We all like a cozy, well designed home. A place to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the world. Most newer homes are designed with this in mind and offer modern conveniences, bright colors, shiny stainless steel and spaces for entertaining. Older homes do not offer the same cheery, open feeling and unless renovated, do not offer homeowners those same convenient features. In fact, the lack of open space, smaller rooms and limited daylight are often motivators for selling an older home and purchasing a newer one.

With a little time, a few good ideas and a little elbow grease, you can update your outdated home and bring it into the present. You don’t necessarily need a costly renovation, a contractor or an interior designer to update your home. Instead try a few do it yourself projects to provide beautiful results on a small budget. 

From freshening up your kitchen to upgrading your light fixtures, you can make your home look like it just came out of a design magazine without breaking the bank. You can easily create more space by removing bigger, bulkier furnishings, or moving furnishings around the room to provide the most open space. If you are attached to a huge armoire or cabinet, consider painting it a lighter color. This will trick the eye to think the space is airier and more open.

If you have dark wood paneling, consider bleaching it or painting it over in a lighter white or washed gray color.  If you choose to remove the paneling, just know that there will be work required to restore the walls for painting. Or consider replacing the paneling with mirrored panels. Mirrors, when placed opposite windows, reflect light. They will open the space in your room and solve the problem of repairing the damage from the paneling.

If your kitchen cabinets are in decent shape, consider replacing your counter top.  Laminate counter tops can be replaced with marble, granite or quartz to provide an updated look without a complete renovation.  Replace your older, inefficient appliances with more energy efficient models to complete the transformation from old to new.

If your budget is limited, consider changing the decorative items in your kitchen or hang shelves with colorful art objects. Remove clutter on your countertops and throw out things you no longer use.  Replace dated drawer pulls and door handles that may be worn or dirty with shiny new ones. A little kitchen cleanup can prove wonders for the overall appearance of the space.

Proper lighting can truly bring a room to life.  A poorly lit room looks small, dark and cramped, while a brightly lit room appears open, airy and welcoming. Strategically place a couple of tall floor lamps in dark corners and watch your room come alive. Layer this lighting with lamps on side tables, making the room feel welcoming and cozy.  Then, if you want to get adventurous, you can replace all those outdated ceiling fixtures with brilliant modern styles.

If you have a formal dining room that you rarely use, consider turning it into a cozy den, home office, craft room or library with a reading nook.  Replace heavy window treatments with light sheers or more modern blinds. Window coverings have come a long way and offers many unique designs, colors and textures.

Bathrooms get dirty and dingy quite quickly. Begin a bathroom overhaul with a thorough cleaning. Yes, not a lot of fun, but the shiny result will give you motivation to spruce-up the rest of the bathroom.

Once the room is clean, look to the outdated knobs, light fixtures, vanity, faucets, and shower curtains. By simply changing out one or two of the most outdated items, you can make your bathroom look modern and new. A coat of paint can really go far in a bathroom, as well.


Does this list have you exhausted? Is your home overwhelming you? Maybe you should just start by simply cleaning-up your main living space. A deep-clean can enhance your mood and make your home more livable, and more importantly inspire us to do more.


It seems obvious but a clean coat of paint can take a room from drab to fab. Consider adding a punch of color on an accent wall, or just touch up your trim with a clean coat of white paint. If your home already has a fresh coat of paint, then look to other things that could use a touch-up.  Maybe paint your ceiling a light color (other than white) or bring new life to an outdated piece of furniture with a new coat of paint.


The possibilities are endless but can get costly.  Many homeowners do not have the time or the resources to take on these projects.  If you find yourself overwhelmed, consider hiring a professional decorator who can offer advice and provide a few suggestions that fit your budget and your lifestyle.

Sonny Golden, President – Golden Key Interiors

(718) 761-2366     [email protected]