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10 DIY Home Decor Tricks

Designer Michael Garvey, known for his sophisticated interiors, happens to be a scrappy DIY genius at home. Real Simple popped in for a peek—and for the secrets to his 10 most inventive upgrades.  

Dining room with pillow benches
Dean Kaufman

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Double the Curtains

In the 120-square-foot dining room, two layers of Ikea linen panels (natural-toned on the glass side, chocolate showing) equal one well-draped drape—luxe and weighty. Garvey used a thick wooden dowel (from Home Depot) in place of a rod, first staining it ebony. Get the full effect with brass rings, brass brackets, and brass endcaps.

Fake Built-Ins
As in the bedroom, Garvey made the tall cabinets in the dining room (right) look as if they had been permanently installed by tucking them into a tight-fitting space and painting them the same color as the walls. He mounted a desk to the wall in between and added trimboard to the cabinet doors so that they echo the walls architecturally.

“Upholster” a Bench With Pillows and Shoelaces
Backless benches keep a small space from feeling crowded. To soften seating, Garvey bought 14-by-20-inch velvet throw pillows and safety-pinned them together. He anchored the cushions with red shoelaces, wrapped over seams and knotted under the bench. Genius.

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