25 Little Ways to Refresh Your Home for $25 or Less

updated Jun 18, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Jay Wen

Renovating your home is daunting task. It takes lots of time, money, and effort totally overhaul a space—especially when you’re knocking down walls or putting them up. But the good news is that you don’t have to take on a full-blown renovation to be able to make a notable transformation. In fact, there are plenty of small, budget-friendly changes to your space that can make a big impact. Take inspiration from these 25 small changes that will refresh your home or rental for $25 or less.

1. Swap or paint faded outlet covers

Why is it that outlet covers tend to yellow over time? A quick way to freshen up your room (or whole home) is to buy trendier options or even paint them the same color as the walls.

If you’re going the painting route, unscrew them from the wall, bring them out to the driveway (or any open, well-ventilated space). You can spray paint for a matte white or paint to match the walls.

2. Update your entryway with new coat hooks

Even the best-designed homes or apartments can fumble when it comes to the entryway. After coming home from a long day of work, you want your mudroom or entry space to feel—at a minimum—somewhat welcoming. Consider vintage coat hooks you attach individually or a system with spots to place keys and even small pieces of decor.

Credit: Decor Dearly

3. Got a home office? Spray paint your filing cabinets

Filing cabinets—there’s a reason they’ve stuck around since the “Mad Men” days. They organize your tax returns, keep hold of your birth certificate copies, and can even hide all those dumb furniture and appliance warranties. Too bad that beige-olive color makes rooms feel a little sad. Why not change things up?

One easy fix is spray paint—we recommend a dark brass or metallic hue. Get your trigger finger ready—it’s going to take a few hours, but you can’t beat the bang for your buck.

(Image Credit: BengjyMinu / Etsy)

4. Breathe life into your Ikea furniture with new pull handles

IKEA furniture can be a lifesaver—especially their natural wood options—but it’s clear that they cut corners on their pull handles. Head to your local home improvement store, Etsy, or Anthropologie (if you’re willing to splurge) and upgrade to more stylish pull handles for your most prominent pieces.

5. Use shelves creatively to fill empty space

There are areas of most abodes that just feel awkward. Whether it’s a recessed wall or an obtuse corner, there are bound to be a few tough-to-decorate spots. Consider small (think four inches square) floating shelves where you can display a collection of items. Take inspiration from Rashida Banks, who used IKEA LACK shelves to display shoes for a swoon-worthy closet focal point. If shoes aren’t your thing, try the idea with artwork, plants, books, and more.

6. Make unexpected wall art

When looking for wall art, it can feel like there are two categories—prints and artwork that cost hundreds of dollars, or the cheap IKEA wall art that’s in thousands (if not millions) of homes around the world. Consider making your own decor instead. This cool, colorful tapestry makes a real statement, but doesn’t require any painting skills.

Credit: Cat Meschia

8. DIY a small, stylish diffuser to make your space smell as good as it looks

DIY a small, stylish diffuser to help your place smell as good as it looks
Store-bought diffusers can be pricey—upwards of $30 just for a small glass vial!—but they look great and leave you with a fresh-smelling living space. The good news: It’s easy to make your own reed diffuser for a fraction of the cost.

8. Paint mismatched stools to give your houseplants the stage they deserve

Houseplants bring nature inside and make a home feel, well, alive. But often they are relegated to the floor or share a surface with books and doo-dads. Why not give them their own space? Invest in stool of varying heights—easily be found for a few dollars at Goodwill or almost any yard sale—and paint complementary but funky colors to create tiny platforms for your favorite photosynthesizing friends.

9. Create a designated key hook or key bowl

Nothing ruins the mood in the morning like running around like a loose emu searching for your keys. Consider not only a designated key area, but a designated key area that’s cute and adds to the room, like this adorable DIYed version from Natalie and Nick’s Melbourne hideaway.

10. Add some greenery

If you’re a fellow flower-buyer, you know pre-arranged bouquets often come with a cheapo-looking vase—or you use a mason jar or leftover vase from a previous bouquet. But why not make a vase that’s intentional and brings a design perspective to your space? This marbled plaster hanging vase is just as beautiful as any blooms you add to it.

13. Hack a pantry to keep odds and ends off the counters

Things like garlic and onions shouldn’t be stored in a fridge, but it feels weird to store them in a cabinet… which means they tend to end up in a pile on the counter. Instead, turn any wall space into a makeshift pantry by using hooks and wire baskets to store those loose items.

12. Buy pillow inserts, and decorate plain covers

Adding or updating your throw pillows freshens up any space. But pillows aren’t cheap! One way to save some money: buy the inserts separately (or use ones you already have), and then buy plain covers to customize with DIY tassels or fringe.

13. Swap the paper pile for a bulletin board

Many steer away from bulletin boards in their home, thinking it will feel like clutter. However, there’s a difference between organized clutter versus all-over-the-place clutter. Rather than piling papers in a junk drawer or on an overly-magnetized refrigerator, designate an area in your kitchen or entryway for a corkboard. This corkboard wall from Just a Girl is easy to install, provides a home for grocery lists, vision boards, or kids’ artwork, plus provides natural soundproofing apartment-dwellers will appreciate.

14. Keep coats off of the couch

Everyone has one—that couch or chair that just seems to collect every coat you’ve ever worn. To combat this ever-persistent problem, install a functional coat rack right in your entryway. This colorful DIY version from Ashley Basnight of Handmade Haven leaves room for other knick-knacks like keys—smart and stylish.

15. Create an accent wall

With a can of paint you already have stashed away and an array of brushes in different shapes and sizes, it’s easy to mimic the look of high-end wallpaper. Here, Jessica of My Style Vita filled the wall with free-handed brushstrokes that come together for a cohesive, upscale look.

16. Upgrade any tired frames

Chipped, cracked, or otherwise tired looking frames instantly bring down an otherwise styled bookshelf or console. Still, you don’t need to spend a pretty penny on decorative frames. With this clever two-supply DIY from Ursula Carmona of Home Made by Carmona, it’s easy to transform existing displays into something you’re proud of.

17. Swap out dated light fixtures

There’s nothing that will make your space look like a rental more than the dreaded “boob light.” Although the swap is generally an easy one, attractive new fixtures tend to be pricey—unless you’re willing to get crafty. With just $12 worth of supplies, Medina Grillo, founder of Grillo Designs, recreated an ultra cool stamped jute lampshade that would have cost over $100 in the store.

18. Decant the pantry

Ditching all of those odd-shaped boxes not only makes your pantry look like something out of a magazine, but it also makes it easier to find what you need when you need it. Use labeled clear canisters for dry goods and staples like cereal, pasta, flour, and sugar. For flexibility, use chalkboard labels—they’re easy to swap out based on inventory.

19. Use amber bottles for toiletries

Transferring soaps and lotions has a similar effect—especially when space is at a premium. Having everything in pretty amber bottles makes the countertop look instantly less cluttered and more sophisticated. Use these free printables to keep track of all your favorite products.

20. Make small hardware upgrades

Believe it or not, something as small as swapping the flusher on your toilet can make a huge difference in the overall appearance of a room like the bathroom. For just a few bucks, you can nix the standard hardware in favor of something more sophisticated, like a brass flusher.

21. Spruce up a small wall with a little patterned paper

A little color in the laundry room can make the universally-dreaded task a little more cheerful, but wallpaper is pricey. To mimic the look without breaking her budget, Megan Deusterhaus at The Homes I Have Made used just $10 worth of wrapping paper.

22. Brighten a dark space with decorative lighting

A lack of natural light is one of the surest ways to make a space feel tired and uninspired. Since it’s not exactly easy to change window configurations, your best bet is to add plenty of additional lighting to the room. For something truly unique—and more like a work of art than an inexpensive lamp—make a lamp out of a statue or a decorative object.

23. Establish a place to corral loose items

A large canvas bin is a great budget-friendly option for throws and extra pillows, but the plain exterior leaves something to be desired. Follow Erin Francois’s lead at Sugar & Cloth and turn your plain bin into something fabulous with a bit of raw wool and coordinating yarn—minimal DIY skills required.

24. Add color to your glassware

If your internal maximalist clashes with your minimalist budget, follow this easy DIY to upgrade your glassware. All you need to create gorgeous ombre drinking vessels and serveware is a little non-toxic spray paint and some painter’s tape.

Credit: Alice & Lois

25. Wallpaper your stair risers

Though traditional, white risers scuff like nobody’s business. For a more playful look that will weather foot traffic a little better, try removable wallpaper (or, for an even cheaper DIY, contact paper) on the treads instead.