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  • Writer's pictureMarni Jameson

4 Quick Summer Pick-Me-Ups for Your Home

While staycationing at home this summer (sigh, sob), I have consoled myself by looking for ways to perk up my days and my house without draining my retirement fund. In particular, I have been seeking easy ways to make what’s old and tired look new and fresh, or at least better, so I asked a few friends for their favorite fast fixes. (P.S. I’d welcome hearing about your favorite home pandemic projects, too.) Here are four I found that work:

1. Flip those chairs

When my colleague Cindy told me she found some slipcovers for her dining room chairs, I had to stifle a yawn. Um-hum, I pictured those saggy, baggy, rumply cotton covers that harken back to the days of shabby chic.

“Noooo,” she assured me. “These are like Spanx for your furniture.” Now she had my attention. What woman of a certain age does not love Spanx? She showed me pictures. These were not your grandmother’s slipcovers. They smoothly hugged the chair backs and seats, and did not drop to the floor in a fussy, dust-collecting way. They come in a variety of colors, prints and fabrics, including velvet. “I can switch them up for the holidays,” she said.

For $36 on Amazon, Cindy bought a set of four Ogrmar chair covers, and in 20 minutes her plain beige kitchen chairs were sporting a fun summer floral, perking up the room. Easy shmeasy.

2. Rejuvenate the floors

My friend Kathryn said she had wiped years off her home’s wood floors and cabinets with a product she claimed, “rolls back time.”

“Do they make it for faces, too?” I asked hopefully.

“It takes all the nicks and scuffs and scratches out of wood and brings back the gloss.”

My wood kitchen floors were looking a little beat, especially that embarrassing worn path to the refrigerator, which the pandemic has not helped. Because I wasn’t doing anything else, I picked up (curbside at The Home Depot) a bottle of Rejuvenate for floors. I squirted and mopped. It was like doing floor CPR. They bounced back to lustrous life. Rejuvenate also makes a similar product for outdoor furniture and weathered metal, and another for cabinets. But none yet for faces.

3. Perk up the patio

We’ve all heard the design advice to bring the outdoors in by adding plants, flowers and other touches of nature to our interiors. An equally good but less known maxim is to bring the indoors out, which I almost forgot last month when I started accessorizing my newly finished backyard landscaping project.

I had filled my online shopping cart with Adirondack chairs and throw pillows in a carnival of colors not found inside my home: lime, flamingo pink, turquoise. Fortunately, before I hit the buy button, I hit the pause button. I recalled a column I wrote a few years back where I advised using the same accent colors when decorating your outdoor space as you used in your indoor space to create a visual bridge.

Oh, man, my own advice can be such a buzzkill.

As I pictured how those novel new colors would look outside if I were standing inside, I saw a mistake in the making. I emptied the cart. I ordered outdoor chairs and throw pillows in dark blue and deep orange to tie into the colors in my indoor living area. Poof, the color-coordinated touches gave my outdoor patio the perfect perk-me-up.

4. Get a handle on hardware

Changing the dated hardware on my kitchen cabinets has been on my to-do list since I moved into my home 32 months ago. But every time I think about replacing all those knobs and pulls, I remember the last time. What should have been a super-simple task turned into an expletive-filled fiasco. The pre-drilled holes that held the old handles wouldn’t line up with the new ones. Screws were either a few threads too short, or so long they left the knob dangling like an earring.

Furthermore, replacing cabinet hardware is not an ideal activity for a couple who’s been holed up together for 120 straight days during a pandemic. (Do I want new kitchen hardware, or do I want to stay on speaking terms with my husband?)

So when a friend emailed me a link for a sleek satin nickel pull that adjusts to accommodate the holes already there, however far apart or imperfect, my antennae went up. I bought a set ― one knob, one pull ― of Liberty Adjusta-Pull cabinet hardware to test drive. The pull has a track on the underside that glides onto screws, meeting the holes where they are. As promised, they slipped into place without any unnecessary friction on the cabinets or the relationship.

New cabinet hardware may be in our future after all.

Fast recovery. Kitchen chairs before and after show how stretch-to-fit slipcovers are an inexpensive way to bring a seasonal update to an eating area. Photos courtesy Cindy Vees.

Color as bridge. Using the same accent colors, in this case deep blue and orange, indoors and out creates a visual bridge, smoothing the transition. Photo courtesy Marni Jameson.

Get a grip. Adjustable cabinet hardware (left), which conforms to the drilled holes your cabinets already have, can make changing out old hardware (right) less frustrating. Photo courtesy of Marni Jameson.

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