There comes a time in early spring when a decor refresh becomes not only necessary but also imminent. Blame it on the spring-cleaning frenzy or peasant weather — March is a period of renewal. Only, our wallets don’t always follow our heart’s desires. This is why we came up with some fresh ways to update your decor without spending a dime. Here are our favorite hacks to make your home feel new again – for free.
▪ Decorate with greenery from outside. Get out in the backyard, go for a walk, and find pretty branches to decorate with. Greenery adds life and sculptural elements. All you need is a standard florist’s vase and some fresh water.
▪ Flip your rug upside down. This only works with certain rugs, usually oriental ones — but here’s a quick designer tip: Flipping your rug upside down will expose the textural weave and more muted colors than its flipside. So if you’re growing a little tired of your rug, take a peek at what’s on the back and turn it around.
▪ Rethink your layout. With a pen, a paper and a little arm power, you can completely transform the flow of a room. Plan a completely new layout with your existing furniture: Move your sofa by the window, or move furniture away from the walls and closer together. Don’t hesitate to bring accent furniture from other rooms or swap artwork from room to room.
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▪ Strip something back to its original texture. If you live in an older home, chances are some things have been painted over and refinished dozens of times — but do you know what lies beneath? Try stripping a door back to its original wood, or do the same with wooden beams or moldings. My friends once demolished a gyprock wall in their dining room only to find a mint-condition brick wall behind it. Do your research before tackling anything major, but remember that a little patina can go a long way in making a home feel lived-in but fresh.
▪ Use your leftover paint. We’ve all had those leftover paint cans lying around that are essentially 95 percent empty, but we keep them just in case. Why not use some of that paint to refinish a piece of furniture that looks a little tired? Dip-dye the legs of a chair or stool for an instant refresh.
▪ Style a piece of furniture before throwing it out. Context has a huge influence on how we perceive items. This is why retail stores put so much effort in presentation, compared to their discount counterparts. If you have an old rusty piece of furniture lying around, channel your inner decorator and give it the best overhaul you can: Style it with your ultimate favorite books, mirrors and vases. Worst-case scenario: It still looks terrible and you end up throwing it out. But you just might also look at it in a whole new light.
▪ Edit down to a minimum. Sometimes when decor feels a little tired, you don’t need to add anything to make it better. In fact, you just might need to remove the elements that are making it less than spectacular. By editing down your decor to a minimum, you’re able to reintroduce your favorite pieces, and those ones only. The rest can go to storage or charity, and you’re left with a fresh, well-edited space.
▪ Hang your kids' artwork. My parents have always kept every drawing, painting, crooked pottery or craft project I ever did as a child. As soon as I finished a drawing, it usually went up on the fridge. Which is why I was shocked as a teenage babysitter when I found one of the child’s first-ever drawings in the trash. Granted, children aren’t all Picassos, but their art is colorful and candid, and it makes for great artwork that you can easily swap around.
▪ Think like a stylist. Hop on Pinterest, gather inspiration from your favorite styled homes and try replicating the vignettes you love most. Interior stylists often spend very little money on accessories and props to make homes look great for a photo shoot: Think vintage pottery, a couple of trays and strategic placement.
▪ Re-cover your old headboard with a throw. It’s possible you’ve grown tired of your headboard or you simply feel your bedroom is lacking a little texture. Grab a throw or blanket lying around the house, and effortlessly re-cover your headboard by simply draping the throw over it.
▪ Hang or display vintage objects. Do you have old tennis racquets you don’t use or vintage china passed down from your grandmother? Display these pieces around your home, or even better, hang them to create instant art. Visit Grandma’s attic if you’re short on heirlooms and vintage treasures.
▪ Rearrange your bookcase. I can guarantee that even the owners of the most impeccably styled homes in magazines can’t keep their houses looking remotely as pristine as they did on the day of the photo shoot. It’s only natural for homes to amass clutter and for objects to get displaced. Take a moment to restyle a bookcase or a console table.
▪ Create a reading nook. Chances are you have a lounge chair, accent table and task lamp somewhere in your home, though not necessarily styled together. Gather them and assemble a comfortable reading nook. Add pillows and a throw to complete the look.