A Little Goes a Long Way: How to Refresh Your Home on a Budget


By March, it feels like Mother Nature has forgotten about spring, often resulting in extended bouts of cabin fever. It is no surprise that the slightest things begin to irritate us. For me, I begin to pick apart my décor. With my house void of holiday decorations since the New Year, I notice how dated my wall art and furnishings look. I begin a list of items that have to go and peruse online for their replacements.

Armed with my list of new ideas, I suddenly remember that I am still paying off Christmas, taxes are due and the family would probably prefer a spring break vacation over new wall art and knickknacks. My plan of redecorating would have to wait – or would it? Perhaps there was a way to update our home without breaking the bank.

Frame it up – Frames are an inexpensive way to decorate. You can find them at garage sales, the dollar store or you can update what you already have. Use chalk paint to give it a pop of color. Visit Etsy for inexpensive digital downloads of art, quotes or graphics. You can also remove the glass to frame around a thicker object that is hung on the wall.

Use nature – Pinterest is full of creative artists that fill their homes with items discarded by Mother Nature. Branches can be placed in vases, used as headboards, painted and accented with lights. You can also decorate with rocks, feathers, leaves, shells and flowers.

Mason jars – These versatile glass jars can be used as vases, candle holders, planters and storage for bathroom, kitchen and office supplies. Place them on tables, counters or hang them on the wall. Try painting the outside to match your color scheme, stencil with graphics or just leave clear. Mason jar lids can be converted into wreaths, coasters or dozens of other items to decorate and organize.

Reclaimed wooden boards – You see them everywhere. Signs made to look like distressed or reclaimed wood can be designed at board and brush parties or created with hardware store supplies. Decorate with white washed paints and stencil with your family name, monogram or favorite saying. Display above the mantel, over your headboard or any empty wall. 

Give it some light – There are dozens of ways to use light to give your home a new, softer look. Add a light kit to an empty bottle of wine, use twinkle lights to trim out a focal point like around a fireplace, use a picture light to highlight your artwork, change your light bulbs to Edison-style bulbs or simply update your lampshades.

It just needs a facelift – When you are trying to get more years out of your furniture, cabinets or flooring, sometimes all it needs is a facelift to tide you over. You can brush on a fresh coat of paint and update handles on cabinets, a good steam cleaning and new pillows can bring a couch back to life and an area rug gives a room a new focal point.

Look for copycats – If you love the look of Pottery Barn, but don’t have the budget to match, try making your own. You can often recreate the same look with less expensive items bought on eBay, in your favorite store’s clearance section or discount stores like Home Goods. Try Googling “copycat décor” or “knockoff décor” for more ideas.

Use your words – What’s your word this year? Bold? Happy? Kind? If that is your intent for this year, you should display it in your home for all to see. Head to the craft store for inexpensive, unfinished wooden letters. Decorate with paint, decoupage with photos or cover them in fabric.

Dress things up – It’s time to accessorize the simple things in your home. Place trim around your plain bathroom mirrors and adhere it with two-sided foam tape. Bring texture to a flat surface or wall by adding molding. Outline doorways and windows with decorative casings. Add crown molding for an attractive transition from your ceiling to your walls.

Display your collections – Are you a collector of tea cups, Coke bottles or old cameras? Give your house the personal touch it needs by displaying some of your favorite things.  You can work them into your décor by displaying on shelves, under glass domes or as a gallery wall up your staircase.


Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading decorating magazines and pinning makeover ideas on Pinterest.

Guest Contributor