Design Recipes: How to make approachable interior upgrades for the new year

Cathy Hobbs
Tribune News Service
The same living room with affordable beadboard added and new hardwood flooring. (Design Recipes/TNS)

Looking for ways to have your home look and feel different and refreshed in the new year? If the cost and prospect of an extensive renovation is undesirable, consider taking on smaller projects that can give your home a new look on a budget.

The living room of a country cottage. (Design Recipes/TNS)


First and foremost, have a budget. Decide how much money you can allocate as renovation dollars.


Before you splurge, first determine what design or functionality needs you wish to accomplish through your upgrades.


Before you purchase any materials or appliances, do your research. Whether it’s going to visit model homes, retail showrooms or perusing magazines and online sources, research will go a long way to help maintain focus and clarity for your project goals.



— Repaint existing cabinets and or replace hardware.

— Add porcelain ceramic tile. Porcelain tile comes in different patterns and grades and is an affordable alternative to stone. Consider vinyl tile for a more budget-friendly option. Select a tile that is groutable for a more realistic look.

— Replace a countertop. This can help make a kitchen feel refreshed. Consider a durable quartz or sealable surface. An attractive laminate can be a desirable choice on a budget.


— Replace a sink. This can serve as an instant and affordable refresher.

— Replace faucet fixtures. An affordable design fix can often be achieved by replacing faucets and handles. Go a step further and replace showerheads as well.

— Replace a toilet. Ask any home flipper and they’ll admit this is one key, affordable way to refresh a bathroom.


— Add hardwood flooring. Many homeowners prefer hardwood flooring. In many instances, flooring can be installed in a day. Pre-engineered flooring can be a durable and budget-friendly option.

— Repaint. Whether an accent wall or entire rooms, a fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into tired, worn spaces.

— Add an affordable architectural feature. From molding and trim, chair railing to wainscoting, these decorative features can invigorate a space without breaking the bank.


Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at .