You can dramatically change the look and feel of your home without spending a dime. In fact, even if you do have a budget to decorate it’s still a good idea to work with what you have and get your home to a place where you enjoy and appreciate it before you spend money and start purchasing. This is for two reasons: a fresh canvas will help you see clearly what the room really needs and therefore help you avoid making expensive mistakes. You may even realize you don’t need to change as much as you originally thought. Second, you can be assured that if and when you do choose to buy things, it will be from a place of inspiration rather than from a feeling that your home is lacking. You will come to the process with the mindset that you’re enhancing your space, rather than fixing what’s wrong. This attitude can lead to more creativity and thoughtful purchases and usually produces long-term, more satisfying results.
Tips for your no budget makeover:
1. Clear your clutter:
The least expensive way to make a big difference in your home is to clear your clutter and organize. Clearing clutter has a dramatic visual impact as well as an emotional impact. Go through every object in the room and decide if it is useful, beautiful, and loved—ideally an object will be all three. If it does not meet one or all of the criteria, it is better to let it go. Make space for new and better things to come into your life by giving, selling, or throwing these items away. Things we don’t like, are broken, or are in disrepair just bring us down and make us feel “less than.” Unless the item is extremely functional or can be easily fixed, let it go. Then enjoy the creative potential of a clean, “blank” canvas, the open space you have created, and the joy of being surrounded only by things that you love or find useful.
2. Clean and energy cleanse:
Physically cleaning your home from top to bottom will give it a new, fresh feel. Also consider clearing the energy. An energy cleansing may not change the look of the room, but it can change the feel.
3. Bring in more light and fresh air:
It’s amazing how quickly fresh air and sunlight can change the energy and feel of a room. Light has a tremendous impact on how we see a space, how we feel in a space, and our overall mood. In rooms where privacy and too much sunlight are not an issue, pull back curtains and lift blinds, and if you don’t love them—consider removing them altogether. Make sure you open windows for at least ten minutes everyday to refresh the energy and reduce indoor air pollution. Also consider repositioning mirrors to reflect light or capture a view from a window. When a mirror reflects a great view, it’s as if you’ve added another window to the room.
4. Rearrange what you already have:
Arrange, rearrange, and then rearrange again. Frequently it’s not what you have, but where you have it that makes a difference. Rearranging furniture instantly gives a room a makeover. Try moving things around and living with it for a few days to see how it feels. If it doesn’t feel right, change it. There is an expression in Feng Shui that if you want to change your life, move 27 things. As you rearrange, keep in mind the following Feng Shui principles: when arranging a seating area, give as many people a view of the door as possible, in Feng Shui this is called placing furniture in the “Command Position.” People tend to feel more comfortable when they can see who is approaching. This also allows the energy to flow more freely and makes the room more inviting. Typically it doesn’t feel welcoming or look good to enter a room and be faced with the back of a sofa. Try moving furniture away from the walls and place furniture on angles, particularly in corners. Finally, don’t forget to move things from room to room. The chair in the bedroom may look great in the living room or the lamp in your guest room may be perfect for the office.
5. Repurpose a room:
Repurposing a room or area can make a huge difference and make you feel like you added square footage to your home, but without the construction! If you rarely use a room, it’s almost like not having it. When you repurpose it and actually use it—it’s as if you created a new addition. For example, if you don’t use your dining room, but could really use a workspace at home—consider converting the dining room into an office. Or if you have a dedicated guestroom, but rarely have guests consider turning into a playroom for your children, or an exercise room, or an art studio… or whatever will help you make the most of that space.
6. Focus on function:
Rooms feel good when they meet our needs—when we use them, enjoy them, and we know they support our daily life. Focus on function by worrying less about what a room should look like and instead concentrate on setting it up for exactly how you will most comfortably use the room. So often we put furniture and objects where custom dictates instead of thinking outside the box. A cutlery drawer does not need to be a cutlery drawer if it helps to keep a change of clothes for your baby in the kitchen. A dish cabinet in the dining area can be an art supply cabinet if you like to use the dining room table for art projects. Think about supporting your daily routines. How can the room best support and serve your needs?
7. Put one thing that you love in every room:
Find at least one object that you love and make it the focal point of a room. Just one object that is a beautiful, or has a great memory associated with it, can inspire us and help us enjoy a space so much more. It can be as simple as fresh flowers in your favorite vase, a special work of art or photograph, a beloved book on the coffee table, or a candle, throw, or pillow in your favorite color. Know that by only adding things that you love, eventually everything in the room will make you feel this way.
8. Group collections:
Sometimes collections can look like clutter when they are spread out or scattered throughout your home. Try grouping items together or only displaying a few. For example, if you collect shells put them all together in a large clear vase or wood bowl. Alternatively, you can pare down and highlight; take three or five of your favorites and place them on a mantel or shelf and either store, or give away, the rest. If you choose to store, you can rotate the objects you have on display every few months. Keep in mind that even photographs can look like clutter when they are spread out all over a home. Rather than have multiple framed works of art or photos scattered throughout the house, arrange many of them on one wall or table.
9. Display meaningful items:
When designing your space take into account not only what will make the space look better, but what will make you feel better. Enhance your home with objects that evoke positive feelings such as something beautiful that inspires you or things that have personal meaning like a souvenir from a vacation, a gift from someone you love, or a happy photograph of your family. For example, take small stones you collect on your next vacation and place them in a bowl—you can even write inspirational words on the rocks such as peace, create, joy. Special books can also be a great enhancement—especially when stacked artfully or arranged on shelves—even try grouping them by size or color. After clutter clearing, you should be left only with things that are beautiful, useful, and cherished—now showcase some of these special things. Create little vignettes by grouping random objects together, which will create a “collection” or place a few beautiful objects alongside a vase of flowers or a plant. Maybe a teapot or serving dish can be used as an enhancement. Anything that inspires you, either because it is beautiful or has a positive association or memory attached to it, can boost the energy in your space.
Editing is different than clutter clearing. Sometimes an object or piece of furniture is not clutter—you may even love it—but the whole room just feels better without it. Empty space can be appealing and peaceful. You don’t need to fill every corner and hang something on every wall. Try taking a few things away and see if opening up the space doesn’t create the effect you desire.
11. Decorate with nature:
Pinecones, rocks, seashells in bowls, vases or baskets are great additions to any room. Fresh flowers, plants, greens, or branches also add to a room. Floating a single blossom in a bowl can have just as much impact as a whole bouquet. Also think about using your groceries—a bowl of apples or lemons placed on a table brings color and beauty to a room and can be a great focal point.
12. Use your home: enjoy and entertain!
Don’t wait for your home to be ready before you entertain—just lower the lights, light a few candles, and go for it! Let your life, activities, passions, family, and loved ones be the colors and enhancements in your home.
For tips on how to give your home a makeover on a small budget check out our blog Tips for a Low-Budget Makeover.