Little Changes That Make a Huge Difference in Your Home


You don’t have to buy an Eames chair that costs as much as a Toyota Camry or spend years remodeling to make a huge difference in the way your house looks and feels. It is all of the little things put together that really makes your house yours and brings the design together.

Switch out Switchplates: There is nothing that says “rental” like those crappy cracked and stained almond-white plastic switch plates. There’s nothing wrong with being a renter (I live in SF, hate condos, and can’t drop a mill’ on a single family home, so I am a renter for life) but it is things like filthy 25-cent plastic switch plates that make your stay feel temporary. I like these stylized brushed nickel switch plates from Lowes, which range from $7 to $15 each, the higher end being for 3-gang plates. These ceramic soap-dish switch plates from Restoration Hardware are a bit more elegant (and pricey). It is amazing how quickly they class up the look of a room. Pair them with matching switches (I haven’t done this yet in my bathroom pictured above), or just get all crafty and paint the switches to match.

Down With Mini-Blinds

Nicely lined drapes aren’t just good for dulling the drone of traffic and blocking out all light on post-party Saturday mornings. They help frame the view and your furniture, match your décor, and give you a chance to put those old mini-blinds where they belong: In the recycle bin where they can become something nice, like a bumper or a soda can. Chris over at is also staunchly anti-mini-blind, and these curtains made a huge improvement in his room.

Add an Area Rug

Aren’t area rugs just for covering up stained carpet? No, but they are very good at that too. Area rugs help accent and frame your furniture and if you have hard flooring, they just give you something fuzzy and warm to stick your feet into while you hang out in the living room. I am a big fan of these quilted cowhide rugs for their heft and sense of permanence, but there is also the getting-rather-ubiquitous-but-still-super-cozy mega fuzzy shags if you really need something to dig your toes into. For example, this Photon Shag from Design Within Reach really pulls the room together and warms an otherwise chilly hardwood floor.

Deck the Walls

OK, you can spend more money on art than you did on the four walls that hold it up, but there are ways of going about decking out the walls and still being able afford to eat once or twice a week. Visit your local pop-up art galleries and instead of just sucking down the free wine, you can buy a few things. Your local starving artist doesn’t charge as much as the boutiques, and you are directly supporting people in your ‘hood. The mini-galleries hanging at your salon or at the bar can be good, affordable catches from local artists too. If you want something a little older, start frequenting estate sales and big antique flea markets. You might score an unusually valuable piece for beer money, or just get that velvet Elvis you always wanted. This giant Travis Sommerville piece really makes this room featured in CH+D pop, but smaller works will do the trick too.

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