!

4. Modernize Your Kitchen

A kitchen gets so much use and abuse, it's easy for even the most coordinated room to lose its luster. Take a step back and pretend you're walking into someone else's kitchen. What do you like? What would you change? What looks worn and past its prime? Your cabinets might look quite different with a modest investment in new hardware. How about replacing the wallpaper in the backsplash area with tile? Are your light fixtures from another decade?

Examine your window treatments. Opt for something lighter and brighter or just different. Between cabinets and appliances, kitchens have very hard visual lines. More fabric around the windows and coordinated chair pads may be just the ticket to warming up and softening the kitchen.

And yes-that old countertop can be painted (as described above with a good primer, topcoat, and lots of polyurethane), though you will sacrifice some durability. But if you're looking for fresh new colors, painting old Formica or similar surfaces might be the answer.

Approach each area with an open mind and a fresh eye and you may find you already have much of what's needed for turning a decorating nightmare into a "dream room."