It’s been over a year of quarantining at home and if you’re like me, you’re on the hunt for fresh ideas to stimulate your creative juices. What used to be workout classes, lunches with girlfriends and concerts on the weekends has long been replaced with walks outside, coloring books, and cooking my way through just about every cookbook I own. While I’ve enjoyed aspects of this slower pace of life, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t fully out of ideas to fill the time at home (this list has helped). Enter my latest obsession: finding home decorating ideas on a budget.
It’s become all but impossible to keep my family and myself feeling excited and ready to tackle another day ahead. Sure, the days all feel like they’re starting to run together, but there are plenty of ways to challenge yourself to make each day feel new, and livening up your home just may be the breath of fresh air you’re looking for right now.
Changing up your décor to improve your home environment is one of the easiest ways to boost your mood, increase productivity, and achieve a feeling of zen. While some believe that revamping your home carries a hefty price tag, there are many ways to give your space a whole new look without spending a dime.
Tweaking, rearranging, freshening up, reinventing—styling your home (and restyling!) is more about thinking out-of-the-box and less about spending lots of money. Here are seven creative home decorating ideas on a budget for reworking your home using what you already have on hand. You may be surprised at how far a little tweak here and there can go.
Start with a blank canvas.
If you’re nervous that I’m going to ask you to take every room apart and start fresh, fear not! I would never. This is about using what you have and reworking old pieces in new spaces throughout your home.
Before you begin, you want to take note of all items that are similar in functionality and style. Find a large space (dining room table, kitchen counter, or living room floor) where you can place all of the items you want to restyle, so you can see easily everything. Depending on how deep you want this restyling adventure to go, you can start with as little as placing all your throw pillows and lamps on the table. Alternatively, you can also go as far as pulling everything from your bookshelves, dishes on open shelving, vases, coffee table books, etc.
The key to success lies in not getting overwhelmed in this first stage of the process. It may seem very messy and unorganized at first, but there is a method to this madness. Having everything out of its usual place and grouped with similar items in the area you’ve designated as your “home base” will allow you to see your current inventory and give you a fresh perspective of what you already own. This is also a great opportunity to declutter and place anything you don’t want or love into a separate pile to be donated later.
Give old accessories new life.
If you have a lamp base, vase, or another item with a fabulous shape but underwhelming color, give it a new life with a fresh coat of paint. A new coat or different hue of paint can completely change any piece of furniture or decor item, restoring your love for it again. Do you have any leftover paint in your garage or spray paint in your craft closet? Now is the perfect time to bust it out!
Note: it’s important you choose a type of paint that is appropriate for the material of the item, so do your research first. I’ve found that objects with lots of fine detail will get the best coverage with spray paint, used carefully outdoors (with a protective face mask and plenty of tarps.)
Restyle to Style.
Once you’ve decided on the pieces you want to keep (and update those you feel could use some extra love), it’s time to get to restyling! Here are some more easy home decorating ideas on a budget to jazz the place up.
If you want to restyle your bed, start by shopping for your couch. Sure you may have originally bought that blue ombre pillow for your sofa, but consider if it might work with the color palette in your bedroom, too. You know those extra throw pillow covers you have stashed in a linen closet? Are they perfect for your couch, entryway bench, or kitchen banquette? Swapping pillows from room to room is an easy and free way to infuse your home with new textures, patterns, and fresh colors.
Bring on the cozy.
Do you have a closet filled with fuzzy blankets, tiny sheepskins scattered throughout your home, or multiple throws draped over your couch? Consider placing them in designated seating areas to cozy up your patio or dining room. We love the juxtaposition of super-soft faux fur or sheepskin throws tossed over wooden entryway benches, outdoor chairs, or dining room banquettes. The warm look and feel make even the most compact living spaces inviting—and gives your simple folding outdoor chairs an expensive-looking, comfy upgrade.
Put unused containers to work.
Bring focus to random collections of objects on your shelves, coffee table, or dresser by grouping them with purpose. Peek inside your kitchen cabinets to find unused cake stands, ice buckets, serving trays, or vases that can be used to hold knickknacks, shells, or other items you want on display. Use different heights and shapes to bring more visual interest to your shelves—placing some objects on top of stands or stacks of books and filling the spaces with more sculptural objects and vases. (More on this below.)
Tip: Keep it to items within one or two shades for a cohesive look is key when it comes to sticking with home decorating ideas on a budget.
Restyle your bookshelves for a well-curated display.
Bookshelves add life and color to a room—they also give clues about your personality and aesthetic. It’s a spot to show off your #shelfie chops and a great opportunity to meld storage with style. But getting the arrangement right is sometimes easier said than done. Here are our bookshelf decorating ideas (on a budget, of course!)
1. To start, make a pile of books you know you want to use on the shelf. Note: skip the tattered textbooks and keep just your best volumes. Remove any dust jackets that look worn or too distracting—uncovered books often look more classic. Keep in mind that the books you had on your bedside or coffee table may be better suited for the bookshelf or vice versa.
2. Mix vertical rows with horizontal stacks of books on your shelves, making sure you leave enough room for accessories. Vary the placement of books on the left, right, and center of the shelves.
3. Next, add some tall, eye-catching accents to anchor your arrangement—think vases you had in your kitchen, candlesticks from a random drawer, or a small sculpture currently on your vanity. Note: these pieces can also serve as bookends. Let some items stand-alone, and build others out into a small collection or grouping. Place smaller objects atop a stack of books, or fill in where needed. This can be anything from a paperweight to a bowl or a string of beads. It’s essential to vary the heights of your items to avoid a mishmash of small knickknacks. Rounder objects offer a nice contrast to rectangular books, and grouping elements of similar colors or materials will help create a cohesive look.
If you’re into the minimalist look, then watch Camille’s video for some styling ideas!
4. Layer in artwork and/or framed photos. Small paintings placed toward the back of shelves add depth and pattern. You can also hang art right on the bookshelf frame, in front of your books.
5. Add in a bit of nature—bring in a potted plant, add a piece of coral, seashells you collected from the beach, or a cool piece of driftwood.
6. Stand back and assess the overall look as you arrange your shelves. Balance the mix of books and objects, and don’t forget to leave some breathing room so your shelves don’t look cluttered.
Rearrange the art.
Have you had the same painting over your bed for the past 10 years? It’s officially time for a refresh. Luckily, your home is the cheapest art gallery in town. Browse each room for art that could also work in your bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen—keeping in mind the color palette of your rooms and the dimensions. Oftentimes, we get so used to the wall art in our homes that we hardly notice it anymore. By switching up the location of these pieces, it will not only update the space but make you appreciate the art you already own.
Rethink your bedside table.
It’s the last thing you see before you fall asleep and the first thing you see when you wake up, so restyling your nightstand can have a surprisingly big impact. Start by decluttering your bedside table, leaving only the essentials: a small lamp, a carafe of water, and maybe a couple of books.
Borrowing a water carafe from your kitchen cabinet will give your bedside table luxe hotel vibes. If you have extra space, add a family photo that makes you smile or a decorative vase filled with flowers from your garden. And if you don’t already have a bedside table? Try bringing in a chair or small stool to use as a makeshift nightstand.
Change the layout of your furniture.
Finding home decorating ideas on a budget means not having to buy new furniture to get a completely different vibe. With a little time and energy, you can give your space a whole new look just by changing the location of your furniture. When you are moving things around, consider omitting some of the unnecessary pieces and placing them in a different room instead. Less is often more, and getting rid of extraneous furniture pieces can help to open up the space and make it feel airier. Just changing the direction that your bed faces can make all the difference in creating a new orientation for your room.
Remember that redecorating can be as much about what you remove as what you add. Give your space a little extra breathing room by relocating one or two pieces of furniture to other areas in your home. A bench you rarely sit on in your bedroom or a side chair that only acts as a clothing catchall may be better served in the entryway or living room.
This post was originally published on May 1, 2020, and has since been updated.