If you follow my blog at all, you know how important I believe 'freshening' and 'updating' your home is to keeping or improving its overall value.

For most of us, our homes are our largest and most emotional investment.  Reams of research has shown that if your house is antiquated and out of date visually, it can devalue that investment when it comes time to sell. While you may not be anticipating a sale or refinance in the near future, when that time does come around it is much easier to deal with a few changes because you have kept your home updated, than to drown in a sea of changes and their overwhelming cost to be able compete in the current market and get the best possible return on your investment.

So, while you are making resolutions for change in the brand new year, why not set a few goals to update and freshen your home.

With that in mind, here are a few items on my list, as well as some suggestions:

Create that built-in you've been dreaming about.
Photo by Burnham Design
Built-ins are a great asset - I mean who doesn't need more storage?  A built-in bookcase or window bench with storage, always makes a room more beautiful and more useful.  It's on my list, too.
Mine will be in my master bedroom - the first room I'm tackling for the New Year.  I want built-in clothing storage (dresser) on the bottom and miles of shelves above - and no other furniture except for the bed and bedside tables....  

Create a statement at your entry - a fresh new first impression
Photo by Burnham Design
Go take a look at your entry as if you were a visitor coming to your home for the first time.  What impression does your front entry give?  You may not have a true 'entry' space - mine is a tiny landing and then a step down into the living room - but you can still create an 'entry' area that looks inviting and pulled together.

It's also on my list for 2017... I have these large antique corbels - just dying to make them into an entry shelf.  With such a small space at my front entry, this may just be the ticket to add function and a little drama!

Update your color scheme: change out fabrics and accessories
Santa Monica Bungalow
Photo by Carolyn Greco [Interior] Design
I know a lot of you are living with decades old color schemes.  I know this because I see it every day. Nothing dates a home more than old fashioned, dated colors.  The ticket to avoiding the curse of the outdated color palette is to have a base of neutrals.  I'm not talking beige here - nearly every color out there has a neutral - its a matter of finding a grayed down version of that color you crave.

I recently updated my own color scheme.    I went from color to neutrals and was blessed with instant calm.  This soothing new palette of cream, taupe and cool grays greets me with soothing bliss when I come in the door.  I can accent this palette with any hue I choose, because it looks good with virtually any color.  I chose to accent with navy/indigo - which is also a neutral - deciding against a pop of color just now in lieu of my new found calm and soothing palette.  I just found wonderful new navy accents at Pottery Barn I have my eye on to add more of that lovely color throughout the living room, so adding more of the accent color is on my list for 2017. I'm planning on pulling in a tufted navy or indigo blue ottoman as a coffee table and a fresh new rug for the family room.

But the future is wide open to whatever color strikes my fancy. All I have to do is change some accessories and a few pillows or an area rug to get a whole new look.     

Update your interior paint colors - 
I'm telling you: new paint will change your life....

I'm not kidding!  If you are living with decades old wall color, you deserve the lift fresh, current wall color can give you.  Warm tones were big the last decade or two - but warm colors move toward you, bringing those walls closer.  Try a gray toned color - your room will feel soft and soothing, cool and spacious.

I can't wait to change mine with brand new colors in the master suite!  It's definitely on my list for 2017!  I'm currently looking at Sherwin Williams COLLONADE GRAY and WORLDLY GRAY - with fresh white trim....   Any suggestions? 

Have you looked at that front door lately?  
Give it a fresh coat of a new color!  
Make it pop!
A shabby front door is the worst!  It's one of the first impressions of you and your home.  We repaint ours nearly every year, so its definitely on our list for 2017.  The sun hits our front door and after a while the paint starts to crack and fade a little.  The Hubs likes a nice fresh looking door - so he keeps it painted.  He fell in love with the dramatic glossy black doors in London, so we have a black front door, but I love it too.  Front doors should never blend in with the rest of the house.  Here, you can definitely use a bright pop of color, or a deep dramatic contrast.  Make sure there is no question as to where your door is, and make a statement!

Fireplace need a face lift?  

Upgrading a fireplace is really pretty simple.  I'm always a little surprised when I see a decades old home with the same builder grade brick fireplace it came with. 

We were fortunate in that the previous owner of our home upgraded the fireplace.  It has a nice deep painted wood mantle and surround and a nice stacked stone facade.  Still, the Hubs wants to change it a little - it has a little weird molding thing in the front that he can't stand and he's dying to get rid of - so its on the list for a little face lift for 2017.  

If you are living with ugly brick - here's a remodel that doesn't take a lot of $$. Notice here how the only demo was the raised hearth - they simply dry-walled over the existing brick and built the look they wanted from there.

You can also simply paint that brick and beef up your mantle...

 Or whitewash it.
 or cover it with a stone or faux stone veneer...

If you currently have a mantle and surround that needs a fresh look - paint it a fresh white and add some shiplap or paneling to the ceiling.

 Get rid of outdated yellow oak everywhere, 
especially on the staircase.
The men in our lives tend to hold wood grain sacred.
Even yellow-ish, orange-ish oak.
It's not about the wood.  Seriously.  
Its that particular type and color of wood that designates a certain era and says 'outdated'.  Let's be accurate... it SCREAMS 'OUTDATED'.  It can bring the whole house down.  It can devalue your home.  A fresh coat of white and a little detail molding will work wonders.
Of course, if you want to tear it out and replace it with beautiful, more current wood - be my guest!
I'm a fan of beautiful wood - but it's a pricey fix.

 The first thing I did when I moved into this house was to get rid of the horrible yellow oak banister and spindles by painting. It was the first thing you saw when you stepped in the door - it screamed 'welcome to the 90's'.
Once that was complete, I paneled the walls, removed the carpet and installed hardwood steps.
The staircase is now one of the best features of our home.

Give an old, tired, dark wood piece a fresh coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
and watch it gain a new lease on life
Sometimes you need a break from all the wood toned furniture in a room. Painted furniture gives your eye a chance to rest, a change, and can save you money by extending the life of an old outdated piece of furniture. Save the life of an old outdated piece by giving it a fresh new coat - Annie Sloan's Chalk paint seems to be a pretty simple DIY project.  I have several pieces at my house that would qualify for this project..... uh, Hubs...?  I have more to put on the 2017 list.....

How about some fresh new bedding?
Bedding can cost you a bundle.  I think that's why we tend to keep the same look for so long.
I've determined that a layered look is the easiest to change.  A neutral or white bedspread.
A colorful duvet or quilt folded down and matching shams and a few accent pillows - 
and when change feels necessary - changing the accent pillows or a duvet and shams is pretty simple
Redoing the master bedroom/bath puts this on my list, too.

Updating your lamps and accent pillows are inexpensive changes that make a big difference
I love changing out lamps. Especially the shades. Sometimes you can get away with an older lamp if you update the shade. Nothing dates a home faster than a really elaborate beaded or fringed lampshade -
it's amazing how a simple linen clean-lined lampshade can freshen a room.

Neutralize your living spaces.  
When you think about it, we wouldn't even be in this outdated rut if we invested in neutrals.
Changes are so much easier when you have a neutral background -
achieving a new look is as simple as bringing in a few new accessories and colors
 to add to that fresh neutral palette.
These two rooms have basically the same neutral palette for the large furnishings and wall color.
Virtually any color can be added to transform them into an entirely different look.
So simple.

Can't afford new flooring or carpet?  
How about a fresh new area rug.
Flooring can be a big dollar item to change.  If yours is really outdated and you crave new carpet or hardwood or tile - but that's not looking like an option anytime soon - find a way to disguise and freshen it by bringing in a new area rug.  Even if you have nice flooring - an area rug is a great way to add pattern, color and freshness to a room.

Change What You Look At
While we are at it, how long have you been looking at the same old photos, in the same old frames?
Or the same stale art on your walls?

I know those old oak framed school pictures are sentimental... but... can we please update them?
Put those in the photo album and have more current ones printed for the walls.
Your kids will thank you.

Try new updated frames, or new subject matter...  Bring in a little nature!

Light Up Your Life
Change out your light fixtures - get rid of those old dated pendants and chandeliers for new fresh
clean updated lighting.  An added perk is they will be more energy efficient, too.

Back-splashes are a quick change you can make 
for not a lot of dough
Its amazing the impact a few square feet of new tile will have on your kitchen!  There are so many amazing choices out there, too.  Consider expanding the area you cover in backsplash tile - surround a window or cover an empty wall.

Bathrooms should always be fresh!

Bathrooms are relatively easy to paint.  Not a lot of wall space in comparison to other rooms of the house.  A fresh coat will change your look, but while you are at it take a look at the faucets and the light fixtures.... need a change?  It's one of the best places to put your money - as dated bathrooms definitely scare buyers away...

What do you have on your list?
Are you planning bigger projects this year, or just quick refreshers?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  May it be prosperous!

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