How to make an old home look modern

Written by daisy wells
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How to make an old home look modern
(The room image by Dariusz Kopestynski from

Making an old home look more modern is many a homeowner's challenge. Gracing a visibly dated home with a modern face lift can be as involved a process as you wish---from purchasing a new slipcover to gutting a bathroom to installing new kitchen appliances---depending on your budget of time and money. There do exist, however, a number of "tricks" that can shake your home into the next century and fortunately, you do not have to rely on the skills and talents of the professionals to accomplish the task.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Columns
  • Architectural trim
  • Sandpaper
  • Slipcovers
  • Canvas
  • Lamp shades
  • Lamp bases
  • Pillows, in accent colours

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  1. 1

    Employ your paintbrush. Colour will have the most impact when updating a space. If your rooms are still carrying a colour palette of the past---say a pale country blue or sunny 70s yellow---fear not. Today's colours run hot and cold. Monochromatic schemes continue to be the rage, with soft whites and beiges leading the pack. A burst of saturated colour---red is always popular and orange is considered the "new" red---on one focal wall boasts a modern statement. Decide on your new colours; cover everything in the room and paint away.

  2. 2

    Add some architectural elements for a dramatic update. Moulding and trim can be applied and painted in a bright white and will accent any wall colour. Columns can be added to a room, or can replace a wall, opening up a space to natural light. For those more industrious homeowners, applying a tile or tin ceiling will provide interest.

  3. 3

    Reduce the number of furniture pieces that carry stained or dark wood surfaces. A whitewash applied to a lightly sanded wood finish will brighten and lighten the overall look, producing a shabby chic effect. Kitchen cabinets, bathroom commodes and any dark heavy pieces will benefit from the lighter approach.

  4. 4

    Replace heavy fabrics with brighter, lighter textures and fabrics. Covering old upholstered seating with light-coloured slipcovers and accenting with brightly coloured or textured pillows is a sure bet on the road to modernising a room.

  5. 5

    Choose new lampshades---perhaps in patterns or colours, or tackle the lighting from the bottom up by replacing an old fashioned lamp with a new, modern base. This is a perfect place for a "pop" of colour and some terrific examples are available in all colours of the rainbow.

  6. 6

    Modernise your walls with some new art. This can be done with a can of paint and some canvas. Just splatter (in the manner of Jackson Pollack) on some colour and watch what happens when you put it on the wall. Or try a piece of fabric affixed to stretchers---big and bold prints work best.

  7. 7

    Move the furniture from room to room to get a different balance---try to offer more space as a spacious feel will give any room a younger, and therefore updated, feel. When in doubt, take it out. Clutter is ageing and the more room you create, the more modern your space will feel

Tips and warnings

  • Remove all furniture from a room and consider the necessity of each piece before placing back in the room. This results in less clutter.

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