Creative Ways to Decorate for Absolutely No Money

published Jul 24, 2018
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(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Although the need to change up your home now and then is perfectly human and natural, it’s not always feasible. These free decorating ideas indulge your need for something new, without putting a hit out on your wallet. Here are four great strategies to have in your back pocket, whenever you feel compelled to shake things up on the cheap.

1. Use Up Leftover Paint

If you’ve done any painting lately, or ever, you most likely have a some leftover in a can somewhere in your house or garage. Keep some for wall touch-ups, but put the rest of it to good use.

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Ruth Matthews used the same shade as her walls to camouflage a radiator in her London home’s entryway, but you could do the same to any shelving unit or piece of furniture to make it blend in and look more intentional.

(Image credit: Jacqueline DuBois)

Depending on how much paint you have, you might be able to pull off an accent wall. Even a small one can add depth and a healthy dose of color, with very little work. I love the crisp navy blue wall at the end of this hallway in Kaja’s Simple, Airy Oslo Loft.

2. Drape Some Extra Fabric

As I mentioned recently, adding a piece of fabric to existing furniture is a great way to change the look of your furniture, no reupholstery required. If you have some extra scarves or a throw blanket, break them out of storage and artfully arrange them on your headboard or sofa. When you get sick of it, swap it out for something else.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

Denise Palma’s happy Huntington Beach home’s bedroom had a basic headboard which she dressed up with a swath of mudcloth. The black looks striking with all the white and pink, and it adds another pattern into the mix.

(Image credit: Anna Hudson)

Here, a few pieces of indigo blue cloth soften the space, and add another dimension to this desert home‘s kitchen.

3. Go Organic

Nature has a way of making everything better. If you’re struggling with making your place feel like a home, fill it with something from the outdoors. Organic materials add color, shape, and life to a room.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

While cut flowers are lovely (and are certainly a good option), they are fleeting. On the other hand, potted plants live a long time, and you can use them on tables as living, breathing centerpieces. They also fill up dead, empty corners. Best yet: You can start your own with free cuttings from friends.

(Image credit: Diana Paulson)

Don’t want to care for a living, breathing thing? Rummage outside for a pretty branch and either enjoy it in its own right, or DIY it into something, like this jewelry organizer seen in Rachael’s quirky, industrial modern apartment. It’s part practical storage, part decor.

4. Convert to “Open Shelving”

If you are a renter, and hate your kitchen cabinets, try this open-shelving hack. Simply unscrew and remove the cabinet doors and reveal the beautifully organized contents behind them. (Or, reveal your mess, then spend some more time organizing what’s in there).

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

This Australian couple‘s beach home was originally a temporary rental, but they grew to love the place. Taking off the doors, and revealing all their stuff, was just one way they made their house a home.

(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

If you’re not quite ready to let it all hang out, go for a combo of open and closed storage. Remove just one or two doors and display some of your prettier dishes or cookbooks. Then leave all the day-t0-day utilitarian stuff out of sight.

5. Display Something Old in New Ways

It’s easy to lose sight of what you own, especially if it’s been in the same spot for years upon years. Cast a fresh eye around your home, and see how you can highlight objects in a fresh way.

(Image credit: Katie Varela)

Wall-mounting groups of objects is one of the best ways to make something ordinary look more special. An assortment of baskets do the trick in this California home. It’s cohesive, but all the different shapes, sizes and details make it interesting.