5 no-cost ways to update and refresh your home right now

Guest post by Dootsie Bug

new shade, old lampThere are a lot of ways to update a home space, but many of those are time-consuming and incur at least some cost. Never mind the skills and tools needed to make it happen.

There are a ton of great ways to make rooms feel fresher without any major overhauls — and without spending a cent. When the “let’s spiff this place up” spirit strikes, keep in mind some creative ways to use what’s already around to make your home fabulous (and I’m not talking hot glue and popsicle sticks here).

Save your money for that amazing lamp you’ve been eyeing and try these free home refresh ideas right now…

1. Take away three things

Pick a room that feels a little overwhelming. Identify three objects that can go. Donate them, hide them or repurpose them in another room. Need ideas? A vase you never use, a throw pillow that you always move, a picture that’s busying up a wall, a stack of magazines you don’t read, the much-neglected blender.

2. Change the knobs

Cabinets, dressers and desks can be updated in a snap by dressing up the knobs and drawer pulls. Paint ’em, replace them with knotted ribbon, wrap them with beads/wire, glue on buttons/toys, dye them… there are countless ways to make the knobs more exciting.

3. Scarf it up

Repurpose a pretty scarf as decor. Use it as a table runner, cover a shelf or drape over a nightstand, dresser or side table. Add one to a window treatment, either as a drape or valance. Lay it over the back of a couch or armchair. Frame it.

4. Give a space a reason

Whether it’s a corner or an entire room, virtually every home has an area that seems to have no purpose. Give it one! There’s no need to go all out home makeover on the space; simply bring in something that’s cramped or hidden elsewhere. Maybe you can make that corner your official knitting nook, turn that pointless closet into your workspace or make that empty wall a place to organize the notes for that novel you’re working on. It can be as simple as adding a plant or moving in a chair!

5. Rearrange

It’s oft-repeated advice, but it’s so true — simply rearranging the furniture or accessories can make a room feel good as new. Take a minute to consider doing a little Ring Around the Rosie with your furniture, scooting stuff away from the walls or just moving all your accessories around to change up the routine.

Comments on 5 no-cost ways to update and refresh your home right now

  1. Expanding on #3: put things you already have out and about as decor. I pinned a tea towel I liked on the wall as art. My rarely-worn sarong got draped over an ugly, built-in desk as a tablecloth. I put my pretty tea tins on the table instead of in the cabinet.

    • I just did the same thing today! We have this really cool Japanese apron that never got used as an apron, so I pinned it to the wall near the kitchen and it looks awesome.

  2. The magazine piles are my downfall! My partner just piles them up in our living area. They’re piled neatly (for example on the mantel), but they eventually sit there so long I just think they’re part of the room. Later when I try to identify why the room feels so cluttered, I finally realize- hey! those magazines we are not currently reading do not have to actually LIVE on the mantel as though they were decor!

    • I’m bad about this, but I try really, really hard to swap out rather than add to the pile. I keep, say, five magazines in a stack. I pull the oldest one out when I put the newest one on.

  3. We tend to keep all of our books on the bookshelf in the office when we’re not actively reading them. I recently pulled out a few cool ones to fill a weird empty nook thing on an end table… it made a world of difference and cost me nothing but three minutes of my time!

  4. “simply rearranging the furniture or accessories can make a room feel good as new”

    This is so true. Ariel, didn’t you do a post where a friend came in and simply re-arranged your living room and it made a big difference?

      • My mother does this same service and it’s AMAZING the difference it makes. It’s nice not to need to buy new furniture to re-decorate!

        • Well if Ariel’s friend or your mom are ever in Eastern WA, send ’em my way! 😉
          I do this myself all the time but it is never good enough… still fun though!

  5. These are all really great suggestions!

    I sometimes have to stop myself, because I will want to buy “something” to make a room prettier (mainly decorative, knick-knack type stuff), but honestly that usually makes it look worse. I’m better off taking something away. It helps to give focal points to the room when there’s less stuff. That way you actually SEE the pretty things you bought! If it’s too much, your eyes tend to glob it all together and it just looks like a mass of cluttery objects.

    • I went through this awful, terrible, very bad phase when I first got a place of my own where I bought all sorts of STUFF that was “just soooo perfect!” Of course it wasn’t and I was left with a bunch of weird, mismatched tchotchkes.
      Think of decor items as tattoos. Give them a waiting period before you commit and really study the spot to decide if it REALLY needs anything added.

  6. I recently (post wedding actually, when i still had all that “MUST DO SOMETHING EVERY NIGHT!” energy in my system) did a dramatic version of #1. I basically over the course of a month went through every shelf/closet/drawer/mantle etc and got rid of pretty much everything that if i saw it in a store today, i wouldn’t buy. I stopped thinking of it as ‘well, that’s where it goes’ and not really ‘seeing’ it, and more as ‘if i saw that in a store today would i love it enough to buy it?’, if the answer was ‘no, not at all’, it went. my place now seems bigger, cleaner, brighter. And, then #5 comes into play, because you discover things hidden away, or lost in the clutter that you DO love, and suddenly you have a place to spotlight them.

    Worlds of difference.

  7. THANK YOU so much for this!! I spent about 1.5hrs today rearranging the living room and now it feels so cozy and fresh. I had gotten so complacent that I didn’t even realize how much I disliked the old layout until I changed it around. Great article Dootsie!

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