20 Easy Upgrades

Check out these easy ideas to freshen your home this weekend.

white wicker loveseat with pale green and blue pillows and cushions

Photo by Richard Leo Johnson

1. Add Color and Comfort to Seating

Use pillows and cushions made from outdoor fabric to spice up your space. Bend the rules―mix stripes and polka dots with punchy animal, geometric, and botanical prints.


Hang Bright, Patterned Draperies

Photo by J. Savage Gibson, Text by Allen B. Bunting

2. Hang Bright, Patterned Draperies

Closed, they lend privacy and offer respite from the sun. Open, they frame the space and soften the scene. Avoid natural fabrics, which are prone to fading and mildew. Look for synthetic blends that will weather the elements.

open-air tropical style room with white plantation shutters

Photo by Sophie Munro

3. Rearrange Chairs and Tables

Moving furniture around makes a small (and free!) change with a big payoff. Feng shui experts recommend moving 27 objects to give a room good luck. Scavenge other rooms―when a painting, chair, or eye-catching accessory moves outdoors for a while, you’ll see it in a new light.

Tropical beach house with yellow siding and purple/blue trim

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

4. Paint It

Color deck railings and arbors in a rainbow of hues to rival any blooming garden. Bonus: No watering required!

Purple andironback chairs line a side porch with a gallery of wall art hung on the wall behind

Photo by Sophie Munro

5. Hang a Whimsical Wall Sculpture

Look for pieces made with weather-resistant materials such as galvanized metal, glass, or stone. On covered patios or porches, hang canvas oil paintings; they’ll be fine outdoors as long as they’re not in direct sunlight.

Black and white decorated study with a white mirror hung to the right of the TV set into shelving

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

6. Use Mirrors to Reflect Views

Strategically place mirrors they’ll reflect a striking image. Typically a smaller investment than outdoor art, mirrors create the illusion of more space.


Give New Life to Tired Furniture

Photo by David Tsay, Text by Allen B. Bunting

7. Give New Life to Tired Furniture

A hole cut into the seat of an old rattan or wooden chair makes the perfect stage for a flowerpot. Creative and functional, the chair ensures proper drainage.

Clear round glass vase with sea glass, a white candle, sand and seashells

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

8. Arrange Beach Finds

In a clear fishbowl, nestle a candle into a bed of pale sea glass and white shells. It’s a great place to drop off treasures when you return from a walk on the beach, and it makes an instant centerpiece for entertaining on the fly. Experiment with scale when grouping your display―consider size, color, and texture.

paint your front door

Photo by Philip Clayton-Thompson

9. Rejuvenate Your Front Door

Find a paint color in your favorite sea-inspired shade. The effort is minimal, but the effect is instant.

Slipcover old chairs and furniture

Photo by Jean Allsopp

10. Disguise Flaws

Ready-made loose-fitting slipcovers brighten even the shabbiest furniture. They’re salt- and sand-resistant, and can easily be washed, replaced, or switched out seasonally.

White-washed patio furniture framed with a row of potted palm plants

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

11. Liven Up Outdoor Furniture

Use spray paint to instantly transform old furnishings. Make over ho-hum folding chairs with a crisp shade of blue. For a funkier look, coat each one with a different bright shade.

Ceiling fan gives outdoor kitchen a breeze through its space

Photo by Lisa Romerein

12. Create an Instant Breeze

Install a ceiling fan to give an otherwise stuffy porch a cool reprieve. Look for outdoor ceiling fans with sealed motors to prevent rust build-up.

White portico covered with ivy and surrounded with flowering planters

Photo by Roger Foley

13. Boost Curb Appeal

Window boxes filled with vibrant blooms break up the façade with jolts of color. A simple planting pointer: Mix tall, spiky varieties with low, full plants, then complete the look with a trailing vine.

antiqued green shutters line this interior porch

Photo by Jean Allsopp

14. Add Awnings or Shutters

This simple accent will dress up blah windows, and a small splash of color will stop traffic and turn heads by Monday.

Outdoor hanging lantern with starfish attached on the outside

Photo by Howard L. Puckett

15. Get Crafty

Some of the simplest―and least expensive―weekend decorating projects start with things you already have around the house. Use your beachcombing finds to dress up luminaries or outdoor lanterns. The subtle detail will give even industrial fixtures a one-of-a-kind feel.

16. Highlight Your Collectibles

Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

16. Highlight Your Collectibles

Use ordinary everyday objects, such as old boat oars, seashells, or vibrant vases to accessorize your room. It’s a great way to add a beachy vibe to any space, plus you get more bang for your buck! This look works especially well on a neutral pallet allowing the accessories do all the talking.

17. Create Your Escape

Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llwellyn

17. Create Your Escape

Wish you were lounging on a beach cabana? Create your own island-inspired retreat by hanging swags of cheery fabric or netting in a cozy corner of your yard for instant relaxation.

18. Let Your Stuff Go

Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

18. Let Your Stuff Go

One of the fastest (and least expensive!) upgrades you can do is purge. Get rid of everything but the bare essentials for a clean, minimalist look. Then, add to the airy feel with a couple coats of white paint and white slipcovers to finish off the look.

19. Make a Statement

Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewllyn

19. Make a Statement

Add extra oomph to your existing décor by tying in similar accessories. If you have palm-printed fabrics, layer palm fronds on your coffee table for an added touch. Have striped pillows? Put a striped vase on your side table for additional design impact.

20. Use Your Favorite Color

Photo: Colleen Duffley

20. Use Your Favorite Color

Stick to one color family to achieve a cohesive look in your room. You don’t have to spend a fortune on wall color or fabrics either. Just add a throw, some pillows, and flowers in the same hue, and you’re all set!

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