• “A light sculpture would be fabulous,” says Spear. “Maybe glass balls lit from below, or even candles—big ones, lots of them.”
• “Or line the firebox with mirrors,” says Drake, “and fill it with crystal orbs and obelisks for a glamorous sparkling effect.”
• “I do in fact have a fireplace that doesn’t work,” says Allen. “Over the years, I have filled it with books, made a light box (mine has an outlet), and created log sculptures with bamboo from the flower district.”
• Cassell says, “The options are endless: Use a video projector; hang multiple objects; install a fish tank; display a photograph.”
• “Consider splitting the cost of restoring the fireplace with your landlord,” says William Sofield, who designed Ralph Lauren’s apartment, the Soho Grand hotel, and stores for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. “If this is not an option, try glamorous log abstractions such as a Chinese Cong or coral twigs from Leekan (212-226-7226).”
• “Cover a bad floor with the largest flat-weave area rug you can find,” says Drake. “ABC’s reversible dhurries are effective.” (ABC Carpet & Home; 212-473-3000.)
• Groves says, “If you can’t rip up the carpet, put a sisal area rug from Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel on top of it. Cover bad linoleum with sheet linoleum in fun colors, or use Pirelli floor tiles, whose colorful raised circles add graphic punch (PRF Group; rubberfloors.com).”
• “If it’s linoleum, you can paint it, cover it with cooler linoleum, or consider fun options like cork, tile, or sea grass,” say Weinstein and Zakarian. “For inspiration, go to Aronson’s (212-243-4993).”
• “If it’s a hard surface that’s butt-ugly, deck paint comes in great colors right now,” says Maloney. “But it’s too shiny. So top it off with two coats of satin polyurethane. This kills the shine and gives it a wax look.”
• “I’m a big fan of InterfaceFLOR carpet tiles (at ABC), which have only been on the market for the past six months or so,” says Coleman. “They come in about ten colors and don’t require padding. You can install them in no time.”
• “Super-glossy Benjamin Moore paint in a color like blazing orange will transform any cabinet,” says Drake.
• “Great hardware can make almost any cabinet door look better,” say Weinstein and Zakarian. “Check out Target’s ceramic, plastic, and brushed-metal knobs. Still ugly? Cover the fronts with wallpaper or contact paper. Janovic/Plaza sells nature-scene wall murals you can cut and hang.”
• “The most dramatic solution would be to remove the cabinets altogether and install simple exposed shelves,” says Groves. “Of course, this means having nice things to show off.”
• “Lacquered or leather boxes on open shelves can hide unsightly items,” says Sofield.
• “The standard oak cabinets in many rentals are pretty ugly,” says Cassell. “Painting them white makes them look ten times better.”