Top Budget Friendly Ways to Update Your Home

(I adore the “after” version of this room. Courtesy of Domino)

Working hard to fix up my own home on a budget has reminded me of how daunting this process is, especially for those who are not in the design industry. Winning the lottery, or finding out Andrew IS in fact related to Bill Gates, would make it much simpler. But who wants to take the easy way out? Put in a little of your own sweat, blood (box cutters can be tricky!) and no doubt tears, and you’ll feel quite accomplished and proud at the end!

There are some really simple and not so pricey ways to give your home a face lift.

#1 PAINT- The change a fresh coat of paint makes is amazing. If you only do one thing, do this. Look through home magazines and see what speaks to you. Look through your closet and see what colors you tend to wear most. Don’t be afraid of bold color, especially if most of your furniture is neutral. After all, you CAN paint over it if you decide it’s too much! If you are meticulous about taping things off, it is quite easy to make it look like a professional job.
If you are a renter and painting is not an option, take a hint from what I did over my bed (see below). Find some wallpaper in a great bold color and frame large cuts of it. IKEA has great larger frames for about $25. Hang three or four in a row on a large wall and you’ll get a nice pop of color. You can even frame solid colored paper and go for a very mod look! Or buy some pre-stretched canvases and paint them one color; you know like those paintings you see in museums where you say “I could do THAT!” Do it!

#2 REFRESH YOUR FURNITURE- Most of us who are young professionals have hand me down furniture from various family members or friends. Or perhaps a side table picked up at a flea market. Make them look hip and new by painting them! If you flip through Domino or the like, you’ll see how of-the-moment painted vintage furniture is. Get some 1-Shot Sign Painters Enamel (mentioned in my last big post) and paint that boring old wood dresser! Pick a color, or just go glossy white! Go to a place like Anthropologie and buy fun new drawer pulls. For about $75 you could have a brand new piece of furniture! If you have a little extra cash, do what I did to my dining chairs and buy some funky new fabric (mine was only $9 a yard from and reupholster!

#3 THROW PILLOWS- Do not underestimate the design power of these little darlings…changing your throw pillows (or adding throw pillows) packs quite a punch! If you are super crafty (or have a super crafty friend/mom/aunt) create your own! Sewing a square can’t be THAT hard, can it? Those darn zippers can give you a headache though! Anyways, check out places like Target, IKEA and Bluefly for on the cheap versions.

#4 FLOORS AND WINDOWS- I shall again sing the praises of IKEA. Adding some simple hardware with equally simple window treatments can really make a space look more grown up. I am particularly fond of IKEA’s grommet top panels! To make your ceilings look higher, hang the rods about 3″ from the ceiling- the higher the drapes are hung, the more drama and height they give.

If you can’t commit to a patterned rug, buy a fabric bordered sisal and call it a day. It’s clean, neutral and easy to take care of. IKEA has great ones, but if you Google “sisal rugs” you can find TONS of them.

Try one or two (or all!) of these and see what a difference they make!

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  1. Thanks for the great tips! I’ve been considering buying new pillows for my living room furntiure, and after reading your article I’m going to go for it!

  2. Another cheap and easy way to create panels of color is with Styrofoam. Go to Home Depot, look in building aisle. Purchase a package of thin sheets used for insulating between wall studs ( I got 6 sheets, about 1 inch thick, and about 12 inches x 48 inches.
    cost approx.$7)Cut to size with scissors or knife, or use as is. I used 4 whole panels above my bed in lieu of a headboard. Poke a long thin nail (#16 1.5 inch ) thru board, then cover board w/ beautiful fabric material, wrapping around board and stapling ( I use a staple gun )
    Now, carefully position on wall and press over nail. Once nail is slightly into the wall straight on, you can use a small hammer to tap in the nail all the way in.
    Voila! Instant, cheap, colorful wall decor!

  3. Thanks for the idea post dmdr!To soften the DIY headboard you can also wrap the foam with cotton batting and staple on the backside so it appears actually padded. You can find it at fabric and quilting supply stores!

  4. Styrofoam is one of those things you cant miss with. You dont even need to NAIL it in [place, just push in ONTO a finishing nail and its on. I did this with rose covered styrofoam hears in my bathroom. Theyve been up for 2 years now. Stapling is good, but gluing is better. Artists acrylic gel medium can be brushed on any surface and fabric laid on top. If the fabric is thin, you may want to sew it onto another heavier fabric in order to keep the acrylic paste from seeping through.

  5. another “headboard” idea is get a framed canvas, the ones artist use for painting, and get some quilting batting and fabric. First cut the batting to size and either glue it to the front of the canvas to hold it in place or wrap it to the back of the frame and staple. Do the same with a fabric then hang on the wall at the head of your bed.

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