3 Easy Home Upgrades to Make Before the Holidays

Expecting company for the holidays? Many homeowners plan for months to get a kitchen remodeled, a bath updated or some other room or major surface redone to coincide with a big reveal during seasonal parties. Then the weeks slip by, or the contractor can’t get it finished in time. It happens.

But that doesn’t mean the soirée has to be cancelled. We asked local experts for simple ways to spruce up any living space, fast. Their ideas offer a lot more than just temporary holiday razzle-dazzle. They’re elegant upgrades that will impress friends and family all winter long—maybe longer. Even if the time to get it done is as short as a few days, any of these projects can be pulled off without (too much) difficulty.

Before beginning, consider working through a local designer, even on a small job like a last-minute single room revamp, noted Nancy LaCalamita of Twice As Nice Interiors in East Islip. “Instead of trekking through crowded stores, homeowners can simply call a local designer.” Tell him or her what you’re trying to do, the type of items you need and when. It can be a real timesaver. “They can source it for you. It’s the best way to ensure top quality and, of course, the right look.”

Focus on the basics. Even if you get no further, a fresh coat of paint and new window treatments in the living and dining rooms will make guests marvel at the transformation. Those two tactics can make a huge difference. LaCalamita advised opting for neutral shades in both cases so “they can be reused post-construction.” Simple decorative accents are also an easy upgrade. “Accessories are always a nice way to spark up a space,” she added. Decorative trays of varying sizes dress up cocktail tables or sideboards. Interesting or beautiful vases will elevate tabletops, old bookcases and fireplace mantels.

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Lights, lights, lights! “Mini white lights are a fast way to add warmth and sparkle to any home,” said Hilary Chasin of Chasin & Gilday Interiors in Manhasset. She suggested placing them in glass vases, draping them behind sheer curtains, or running them under glass coffee or end tables. A similar, more traditional option: lit candles in the fireplace. “These add a real glow all winter long,” said Chasin. For a more permanent lighting update, don’t be afraid to swap out a fixture. “Bringing in something more up to date and modern can transform the area in no time,” said LaCalamita. “And it can easily be uninstalled if necessary when construction continues.” Switch in a luxe chandelier or choose an unconventional metal for maximum effect.

Play with texture. Plush, textured throws tossed over chairs or laid at the foot of beds add an air of luxury with virtually zero effort. Chasin recommended cashmere or high-end faux fur. “Those will work in a home indefinitely,” she added. Similarly, LaCalamita offered an easy way to change up the fabrics: “Think throw pillows. Beautiful wintery patterns will perk up any sofa,” she said. Her favorite color for throw pillows is a rich chocolate brown. “It’s an always-chic neutral that can transition into other seasons and sit well with bright pops of color.” In terms of patterns, trends this season include plaids—like traditional tartan—and Nordic prints.

christina vercelletto

christina vercelletto

Christina Vercelletto is a lifelong south-shore Long Islander. She currently resides in Babylon with her husband, three children, and a morbidly obese calico. A media veteran, Christina has held editorial positions at Babytalk, Parenting, Scholastic Parent & Child, Woman's Day, and Davler Media. Her work has appeared in numerous national publications, including Redbook, Rachael Ray, Good Housekeeping, FamilyFun, and The Huffington Post. She's been a frequent guest on Today, The View, and Good Morning America.