Interior Design

5 Ways to Freshen Up a Space Without Spending a Cent

January  3, 2017

If you're honest with yourself, the start of a new year is probably not when you feel up for a big clean-out or room renovation. After picking up the ten-zillionth pine needle, defrosting the last of the leftovers, and changing the sheets in the guest room one last time (for now), what you probably feel like is a long smartphone-on-silent nap.

And yet. The start of a new calendar year inevitably sparks a familiar desire for cleanliness and change in your living space (be that a nook of a bedroom that you call your own or a whole sprawling house). The good news is that certain quick adjustments of furniture and decor will make you feel like your interiors were overhauled, and you won't have spent a cent or started a project you don't feel like finishing.

In fact, you can tackle them tonight! Here are 5 ways to change up your home decor without starting a new project:

1. Inch Over the Bed

Photo by Bobbi Lin

No matter how your bed is configured in your room—crushed into a corner in an effort to maximize floor space? headboard against a long, roomy wall?—moving it just slightly is going to feel like a huge change.

  • If a bed is currently wedged into a corner, inch the long side out about six inches from the wall. You won't actually miss that floor space, making it up in the A.M. is going to be immeasurably easier, and the bed will feel positioned—rather than relegated—to its place in the room.
  • If your headboard is against the center of a wall, move it a few feet towards one wall. Now you can fit a small rug there, or bring a chair and side table over to create a little sitting space, or set up a vanity by your closet. What you're doing, in effect, is making two rooms out of one.
  • If you live in a studio, consider floating your bed so it doesn't touch any walls. A couch, a dresser, or even a table can be pressed up to the headboard, instantly creating division in the space.

2. Swap out Lamp Shades

Photo by Mark Weinberg

I have a friend who, with frequency, swaps around all the lampshades in her house. A low, wide shade will go from a side table lamp to a floor lamp, sconces will lose their shades for a spell entirely (a very industrial, modern look), and lampshades in underused rooms find their way onto lighting fixtures in the den. The highly reversible nature of this change means you can't do any harm, and who knows—you might just like your lamps' hats better on their new homes.

3. Remove a Rug

We've talked about layering rugs, but what about removing them? Slide all the furniture off and roll it up from one end to take it away; the freshness this will breathe into your space will astound you (once you get over the fact that it feels a little naked). During the rug's hiatus, you can...

  • Take it to be cleaned! On its return, move it to another room, store it, or—gasp—sell it.
  • Flop it over a dowel to hang on the wall as a headboard.
  • Spread it across a table.

4. Move Art Around

Mom's gallery wall game: strong

A photo posted by Amanda (@mandasims) on

When you get home tonight, carefully remove two pieces of art from your walls—they don't have to be the same size or shape or style in any way—and hang them back up on the others' nail. By putting a tiny piece of art where a large one was, or by moving a forgotten piece to that corner you pass ten times a day, your space will feel brought back to life. (And if you have a wall with lots of art on it, don't limit yourself to moving around a few.)

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You can also, of course, remove a piece and hang it in a new spot entirely; a dab of spackle in the old hole and a few hits with a hammer can change everything.

5. Add Clippings

Photo by Jessica Comingore

Flowers are of course a nice touch, but an even easier—and arguably more impactful—way to bring the outdoors in is to cut some clippings from the yard. A big, wily branch, placed upright in a jug of water, will act as a floor plant, and if it's from a flowering tree, you might even be lucky enough to force some blooms indoors. If it's dry or dead, spray painting the branch and leaves will make its sculptural shape even more pronounced as a bit of decor.

  • Hang clippings on the wall, by a hanger or a little thread, to dry them and enjoy them as decor.
  • Lay branches across the breakfast table.
  • Cluster feathery, leafy branches in a pitcher.

This article originally ran last new year, but we were ready to be reminded: It doesn't take much!

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Some great ideas. As a photographer I am all about rotating your art work to keep it fresh!”
— Cheryl D.

How do you hit refresh on your space without giving it an overhaul? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.


Lucillestreet February 3, 2017
I shared this on my facebook page.1 Some great and easy ideas for sprucing up your home on a budget.
Cheryl D. January 4, 2016
Some great ideas. As a photographer I am all about rotating your art work to keep it fresh!
Caroline L. January 4, 2016
i am so excited to try this bed trick!
Amanda S. January 4, 2016
Report back!