Seven Cheap Ways To Crisp Up A Room

Is it weird that John read my headline in passing and used it as an opportunity for a comedic performance? A few “room-crisping” suggestions from him? 1) Flambé it. 2) Put crunchy noodles on the floor. 3) Starch it.

Funny guy. Anyway, here are seven super affordable and easy ways to freshen up any space. They might seem simple and straightforward, but it’s amazing what a difference these little tweaks can really make. So if you don’t have the energy (or the money) for a full scale room makeover, these might be just the thing to give you a new look in a snap.

1. Paint your trim with crisp white semi-gloss paint. Whether you’re repainting dingy trim or converting it from a wood tone, there’s nothing like sleek white trim to make a space feel dimensional, polished, and fresh- even a hallway! Think of your window, door, and baseboard trim as giant picture frames that can really showcase an area- and we all know that sometimes it’s the frames that make the art.

2. Introduce new outlet covers and wall switchplates. Sometimes you inherit them in pretty bad condition (they could be painted over, faded or dated in color, or even wallpapered- eeks!). So switching out your covers for crisp clean white ones- or even stainless steel beauties if that fits your decor- can instantly make the whole house read as updated and oh so current. Bonus points for painting out the trim on your doors for even more architectural interest!

3. Paint a dingy and dark fireplace glossy white. Yup, more white paint is on the agenda here- but just look at how crisp and lovely it can look. And here’s a handy tutorial.

4. Hang breezy white floor to ceiling curtains. Ok, ok, so they don’t even have to be white- but if you have a flat looking neutral room with a tan sofa and a beige carpet, hanging long billowy white curtains (along with repainting your trim and switching out your outlet covers) will transform your room in ways that you almost won’t believe. And if your color scheme calls for off-white or linen colored curtains instead, as long as you hang them high and wide to frame the view, your room will instantly feel more airy and inviting.

5. Grab three to five punchy new pillows. Sure, safe neutral pillows are nice, but nothing pops like a bit of saturation in the form of plush pillows that really invite you in. And thanks to places like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Home Goods, Target, and Etsy you can grab pillows for around $6-$12 each. That means thirty beans is all it takes to give your seating area a totally fresh look. If you have a flat looking neutral room like we described above, there really are limitless options for accent colors (turquoise, steel blue, eggplant, amber, cinnamon, celadon, ruby, raspberry, peony pink, persimmon, lemon yellow, lime, etc).

6. Bring in baskets. They’re such an easy way to wrangle things and create a much more polished and organized vibe- even when it comes to kid clutter.

7. Add one more dash of saturated color. You can spotlight a bright piece of art above the mantel or you can get an old mirror on Freecycle or Craigslist and spray paint it the same punchy tone that you introduced to your sofa with those new pillows (lime? raspberry? turquoise? celadon?). Heck, even grabbing a cheap thrift store lamp and spray painting the base or recovering the shade in that playful tone will have the same effect without draining your wallet.

So there you have seven quick and easy ways that you can make a room feel current and fresh (for everyone from potential home buyers to yourself). But we’re positive that we left something out. What small tweaks have you guys tried on for size when it comes to breathing new life into a stale or ho-hum space? Spill it.

All images (except for the curtain pic) from fun and fabulous House Crashings of yore.


  1. says

    I love the crisp & clean look to your house… so these tips were welcomed with open arms this morning! I love the idea of replacing the outlet covers… anything would be better than the standard builder plates!

  2. says

    Katie B has the best pillows. L-o-v-e her house.
    We (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’) just changed out all of the curtains throughout our house to long white ones from Ikea. I have a fear of comitment when it comes to choosing patterened fabrics. Is that weird to have all the same curtains through the entire house?

    • says

      No way! We have the same white Vivan curtains from Ikea in nearly every room of our house! It looks breezy and cohesive- and you can’t beat the price!


  3. says

    I love love love the crisp, white, finished look. My problem is that I have a miniature pinscher and her tiny little hairs look like eye lashes all over everything! :( I completely agree with the long sheer curtains though. Completely opens up and softens any room!


  4. says

    These tips are great! I totally agree about the switchplates, the last time I painted I switched those out and it made a huge difference (you can buy them for really cheap too–I think I got a nice/cheap white one at Target for $3.00). You wouldn’t think something so small would stand out, but I think it’s the little things that can make a room go from plain, boring to CRISPY :)

  5. sonya says

    What is your favorite paint color for trim? Btw, love the pictures you featured here, very inspirational!!

    • says

      Hey Sonya,

      We love Freshaire’s off-the-shelf white semi-gloss paint and Benjamin Moore’s Decorators White (both in semi-gloss) for trim. Hope it helps!


  6. Tiffini S. says

    Turn your furniture on an angle or pull it away from the wall. Even if you think your room is too small. Usually punches things up right away.

  7. Michele Daggar says

    My house has all wood (cherry colored) trim around the baseboards, windows, etc. The problem is after seeing how most people now have white trim, I love the look!

    We have a great room on the first floor that consists of kitchen/dining/living room. The kitchen cabinets are cherry. The walls are yellow in the kitchen and red (!) in the living room.

    Unfortunately for me I have one of those “wood colored woodwork only” husbands. I don’t want to paint my cherry cabinets white, but to make my very long story short, would white trim (if I can convince the hubs!) look too weird with cherry cabinets?


    • says

      Hey Michele,

      Nearly every new-ish kitchen with wood cabinets has white trim so it can definitely work. Of course it’s a personal preference thing, but if it’s a look you love we say go for it!


  8. Lindsay says

    I love these ideas – they are totally do-able. We are moving into our first house in two weeks and I can’t wait to to paint the dark wood trim and doors in the upstairs white!! I’ll take before and after photo’s to show you just how awesome it looks when we get finished with it.
    Thanks for all of the fantastic ideas!

  9. says

    Thanks for the great idea about the outlet covers. In thinking about our home, there are some yellowed ones that need replacing.

  10. says

    I just wanted to share some advice to any readers with carpet. Take off the baseboards you’re wanting to paint. It’ll save you so much time and you won’t have to worry about messing up the carpet.

    It took us almost 4 coats (primer + 3 coats of latex semi-gloss) to cover our wood colored trim. And we found out halfway through our master bedroom reno that it’s easier to take them off and paint them then trying to shove a putty knife between them and the carpet.

    Hope it helps!

  11. Lauren Jaramillo says

    This post is awesome! I bought a new home and everything was off white and peach. I’ve started painting my currently off white trim Decorator White by Behr. Oh what a difference! I replaced the wall paper covered electrical covers and next I want to paint the fireplace white. Do you have other suggestions for colors to make it pop? Also, I have old flat, doors (off white of course, now sorta yellowed). Should I paint all 18 doors the color of my trim or would it increase the value/modernness of the home by replacing with the doors seen in the 1st picture of your post?

    • says

      Hey Lauren,

      We’re work-with-what-you-have people, so we think you could definitely paint your doors for a fresh look instead of replacing all 18! You won’t believe how fresh and crisp they’ll look when they’re the color of your trim (and not yellowed anymore). As for colors to make your fireplace pop besides white, we love mocha, smoky gray, or even a glossy chocolate hue. Hope it helps!


  12. Kate says

    Any suggestions on what to do if your light switch is beige (not the cover, the actual switch)? We have the bigger type of switches (they’re not the little tiny normal switches, they’re wider rocker bars) that are beige. It’s an apartment so we can’t just rewire them for something white, and none of the light switch plate colors seem to go with them (at least I feel like they don’t). Any ideas, or should we just continue to lump it for the next year or two until we move?

    • says

      Hey Kate,

      You can actually switch out the light switches about as easily as switching out the switchplates (you do have to turn off the power, but it’s as simple as disconnecting two wires and reconnecting them to the new switch, which is only a few bucks and very easy to do). It’s definitely worth the effort if the beige switches bother you (we did it a bunch of times here- and we love that we took the time to make the upgrade)!


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