7 Home Refreshes That Won’t Bust Your Budget
By Sarah Newell
Sometimes (more like too often) you get beyond bored with your living space. To help you shake things up, we challenged design experts to share their best tips for revamping a room—without blowing your budget. The best part? Six of them actually clock in at less than $500!
1. Clean & Declutter
The easiest way to make a big impact without investing too much money (or time!): Pare down. "Remove smaller items from a room, like side tables, art work, ambient lighting and accent pillows," says interior designer Liz Stiving-Nichols of Martha's Vineyard Interior Design. "This creates a blank canvas, offering you a fresh, uncluttered perspective." Then you can slowly add things back to the room until you find the perfect balance. For items that you can't toss, but create visual clutter, simply hide them behind closed doors in a closet or a modern wardrobe to keep the room looking tidy.
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Photo: West Elm
2. Update Window Treatments
Want a five-minute refresh? “Remove heavy curtain panels and swap in inexpensive sheers to let in more light for spring," recommends Sarah Steele of Studio 212 Interiors. This simple change will instantly lighten and brighten your living spaces—and who doesn't want more natural light? If you're down to spend a little more money, take it one step further and swap your old rods and finials for newer ones in a trendy finish like polished brass or chrome.
SHOP NOW: Ikat Ogee Linen Curtain, from $79, WestElm.com
3. Design a Statement Wall
To quickly update a bedroom or a living room, create a focal point with a single statement wall—we're talking a vibrant paint color, simple stencil or graphic wallpaper. It's the perfect project to splurge a bit on pricy wallpaper or a mural, since you only need enough for one wall. The key to pulling it off? Keep the other walls more subdued in a coordinating neutral. And remember, neutral isn't code for boring. “Neutrals such as grays and taupe have a rainbow in them," says Gretchen Schauffler, founder and creative director of interior paint brand Devine Color. "So when they're paired with other colors they'll surprise you by revealing red, green, blue, purple, orange or yellow personalities."
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Photo: Dwell Studio
4. Replace Your Linens
Take an honest look at the state of your textiles. From sheets to towels, toss anything that's frayed, stained or otherwise outdated, then replace them with high-quality, durable products that'll last. Think: Thick, 100-percent cotton towels and high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. In the bathroom, put out fresh towels and hang a new shower curtain to give the room a polished look for not a lot of money. In the bedroom, you'll get the best bang for your buck by investing in a new duvet cover—try a fun geometric pattern or go for a more neutral hue with texture, like the one above.
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Photo: Lucas Allen
5. Give Cabinets a New Look
Stuck with cabinetry that's in good shape but looks a little dated? Even if you only update the hardware, you'll see a big improvement. The total cost varies depending on the style you choose, says Seattle-based interior designer Corinne Gail Sadowsky. But she estimates that swapping out hardware in a moderately-sized kitchen (requiring about forty knobs and ten pulls) would run about $350 to $400. Another smart (and budget-friendly) solution: Simply remove cabinet doors altogether and paint the interiors for a colorful, open-shelving look.
6. Swap Your Seating
Out of all of your home's furniture, the living room sofa gets the most wear and tear—so if it's looking ragged, the rest of the room will too. If your couch has sentimental value and a quality frame, reupholster it. This is definitely a job for the professionals, who can also fix up sagging cushions. The less expensive fix? Getting a custom tailored slipcover made. But if you're ready to send your old sofa to the curb and have the budget, don't feel guilty about springing for a brand-new one. In fact, replacing a couch is often less expensive than recovering an older one, once you factor in labor and fabric. Just opt for a timeless style with durable upholstery fabric so you won't have to do the same thing in a few years.
SHOP NOW: Linen Kettleby Sofa, $4,998, Anthropologie.com
Photo: Sour Jones
7. Paint the Staircase
Turn a set of entryway steps into a colorful statement that welcomes you every time you walk in the door. “Painting the staircase risers with a monochromatic ombre color story adds decorative drama," says Turner. Not so into ombre? Just paint both the steps and risers in a single solid color that contrast with the rails, she suggests. And, bonus: It's a pretty quick project. Designer Dina Dwyer painted hers over a weekend. “For less than $400, it is the smartest DIY upgrade in my home," she says. "It still gets compliments."