I thrive on creative ideas that make our home look updated and beautiful. I rely on both hacks (inexpensive shortcuts) and true home improvements. And the great thing is they work so well together! From small easy projects to big renovations here are my 10 favorite home improvements.

These hacks and home improvements are in no particular order.

Now let’s look at my favorite home decor hacks at both our StoneGable home and our Tanglewood home.


I have a love affair with crown molding! And the bigger the better I like it. But heavy molding can be expensive and very time consuming to put up!

The back half of our home has nice crown molding but not fabulous crown molding. So we added a thin band of molding place about 18 inches below it on the wall. It gives the walls such nice detail and creates the effect of the molding looking more weighty. This one easy-to-do hack really makes our molding and walls look extra nice! 


To create the illusion of taller ceilings hang curtains as high as you possibly can! Even though our ceilings are 9 feet tall I still like the look of taller ceilings! I usually hang my curtains right below the ceiling or crown molding!

And don’t scrimp on the length of the curtain. Let it at least touch the floor if not puddle a bit. The look of pooling fabric will elevate your room! Another easy decor hack!


If you don’t like the color of your banister and stairs why not paint them if you cannot afford to install new ones. New ones for us was not an option so we primed and painted the golden oak banister black. The spindles were already white so we just gave them a fresh coat of paint. 

We also remove the runner and painted the oak risers white. It really toned down the look of the oak and made the whole foyer look a lot more updated! 

This is such an easy fix. It just takes a bit of time and paint! 

To carry the look I also painted a tall cream colored mirror black to match the banister and added it to the landing wall!


This is by far the biggest home improvement venture we took on. However, not by ourselves. Instead of ripping out the existing cabinets we had them painted and added small glass-front cabinets above the ones that already existed.

We did many other upgrades like new countertop and new backsplash. But we worked with the footprint of the existing kitchen.

This was a huge project but painting the cabinets was smart!


Along with making over our Tanglewood kitchen we also took an area off the kitchen with lots of windows and created comfy banquette seating.

We added storage under the banquette by making cubby’s and using matching baskets in them. My grandbaby’s crayons and coloring books and cars and balls and other indoor toys are stashed there.

This area makes a great eating space when we have lots of company! And a fun space for our little ones to play


Let’s turn our attention to a quick decor hack. Make a room look cozier and welcoming by layering rugs. This will make a huge difference in how an entire room will feel! I just could not believe the difference in our StoneGable living room once I put down a large sisal rug and layered my beloved zebra pelt on top of it!

Not even buying a whole room of new furniture could do as much for my living room as layering the rugs! 

If you cannot afford to get rid of your wall to wall and have hardwoods installed, try adding a great textural rug on top of what you have!


Why, oh why did I not think of this before? This home decor hack was such a happy accident! We needed another layer for our master bedroom bed. A duvet feels too heavy for us and we needed something that was light but gave us that extra layer we needed in our air-conditioned bedroom.

I love the look of matching duvet covers and shams. So I thought why not use the duvet cover in the warmer weather without the duvet! It was perfect!

So now I look for duvet covers (they tend to have beautiful patterns) instead of bedspreads. Genius right?


My mantra to you is “learn how to paint home furnishings”!!! Please! Do yourself a favor and learn. You can create gorgeous pieces for your home by picking up a paintbrush.

The Venitian Mirrors above were white plastic ceiling medallions from the hardware store. Now they are a trio of extraordinary mirrors! The real deal would have cost thousands and I made all three for under $50.00!

Here they are in our master bedroom at the Tanglewood House with a wreath in between. They look so pretty no matter where I put them!

You can see how to paint BEAUTIFUL PAINTED MEDALLION MIRROR DIY here. Make sure you check out this post to see how the mirrors looked before.

A great place to learn how to paint is on youtube. My very favorite paints can be found at Ace Hardware stores. They are from Amy Howard At Home. She also has THE BEST painting tutorials. See them HERE.

I painted the large clock above the white buffet to too. It was a dull and heavy brown. You can see how I painted it HERE.


This was one of my very favorite hacks! Our StoneGable home almost 24 years old and we built it in the style of the time. The mantel was made as you see it today, but the fireplace surround and the hearth were dark green marble. And the metal around the marble was shiny brass.

Instead of knocking out the marble we just veneered it with brick. So easy! The brick was real but very thin and easy to apply! Then we painted the shiny brass with a mat black spraypaint that was heatproof! 

The new look fits right into to our decor!


We also made over the fireplace at our Tanglewood House. It was so ho-hum when we moved in! This was a home improvement we did not tackle ourselves but it was surprisingly reasonable!

I worked with our contractor and he tried something new. He built the brick hearth, sides and top in his shop before he brought it into our home. This saved lots of mess!

To see the before and after pictures to A FIREPLACE MAKEOVER FOR TANGLEWOOD.


Let’s end with this very very easy hack! We all love pillows and I have an easy way for anyone to make one! You do not even have to know how to sew a straight line. You can glue one instead!

Just a warning making pillows using a hot glue gun can be rather addictive! I have made so so many now!

See the tutorial HERE

We have more decorating hacks and home improvement planned for this year. Bobby and I are making over the powder room with a great decor shortcut and we are replacing the banisters, railings and spindles, knoll post, and more on our stairs.

This might be the years we add a bathroom and a big game room to the basement.

What are the hacks and home improvements you are making around your home?

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  1. Yvonne, you are amazingly creative! I am in awe of the great decorating hacks! I wish you lived nearby as I would have you come to my home & share some of your great ideas…Always learn something from your posts!! Thank you!

  2. Connie Fowler says:

    I never thought about painting my stair railings, but it makes so much sense. Since I’m not going to replace them with wrought iron the way I want to, painting them black would be a great alternative. Hmm–I wonder if the husband will approve. I am so tired of the golden oak!

    Those Venetian mirrors are simply genius. 🙂

  3. You provided lots of great ideas today! I think the one I appreciate the most is the layering of rugs in your living room. That was an amazing transformation when you added the texture of the sisal to your room!!! Gotta love pillows made with hot glue, especially, if you do not sew.

  4. I love your hacks! I recently painted the stair risers on my basement stairs and you are right. Painting really tones down the oak. Where did you buy the brick veneer for your fireplace? I have a black stone surround which is not horrible. However, it would look so much better with that veneer.

  5. I was glad to see one of your hacks as painting the stair railing. A couple of summers ago we painted our oak stair railings which were “lifeless.” We actually painted the top rail and bottom portion black and the spindles white. We added molding underneath and we think it’s added a whole new life to our home.

  6. Great ideas.I love paint and spray paint to repurpose old items especially if you’re changing the color scheme in your home.

  7. Summer Hensley says:

    I love your inspiration !!! You have the best taste. 14 years ago, when we added 1250 sq feet, onto our home, we added that same thin strip of molding under the crown molding! I love it and think it adds so much to the room.It is all in the detail! Keep on inspiring me and others! You are awesome!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing all of your wonderful tips! I feel like I have my own personal designer in you! I’ve been toying with the idea of painting my banisters and I love the look of yours.

  9. Hello! I’m motivated to take carpeting off my stairs & have a wood tread. I’ve discussed it with a “flooring” gal & she does not recommend it ~ too much daily cleaning, etc. Now I’m wondering if you are 100% happy taking off your runner on your stairway. Any comments are so very welcomed from any & all of your followers!

  10. I always get so pumped up when reading your posts! Great ideas today and the hot glue pillow trick is the best idea in the post. I deplore any hand work with a needle so all my pillows that are open in the back will finally get “closure”.

  11. So many beautiful and clever ideas!

    But what would you recommend for stairs with awful old carpeting when what is underneath is NOT wood? Just the typical builder stuff under carpet all these years (the house is almost 40 years old). Do we have to get new carpet? Help, please!

  12. Thanks for replaying hacks. Inspirational!

  13. Another home run! I love your tips & tricks. It makes it easy for us to create a warm, welcoming home without all the expense. I don’t sew ? but I can certainly glue a pillow together. Something to do on a rainy Saturday.

  14. Yvonne
    I don’t think I’ve ever heard you mention your fireplace brick veneer makeover. Do you have a post on the DIY? At the least, can you please source your product for us? It’s beautiful!!!

  15. Lisa Marutz says:

    I’m going to try your shiplap method…wish me luck?

  16. Your home is so beautiful!
    Hugs and blessings to you.

  17. I have been eyeing your beautiful sunroom! Do you have special fabric on your furniture that doesn’t fade? I am badly in need of a new sofa for my sunroom but everything fades in less than a year. White is not practical with kids and dogs unless it’s slipcovered – which we have now but it’s so sloppy looking. I like the tweedy look of your chairs – how does that hold up in the sun?

  18. Marilynn Vannelli says:

    I love your idea of painting the banister black, and the mirror near it. What a genius way to make something plain look totally awesome!

  19. Marilynn Vannelli says:

    Yvonne, I ca n’t tell you how much I look forward to your ideas. I have a fairly new home, but sometimes I just feel it needs a little something different. I also decorate my son’s house, as he is single and too involved in his work to have the time to do a lot, decorating wise. Your ideas on how to tweak a space without doing a major project are just what I need. I love the idea of painting furniture and mirrors, and stairs! I particularly love the black! Do you sand first, or treat the item, or just buy a special paint or paints? Primers? Thank you in advance.

    1. There is a process Marilynn. Ask a professional. It can go so right and look so gorgeous or it can be a bit difficult.