10 Steps to Refreshing a Room for Very Little Money

A well lit white living room

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We have a love/hate relationship with our homes. It’s a rare and fortunate person whose home suits them perfectly. Most of us have at least a few complaints such as a lack of closet space, a too-small bathroom, an awkward layout, or dated décor. Or maybe you’re quite happy with your home, but it just feels stagnant every once in a while. While it’s impossible to change a floor plan or expand a bathroom without spending money, you can refresh a room without spending a dime. Sometimes just changing something small can make you excited about your space again. Here are ten steps to refreshing a room for little or no money at all.

Removing All of the Accessories

Start by removing all of the accessories. Begin with a blank slate by removing everything that isn’t furniture, drapes, or rugs. By removing all of the “noise” from the room, you’ll be able to see it with fresh eyes. Place all of the items in one spot, maybe on the dining room table or kitchen counter.

Furniture Placement

Take a look at your furniture placement. If you’re lucky enough to have a room that allows for different furniture configurations, go for it! If you’ve never re-arranged your furniture, you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes. If nothing else, it will force you to vacuum under the couch. 

Edit Your Stuff 

Look at the items you’ve collected. You may discover that the room just needs some editing. Perhaps there is too much “stuff” distracting from the things you really love.  Or maybe you have a lot of clutter that you simply need to put away. For instance, stacks of magazines can be recycled or donated and kids’ toys can be corralled in baskets. Bookcases are often collectors of clutter but can be gorgeous and functional if styled correctly. Replace the items you want to keep in them. Everything else should be put away in their rightful places or placed in storage.

Try Items in New Spaces

Replace the items you want to keep in the space; however, try them in different spots. For example, swap table lamps, rearrange the accessories in the bookcase, or try pillows on different chairs. Also, try pairing different items together. Maybe your family photos have always been grouped together; but, perhaps they’d look awesomely dispersed among stacks of books in your bookcase. For that matter, take some of the books out of the bookcase and put them in a meaningful stack somewhere else. For instance, a few travel books would make a great base for a vintage globe or vacation memento. On the other hand, maybe you have items from a collection scattered throughout your home, but they'd have more impact if grouped together. Check out these dos and don'ts for displaying collections.

Shop Other Rooms

Walk around your house and select accessories from other spaces that might work. Somehow a lamp, piece of art, or vase from another room can look brand new in a new location.

Spray Paint Something

Raid your basement or cabinets for an item or two that was destined for your next garage sale and save it with a can of spray paint. Paint a collection of cheap florists’ vases to look like milk glass, or change an outdated oak picture frame to a black lacquer.

Add Something Green

Houseplants do wonders for breathing new life into a room. If you don’t have a green thumb, choose a realistic-looking artificial plant like trendy succulents or follow these best practices for decorating with other faux florals.


Add texture. A knubby throw blanket, a seagrass basket, or some rope-wrapped candlesticks really add interest and sophistication to a space. 

Add Personality

Add some meaning to your space. Take a look at your room and decide whether or not it tells a story.  A room lacking in personal objects lacks a soul. On the other hand, don’t feel the need to display everything you own that has sentimental value (See #3).


Light a candle. Wax warmers and plug-ins are great, but they are no substitute for the warmth of a flickering candle.