This Is the Cheapest, Fastest Way to Make Your Home More Stylish

published Mar 11, 2023
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Wallpaper an accent wall! Paint your furniture! Swap out your light fixtures! Replace your cabinet knobs! I’ve suggested it all in the more than 20 years I have been writing home decor articles, including ones I have penned for Apartment Therapy. I’ve interviewed experts about every possible thing to buy and DIY that can transform a home. Options for improvement are endless, but in my experience, I’ve learned that the one thing almost 100 percent guaranteed to elevate the look of your home is… to get rid of things! 

Decluttering is not just an organizing tactic: It’s the fastest, cheapest way to make your home look more chic. In fact, I believe it is the most powerful styling tool at a homeowner’s disposal — and it costs nothing. Plus, this strategy works for everyone: Unless you’re a student who has just moved into their study-abroad housing, I can almost bet you have excess lurking about your home. 

Most people have the inkling that rooms look better without extra stuff cluttering up every surface, but the power of removing things is more than just the restored order you’ll get from putting things away. When you strip away what’s so-so in a room, it makes the things you love really shine. In my home, the entryway console is a clutter magnet, a place where mail and mittens naturally congregate. With this top dressing of debris, my beloved alabaster lamps recede into the jumble of visual noise. When I tidy the surface, though, those same lamps pop. 

Decluttering also helps you see your home more clearly. Without the usual surface layer of papers, cords, and books, I realized my desk needed a piece of art above it. Likewise, after a whirlwind of tidying in my bedroom, I felt more confident about choosing a paint color because I could actually see the bones of my room.

To really feel the power of less, push further than your usual tidy-up. Remove anything in a room that you don’t need or truly love. You might find you prefer your living room without the full pile-up of pillows, or you might realize it’s time to weed out some of the artful objets on a shelf. If things start to feel uncomfortably bare, congratulate yourself and sit with it for a while.

Decluttering can also be an antidote to those times you feel like you need something new for your home. Before you head to the store or open a new browser window, try getting rid of a few things first. You might be surprised to find your home needs less — not more.

March is Smart Spending Month on Apartment Therapy! We’re here to help you put your hard-earned dollars and cents to use — the right way. Head over here to learn how to do no-spend challenges, buy a home for below its listing price, and so much more.