As a professional stylist, Mikhael Romain specializes in getting spaces into photo-worthy shape in a flash. So what exactly are these quick and easy decorating updates she makes to take an interior from blah to bananas chic? It turns out her bag of styling tricks includes tons of ideas the rest of us can steal to give our rooms a refresh.

modern living room, moroccan rug, round coffee table, vintner's daughter home tour
Photo by Brad Knipstein, Styling by Mikhael Romain

#1: Catch A Mean Case of Kondo

If you’re in a decorating rut, consider clearing the decks. “I think almost everyone can benefit from a little Marie Kondo-ing,” says Mikhael. “If you’re trying to change a space, editing should always be the first thing you do because most likely there’s too much in the room. It also makes the space more interesting because you can really see what you have, so everything you keep becomes more important.” PSA: If you decide to part ways with some things, we’re more than happy to help with that.

modern living room, william mclure, neutral living room, vintage accent chair
Photo by Hector M. Sanchez, Design by William McLure

#2: Dream Up A Fresh Floor Plan

“Another thing is just rearranging the furniture,” advises Mikhael. “I love pulling a sofa off the wall and creating more of an intimate seating space in the middle of a living room, as opposed to having everything pushed against the wall, which we often do.” Not only will a new layout make your existing pieces feel different, a fresh furniture arrangement can open up possibilities for fun additions. To go with your newly floating sofa, Mikhael says, “I like to bring in a sofa table behind.”

bookshelf, built-in bookshelf, colorful bookshelf, hanging art
Photo by Werner Straube, Courtesy of Summer Thorton Design

#3: Find New Ways To Display

For Mikhael, finding new spots for existing art takes little effort, but can really payout in terms of injecting pizazz where it was previously lacking. “When I’m styling a bookshelf, I like to layer a small piece of art in the back and then add a few things in front of it. You can also try hanging art in front of a bookshelf, which creates this feeling of multi-dimensional space that wasn’t there before.” She also loves the non-committal ease of just propping a piece of art in a new spot. “Try a big vintage oil painting on the ground leaning against a bookshelf, or maybe under a console, or on the top of a storage piece. The idea is to create more of a layered space and add interest to what might otherwise be a blank wall.” Mikhael is also a fan of moving art to less expected spots like the bathroom or open shelving in a kitchen. 

four poster bed, neutral bedroom, modern bedroom, william mclure home tour
Photo by Hector M. Sanchez, Design by William McLure

#4: Textiles For The Win

Stylists are notorious for amassing collections of textiles (among other things), and you’re about to find out why. “Using a textile to drape over the back and seat of a sofa can really make it feel like you got a new piece of furniture and adds some fun pattern to the room,” reveals Mikhael. Another one of her quick textile tricks is draping a colorful throw over the back of a chair and tucking it in neatly under the seat for either an added pop of color or just a more layered look. And we’re still loving William McLure’s instant headboard, pictured above, using a simple throw. But a proper quilt or throw definitely isn’t required, according to Mikhael. “There are so many textiles out there. Just a big enough piece of fabric can really shake things up.”

marble bathroom, pierce and ward, bathroom runner, moroccan decor, bathroom vanity
Photo by Caroline Allison, Courtesy of Pierce & Ward

#5: Move Those Rugs Around

“For me, I move my rugs around all the time,” says Mikhael. “I might buy one for a living room and realize it doesn’t work, but looks great in the kids’ room, which I didn’t expect.” She also calls out layering rugs as an easy way to bring in a new feeling underfoot. “If there’s a room with a big neutral rug, like a sisal, layering a smaller, more colorful rug on top can really change a space. Or adding a runner into a space where you don’t have one brings in some color and dimension.”

wallpaper entryway, entryway storage, colorful entryway, sunburst mirror, patterned tile
Photo by Aimée Mazzenga, Courtesy of Sarah Vaile Design

#6: Work Wonders With Wallpaper

It’s not the quickest way to transform a space, but for Mikhael, the extra effort pays off in the end. “Wallpaper is so great to really change a small space like an entryway wall or a breakfast nook. Even just lining the back of a bookshelf can make a big difference. Wallpaper really brings in a pop of pattern or color that’s unexpected and can completely change the style and feel of a space.” Focusing your efforts on smaller, contained spaces will make the endeavor more manageable. Plus, Mikhael likes that this approach is more wallet-friendly. “You also don’t need to buy a lot of it because you’re just doing a tiny little area. But I would recommend getting a professional to help with the hanging.”  

green sofa, colorful living room, dogwood branches, ming coffee table, traditional style living room
Photo by Beatriz de Costa, Courtesy of Ashley Whittaker Design

#7: Forage Your Way To Fab

“A really fast and inexpensive way is to make a space feel different is to just buy, or better yet forage, some big, beautiful branches,” enthuses Mikhael of this go-to stylist move. “Sometimes they last for weeks and you can just find a big glass vase to put them in.” This loose, unfussy approach also nicely mitigates the need for flower arranging skills. “Even just setting that on an entryway table or a dining table, your eye comes to it in a different way than it did before, and it gives some height,” assures Mikhael. “And if you forage, it’s free!”

7 Living Rooms To Inspire A Refresh >>

Lead photo by Hector M. Sanchez
Learn more about our expert,
Mikhael Romain

January 28, 2020

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