Perhaps the biggest challenge in decorating is deciding how often to update. We don’t want to do it too often because it can be expensive and disruptive. But we also don’t want to wait so long that the home looks dated (which is not the same as looking vintage!)
As in anything with style and fashion, there are no calendars. We can’t say that you should replace window treatments after six years and bathroom tile after 12. It’s just something you have to feel, based on what you see in other homes or in design publications. When you feel like your decor looks out of date, you make a change.
When it’s time to redecorate, certain steps are much easier than others. Artwork, linens, and furniture are a relatively quick and neat upgrade, along with a number of common upgrades that people frequently use upon moving in.
Where you really get into some effort and expense is with the major changes, like floor coverings, trim work, and, to a certain extent, the paint. Many of the best kitchen and bathroom remodeling ideas involve working with existing “bones” of the current scheme and fleshing it out with simpler steps that scale down the size of the update.
This isn’t as simple as it may sound at first. It requires that you feel comfortable keeping certain elements for many years, and that type of commitment can be challenging. Floor coverings are a very common point of concern in this area. It can certainly steer the decorator away from long-term coverings like hardwood and ceramic tile and toward carpet, which will require replacement due to wear and tear after several years, regardless of styles.
Paint is also a little more difficult. Certain rooms with heavy use or any part of a home where children live will have a paint standard similar to the carpet standard: Condition will call for replacement long before any other consideration.
But for gently-occupied spaces, colors should be chosen with an eye toward flexibility. Creams and tans are dull in their versatility, but other colors can be chosen to meet both criteria. You want a shade that will appear different in the context of the other colors and textures in the room; darker curtains will bring out one aspect of the color, while lighter window treatments will provide a different spin.
There are some simple tricks that can do a stylish upgrade without executing a complete replacement. Cabinetry is a perfect example. Heavy use can scar and stain the doors and drawer fronts, so many companies can update just those components without replacing the cabinet structures. A countertop replacement isn’t too complicated either. And for cabinetry without cosmetic damage but simply a dated look, the hardware can be replaced to bring in a more modern look to the entire piece.
Sometimes when we start on a redecorating process, it feels wasteful to replace some of the most significant parts of the design. But if those elements have been too closely tied to the overall look, a replacement is unavoidable. The idea, then, is to think of each redecoration as a time to set certain things up for a much longer time horizon than others, and to consider planning ahead for those simple updates that will make the difference in the complete picture.