Stylish Savings: 5 Ways to Improve a Room Without Spending a Dime

Stylish Savings: 5 Ways to Improve a Room Without Spending a Dime

Cate West Zahl
Mar 8, 2012

It's not unusual to have to stick with the furnishings and various pieces you have in your space, despite feeling tired of them. Perhaps you're saving up for a new sofa or know you'll be moving soon. Maybe you've inherited pieces that aren't exactly what you'd choose, but getting rid of them doesn't seem right. It could simply be a matter of shopping just not being in the cards at the moment, budget-wise. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself feeling trapped with the things you own, never fear!

Here are five quick ways to freshen up your home without spending money (or lots of time) by simply reinterpreting what you already have...

1. Drape your furniture. Upholstered furniture such as sofas or club chairs are usually substantial investments that aren't replaced often. If you're stuck with a tired old sofa, loveseat, armchairs or even a futon, a quick way to give it some life is to take a cue from Morocco and drape a fabulous textile down the middle, like decorator Georgia Tapert Howe in her office (2). Or loosely cover the whole sofa (1) with a colorful blanket for a more cozy look . You could even use your tapestry you hung in your dorm room. As long as it is folded evenly and maybe paired with some contrasting throw pillows, the end result will be a vast improvement and step towards interesting.

2. Add a skirt or tablecloth. Do you have an ugly table that you can't stand, but which serves a function that you can't live without? Consider covering it with a table skirt or tablecloth. And while having a tailored skirt fit to your table always looks incredible, going the makeshift route can be equally effective, which is what Michelle Adams did for her tv table (3) using linen . But you don't even have to make the skirt floor length; the designer Albert Hadley took an oversized metal table (4) and gave it elegance by adding a tablecloth that covered only the top.

3. Use your books. When it comes to accessorizing, an easy way to update your tablescapes and vignettes is by playing with scale. In fact, David Hicks, the great pioneer of table arranging, always said that placing your objects at varying heights was essential in good design. An easy way to switch it up is take stack of art books and place it in the middle of your table (5), placing a vessel atop of that, and then to build around this focal point. Or, for a more dramatic look, make the high stacks of books that serve as sculptural forms in and of themselves. Use colorful spines (6) to add some pop.

4. Hang art in unexpected ways. Your artwork can take on a completely different feel if it's displayed in a surprising place. Just the very act of switching up your art will allow you to enjoy it a new way. Ideas include hanging your art on the facade of your bookshelves (7) if you have them, taking the art off the walls and leaning it on the floor or atop furniture, flipping it upside down or sideways, taking it out of the frame, or hanging it in front of a wall of drapery (8).

5. Swap your furniture from room to room. Meaning, take a table from your kitchen, and use it as a side-table in your family room. Use your kitchen table in your dining room, and your more formal dining room table in your kitchen (9). Put your bedside lamp in your office and replace it with the task light from your desk, adding a touch of industrial edge (10) to your sleeping space. Swap lamps, rugs, curtains. You get the idea. Obviously the key here is that you choose combinations that will remain functional. And in order to pull it off, you have to be willing to switch up styles and schemes for the sake of change. But remember, just because a certain chair has been in certain spot for a decade, doesn't mean it belongs there. If you start to reconsider your stuff out of the context of where it has lived, it can take on new life.

(Images: As linked above)

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