Published on February 19, 2019

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Illustration by Phuong Nguyen

Upgrading your home doesn’t have to entail a full-blown renovation. Honestly, it doesn’t even have to involve painting a room or redecorating at all. Sometimes all you need to do is make a single swap or add one specific item. Change the throw pillows on your bed and—bam!—you have a whole different vibe. Add a tray to your coffee table, and voila, you have a new living room.

Domino editors swear by small upgrades—be it a small new surface area to add fun knick-knacks or a disco ball placed by the window to reflect light across your entire space.

Whether your space is in need of a place to store your currently exposed goodies or you’re just looking fill up some empty spaces, these 17 items have proven transformative powers.

Decor

One of the best features of my tiny East Village apartment is the white French doors, which allow light to stream in from the bedroom and make the space look a bit larger than it actually is. The first thing I did when I moved in was swap out the basic chrome pulls for these brass ones from CB2. It was such a simple update but one that elevated the whole space. 

– Sophie Miura, digital content director

My bedroom is really the only place in my apartment where I can truly be alone so lighting is super key when I’m winding down at night. The existing lighting situation when I moved in was pretty lackluster, but a plug-in sconce made all the difference. It’s a super affordable and renter-friendly way to set the mood!

– Lydia Geisel, digital editorial assistant

I purchased a floor lamp because my overhead lighting is super strong and harsh, but I rarely used it. Instead, I opted to turn on my newly hung neon sign (from Brite Lite Tribe) for a nice red glow. So when I saw some tinted light bulbs at one of my favorite design stores, I knew I had to buy the pink one. The combination of the pink and red light in my living room is such fire mood lighting! All it took was switching out the light bulb to create an entirely different atmosphere. Best $6 I ever spent.

– Alyssa Clough, social media editor

I’ve written an ode to the importance of vintage suitcases, and I stand by my collection. Stylish storage is a big priority for me, so finding items that are functional while also doubling as decor was important when decorating my space. I usually find the best cases at vintage shops or flea markets, but you can find some timeless pieces online as well. Jayson Home has an entire vintage section, and I love this simple leather suitcase.

– Elly Leavitt, associate editor

I’ve been growing my plant collection over the past few months and since most of them have been succulents and air plants, I’d been looking for a cheap watering can when I found this gem. It’s a brass, minimalist, beautiful plant mister that’s definitely affordable and worth it.

– Hayley Squire, email marketing manager

Most of the design decisions I make in my tiny apartment have to do with storage and efficiency, and one of my favorite additions of late is this Schoolhouse hook, which I hung next to the front door. The six branches can hold multiple bags, coats, and scarves, which has really freed up space in my entryway closet. It’s also such a breeze to throw everything on there when I walk it and keeps everything tidy and in its place.

– Gabrielle Savoie, senior home editor

Since picking up a small disco ball to place in my south-facing window, I’ve convinced many friends to do the same. When the sun hits just right, it fills my room with a smattering of light beams that always brings a smile to my face.

–  Rebecca Deczynski, digital editor

I moved from Sydney to New York with one suitcase of possessions so my apartment looked very sparse for the first few months. Interior designer Jeremiah Brent suggested a really smart solution to fill the white walls in my living room: a drapery wall. His team hung a curtain rod and thick linen drapes on the wall behind my sofa to add height and texture to the room. There’s no window behind, but it creates the illusion of space.

– Sophie Miura, digital content director

Wellness

My apartment is essentially (pretty exclusively) whitewashed and the small pop of color that I have usually comes in the form of fresh florals or the vessels I house them in. I recently bought a bundle of eucalyptus that I keep on display on a mirror-shelf, which is mounted right beside my bed. It’s refreshingly fragrant and imparts my teeny, tiny studio with an ever-so-subtle hint of color.

– Anna Kocharian, digital editor

It’s pretty expensive for a diffuser, but have you ever seen a prettier diffuser in your life? It’s handcrafted out of porcelain and is meant to be seen, but also kind of disappears in my all-white bedroom. Beyond just pretty, it’s a powerhouse at aerating your essential oils using ultrasonic technology.

– Kristin Limoges, wellness editor

Storage and Organization

To save on drawer space in my kitchen, I’ve narrowed down my knife selection to three knives. Seriously, that’s all I need. I got all of them from Material and they came with this super minimal, magnetic stand, which I keep on display on my counter. It makes everything super accessible and looks super sleek.

– Lydia Geisel, digital editorial assistant

I’m very guilty of buying groceries that I always have, just because I don’t feel like rifling through my overstuffed cabinets. That’s why this organizing rack was such a game-changer. It’s the perfect size, and allows me to separate some of my smaller accoutrements (like adaptogenic powders and tiny cans of tomato paste) from my bulkier bags of grains and pastas. I don’t go overboard organizing, but this affordable purchase makes me feel totally tidy.

–  Rebecca Deczynski, digital editor

Swapped my exposed shoe rack with this white IKEA shoe cabinet that was easy to make and hides all my shoes. Also doubles up as a console for my tiny minimalist studio.

– Tracy Cho, general manager

Furniture

I’m lucky enough to have a separate kitchen in my tiny apartment, but it doesn’t come with a ton of counter space. Enter: This IKEA kitchen cart, which I found on Craigslist for half the price and carried up six flights of stairs. It was totally worth it because it’s doubled my kitchen storage—plus, it’s always great to have extra surface space on which to prep dinner when both my roommate and I are cooking at the same time.

– Elly Leavitt, associate editor

Room and Board’s C-Table is the best thing that’s ever happened to my small space! It can curl around my sofa or bed without soaking up precious floor space. I particularly love it on a lazy Sunday morning when I want to enjoy breakfast in bed.

– Lydia Geisel, digital editorial assistant

The floors in my apartment are a very dark brown, and the windows are north-facing, so the space can feel a little dark. To fix this, I added a large 9×12 ivory rug that spans most of the living area to brighten up the whole room. It has a subtle shine which feels minimal and luxe and, because it’s paired with other white or cream finishes, it makes the space feel airy and light.

– Gabrielle Savoie, senior home editor

For a while, I was keeping my stash of spirits on a kitchen cart, but ultimately, it always ended up looking a little messy. When I finally got this tray table, I had an easy solution: I placed it in my living room and organized my alcohol on top according to bottle size, and placed a small stack of pretty cookbooks on the lower tray. It instantly looked polished—and cleared up space in my kitchen.

–  Rebecca Deczynski, digital editor

See more editor recommendations:

The Best Lighting to Shop Right Now

Editor’s Picks: The Chic New Stone Age

Pricey Furniture and Home Decor Worth the Splurge

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