We can still significantly improve our space if we’re ready for a home update but don’t have unlimited cash. Sometimes, just changing our homes’ look and layout can go a long way toward freshening the space.
The tips below will rank our options from those projects that require next to no money investments that will improve our lives as well as the look of our homes, like a new tufted headboard and mattress. Keep in mind that the best home decor updates can be done in small bursts of time and can be set aside without too much disruption if something comes up.
More Elbow Grease Than Cash
The first three projects are more about effort than spending. We are going to start by decluttering. We all have spaces in our homes where stuff piles up. If we love the look of a simple vase of flowers on an empty table but can’t enjoy one because the table is loaded with things that need to be put away, it’s time to declutter.
Enter each area of our homes that needs an update with three containers. We need a black bag for trash, a white bag for donations, and a box for items that belong elsewhere. Clear one space at a time and be ruthless. Take the trash to the bin and the donation bag at least as far as our vehicle for drop off. Empty the box by putting things away.
Next, clean. We know it’s not all that interesting, but it will allow us to linger in the space and study what bugs us the most. Depending on what we are cleaning, a simple basin loaded with water and either a squirt of Dawn or a capful of Murphy’s can both brighten our space and freshen the air.
If we are cleaning the dining room table, take the time to wipe down the light above first and then polish the table. If we’re working in the living room, shift the furniture around and wax or polish the wood floor.
Finally, repurpose. If we have a beautiful vase in a cupboard, get it out and put flowers in it. If we got a woven throw for Christmas and stuck it in a cupboard, drape it over the sofa. Put keepsakes on display to boost the love in our space. Put our new bed pillows out in brightly colored cases to boost color and energy!
More Time Than Money
Next, work on projects that take more of our efforts than cash. These ideas shouldn’t take more than a weekend and can be stopped in the middle without too much disruption. If we have small children and have support nearby, consider sending them with the grandparents for the day or the weekend.
Patch and Paint
A coat of paint is a fairly cheap way to brighten a room. It also frees up floor space for easy cleaning and gives us the chance to rearrange our belongings. If our landlord doesn’t allow us to paint, consider painting the back of a bookcase in a bold accent color to personalize the apartment. Regardless, we’ll need paint, a bit of primer, rollers, brushes, and sponges. A joint compound and a small sanding block may also be necessary.
To start, move the belongings away from the wall and cover them with plastic or old sheets. Brush the walls from ceiling to floor with a clean broom. Now that we have a clean room and the dust is removed, we can:
- Wash walls, top to bottom, with mild soap and rinse them with water
- Patch any holes with spackle or joint compound, and then lightly sand them
- Prime the patches with a small sponge roller, and then paint when the patch is dry
Patching holes will add time to our projects: completely let the patch dry before we sand it. If we plan to re-hang artwork where it was, go ahead and leave the holes this time.
Consider adding a coffee table or a small ottoman or trunk as extra seating and put the storage to good use. If the kitchen is small and feels cluttered, consider putting the linens in a storage ottoman and freeing up a drawer or two. Blankets and off-season garments can also be placed in a chest or ottoman for easy access as the weather changes, giving us more closet space.
Update Window Treatments
If the apartment came with blinds, add sheers over them to soften the look. If the kitchen windows are bare, get a set of café hooks and a tension rod. Café hooks can turn any plain piece of fabric into curtains. Simply run them over the rod, push the outer edges to open the jaws, and hook them into a pretty panel. If we don’t sew, look for fusible interfacing to create a hem or iron-on trim to brighten a plain white curtain.
Where to Put Available Cash?
Do save some cash, and put it where it counts. If the sofa is tired and the children are small, cover it. If we live alone and our hand-me-down chairs and couch are completely worn out, find one we like and set up sale notification emails. Sign up for text promotions, and check out the financing options; for example, if the couch is old but our backs are sore, the first purchase may be a Nectar mattress for better sleep.
Now is also the time to consider boosting our storage. If our place is small, a Casper mattress and bed base with clearance could make room for rolling bins that we can use for off-season clothing, ski gear, or whatever will fit! Be sure to invest some extra pillows; in a small space, the television may be visible from the bed.
Remember also that home decor is about nesting. If we are ready for a plush mattress that will add both the comfort and the luxury of the space, a Beautyrest mattress needs to be part of your sale search.
Before we dive into any home decor improvement, think. What really bothers us about our current space? If things are out of place, put them away. If we don’t have space to put them, invest in a storage shelf or drawer unit. When they really need to spend, the purchase will feel right.