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Room Refresh: Tips for Updating Your Home This Season

July 11, 2021

Interior designer Corey Damen Jenkins on readying your space for guests, combating boring beige, and micro-makeovers for your living room

Featured photo via @spacejoy

Our friends, whom we haven’t seen in more than a year, are coming to visit for the weekend — but our guest bedroom looks less than inviting. How do we transform it into a place they’ll want to stay?

Guest bedrooms are often an afterthought, but now, when people are yearning to reunite with loved ones (and perhaps not ready to stay in a hotel), we have to up the wow factor. Many people are loathe to do a lot of color or pattern in their personal bedrooms, but guest bedrooms are an opportunity to try out bolder ideas and experiment. Make it vibrant!

Corey Damen Jenkins

Once the décor is squared away, test out the bed. If you wouldn’t sleep on it, don’t ask your guests to! Instead, think about investing in a new mattress — not too firm and not too soft is generally the way to go. Then, consider the space: Is it well lit? Do you have layers on the bed (or extra blankets in the room) in case your guests get too warm or cold? Is there a television mounted on the wall for those who like to watch late-night shows or early-morning news in bed?

And then there are the little accouterments that show you put thought into arranging the room. Have a pretty goblet on the nightstand for water, and some bedside flowers ( just make sure your guests aren’t allergic to whatever you’re putting out!). Trays also do a lot to make things look great. I love coming into a bedroom with a tray holding that day’s newspaper and a piece of chocolate. Things like that don’t cost a lot, but they go a long way toward making guests feel welcome.

My house is so … beige. How do I liven it up?

You’re not alone — we’ve been doing this gray/beige thing for about 20 years. It was fine when people weren’t trapped in their homes, but after this past year they realized the colors were depressing. I can’t tell you how many clients have called me to undo all the gray/beige spaces we did in the aughts.

Corey Damen Jenkins

After going without so much for so long, excess is where people’s minds are at these days. We want to get back to traveling, shopping, going to restaurants. That “maximalist” attitude carries through to design, too. We’re seeing a shift toward more color, texture, and pattern. You can start by adding bright accents to your neutral palette: think navy-blue velvet chairs around your dining table, or green pillows on your white couch. On the runway we’re seeing blushes, pinks, and roses taking root, as well as jewel tones like emerald, sapphire, and amethyst. Don’t be afraid to play around! Who’s to say what’s too much, too layered, too messy? It’s all in the eye of the beholder

My living room needs a facelift. How can I switch it up without committing to a whole redesign?

If you don’t want to invest in new furniture, think about changing out smaller things, like your rugs, throw pillows, even the lampshades on your lamps. Get a green, navy, or crimson shade — they do exist! Rearranging your art is also a great way to make a big change without spending anything. Something that’s been in, say, your bedroom for years can make a big statement in your living room. Also, think about wallpapering your ceiling or doing a cool wall covering — both can completely transform your room without any big overhauls.


Corey Damen Jenkins

Corey Damen Jenkins is an interior designer based in Birmingham. Have your own burning design questions? Submit them to askcorey@seenthemagazine.com

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