A Designer’s Top Ten Small Projects to Improve Your Home

joy of nesting

We all love a fresh start, and each season brings about an opportunity for improvement. I’ve compiled my designer’s list of ten home projects to improve the appearance of your home and hopefully give you a little impetus to get things started. I make a living going into people’s homes and I know for certain the items below will make a big difference in the appearance of yours. Here is the Designer’s Top Ten Small Projects to Improve Your Home.


Jeff Herr, above
Hotel de Artistes

Make a To-Do List of Small Projects

On a large piece of lined white paper write down all the things around your home that drain you, from a broken tile to a rip in the draperies, to your spouse’s broken-down recliner. There will probably be twenty to forty items on your list. You don’t have to act on all the things at once but do prioritize them. Anything that’s not solvable immediately will be your last priorities. They will stay on the list until a later date, and you will keep that list in a central location.




Laurel Bern
The things that you are capable of solving (changing batteries, light bulbs, and sewing holes) address one by one. Check them off your list as you go. I call these lists “Clean Sweeps” and I’ve done them successfully since 2001 in various aspects of my life from personal fitness to home maintenance, to professional advancement and it’s amazing the amount of energy you gain by getting your life in order and by retaining that order as best you can.
There will always be those things you can’t resolve immediately and that’s okay. But taking care of the little things is achievable and cumulative. Keep the list on the inside of a cabinet you use at least once a week, such as the cabinet where you keep the laundry detergent. Don’t place in a spot you visit numerous times a day. That’s too distracting. You will also get considerable relief just by writing them down and prioritizing them.

Update Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers to Improve Your Home

One of my pet peeves about older homes is “golden oak”. I know some people are reluctant to paint wood, but certain wood finishes (I see you, Golden Oak) immediately dates a home. When sanding, staining or replacement isn’t an option, fresh white paint is a huge improvement on any golden oak surfaces from kitchen cabinets to closet doors. With this project, it’s best to hire a professional painter, preferably one who has a sprayer. Brush strokes aren’t desirable on doors.
Of all the things on my Designer’s Top Ten Small Projects Improve Your Home list, this one is probably my most favorite because it makes the biggest impact.

via No Ugly Duckling

Paint or Stain Trims, Windows and Doors a Consistent Color Throughout Your Home

Along a similar vein, stained casings on windows and doors and baseboards that don’t match other woodwork in the home create a disparate, “patchwork quilt” look in rooms and hallways. Go for a clean appearance by keeping trim colors consistent.

Meredith Heron

Update Your Lighting to Improve Your Home

I’ve noticed light fixtures look quite dated in homes fifteen years and older. It could be because they weren’t well chosen to begin with. A wonderful place to upgrade your home is with lighting. One caveat: don’t just update one or two rooms. Replace fixtures uniformly throughout the home.

via Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles

Have Your Carpets Professionally Cleaned

Dirty traffic marks on carpet are very noticeable. Having carpets cleaned once or twice a year is a terrific investment. I have my dining room and bedroom carpets done right before Mother’s Day and right before Thanksgiving. That way my carpets are fresh when family arrives for the holidays.


Do a Thorough Dusting

Dust is a nemesis of every homeowner. It settles on light fixtures, furniture, glass surfaces, windowsills, draperies and wooden blinds. Even with a housekeeper it’s hard to notice all the incipient places dust settles. Make it an annual, or better yet, bi-annual event to do extensive dusting and polishing. Your home will thank you and so will your allergies. And open your windows and to allow fresh air to circulate as often as possible. It makes the home feel unbelievably wonderful.


via Fleaing France

Clean the Windows

Dusty, dirty windows aren’t immediately noticeable when you’ve been looking at them for years. But trust me, if you get used to them being clean, you’ll notice when they’re dirty.

Richard Keith Langham

Improve Your Home with Window Coverings


Here’s a little insider trick. At IKEA, you can get unstructured, perfectly lovely sheer panels for $20 to $30 each. I spent a recent holiday at my brother’s home in San Francisco and he had them in his living and dining room and I was smitten with them. PS. There’s no excuse for mini blinds.

Change your cheap window coverings with inexpensive, unlined sheers. Or better yet, call a designer and have your windows fitted with custom curtains. A tiny warning, this one generally requires a five-figure budget. Consider custom window coverings akin to professional landscaping. But what a difference. 

Oh, and it pains me to say this, but custom fabric window coverings will most likely not improve the value of the home. Shutters and wooden blinds will, however. I love the look of the old-fashioned shutters with the small slats, but most homeowners and buyers prefer plantation.

Replace All Incandescent Bulbs with Energy Efficient Ones

Energy efficiency is extremely important now and will be increasingly so in the future. While florescent light bulbs lend a slightly off-color cast to humans and their furnishings, I’ve replaced most of the light bulbs in my home with them. You’ll love the savings on your electric bill. The bulbs last longer too. It’s well worth it.


Tidy and Organize: The Most Perfect Small Project

Clutter begets clutter. I’ve preached this one for years. In the same way graffiti multiplies in urban areas, clutter collects in your home. If you want a tidy home, tidy it and keep it that way. When someone leaves something out of place, it will be immediately noticeable. If you want your family to be more organized, provide easily maintained storage for everything in the home.
The Wellness Home
I hope you found this post to be helpful! And don’t forget to get your free download for a deeper dive into improving your lifestyle at home. Here’s that link again! Healthy at Home, 5 key design decisions that support health and wellness. 
Bye for now!

That’s it for today. Thank you for stopping by! Shiree’

For my at-a-glance must have’s for giving your home a wellness makeover, check out my “Design Help, Wellness and a Little Woo Woo”!


March 4, 2015

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A Designer’s Top Ten Small Projects to Improve Your Home

A Designer’s Top Ten Small Projects to Improve Your Home

A Designer’s Top Ten Small Projects to Improve Your Home