Painting is one of the easiest—and least expensive—ways to transform your rooms. “A fresh coat can instantly update a space,” says interior designer Adam Hunter. Don’t have enough time to paint the whole room? “Just repainting the trim can make a big impact,” says interior designer Karen Vidal.
Check Out Local Art Programs
Okay, so you can’t afford an original Picasso, but you can invest in some up-and-coming talent. “Try contacting your local college art program to see if there are any upcoming student art shows where you can purchase pieces inexpensively,” says interior designer James Wheeler. “You’ll save money and might find a beautiful piece of original art.” Can’t make it to an art show? Ask a local printer to reproduce a favorite image you’ve taken on your travels (yes, even the ones on your smartphone). Or frame a beautiful scarf or piece of fabric. Take a look at other affordable art ideas here.
Splurge on the Fixtures You Use the Most
“A good sofa is important, especially if you have a family,” says interior designer Christine Markatos Lowe. “An inexpensive sofa won’t wear well and will look much older than its actual age over time.” On the flip side, save money on lesser-used pieces. “Look for inexpensive options on accent tables, side chairs, and secondary furniture,” says interior designer Nicole Fuller. She suggests checking out inexpensive but quality items from such brands like Anthropologie and Safavieh. And keep in mind that certain materials can help you save money, too. “For large area rugs, choose grasscloth or sisal rugs over wool,” says Wheeler. “They are about a third of the cost, can withstand heavy traffic in your home, and work with any style of decor.”
“Shop” Your Own Home
Sometimes you don’t have to buy anything to decorate a space. “Make the most of your existing pieces,” says interior designer Abbe Fenimore. “Move things around or relocate them to another room, where they could change or help elevate the look. You’d be surprised at how versatile your furniture is.”
Shop at Flea Markets
“I love shopping at antique stores and flea markets,” says interior designer Julia Buckingham. “You can find great deals on so many unique pieces. Some are perfect as they are and others can be easily updated with a coat of paint, new knobs, or lamp shades.”
Change Out Accents
For a quick and inexpensive makeover, replace the handles and knobs in your kitchen and bathroom, says Lowe. “You can also replace lamp shades and light fixtures.” Dress up your seating, too. “Throw pillows are a great way to update your space,” says interior designer Kyle Schuneman. “They can instantly transform a sofa.” You can also change them according to the season (think velvet for winter, linen in summer).
Interior designer Wendy Labrum suggests adding candles to create a feeling of coziness. The soft, dim light will change the whole look of the room and hide a lot of flaws. Another easy idea: Introduce greenery. “Bring in live plants, fresh flowers, or bowls of fruit,” says interior designer Vance Burke. “They all help set a mood, add scent, and convey a sense of the season. And remember: It’s not just the content, it’s also the container!”
It may sound obvious, but if you want to transform your room without spending a cent, “start by getting rid of clutter,” says interior designer Young Huh. “Style your bookshelves by arranging books and integrating art, boxes, and mementos. Keep your surface areas neat and display a piece of art and some flowers.”