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5 Ways to Update a Space without a ton of Money or Effort

5 Ways to Update a Space without a ton of Money or Effort

I like to think of myself as a savvy shopper. In fact, my shopping habits were part of the reason I opened the truck. I’m a sucker for beautiful things and my collecting (hoarding) needed to be channeled into something more productive. I can find vintage door knobs, a repurposed piece of furniture, ceramic pots, kitchen towels, on and on, and I’ll want to bring them home with me. Pretty things are my downfall. I love adding to my collection but as I continue to refine my personal style, I’ve learned to identify things that serve a purpose and only bring those home. 

Not everything in our home serves an obvious purpose but in some form or function, it probably does. Sometimes that just means it brings a new color into a room, offers storage, or serves as a statement piece. To me, those things are all useful when creating a space.

There are so many ways to freshen up a space with minimal effort or budget while still creating an environment that serves you and your family. Of course the process can be sped with more time and money. If you are patient however, you can easily curate a Pinterest worthy home and better yet, one that brings you JOY without draining your energy or wallet. 


Fresh Coat of Paint 

STOP. This one is an obvious no-brainer but hang with me before you roll your eyes and say, "Duh, Taylor!" If you can manage the time and money to add paint to your walls, wonderful. If you can’t overhaul a room with paint, what about a tired piece of furniture? Or freshen up your trim? Maybe an accent wall? Whatever you can realistically manage, consider your options carefully. If you don’t mind slapping some paint around once every few years, then you can throw caution to the wind and go crazy with paint colors. However, if you are like most sane humans, you won’t want to revisit the paint can anytime soon. (I like to paint so I don’t fit into this category. Sorry, not sorry!) You’ll want to be a little more strategic so look for neutrals that become the base of your room and add color in accessories that are easier to change out season to season. Light neutrals are a great way to enhance or create the feel of natural light in a room. If you are painting furniture, an accent wall, or trim and want to be bold, pick paint swatches that are slightly desaturated or less vibrant so that they don't overwhelm a space. Here are some fun swatches that would add a pop of color without being obnoxious.

This black trim is bold but beautiful! If you are up for an adventure, this is definitely a statement and will freshen up your space. Make sure to keep walls and accents light and airy so that your room doesn't get dark and closed in. (via New York Times)

This neutral wall color makes it easy to swap out decor. I love that they added the wood bench to really stand off of the wall. Other natural warm tones make this space really lovely. (via Behr Paint)


Another way to make a statement is with an accent wall. While this is a beautiful shade of blue, it's also a really versatile choice that serves as a great base for so many accents, especially the brass fixtures. (via Ave Styles)

A really easy way to bring paint into a space is by adding a fresh coat to a piece of furniture. This dresser is in a really pretty shade of jade green which pops against the neutrals walls and helps tie in to the plants that are on display. (via Paige Jones)


Swap Out Textiles

An easy way to freshen up a space is with new textiles. Here, I like to use the same school of thought that I use for paint colors. If you look around my house, you’ll see a lot of white, cream, and gray textiles that are usually the ones doing the heavy lifting. I use flour sack towels in the kitchen, white fluffy towels in our bathroom, have neutral colored pillows on our bed and couch, and so on. I like to add the ‘fun’ textiles that can be functional, easily changed out, and also reinforce other design elements in the space. I add these over time when I find them on sale or when something really tugs at my heart strings. Each new addition is like a mini refresher to a room. 

This couch uses neutrals as it's base for pillows but you could easily add pops of color or interesting patterns to update it from season to season. (via Lauren Konrad)

This bedding is ah-mazing. It's a really fun take on a traditional quilt style but the neutral colors and rich textures make the details pop - like that fun mustard pillow! (via Martha Stewart)

Tip: I have been buying fabric napkins lately for my kitchen. They are similar in size and weight to my flour sack towels that are used for daily messes. The napkins are usually inexpensive and available in really fun designs. You can layer colors, textures, and patterns without a lot of money. They are also easy to swap out each season.) I actually just bought these from the Hearth & Hand collection at Target for my house to add to our kitchen textiles without spending a ton of money. (via Target)



Look For Unique Storage
Big or Small

Not only can organizing a room feel good, it can also offer design opportunities. This is actually my favorite part about design, problem solving! If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m a problem solver. In fact, I can remember sitting in my college site visit with the Graphic Design professor when he asked the question, “Do you consider yourself a problem solver?” It caught me off guard but thinking on it, I realized that yes, I love designing systems in order to find solutions. I’ve been solving problems with design ever since.

My favorite storage pieces are ones that I didn’t spend a lot of money on. A console that I found at a garage sale for under $10 now stores all of our DVDs and cable box and serves as the focal point of our living room. Don’t feel overwhelmed trying to find these big pieces. Sometimes organizing can be as simple as getting clutter off a bathroom shelf by ditching your plastic packaging (like lotion bottles) and opting for pretty apothecary jars. This serves both form and function!

This ladder from A Burst Of Beautiful serves as storage for throws. We have a vintage wooden ladder in our home and we are constantly grabbing a blanket down for chilly nights and throw it back on there when we are done. Check out this tutorial to DIY one for yourself! (via A Burst Of Beautiful)

I love the idea of collecting vintage pitchers to store your kitchen utensils. These are usually available to find at your local flea market. Used goods not your scene? You can usually find something similar in retail stores thanks to the renewed interest in bringing back classic lines and design to mass produced products. (via Better Homes & Gardens)

This next example is actually a shelf in our bathroom. I use glass vases to store cotton balls and Qtips. I also ditch the plastic packaging from our lotion and empty it out into these cute pump jars throughout the house.


Bring the Outside In

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a plant person. But I’m trying. Hard. I have to tell you, I get really happy seeing something else living in our house other than my two and four legged counterparts. Seeing something grow is an awesome feeling and plants can really polish off a space.

If you can’t commit to caring for a plant, go outside and see what you have in your backyard that you can bring in. I’ve started making arrangements out of greenery I’ve found in our yard. Recently I trimmed a dozen or so sprigs from our Boston Fern we bought this spring. It’s currently sitting pretty on our counter and will last about a week or two before needing to be tossed. Best part about it - it was free to arrange! (See those napkins I mentioned earlier? I also use them as accent decoration when possible.)


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