Are you tired of looking around your house and seeing the same ole same ole? Do you dream of all of the things you want to change or repair, but are concerned about time and your wallet? Freshening up your house doesn’t have to take weeks or break the bank. Today I have some tips to freshen up your home instantly for little or no money.
My husband and I had our house built in 2001, and since then it has gone through many changes. I love keeping things fresh and inviting with each new season. As a teacher, I have always looked forward to doing big DIY projects during the summer when my schedule is much lighter.
But over the past few years, my projects have been very few and far between, and my seasonal changes have not been what they once were.
Our youngest son will graduate from high school next year, and the closer we have come to being empty nesters the less motivated I have been to make changes to our house. We are getting ready to start a new phase of life. Selling our house and relocating to the Texas Hill Country have become very strong possibilities.
A few weeks ago, my son pointed out all of the things that needed to be done around our house. I got very defensive and told him updating the house to sell it and updating the house to stay in it are two very different things. I explained that I didn’t want to make any changes until we made a definite decision on whether or not we were going to move.
After I bit his head off, I realized that he has watched and helped me do countless projects and other little things to spruce up our home since he was a little boy. He noticed that I have put everything on the back burner, and things around here are being neglected. My baby boy called me out!
His timing could not have been more perfect…Summer! Time to end this funk! My summer schedule started last week and I wasted no time giving this place a long-overdue sprucing up. Here are 7 things I did to freshen up our home on a budget!
Update: This post was written in June of 2018. It is now March of 2020 and we have made the decision to sell our house. I am now sprucing up for spring and getting it ready to put on the market. I’m following these same tips that I wrote 2 years ago.
Before I did any of the other things on this list I started with the clutter. I’m not talking about closet clutter. Cleaning out closets is a post for another day. I’m talking about the day to day clutter that you can see when the closet doors are closed.
Although I have been negligent with many things around here, clutter is not one of them. It drives me crazy so I’m pretty good about keeping it under control. I found a secret a long time ago to manage the clutter so this step did not take me long.
What’s the secret you ask? Baskets, boxes, and decorative containers! They are my best friends when it comes to clutter. I have them in every room of the house and they all have a purpose.
When all 3 of my kids lived at home they each had a container that I put all of the little things they left laying around my counters. Keys, school IDs, wallets, and sunglasses were some of the various items my teens left on my kitchen counters. In fact, when they visit they still know where to find the junk they leave laying around the house.
My husband and I both have a habit of kicking off our shoes and not putting them away. Several years ago I purchased a big basket for my bedroom. It makes it easy to do a quick clean up of the shoes we haven’t put away. His shoes usually live there now but mine eventually make it back to the closet.
My office has several decorative boxes on the shelves to keep all of my office supplies organized and hidden away. When my desk becomes out of control with paperwork, which it often does, it only takes a few minutes to clear the chaos!
Wrapping boxes in pretty craft paper, wrapping paper, fabric, or Washi tape is an inexpensive way to add function and color to a room. In the pic above I wrapped a plain black box with a pretty coral paper I found at Target.
Ikea, Target, and Home Goods are my favorite places to shop for baskets, boxes, and decorative containers.
2. Clean From Top To Bottom
After clearing the clutter, I cleaned everything from top to bottom in every room. Ceiling fans, vents, blinds, windows, baseboards, and everything in between received a proper cleaning. I don’t know how many times I have looked at some of my vents and thought ewww I need to clean that but didn’t get around to it. Well, they are clean now along with everything else!
The hardest part about this was that I did most of it myself. My teenage son and husband were at work when I did most of the cleaning but they did lend a hand when they were home. The best part is that it was so amazing to have the whole house clean at one time.
Get the family involved! You would be surprised at the things even the youngest children are capable of doing. I let my kids help me when they were toddlers and eager to do everything. They weren’t so eager when they were older, but they had always helped so it wasn’t some crazy expectation when they got older.
My mom always left a list of out of the ordinary chores for my sister, brother, and I during summer break. So of course, I passed this tradition down to my own kids. When everybody worked together it took no time at all to get things done and move on to the summer fun!
The best part about my daughter and son going away to college was them thanking me for teaching them to clean. They certainly weren’t the tidiest kids growing up, but they sure did appreciate me when they had roommates that were slobs!
I’m sure you’ve probably heard one of the most inexpensive ways to transform a room is paint. I’ve heard and said it many times myself, but it doesn’t take painting an entire room to freshen things up. Touching up chips and scratches is quick and easy and can make a huge difference.
For this one, I went into the garage and pulled out all of the paint for all of the rooms that needed touching up. I poured paint into a little plastic container, got a small paintbrush, and went to work. My husband pitched in by spackling old nail holes and painting over the spackle when it dried.
While I had the paint out I tackled one other project. A few months ago I accidentally left one of my dogs outside for a few hours when I went to work. From the looks of the door frame, I could see that she was not happy with her mom. We definitely need a new door frame but for now, a little sanding and some paint did the trick.
Label your leftover paint with the project it was used for and the year. I can’t tell you how many cans of mystery paint I had to open over the years before I figured this out!
4. Move Furniture Around
By simply rearranging your furniture you can make an old space feel new. This is one of my favorite things to do when I need a change. I learned this from my mom. We lived in a small house, but she always found a creative way to move things around and make everything feel new.
I replaced an old love seat that had seen better days with two Target chairs from my patio. Of course, I didn’t want to buy anything new because we might be moving. (I think the “we might be moving” line is driving my family crazy.) My family room feels more spacious and the best part is that it didn’t cost me anything.
Update: Since writing this post two years ago, we have updated the couch, chairs, and area rug in our family room. Rather than purchasing new end tables and lamps, I swapped the tables and lamps in my family room with the ones in my formal living room.
In my Thanksgiving Tablescape post, I shared how I flipped (my son and husband may have done the heavy lifting) my living room furniture with my dining room furniture. It solved our Thanksgiving dinner problem and made so much more sense for the spaces.
If you are not sure about a new arrangement, try it out for a little while. If you find it doesn’t work, you can always move it back or try something else.
5. Change Pillows and Accessories
Moving pillows, accessories, and even wall art around is one of the simplest things you can do to freshen up your home. The same color palette is carried throughout my house which makes it easy to swap things from one room to another. Instead of hitting Home Goods, my favorite store for home decor, I decided to shop my house.
I have a serious addiction to throw pillows. In my opinion, no room is complete without them…lots of them. I have a closet full of pillows that I change out seasonally, but I recently purged many of them including my summer pillows because they had seen better days. Since my family room still had a few heavy winter pillows, shopping for pillows was a must!
Casa de Small is not expecting any summer guests so the guestroom was the most logical place for me to start the shopping. After I scored some great items in the guestroom, it didn’t take long for me to swap pillows and other accessories throughout our main living spaces. The old me was definitely coming back and my house was on its way to being revived.
I could do a whole post just about throw pillows but for now, here are a few mix and match formulas.
Large Print + Small Print + Solid
Solid + Stripe + Pattern
Large + Medium + Small
6. Bring The Outdoors In
Plants, blooming branches, and fresh-cut flowers add an instant breath of fresh air into any room. Late spring and early summer are the perfect time to cut blooming flowers from your garden. They will add color and fragrance inside and cutting them encourages more flowering throughout the summer.
My favorite places for fresh cut flowers are my kitchen table, guest bathroom, and coffee table. I also love putting a few blooms in small vases or mason jars and adding them to vignettes in my family room and bedroom. Trader Joe’s is my favorite place to purchase flowers when I am not able to cut flowers from my backyard. They have the best inexpensive, seasonal flowers that seem to last much longer than flowers I purchase anywhere else.
I absolutely love hydrangeas, but without fail one or two of them wilt the day after I purchase them. I recently learned that if you cut the stem of a wilted hydrangea on an angle and place it in a cup of boiling water for 45 minutes, it will completely revive. Total magic!!!
I’m no Joanna Gaines when it comes to houseplants, so I choose low maintenance, hearty indoor plants. If you’re anything like me, check out this list of Forgiving Houseplants from HGTV. When placing your houseplants, aside from aesthetics, be sure to consider light, temperature, and humidity.
7. Recover Chairs/Barstools
Applying new fabric to a chair or barstool seats that are worn out, stained, or outdated is an inexpensive and easy way to transform them. The barstools in my kitchen are about 12 years old and I recovered them once several years ago. The fabric was still in pretty good condition but I have been wanting to change it for a while. It was time to freshen up the barstools too!
I found the perfect fabric at Hobby Lobby for $6.99 per yard. I only needed a little over a yard of fabric but bought extra because of course, I didn’t measure before I left the house. It took me less than 2 hours to cover all 4 barstools. If you need help, here is a quick Youtube tutorial. Update: I recovered the barstools with new fabric from Hobby Lobby a few days ago. The new fabric goes much better with my updated family room.
When choosing your fabric, take into consideration how often the chairs/barstools get used and who will be using them.
If you choose a fabric with a pattern, think about how you want to position it on your chairs/barstools. In the first picture, my fabric had a design that required me to carefully cut the fabric so that the big ornate circle thingy was centered.
It took me less than a week to freshen up my house. Most of the things that I did have been on my to-do list forever. I recently read Benjamin Hardy’s book Willpower Doesn’t Work. In it, Hardy talks about eliminating working memory which is your short-term memory. He says when you have a clogged and cluttered mind you can’t let your mind wander and get new insights. Instead of lying in bed at night thinking of all the things you have to do, you can be lying in bed dreaming of the things you want to do.
I guess my house wasn’t the only thing that received a freshening up! Time to let my mind wander and get some new insights. What will you be doing this summer to freshen up your home? Do you have any tips that I didn’t include?
Great ideas. I love the covered boxes , the baskets are perfect. Chairs look awesome . They look new and fresh more mod and fun!!! The entire refresh is perfect. Good helpful ideas
Thanks Kel! You are so sweet! You have vases, I have pillows, and baskets. LOL!
My comment is, “You are awesome!”
Oh Sarah, I love you sweet friend!