10 Clever Tricks to Refresh Your Home
Tackle vertical clutter
It’s not just piles and stacks that are making your home look tired. “Taking down all of the magnets and pictures on the refrigerator makes the kitchen look instantly neater,” says Bedminster, NJ-based architectural designer Megan Cudia. File takeout menus in a drawer or binder (or simply bookmark your favorites online) and frame your favorite kiddie artwork so it can be hung elsewhere in your home.
Look at the walls of each room with a fresh eye: See any nail holes—or worse, half-finished patch jobs? Fill nail holes in walls with spackle or in woodwork with wood putty, then sand and spot-paint. Not only is this a job that takes mere minutes, but, “it brightens everything,” promises Cudia.
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Clean windows, mirrors, and shower doors
When was the last time you washed your windows, inside and out? “Natural light and clear windows make a space inviting,” says Cudia. Grab a few microfiber cloths and try our favorite no-spritz technique (no streaks in sight) on all of the glass surfaces in your home.
Change the light bulbs
Nothing says “creepy cottage” like burned-out light bulbs. Good lighting makes all the difference. Replace the duds and even the dim ones with the brightest wattage possible, says Cudia. LEDs come in “daylight” and “soft white” options—pick your favorite. (Now, doesn’t your furniture look more interesting?)
Check your mailbox
Is it peeling or tarnished? Hanging by one sad screw? “Freshness needs to start at the curb,” says Tori Toth, author of Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell. She suggests painting your existing mailbox or upgrading to a new one if necessary.
Clean your trim molding
Between dust, fingerprints, and vacuum scuffs, the baseboards, windowsills, and other molding in your home are bound to look grimy. Go over everything with a damp microfiber cloth to clean and brighten. (Check out one easy baseboard-cleaning hack here.)
Trim shrubs and bushes
Grab the hedge clippers—or at least some gardening shears—and trim back dead flowers, overgrown shrubs, and any other greenery that’s grown wild. Weeding never hurts, either. “You want it to look manicured,” says Toth. “When things are overgrown, it conveys old age.”
Shake out the welcome mat
If yours is covered with leaves, crusted with mud, or just plain worn out, it’s time to clean it or replace it. “People forget about that!” says Toth. “So often I’ll walk up to a person’s house and think, ‘Ok, that’s not very welcoming.’” Time to spring for a new one altogether? Check out this roundup of hard-working doormats.
Swap the switch plates
Builder-grade white plastic outlet covers and switch plates get discolored and worn out. Clean them with a damp microfiber cloth or, better yet, replace them. If they’re plastic, aluminum, or steel, you can even clean them in the dishwasher (but not if they’re enameled, painted, or plated).
Scrub the grout
No matter how pretty and polished the tile is in your entryway, mudroom, bathroom, or kitchen, if the grout is dirty or mildewed, the whole surface will look dated. “Cleaning the grout makes the entire area look instantly better,” says Toth. Admittedly, it’s no one’s favorite chore, but this how-to video should help ease the pain.