Before holiday preparations overload our already busy lives, it's a good time to freshen up our homes for our guests and ourselves.

That doesn't have to mean breaking the bank. Some simple switches and a few inexpensive purchases can work magic. That sofa that looks a little dated can be spiffed up with an overload of chic pillows. If your wood floors are looking blah, change things up with a coat of glossy paint. We asked the pros for a few ideas about how to breathe some life into your abode.

Add colorful pillows

Because gray has become the color of choice in recent years, many homeowners crave lively pops of color. One easy way to do it is to add vibrant pillows in bold graphic patterns and rich textures, said Chicago designer Tom Segal of Kaufman Segal Design. He favors bigger pillows (at least 24 by 24 inches) that make a greater visual impact. Other designers suggest a mash-up of patterns in florals, animal prints and bold graphics.

Paint your wood floors

Painting your walls is a quick way to freshen a room, but glossy, chic, painted wood floors and stairs can make a huge visual difference. If spilling a bucket of color onto your red oak living room floor seems intimidating, start with a smaller space like an entryway to create a bold first impression. Andrea Magno, director of color marketing and development for Benjamin Moore, suggests a Scandinavian color theme in an entryway where the floor, wall and stairs create that feeling of contentment, known as hygge.

Create a focal wall

To get instant impact in a room, create a focal wall. Try arranging a collage of artworks, photos and mirrors on a single wall. To get the composition right, designer Rebecca Pogonitz of GoGo Design Group suggests mapping out the wall design on paper or the floor. Scenic wallpaper can also transform a room, and doesn't have to be a major expense or commitment.

Install an art ledge

Hanging art — and rehanging it — can leave lots of nail holes and chipped paint behind. Picture rails are a chic way to display artworks and create an architectural detail that allows art to easily be moved around. Alice Zimet, owner of Arts and Business Partners in New York City, uses picture rails in her apartment and prefers those that are a deep 4 ½ to 6 inches.

Add live plants

Once considered essential furnishings to fill in "holes" in any room, big plants and trees disappeared for years. Now they're back, as more homeowners understand the value that plants provide by cleaning the air and giving a tiny taste of nature.

Tap into your favorite garden guru's expertise and select the right plant for your room's exposure, space, height and decor.