Solutions: Can’t remodel? Start small to improve space

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

Though your average renovation can be costly and resale value isn’t always a guarantee, there are other ways to enhance your home environment. While my house has an ongoing list of potential improvements, many are more practical than pretty and won’t have the same wow factor as a complete kitchen or bath remodel.

So for now, I make an effort to offer distractions that take the eye away from the dated features in a room and toward something more pleasing, like a particular color or collection.

As I survey my surroundings, I see an array of classic pieces with staying power. Even though this was never done intentionally, I’ve learned to trust my taste and follow my instincts.

There’s nothing fussy about my furniture. Instead, I’ve found a mix of styles with clean lines and neutral colors that soothe me with a few surprises along the way.

It’s easy to come up with your own quick fixes that provide temporary solutions for everything from furniture to flooring that has seen better days. For instance, an inexpensive indoor/outdoor rug can cover your worn floors until the time is right for replacement or refinishing.

If the upholstery on your sofa is showing signs of wear, a slipcover isn’t your only option. Try a colorful quilt that’s been sitting in a closet to breathe new life into an old favorite for the time being.

As today’s casual lifestyles grow increasingly popular, many find themselves neglecting their formal dining table and even the dining room for that matter. Adding upholstered seating to the mix can make the space feel more livable even if it needs a fresh coat of paint. Embellishing the surface with some pretty dishes and a striking centerpiece will make it feel even more welcoming.

For an outdated kitchen, you might try some new hardware on your existing cabinets to refresh the space. But the hub of the home can also benefit from colorful artwork that draws attention to the accent pieces and away from the more permanent features that may eventually be replaced.

In the bathroom, affordable updates might include a new shower curtain along with some fun towels and a decorative liquid soap dispenser.

Perhaps the best place to begin with your visual distractions is right beyond the front door. No matter how small or dated your entry may be, you can still make a great first impression. Though ours is rather narrow, at one time it had a demilune table along with a wall mirror and a small chair. Without those items, it may be more practical for traffic flow, but it does look a bit lonely at times. So I’m on the lookout for a compact piece with some personality. For now a wall of artwork by my mother serves as the primary focal point.

Although most homes require an occasional update, having something nice to look at until you start the next project can feel like a mini remodel.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at