Decorating Made Simple

decorating made simple

Try these easy-to-accomplish decorating hacks to update your home.

By Tammy Adamson-McMullen

Maintenance is part of home ownership. Occasionally, it takes the form of major redecorating or complete remodel, but most of the time, a quick fix-up is all that’s needed. Below are decorating and fixer-upper hacks that fall into the latter category. Each is easy and relatively inexpensive to achieve. (Note: There are many more hacks available on the internet. Check out Pinterest as well as, which curates ideas from other sources.)

Ceiling Medallions

Create statement-making ceilings by installing medallions at the base of hanging lighting fixtures. Purchase plastic medallions that are scaled to the size of the fixture. Large lighting fixtures will require a larger medallion; small fixtures, smaller medallions. Paint the medallions whatever color you wish—either the same color as the ceiling or in a contrasting color that works with your color scheme—or spray paint it with a product that creates a stone effect.

Door Medallions

Medallions also look fantastic at the base of door knobs, especially if the knob is centered in the door. Purchase smaller medallions for this trick and try to keep the look in scale with the size of the door. Paint the medallion the same color as the door for a high-end look.

Easy Drapery Hooks

To update the look of draperies that have grommets, replace the hooks with rope or heavy twine (for rustic and casual interiors) or satin ribbon (for more formal interiors). Cut the rope or ribbon into about 12-inch pieces and thread each piece into the grommet and around the rod. Tie the rope into loose knots and the ribbon into fancy bows. This same trick can be used on shower curtains as well.

Dry Brushing

If your walls are scraped or marred, you don’t have to paint the entire wall surface. Instead, try “dry brushing,” which involves taking just a small amount of the original paint and then lightly brushing it over each imperfection. One coat may do the trick, but if another is needed, make sure the first coat is dry first. If the imperfection is a nick or gauge, you may have to spackle it first before painting. Before cleaning the brush, walk around and see if there are any other imperfections in the wall that you might need to cover. 

Wallpapered Tabletops

Furniture pieces with imperfections—i.e., tabletops with water stains or dresser drawers with scratches—don’t have to be sanded down and re-stained. For an easier approach, install ready-to-hang or peel-and-stick wallcovering on top, which not only hides the problems but also creates a highly decorative look. Choose a wallcovering that is durable and scrubbable in a pattern that works with the rest of the room or that mimics natural materials, such as granite or marble.


Not all walls are created equal, especially in older homes. If you have one that is uneven, mottled or cracking, hide it with artwork or a collection of framed photos. Or create your own artwork by framing sections of a wallcovering pattern. There are so many beautiful patterns on the market; choose one that speaks to you and works with the rest of your decor.

Wallcovering Fix-Up

Speaking of wallcovering, you can easily fix a small tear in an installed adhesive-backed paper by creating a patch. First, smooth down the tear, then take a small piece of the same section of wallcovering and wet it to activate the adhesive. Apply the patch over the tear, gently smoothing down the sides of the patch with a small putty knife.

Quick Backsplash

If you don’t have the time or money for an expensive tile backsplash, try faux-finishing one instead. This hack requires two colors of a good-quality latex paint—typically a flat finish for the tile and satin finish for the grout—as well as a good-quality brush and painter’s tape to mask off the grout lines. There are plenty of tutorials on the internet to help you achieve this look; or you can visit your local paint and decorating store to ask for some help.

Even Quicker Headboards

Create a quick and original headboard by installing an old door, a section of fencing, stacked wood planks, empty window frames, wooden shutters or a section of shelving onto the wall behind the bed. (The sky’s the limit when it comes to headboard ideas; check out Pinterest for more ideas.) Leave the headboard as is, or paint or stain it to make it look new. As another option, you can distress it by scuffing up the finish with sandpaper. For more drama, continue the headboard up the wall and across the ceiling over the bed.

Like-New Pillows

Pillows can be made plump again with a little fill from the craft store. Many pillows have zippers that make this hack easy-peasy. If yours are sewn, simply clip a small section of threads in one of the seams and stuff the pillow from this entry spot. Then resew the pillow when you’re finished. To give pillows a brand-new look, attach a stencil to the front, in the design of your choice, and then spray paint it with a product made especially for fabrics.

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