We have all--at one time or another—wanted to change things in our home but haven’t felt like we had the budget to do so. It can be a challenge to find creative ways to freshen up our interiors without having the opportunity to shop, so I came up with 10 things you can do that are free ideas to revive your interiors. Using things that you would likely have at home, or things that would be quite cost effective you CAN spruce up your home and express some creativity without spending a lot!
Some of these options may be obvious, some will require originality, some will need some elbow grease, some you may have already tried…but regardless, I hope that they inspire you to change something and feel good about your home. And did I mention that these are free ideas??…So why not at least try them out!
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10 Free Ideas to Decorate your Home
1. Move Furniture Around
Just by moving furniture around you can change the whole feeling and function of a room. With many of us having to work from home, you may have had to move your desk to a more private location, create work zones for homeschooling children, or maybe clear off space in your kitchen so you can make sourdough bread! You can always reorient the sofa in your living room; instead of having it on the long wall, try placing it in the opposite direction. Try moving your bed to a different wall. Switch out chairs from room to room. Moving furniture around is certainly a free idea and costs nothing, but you do need an assistant, so it’s not a great idea to tackle on your own.
Check out the difference moving furniture made in this living room by Rambling Renovators and read her blog post on this exact topic! By moving the furniture around she was able to bring attention to different pieces, edit some of the options, and brighten things up too! Try using other pieces you have around the house to fill in the gaps…which leads me to my next point!
2. Re-purpose Furniture in your Home
This is something I love to do at our house! This year we put our oldest and youngest children together to share a room. We put the dresser and nightstands that were in the Master bedroom and gave them to the boys to use. We then took their nightstands for our room...a totally free idea and it is such a nice change! You can move side tables around, re-purpose ottomans as a bench or coffee table, put a dresser in your front hallway and move your accessories around endlessly! These free ideas do require a bit of creativity, and sometimes a fresh coat of paint or new hardware to give the pieces a fresh look…but it is amazing what you can do with “old” furniture! And if you have trouble coming up with ideas on your own, there is always Pinterest makeovers (wink, wink)!
Designer tip: Whenever I am purchasing something, I often will make sure that its design will work with other areas in my home. For instance, to replace the lamps in the Master bedroom (that we are also passing on to our boys) I am purposely choosing a style that I can use on the dining room sideboard, in a front entry or in the living room. This way I can be sure that we will really use the investment we are making in more than one place!
In our house we have a china cabinet as a microwave stand, a steamer trunk currently being used as a coffee table, and a dining room sideboard as a television stand. I have even considered using a bedside table as a side table in the living spaces of our home. Thinking outside the box can really help to personalize your home and give you options that you never realized you had!
My free finds:
A vintage Card catalogue my hubby found was updated with metal legs and used as a side table.
An old ladder on top of a junk heap at my dad's now holds my throws.
Even the ornate frame was from the neighbor's garbage!
3. Cut fresh Greenery or Flowers
One of the nicest and simplest ways to brighten your home is with plants and flowers. Why not cut some tulips from your garden and bring them inside? Or put some blossoming forsythia in a large vase? Budding or leafy branches work as well. Even a bare branch can add a sculptural element to a room; I love the effect this can have in a space and it is so easy to do! Nature always has a calming effect so when you are outside look with creative eyes and see what you can use to enhance your interiors.
4. De-clutter and Reorganize
I must admit, I have spent a lot of time reorganizing lately! I chose to work on my kitchen and in the process of the last several weeks, have gone through almost every cupboard and removed what I no longer use. I installed colorful shelf liner to perk up my open shelving. I moved my pantry from my lower corner cabinet to my china cabinet and put my bakeware and appliances into the corner cabinet…LIFE CHANGING! I no longer have to stoop to get tomato sauce! Having an organized home is something that can not only make the rooms function better, but the absence of clutter can ease stress in a powerful way. To read more on this topic, check out my Kitchens-The Clutter Hub of our Home blog post for more great ideas.
I should mention that although this may be a free idea, you may need to do this in stages depending on the amount of time you have. It is amazing what you can accomplish in 20-30 minutes, so do what you can and don’t pressure yourself to get it all done in a day. It has taken me weeks, and I am still not completely done! Baby steps is still moving forward so don’t be too hard on yourself if time is an issue.
5. Restyle Bookshelves or Open Shelving
Most of us have bookshelves in our house in one place or another! Some are strictly utilitarian, others are pure display, but whatever it’s purpose, they can be pleasing and functional! The best way to tackle this project is to remove every single item off your shelves. Yes, this is an important step! A blank slate is the BEST way to rethink your displays. Clean, dust, and start fresh. Eliminate things you no longer want to display and find new items that you want to put out. Try shopping your home…a lovely pitcher, small plants, replacing the photos in your frames, or even adding some pieces that hold meaning like kid’s crafts, childhood mementos or a favorite dish. I also love to use decorative boxes on shelves to hide things like converters, extra tech cords or miscellany that always needs “somewhere” to go!
Use books both vertically and horizontally; add height to something by putting a few books underneath. I have seen book collections be color coded. I have seen layers on shelves, like putting artwork in front of books or even hanging it off the bookshelf itself. Varying the textures of the items also make things interesting. Take a look at these examples to give you some creative inspiration!
Now, I have to mention that I often see expensive built in shelving that has like, one item on it…if your shelves are purely for display and you prefer the minimalist look then great! But my personal preference is to create a layered, lived-in look that is more library inspired so this is where I am coming from! Make the displays dynamic, make them personal, and make sure the bookshelf as a whole works together so step back and survey your overall results as you go through this process.
6. Move your Art or Create a Gallery Wall
I cannot tell you how many times I have moved key pieces of art around our home! I have a few larger pieces that have “lived” in several places in our home over the years; I love that I have the flexibility to move things around and create a fresh dynamic without buying something new.
You can also create a visual theme in your art. I currently have a shelf in my stairwell that showcases the first classroom paintings of two of my children, a string art piece from camp, and a plaque with a song I sang to my children more times than I can count! Maybe you have a grouping of old wedding photos…put them together to create a generational timeline of these special family events. Vacation photos, first baby portraits, or work-related certificates can all be used in a way that makes for a pleasing personal arrangement of milestones.
Creating a gallery photo wall can also be a fun way to fill up a large open space in a room. A friend of mine collected images that all have special meaning and took a lot of time finding just the right way to display them in her dining room. It has been a work in progress, but I love that it is so personal, has varying shapes but still overall continuity because she painted many of her old frames white.
Designer tip: Don’t be afraid to mix up what you hang in gallery walls—it doesn’t have to be just pictures! I use vintage frames, oversized letters, kid’s artwork, framed posters and canvases; depending on the look you are after, the variation can make for a much more pleasing display than 7 frames that are exactly the same (although there is a time and a place for that as well).
A friend's Gallery Wall--A work in progress!
My Home: Children's Art Gallery
7. Create your own Art
So many of us have amazing images on our phones or computers and getting them professionally printed just is one thing that never makes it to the top of our to-do lists. Why not print them off your computer and frame them? Black and white images give a classic vibe if you don’t have a color printer. Also it can really create a effective display if you use matting to your advantage. I realize that you might not have matte board on hand, but some frames come with the matte so if you have it, then great!
Another fun idea is to use strictly black and white to create art. Black and white images are powerful and can be achieved with pen and ink or even black craft paint. Some of the famous artists of old used simple doodles or swooshes of a paintbrush and made them look like a million bucks! You can even type out a favorite quote, proverb or verse and frame it…so simple yet it can bring you daily inspiration. Take a look online for inspiration, but crisp white paper, matting and a frame can really make “nothing” into something!
Another great idea a friend of mine used in her family room was to give each of her children a blank canvas and paint and let them create. She then hung each piece over the long wall in her family room. It is special, personal, creative, and a fabulous conversation piece. She had kids that ranged in age from 1 to early teens and each one is a masterpiece! Now I will admit, some of these suggestions are not exactly free ideas, but they are certainly low cost; using craft paint and canvases from the dollar store work just fine.
8. Use Leftover Paint
Leftover paint can be used in so many ways and is a great way to add some spice in a small way. I have used old paint to repaint bookcases, side tables, canvases, or accent walls. I used leftover chalk and wall paint to stencil a wall in my foyer. Check out this blog post on My $30 Foyer Makeover and see how we completely transformed this wall! We have a tiny powder room and it is the only untouched room of the house. One of my future projects is to see what paint I have in storage and see if I can spruce it up somehow! Some other free ideas are to paint an interior door, an old picture frame, or let your kids paint one of their stools or boxes all using leftover paint. This is one of the best free ideas that can really make a dramatic difference in your home if used in the right way!
My Foyer Makeover
9. Re-purpose old Fabrics
Some great low-cost ideas are to get crafty with fabric. Take an old tablecloth and turn it into a curtain. Take old sweaters and turn them into pillows. Take leftover trims and ribbons to embellish blankets or pillows. It obviously helps if you have sewing skills, but if you don’t perhaps you have a friend that does. Some of these projects are easily done in an hour or so, so dig out the sewing machine and start a new project!
10. Use leftover wallpaper or wrapping paper in creative ways
Wrap old shoe boxes and display them in your bookshelves. Use old wallpaper to back your kitchen cupboards or on the inside of a china cabinet or bookshelf. Frame beautiful calendar images or vintage postcards. Use wallpaper as a matting for photos or in a shadow box. The ideas are endless!!!
So there ya have it! 10 + free ideas that you can start this afternoon to bring some fresh life to your home! Even though we all love to have big budgets to make changes to our home, doing something small can make you feel so productive, bring out our inner creativity, establish order, and divert your attention to something that makes your soul happy. So try one out and please let me know if you do!
We are all in this together so why not use our time to make our home a more joyful place!