Like magic, humble cotton cord meant for Venetian blinds becomes a basket with natural appeal and chic style. All you need is a little time and some glue. Wind the cord (Venetian blind cord, by Librett Durables, jamaliagarden.com) around a plastic flowerpot, gluing as you go and changing cord colors to make stripes. Use the baskets for bread, fruit, or potted plants, or create a set of desk accessories.
Ice cream cake brings out the kid in all of us. To make these striped slices, bake an angel food cake in a sheet pan, cut it in half, and layer peach and raspberry sorbet, vanilla ice cream, and blueberry jam between two pieces. Cut into 36 "sandwiches" -- there's no cooler way to treat a crowd.
A painted staircase "runner" can bring bold color to a small space.
Try a shade that links the upstairs and downstairs, or consider a combination of tones that packs a visual punch, such as these stripes. (On a practical front, dark hues will cover any dings.) Use painters' tape to ensure a clean line, and primer and oil-based enamel paint to withstand the traffic.