1. Add Unexpected Color

If you don't want to hang a piece of art, color in an unusual place can make a statement, such as in this Atlanta living room. Designer Kay Douglass painted an empty bookcase orange, which sets off the Palladian details. "You notice it right away, don't you?" she says. "It almost becomes an art piece and helps make the room, instead of being just a place to store things. One of the biggest design mistakes people make is cluttering their world with too many things."

2. Embrace Pattern

If you're afraid of using a print, use it in subtle ways. "My client doesn't like pattern, but if you do it on curtains you don't see the full repeat," designer Kevin Isbell says about decorating this Summit, New Jersey house. "If the pattern is stretched over a sofa, you get the full impact. On curtains, the folds soften the pattern."

Update What You Already Own

Taking what you have and reworking it can create transformative results. "We British turn everything into something else — curtains become upholstery, upholstery becomes pillows. It just goes on and on," designer Alexander Doherty says. "That's very much what happened here in this Manhattan apartment. I had the pictures reframed. The blue mat on the painting in the dining room had a water stain, so I just repainted it. Another thing I did was buy white card shades for the lamps and paint them."

Mix Up Styles

Break up the traditional with something more modern. In a Corona Del Mar, California, house, Barbara Barry took the edge off the dining room's formality with a Nevo pendant by Arturo Alvarez and a Swedish cabinet.

Try High-Gloss Paint

"Gloss! High gloss! Shine! Polish!" designer Jeffrey Bilhuber says about what will be a big trend in 2013. Follow his lead by using the finish on your ceiling, like in the guest room of Bilhuber's New York apartment. The ceiling is lacquered with Benjamin Moore's Jupiter Glow.

Add Art

Put up a painting and don't worry about whether it won't completely mesh with the space. "You don't need the approval of others if you're confident it's right," designer Mica Ertegun says. "I might have commented once or twice that I wasn't crazy about where my client wanted to hang a painting, but the truth is that good art doesn't look wrong anywhere." In this simple, elegant East Hampton, New York, living room, a wildly colorful painting by Beatriz Milhazes hangs above the fireplace.

Use Brighter Hues

"Photoshop, HDTV, and hi-res computer screens have dialed up our sense of vision," says designer Stephen Shubel, who painted this painted this girl's bedroom in San Francisco with Benjamin Moore's Tickled Pink. In 2013, "Our rooms will be full of brighter, more saturated hues

Layer Pattern

The trick to mixing patterns? Alternate them with solids. "The pattern in the room works in layers," architect David Rockwell says of a New York City apartment he designed as part of the Designer Visions showhouse. The bedroom has a "boho-chic sensibility," with Jim Thompson's moody Byzance wallpaper and an antique screen upholstered in Madeline Weinrib's Black Remy doubling as a headboard.

Add an Eye-Catching Light Fixture

In a traditional center-hall Colonial in Rye, New York, the shimmering kitchen with its effervescent chandelier comes as a surprise. "The glass bubbles look like they're dancing, don't they?" designer Louise Brooks says. "They give the room a real kick.