Instant Upgrades That Will Elevate Every Room in Your Home

Photo: Jos e ph de L eo

These ideas don't require a craft master's touch. You can revitalize anything from spice racks to buckets, small hardware to full pieces of furniture by using these innovative ideas in your own home. These affordable projects can be completed in a day or two but the results can be enjoyed for years to come.

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Jos e ph de L eo

Some of our editors' favorite projects involve those where seemingly one-dimensional items, or household favorites that have become worn, can be completely revolutionized with a simple approach. Updating items to help them reach their fullest potential in your home's design scheme can be easy as a fresh coat of paint, and in most cases, requires just a hour or two of your time.

When it comes to old furniture, throwing out time-honored favorites is the most wasteful solution you could possibly think of, especially if you have a free afternoon in the horizon. Overhauling furniture is easier than ever with our tips and tricks, which include ideas for cleverly disguising worn or other unwanted details on wooden surfaces, cabinetry, and furniture itself. Try covering up your coffee table in your choice of wallpaper. You could also strengthen your old bar stools with upholstered rope. At the very least, you could attempt to revive furniture pieces using these ideas before you donate them to the appropriate outlet.

We're also highlighting fun ways to refurbish everyday items, like cutlery organizers and napkins. You can harness the power of dye to make older linens seem fresh once more, and you refashion terry-cloth towels into a unique shower curtain. There are endless ways to upcycle everyday items into unexpected, beautiful pieces that you can't find anywhere else—and we're sharing the best of the best right here.

Here, our best suggestions for instantly upgrading your favorite items—they're all pretty, practical, and very eco-minded.

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Easy Upholstered Headboard

DIY changing screen headboard

Have a folding partition that you can't bear to part with? Slip it behind a bed frame to create a plush and personalized headboard, where you can recast one you already own with a favorite print. If you love the idea but don't have a partition, get a new one from Calico and choose from hundreds of fabrics to create your own.

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Bathroom Organizers

door shelving organize bathroom
Raymond Hom

Here's a space-saving solution that's worth its salt (and pepper): Cut down on morning bathroom time and carve out a quiet space just for you by mounting spice racks on the back of a closet door to corral your beauty essentials. You can even invert one of these narrow shelves and use it as a towel-bar-slash-accessories-perch; just slip out the two keyhole-shaped brackets on the back, flip them, pop them back in, and hang it upside down. Behold: your very own stress-free dressing station, with no one knocking to come in.

Pictured: IKEA Bekväm Spice Racks, $4 each,


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Kids' Painted Step Stool

kids painted step stool
Addie Juell

Paint the box's sides to go with your bathroom décor (make sure it's at least complementary to the color of your bathroom's walls) and split the difference on top, using painters' tape to ensure a crisp line.

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Easy-to-Install Drawer Pulls

ikea dresser with leather cord handle upgrade

If you've ever sewed on new buttons to one of your coziest coats, you'll know that new accents can change an entire look. The same can be said for this idea: New drawer pulls can elevate a basic dresser, and these DIY ideas will work on any drawers, including ones with oddly spaced holes or vintage hardware.

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Decorated Dresser

wooden dresser with painted sides
Raymond Hom

Update an old chest with a hint of color you'll appreciate every morning. Paint the outer sides of the drawers in a favorite shade—this silvery blue-green contrasts nicely with all kinds of wood—then trim the edges in a slightly lighter hue. Line the drawers in complementary patterned wallpaper, swap in shiny knobs, and top it all off with a matching accessory or two. A Tiffany vase and a leather-lined tray (we trimmed a swatch to fit) hint at the beauty beneath.

Pictured: Behr Paint, in Mountain Falls,

. Farrow & Ball Paint, in Dix Blue,

. Schumacher Andalus Wallpaper, in Mineral,


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Spray-Painted Metal Lamp

spray painted metal lamp
Courtesy of Addie Juell

This project is a testatment to the power of paint, which can revolutionize antique steel items and their dull exteriors. High-coverage spray paints will disguise light rust, and come in a range of glossy colors, like this cool blue-gray. Read the can to know how far back to stand (the distances can vary considerably), and shake it for a full minute to mix the paint properly.

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Radiator-Screen Organizer

clutter control home storage
Pernille Loof

Radiator screens do a nice job covering heaters, but they've got so much more design potential. With their graphic patterns and polished finishes, the inexpensive overlays can make a basic bulletin board look like a million bucks. Use extra-long thumbtacks to pin up a calendar, phone numbers, and invitations. Add a clip for keys, and a magazine holder beneath to stow mail. Organized and chic? Indeed.

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Wallpapered Table

living room tiered trays
Johnny Fogg

Here's an off-the-wall idea for self-adhesive wallpaper: Choose one in a natural-stone pattern like marble, quartz, or the eckled terrazzo pictured, and customize a shelf or coffee table. It's fast and foolproof to apply—and can be changed at any time.

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Hanging Buckets and Pails

feed bucket holders with seeds and salt
Kana Okada

Riding boots and jodhpurs are two sharp ideas we've harnessed from the equestrian world. Now your home can get in on the action by adopting the feed-bucket holders and lidded galvanized buckets that hang in stables to hold horse snacks. Attach the rings to an exterior wall of your house, and fill the pails with seeds to replenish bird feeders, and sand or deicer for the driveway. Come spring, replace your cold-weather reserves with garden tools, pool toys, or car-washing supplies. The minute you step outside, you'll be off to the races.

Pictured: FarmTek Collapsible Bucket Holders, 12", $16 each,

. The Cary Company Black Steel Pails with Gold Phenolic Lining, 5 gal., from $20.50 each,


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Sports Center

storing sports equipment storage
Sidney Bensimon

Here's a winning pregame strategy for corralling athletic gear. Get a barebones shelving unit that holds sturdy bins and baskets. Drill holes in two shelves to anchor bungee-cord hooks, stretch the cords between them, and stash balls inside. This system slows their roll and keeps them visible, so your home team can grab, go, and clean up (score!) with ease. Tip a pallet upright to serve as a streamlined caddy for bats, rackets, and sticks.

Pictured: IKEA Ivar 2-Section Shelving Unit, $71; Ivar Label Holder, $1; Sockerbit Box with Lid, $10; and Observatör Clip-on Basket, $3,

. Reese Secure Standard Bungees, 36", $5.50 for 2,

. The Container Store White Wire Basket with Wooden Handles, $20,


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Bathroom Cubbyholes


Keep bathroom items neat and accessible with cubbyhole shelves. You're going to want to take advantage of any surplus in your supplies' pile: Each of the shelves is made from five pieces of 3/4-inch-thick plywood.

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Patterned Board

Lennart Weibull

Cover a plain magnetic board with your choice of paper (we're attaching a file in case you're looking for inspiration) and it becomes an organizer and a work of art.

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Suspended Shelf

Hanging Shelf

Houdini wasn't the only one who could work magic using a length of chain. Read on for an easy way to conjure the stylish illusion of a space-saving suspended shelf with showstopping appeal.

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Frame Collage

Sang An

A little green semigloss paint turns a ragtag crew of (glassless) frames into an artful display. We rounded up these $1 to $10 orphans at a flea market.

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