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15-Minute Home Makeovers

Get a New Look Fast with These Easy Mini-Makeovers

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You don't always have enough time to rearrange and redecorate when your home starts looking stale. Cleaning and polishing goes a long way, but it may not be enough. Sometimes you just need a new look fast. Try these 15-minute home makeovers before your last-minute guests arrive -- or when your interior just needs a quick pick-me-up.

Replace Hardware

Update your kitchen cabinets or a piece of flea market furniture by replacing the knobs and pulls. In most cases, all you need is a screwdriver and a few minutes of time. With pulls, make sure you measure the space between the screws before you shop for the new ones; it varies. You can use new or vintage hardware, as you prefer. Just make sure the hardware style complements the piece.

If your piece has damaged casters, be sure to replace those too.

Reupholster with Duct Tape

Add a new fabric to your sofa or chair cushions -- seat or back -- without sewing. Choose inexpensive fabric from a remnant bolt or recycle a pair of vintage drapery panels. Just wrap the new fabric around the cushions and pull it tight. Then, secure the fabric to the backs of the cushions with duct tape. It's not a permanent fix, but your new look should last until you find a longer-term solution.

You can also use this method to perk up tired throw pillows -- as long as your guests aren't pillow huggers.

Add a New Shade

Give a tired table lamp a fast update by replacing the shade. Both retro and contemporary lamps look smart with barrel shades, where the top and bottom have the same diameter. Dressier table lamp styles -- including antique and vintage versions -- look best with lampshades featuring flared bottoms and narrower tops.

Take the lamp with you when you shop for the new shade, including the harp. If guests are arriving soon and you didn't shop for a new shade in advance, swipe a suitable shade from a bedroom lamp until you have time to track down a new one.

Drape a Textile

Turn an old sofa or table into a striking new focal point by draping it with a vintage textile. You can use an old quilt, bedspread, or even an antique rug originally meant for the floor. Cut yardage works well too; just turn under the raw edges to hide them.

To drape a sofa, remove the throw pillows and seat cushions. If you have loose back cushions, remove those too. Center your fabric or rug on the sofa's back with any directional patterns facing the ceiling. Tuck in the textile where the back of the sofa meets the seating deck, and then smooth it. Replace the cushions and pillows and you're good to go.

Center a textile on a table just as you would a tablecloth. Or, angle it for a more interesting look. Let the textile hang over the front of your table, and make sure directional patterns point toward the ceiling instead of the floor.

Add Throw Pillows

Add fast color, pattern, and texture to your upholstered furniture by tossing on a few new throw pillows. If you choose bold, vibrant patterns and colors, the eye will be drawn to the pillows first. Your tired, old sofa becomes just a backdrop. Swipe some throw pillows from your beds if you're making the change in the last seconds before the doorbell rings.

Soften the Lighting

Turn off the overhead fixtures before your guests arrive, or before you sit down to relax. Use candles, table lamps, and wall sconces instead. Every room looks better with soft lighting that comes from numerous sources instead of a single source of light burning overhead. Chandeliers and recessed spots on dimmer switches are the exceptions. For table lamps, switch bright bulbs for those with a lower wattage. Consider using gold-tinted or frosted bulbs for chandeliers and sconces.

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