backsplash tile at Hilltop Mediterranean home interior design jute

New Year, New Space

New Year, New Space

Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.

For many, the start of a new year means committing to a transformation, whether that’s focusing on fitness, finances, family, or all of the above. And while radical resolutions can take time to manifest, giving your living space a makeover can be both fairly simple and highly impactful.

In two weeks or less, you can completely transform your home—without permits, contractors, or a huge mess. Here’s how to spruce up your space for the better.


What’s the best way to update your living space?

The easiest thing to do is move your furniture—not just rearranging it within a room, but re-evaluating and repurposing your space overall. I’ve found that people can’t always make that switch. If they saw a room staged as a media room, for example, they can’t necessarily envision it as a bedroom. But instead of thinking about your furniture specifically, think about the overall space. Figure out where you’re drawn to in your home, what has good light and energy. Is there something better that you could be doing in that area? That has a bigger effect that getting new pillows or sheets.


What else do you recommend?

Lighting is another thing that is easy to change and has a big impact. It affects your mood hugely, especially in winter. You don’t necessarily have to use what came with your home—the lights you inherited are there for code. Play around with sconces, ceiling fixtures, floor and table lamps, and different bulbs, and set up a more personalized lighting plan.


Are there general rules of thumb for lighting?

There is a science to it, but what’s most important is how you respond personally. Overhead lighting isn’t necessarily bad, but dimmer lights at a lower height tend to be more calming. Bright exposed overhead lights, especially halogen lightbulbs, tend to irritate your nervous system. So think about what lighting is the most energizing for you and what’s the most relaxing for you, then go from there.


What about more drastic changes?

You can completely change the look of your kitchen with small cosmetic updates: paint the cabinets in place, replace the hardware, change your plumbing fixtures, and switch out any stone and tile. You can do all of these things without permits or even contractors, versus redoing the layout and installing new cabinets and appliances. Changing the colors, fixtures, hardware, and surfaces makes it feel like a completely new space.


Can you do that to your bathroom too?

Exactly, it’s same kind of thing—paint the cabinetry, change the hardware and vanity taps, new stone countertops, new mirror and sconces, and, of course, decorative elements like towels and bath rugs. You can re-tile, but it’s more complicated than the 18-inch backsplash that you’d have in a kitchen, and people often choose to knock down walls when they do that, which requires a contractor and permits. But you can do so much without reallocating space or redoing the plumbing.


What are some smaller changes that can make a difference?

I always like to add in more plants. They clean the air and bring a little of the outdoors inside, which is important in winter. Hanging new artwork can change the look and feel of a space.  As can a gallery wall of family photos. But, it’s the functional aspect of redoing a space that people need help with. If you think a space is awesome without knowing exactly why, we’ve done our job well.


Think about how your space feels and flows versus how things look.

More from

Second Nature