In this 2013 file photo, Interior designer Monique Violette of The Styled Home decorates Gary's House for Portland's Holiday Home Tour. Credit: Kathleen Pierce / BDN

We are spending a lot more time indoors than usual. If you are getting tired of looking at the same old interior day in and day out, there are some easy do-it-yourself updates you can make that will immediately liven up your space.

“Everything about your space [affects] your outlook,” said Brett Johnson, owner and chief creative director at Maine Street Design in Portland. “Your home is your sanctuary. Even the smallest change can lift up a space.”

Here are 6 ways you can quickly update your interior space that will breathe new life to your world.

Declutter & clean

One of the easiest and most relieving ways to update your interior space is to simply declutter it.

“Physical clutter clutters your thought process,” said Tracy Davis, principal and design director at Urban Dwellings, which has an office in Portland. “It doesn’t enable you to focus on the things that need to be focused on.”

Davis said that she asks her clients to sort things into three buckets: “things that you can’t live without, things that you like but don’t need around all the time, and things that you don’t need that you’ve been hanging onto for the sake of hanging onto them.”

“All of those fantastic books that you’ve been holding onto that you haven’t looked at but you have been dusting for 10 years, cull them,” Davis said. “Your eye needs to see space so your brain can take a break.”

Once you have organized your belongings, find a way to repurpose them. Davis said that she handed her grandmother’s china down to relatives who wanted that type of plateware for their wedding. (And, of course, there’s always the thrift store.)

“It wasn’t necessarily of lineage to them, but my grandmother gave it to me, and I gave it to them because they wanted it,” Davis said. “There are so many people now without that throwing things away doesn’t make sense. Find a place for them, a home for them, a person that will treasure them as much as you did.”

Then, take time to deep clean your space.

“There’s no better time than now,” Davis said.

Move furniture

Have you ever heard of feng shui? Moving your furniture around can bring new energy to your living space.

Davis’s number one tip for moving furniture is to “float” it.

“People have the propensity to put things up against the wall and not float them in a room,” Davis said. “It gives you the ability to bring groups of people or furnishings closer together. You create intimacy rather than great space.”

Also, make sure you do not clutter your space with too much furniture.

“Always allow enough room for ease of walking around a room or space, do not over crowd the space,” Connell said.


Painting a room can immediately change its whole vibe, and if you are willing to put the effort in, it is easy to do yourself.

“I say a fresh can of paint does wonders,” Davis said. “It doesn’t take anything, it’s sweat equity, and putting a new coat of paint on something can lift your spirits so high. Color also impacts mood, impacts volatility, the ability to sort of come down versus get excited.”

Johnson recommended a soothing neutral color like Benjamin Moore’s Edgecomb Grey, Hamilton Blue or Gentleman’s Gray. Davis suggested warm neutral colors for a room.

“I think neutrals are now the new classic in that it allows you to decorate around it,” Davis said. “A good neutral will give you a lot of value and bang for your buck throughout the season.”

Davis said to start with your kitchen or living room if you’re going to paint.

“Those are where everybody comes out of their rooms at the end of the day to hang out and meet,” Davis said. “People tend to come together in those spaces during those times. Having something that sets the mood, I can’t think of anything more than color to do that.”

If you are still unsure, Connell believes that you might want to consult a professional to figure out which color will work best for your space.

“When selecting a paint color, it is often best to have a professional opinion,” Connell said. “A true professional opinion is done when you have someone come to your home and see the actual space and the rooms around the one that will be painted.”

Hang art

Switching up the art hanging on your walls is a great way to update your space. If you are low on funds, you can purchase something inexpensive from the thrift store, or make some yourself if you are looking to save some money.

Just make sure to follow rules of good design when you are hanging art.

“I would say people tend to hang things too high and too far apart,” Davis said. “You want to be the center of your artwork should be right around 58 to 60 inches so you can connect to what you’re looking at. It’s hard to do when your neck is cranked up.”

Also, if you have multiple pieces of art or photographers on a single wall, put space between them and hang them in a way that is not completely symmetrical.

“I think the propensity is to separate them by five or six inches,” Davis said. “Really make a solid cluster and separate them by one-and-a-half or two inches. Keep them together [and] create asymmetry. Asymmetry is always your best bet, always better than balance. It’s more interesting.”

Add houseplants

Houseplants are a great way to elevate your mood and make a space look — literally — more lively.

There are a few things to keep in mind while purchasing houseplants, particularly in Maine. It is important to find the right houseplant, not only for your aesthetics, but for your home environment. Certain houseplants will survive the dark Maine winters better than others, but proper houseplant care is always important, especially in the winter. Your plants may need artificial lights to compensate for the lack of sunlight, and keep them a good distance away from drafty window sills.

Change your lighting

The simple act of swapping out lightbulbs can change a whole room.

“One real simple thing is to change the light bulbs,” Connell said. “There is often dust on old ones, even though they still work. Also, up the wattage of the bulb for better lighting.”

Davis said that you want to consider the color temperature of the lights.

“I’m probably one fo the few people who you will hear sort of on the negative side of LED [lightbulbs],” Davis laughed. “We have LEDs in all of our screens and the color temperature is often very bright and a little harsh on the eyes. My suggestion is to keep [lights at] 2700 Kelvin for a beautiful warm light. You are going to see some of the LEDs getting down to 2700 Kelvin, but you don’t want to go over 2700 Kelvin.”

You can also add an accent light.

“A wonderful table lamp and a perfect shade can add both a design and lighting element to a room,” Johnson said. “When selecting a lamp, keep in mind that you want it to contrast and compliment the rest of the room. Look for something that catches the eye and gives the room a warm glow.”