7 Ways to Decorate with Things You Already Have

Want to give your space a lift while you’re at home during this time? You don’t need a crazy budget for a full-fledged makeover! Don’t miss these 7 smart ideas to decorate with things you already have on hand.

I am not a decorator. Not even close. And while my home is lovely, I know it will never be featured in House Beautiful or Better Homes & Gardens. And the thing is—I am totally okay with that. My goal is not to win any decorating awards, but to have a functional, cozy space that I love. For me, that means a space that is organized, free of clutter, and reflects my family’s interests.

And most of the time, I feel like it does, but every few months I start getting an itch to do a little redecorating. While it’s usually inspiration from Pinterest, a magazine photo, or remembering something cute during the last visit to a friend’s house, right now I definitely think it’s because we’re currently quarantined at home due to the global pandemic. Over the years I’ve realized that change and beauty are necessary to keep us inspired and motivated, so I am always on the lookout for new, fun, and inexpensive ideas to breathe a little fresh air into my décor, without having to leave the house.

As anybody who’s gone through the pain of a remodel knows: real, serious, redecorating can be quite an undertaking—not only because of the schedule disruption (and spatial disruption), but also the mounting costs to your pocketbook. The whole process can wreak havoc on your budget…and your sanity! But sometimes we all need a little refresher to our living space. Rather than going wild at Pottery Barn or even IKEA (which we can’t do right now), there are simple ways that anyone can enjoy a new look, even on the tightest shoestring budget.

Here are 7 Ways to Decorate with Things You Already Have

1. Rearrange

One of the easiest, least expensive things is do rearrange the furniture you own. Try something different—split up your sectional, put your bed on the opposite wall, or change the end table to the other side of the chair.

Enlist the help of a husband or patient friend, and try switching things up. If you’re very particular about the process, you’ll want to use a measuring tape and sketch out your plan beforehand. If you’re moving very large items, keep in mind the placement of artwork, wall hangings and lighting.

Rearranging can be a simple undertaking or a day-long project. If you’re really set on the arrangement you have or if your furniture really only works in one set up, try changing out table items. Move the accessories from the living room to the dining room or move in a lamp from the bedroom to a corner of your office.

Spray paint can add a whole new life to simple pieces around your house like this serving tray.

2. Apply a Fresh Coat

Have any paint lying around? Adding a new paint color to anything can change the whole look of a piece. Watch for a thrift store or flea market piece, sand it, add a fresh color—and voila! Tea-carts, end tables and plant stands can be a great place to start. Bookshelves really stand out when the back is painted. The effect is subtle, but definitely gets noticed.

Many stores offer small “sample” paint bottles that have enough paint to cover a very small item. Spray paint can also work beautifully and can really add a lot of oomph for just a few dollars.

If you have a box of outdated knickknacks somewhere, you’ll be amazed what a coat of white paint can do. Cover picture frames and a few vases or flowerpots with a glossy white paint and you suddenly have a collection of fine “porcelain” accessories that look amazingly uniform and chic on a bookshelf. Try black, red or any solid color. (Watch out though—painting can get addicting!)

Fabric can also be painted. Any canvas-like fabric will take well to latex paint. Rugs and pillows (although not as comfortable) can be easily covered. The old standby of Rit Dye can be used to dye washable fabrics, like throws, as well as curtains. Be sure you test the dye first and don’t color anything you’re too attached to. Mistakes can happen, of course, but so can happy accidents.

These photos show how a simple pop of color can make a huge impact in decorating. A colorful chair, pillow or piece of art can make your home feel brighter.

3. Add Accent Colors for POP!

Assess your room and look for a contrasting color to add some life—a few strategically placed items in red or orange, or a rosy, happy hue can punch up a room. Add red ribbons as tiebacks on blue curtains or add them to trim the edge of a white lampshade in a fun color.

If you aren’t sure what goes with your current color scheme, check out a fabric store (many have ship to home options now). Look for swatches that contain the main colors from your décor, plus an accent. Often remnants can be purchased for deep discounts. Try covering a few throw pillows for a great and easy look. If sewing just isn’t your thing, try covering a dining chair seat. Believe it or not—just a little stretching and stapling can give you an instant room makeover with absolutely zero sewing.

Also look for subtle colors already in the room, like a hint of yellow in an accent rug, or a bit of blue in a piece of artwork. Once you’ve found a color that speaks to you, add it here and there, and watch as it stands out.

When in doubt, metallic can make a huge statement—plus, it really goes with everything. Chrome paint, silver trim or brass accents can be achieved with a little paint. New vintage-look drawer pulls or handles can be purchased at home improvement stores and closeouts, adding a lot of bang for your buck.

Decoupage can look ultra chic and elegant. This serving tray was covered with fabric, making it a perfect spot to rest coffee and jot down notes in the morning.

4. Get Artsy with Decoupage

Everything old is new again…the 1960s and 70s trend of decoupage can be used in surprisingly fresh and interesting ways to give new life to all sorts of items. A bottle of Mod Podge is just a few dollars and available online. Simply follow the instructions and hit the final product with a coat of polyurethane to finish.

Try covering some clear bottles (you can reuse candle jars) with tissue paper and decoupage medium. The effect is surprisingly glass-like and beautiful and it can really bring out an accent color. Use washi tape, scrapbook or origami papers in pretty patterns to cover aluminum cans to spice up a desk or to use as a cute herb planter in a kitchen window, or use pretty fabric to cover an old cookie sheet for an instant tray.

Frames and boxes also look beautiful with a decoupage cover made of wrapping paper or decorative paper. For something a little funkier, try maps or vintage magazine pictures and clippings. Go really wild and cover a tabletop or surface. The trick to keeping things fresh is to use a uniform color scheme, such as black and white with blue accents.

Unconventional pieces, like this pallet can be re-purposed with some paint and creativity.

5. Share Meaningful Memories

Decorate using items that are meaningful and important to you—it’s one of the most impactful ways to decorate any space. Framed pieces created and drawn by a child? A framed map outlining the route of a recent family vacation? Some of the best “art” I’ve ever seen!

Bring the outdoors in. The next time you go on a family hike or trip to the beach, collect seashells, rocks or other small items and group them on a bookshelf. Mount a wine cork from your anniversary on a piece of white foam core, include the date and frame in an inexpensive shadow box.

The impact of like-items is huge. Frame the tickets from a sporting event and group them with your son’s prized bobble-head and signed ball. Every time you pass the shelf you’ll smile and remember that day.

On the same token, avoid feeling too “themey” or tied to one idea. Themed rooms can quickly become dated or feel too contrived. By adding just a few items that are meaningful and cherished, you can be sure that your house reflects your family and doesn’t feel cluttered or overwhelming.

Cover a wall with a huge DIY piece of art like this "It will never rain roses" quote collage.

6. Go Big

If you want a lot of impact for very little cost, try a DIY art project on one wall of a room. While this is not for the faint of heart, it can offer a huge return with little investment. The canvas above is one I made to fill the huge wall above our library. It is very large and it took forever to make, but five years later, I still love it. It is also the first thing most people comment on in our home!

Try a modern look by painting a few canvases with a solid color or adding a gradation effect by fading one color into another. Young Picassos can try their hand, too! Your kids will be thrilled when their work is receiving compliments as the modern wall hanging in the dining room.

Black and white photo prints literally make everything look great. Try converting some family favorites to black and white, then grouping them together on a wall. Printing them out and placing several together in dollar store frames can make quite a statement. To add a little more to the look, try painting a series of different vintage frames a uniform color.

Pack up your clutter, put it in boxes, load it in the car and drive it to the nearest donation station. Clearing clutter can help you appreciate your space and gives it an instant update.

7. Declutter

Sometimes we forget that the best decorating doesn’t come from adding new things, but from paring down to the items you really love. As much as I tell myself that a quick trip to Target will be the answer to my slump, the truth is that most of my restlessness in decorating comes from having too much stuff, not too little. It is always amazing to me how much more I love and enjoy my spaces after I have spent some time getting rid of the things I don’t really like that much.

To summarize, here are the 7 effective methods to decorating with items you already have:

  1. Rearrange
  2. Apply a Fresh Coat
  3. Add Accent Colors for POP!
  4. Get Artsy with Decoupage
  5. Share Meaningful Memories
  6. Go Big
  7. Declutter

Take it Slow….

With just a little bit of time and effort, you can have the change you crave without spending a fortune. And don’t worry about doing everything all at once. Decorating isn’t about expensive designer items, but about using the items that are important, meaningful and joyful to you and using them to inspire within your home. Figuring out what you really like can take a while. I know it has for me!

Share your ideas with others and look on Pinterest and or design blogs for ideas. Keep notes on things you like. What doesn’t work for your house in the summer may really warm it up in the winter. Find inspiration in nature and from your family and those around you, then incorporate that beauty in your home to make it exactly what you want it to be.


Want to give your space a lift but don't have the time or budget for a full-fledged makeover? Don't miss these 7 smart ideas for decorating with things you probably already have on hand.

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  1. My husband used to LOVE rearranging furniture! When we moved into our apartment three months ago, I typed up a ten motivational phrases, printed them out, and hung them up above our desk with push pins and binder clips. Cheap way to fill up a bare wall! Then, for the living room wall, I printed a few quotes and images with a similar color palette and hung them up in thrifted picture frames that I spray-painted white. Easy and fun!

  2. I like to get frames from the thrift store, paint them, and blow up family photos to put in them. Frames can be so expensive but a lot of times you can find diamonds in the rough at the good will or salvation army.

  3. Kitchen rugs ( in front of the sink) can add pizazz but they wear out quickly. I found two chevron patterned 3×4 rugs at Lowe’s and sewed them into one long runner with a curved needle and strong thread. i just take them out to the deck and scrub them from time to time between vaccumming. It has lasted 4 months so far, and looks great!

    1. Put them in the oven on low heat – the wax will melt and you can wipe them out. I have also frozen them and them cracked the wax and chipped it out.

  4. I made curtains out of patterned sheets. Buy calendars with beautiful pictures and frame them….usually they are 12 by 12 and “record frames” are the perfect size to frame them. Mirrors can be turned into chalkboards by turning over the mirrors and spraying the backside with chalk paint….old sweaters and shirts can be used to cover pillows…i get mine on dollar day at Goodwill. Buy decorator stuff after the season is over to use next year. Any children’s book pages can be torn out and framed for a kid’s room.

  5. I love these fun and frugal suggestions on how to “freshen up” your house with items you already own. I agree it often can take very little money to transform a room, just a hearty dose of creativity.

  6. Thanks for sharing this post. I really like the tip of Add Accent Colors. Colors play an important role in decorating the home. The Tips you have mentioned in the article are awesome.

  7. Wow, I really liked the tips given by you these are really helpful I do rearrange my furniture when i am bored seeing my room in same manner . Great work done. it was worth reading your blog.

  8. If you prefer the Cottage theme, fabrics for home decorating use bright colors and floral patterns. Cottage decorating as far as upholstery and projects using fabric go, point to colourful and bold patterns. Fabrics with printed fruit or vegetables are used in the cottage theme, though more popular is a floral pattern in fabrics of the cottage theme of home decorating.

  9. Your ideas are super cool and really very beneficial to enhance anyone home decor. Beautiful thoughts and excellent Images. I want to implement these decor ideas into my home. Keep sharing with us more ideas.

  10. In general, the best home decoration is when everything is cleaned. But if you want to make beauty out of unnecessary items, then these tips and ideas may be needed. Thank you!
    I liked the idea of ​​a large canvas on the wall. This is the embodiment of the dream every child – to draw on the wall. I always dreamed about it.
    In my childhood, I also collected shells and brought them home; my mother then scolded me. More stones, of course.
    But in general, I believe that the most important thing is that everything in the house should be renovated. Then you are calm and you know that you will not flood your neighbors and children will not get sick from the cold. If everything is in order with heating, air conditioning, ventilation and cooling, then you can make a different decor for the house.

  11. Hi there,
    Thanks for sharing such an wonderful article. Explained very nicely one one tips and used stunning images also in this article which these are really helpful for those people who people want to make some different in a short time. I really liked the tips given by you these are really helpful.

  12. I have been planning on rejuvenating the overall appearance of my house but unfortunately cannot afford to hire a professional designer. Thanks to the author of the above article that I ended up decorating with things I already have. Each tip stated is simple yet effective, thus, worth giving a shot.

  13. I just love these ideas of how to refresh your home with inexpensive home decor ideas. I never thought of having an accent color would mean that much, I will try that out in my Living room. Decoupage is also an amazing idea, I tried it a few times and makes a wonderful home decor. Your decorating ideas are really helpful, thank you! 🙂

  14. My wife and I are looking for ways to decorate our house and rearrange our furniture in order to have more space. I totally agree with you when you said that sometimes we all need a little refresher on our living space. I will talk to my wife to see if we can hang some art on the walls to have a cozier feeling house.

  15. Hi,

    Amazing blog i liked it a lot and I wanna decorate my kitchen as good as possible. so i’m thinking of applying your suggestions to decor your my kitchen.
    But on the second thought i’m thinking does it look good if i use my ideas in the kitchen.

    Please suggest something.

    Thank you

  16. Thanks to the author, this is an amazing and informative article to figure out what kinds of stuff you are gonna really buy to decor your room. These kinds of interior things are gonna change your room appearance for sure.That’s the thing i was looking for couple of days back. Thanks brother highly appreciate your professionalism.

  17. Wow…what a nice blog. I am very excited about your ideas. Before reading your blog, I had spent more for my home decoration. Now I am found the most natural and straightforward way to decor my home. In my childhood days, I collected many shells and painted them. I will follow your tips for my home decor.

  18. I like that you mentioned that it is a good idea to decorate your home with things that are important to you. My wife and I would like to hang our wedding pictures in our living room, but we don’t want them to get dusty. It seems like it would be a good idea for us to find a professional that can put our pictures into frames for us.

  19. OMG love these ideas, i remember we used to throw wine corks and never used them for art but now my husband makes chandelier with the cork and several other decorative items for our garden. you have shared so many great ideas, i will share this page with my husband because he is an artist, when not working he is always doing something in his home office, like making DIY frames and crafts.

  20. What a great idea to declutter. I never considered that when looking for DIY projects but that’s great advice. Any advice on what to get rid of that comes to mind?

  21. Totally agree with you. My daughter bought wooden puzzle blocks from Etsy and when she cleaned her room she told me she did not need those wooden pieces anymore. Instead of throwing the blocks out of home I used them for making wall art:) I got that idea from a DIY blog I do not remember where. DIY decor ideas are easy to follow especially when you have art materials in home. Thank you for sharing your ideas, they are so easy and practical too. Keep writing creative posts love. good day

  22. Thank you for giving me the idea of applying a fresh coat of paint to my living room to give it a new look. I’ve been trying to find some ways how I can change its overall look without spending much and your article just came right in time to provide the right ideas. It might also be a good idea to have some window blinds installed since I noticed that natural light sometimes gets in the way whenever my children are watching TV.

  23. The simple secret is making sure that every decorating decision contributes to the creation of beauty and comfort. Beauty to uplift our senses and comfort to make us feel taken care of.

  24. Nice article! Decorating with wall art is an incredible method to characterize the theme of your living room while adding enthusiasm to your walls.

  25. I agree with you ‘cover it’ tip, my mom used to have a couple of chairs outside, and now they’re ruined because she never covered them. My husband really wants to buy chairs for our deck in the backyard. I told him we could, but we also have to buy covers with it

  26. Hey Ruth, thanks for sharing these amazing ideas to decorate the home. I’m planning to redecorate my living room and make it cozier. As you said, it will be best to rearrange my furniture so that more space can be saved. I am also going to repaint them with decent color. Hoping it turns out great 🙂

  27. Awesome ideas! I have plan to decorate my living room. It is looking boring with white paint. I am glad to know the wall decorate ideas in amazing way. Thanks for sharing it.

  28. Decorating isn’t about expensive designer items, but about using the items that are important, meaningful and joyful to you and using them to inspire within your home. Thank you for helping us.

  29. Thank you for all of these tips, I really enjoy your blog!
    You give such great advice! I am glad you urge people to mix styles. It keeps a room looking fresh. Many thanks for your posts!

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