Create more visual space by removing everything and replacing only what you need and truly want. Organize frequently used material in baskets displayed in the corner or to the side of a chair. Leave a few empty drawers or shelves to place new items.
Pick one kind of flooring. Whether it's carpet, tile, or wood, a single material helps rooms flow into one another. Jute, or natural-weave, rugs are low profile and relatively inexpensive.
Color where it counts.
Use neutral tones for large pieces such as bedspreads and sofas; add vibrant color with accent pillows, throws, and collectibles. Choose fabric and accessories in a variety of textures, shapes, and styles to create depth. Make custom slipcovers out of sheets to refresh and reinvent worn, dark furniture. Monochromatic color combos such as cream and white, icy blues, pale greens, and butter yellows lend a clean, simple feel.
Keep it light.
Accessorize with reflective surfaces such as stainless steel, glass, and silver. Swap dark lampshades for white or cream to help fill the room with space-expanding light. Torchiere lamps create the illusion of added height by illuminating the ceiling and drawing the eye up. Small glass-topped tables add visual space and exhibit a sleek, simple look. To achieve an inexpensive, intriguing design for side tables, secure two wine crates together, and top with heavy, finished glass.
Mirrors, typically a smaller investment than art, double the views. Hang mirrors where they will reflect a pleasant image, such as artwork, a window, or a piece of furniture. Whether you use one as a headboard, a mantle backdrop, or to line the back of open shelves, a mirror will create the illusion of increased space.
Bring the outside in.
Remove obstructions from doorways and windows. The more easily you can see into and through a room, the larger and more open it will feel. Inexpensive roll-up matchstick blinds provide privacy without obscuring daylight. Crisp white linen or gauze fabric can be draped over a black-painted dowel, found at home improvement stores, for a quick yet airy window treatment.
Search for unique pieces at flea markets, garage sales, and antique malls. A few small novelty items can add personality to a room without overpowering it. Mix and match dining chairs. Individual chairs are often sold at lower prices than a matching set, and give a vintage look to any room.
Select a few cherished items, whether artwork, notes, photos, or mementos, and display them. Resist the temptation to clutter―stay current by replacing old with new as they come along. Start a storage box for the items you choose not to display.
Compact vignettes keep things tidy and add significance to smaller items. Display pieces strategically to create a focal point. Black and white photos in simple frames are clean images that match almost any decor. For versatility, prop artwork or photos against the wall instead of hanging.
Flowers in a clear or reflective vase add color to any room. Gerber daisies are vibrant, relatively inexpensive, and can be bought at most supermarkets. Look for vases at flea markets and garage sales.