40 Totally Free Ways to Decorate with What You Have

Living room with area rug and shelves
Photo: Paul Costello

Redecorating your home doesn't require all new furniture and accessories. You can completely revamp your space by simply restyling it with items you already own. For an instant, no-cost update, refresh your existing furnishings and work ordinary objects into your decor with these easy tricks.

01 of 40

Pile on Pillows

Liz Strong home patterned living room
David Tsay

If your living room doesn't feel inviting, cozy it up with a pile of pillows. Gather throw pillows from around the house and arrange them on a sofa to add comfort and color. Choose pillows that have different patterns in complementary colors for a perfectly mismatched look.

02 of 40

Create a Focal Point

kohlhepp house living room wall art
Erin Kunkel

The focal point of a room attracts the eye and helps create order within the design. If your space lacks a natural attention-grabber, such as a fireplace or television, create one. Pair a mirror or artwork with a console table, bench, or shelves to create a point of interest on your far wall.

03 of 40

Display Items in Threes

fireplace mantle world portraits
Michael Partenio

Switch around objects on your mantel or shelves to create a more visually pleasing arrangement. As a general rule, odd-number groupings are more interesting than evens. Arrange frames or objects in threes or fives for an eye-catching display.

04 of 40

Add Comfort to Chairs

rustic dining table in room with lavender-gray walls
Jay Wilde

Wood dining chairs and benches look sleek, but they can be uncomfortable. To add a cozier touch to wood furniture, borrow a faux sheepskin throw from the living room to drape across the seat or backrest. This design trick adds both comfort and textural contrast to your dining space.

05 of 40

Prop Up a Mirror

living room with white fireplace and chihuahua on chair
David Tsay

If you can't put holes in your walls, skip the drama of a hammer and nails and prop framed mirrors against a wall. A large mirror serves many functions in a room. With a beautiful frame, it becomes impactful art. When angled against the wall, it tricks the mind into thinking the ceiling line is even higher than it is. By reflecting light, a mirror brightens the space and provides the illusion of an extra window.

06 of 40

Hang a Thoughtful Display

gold metal wall frame with postcards and keys
Jason Donnelly

Greeting cards and postcards are little pieces of artwork. Make a no-cost display from all the birthday and holiday greetings you've collected by clipping them to a wire photo frame or hanging across a string. For an added bonus, when you're having a bad day just pull a card from the display and read for an instant boost.

07 of 40

Rearrange Furniture

Living room with area rug and shelves
Paul Costello

A fresh perspective can totally change how you look at a room. Experiment with different furniture arrangements to transform the space without swapping out any of its elements. Try flipping the living room sofa to face the other direction, pulling furniture away from the wall, or rotating chairs around the room until you land on the ideal placement. If you don't like the final layout, you can always move the pieces back.

08 of 40

Turn Objects into Wall Art

Wicker chair with woven baskets on wall
Nicolas Gourguechon

You don't need to splurge on expensive art to create a striking wall display. Gather a collection of objects you already own, such as baskets or hats, and mount them on the wall to form one statement-making arrangement. Consider it a unique spin on the gallery wall.

09 of 40

Frame Family Pictures

Sitting area with tv and framed artwork on wall
Helen Norman

Print out family photos and other favorite memories to hang in a personalized wall display. Gather up the frames you have and paint them the same color for a unified look. Here, basic black frames with white mats lend this gallery wall a polished look.

10 of 40

Repaint Furniture

blue chest home décor flowers wall photos
Brie Williams

Paint is a must-have tool for budget decorating, but this versatile medium is not restricted to walls. It can also be used to give dated furniture and accessories a much-needed lift. Try repainting wood furniture in a splashy color and add new hardware to instantly modernize an aging piece.

11 of 40

Hang Curtains Higher

low table and patterned curtains
Nicholas Johnson

If your drapes have enough length, consider moving the curtain rod closer to the ceiling to give the room a greater sense of height. Before you make the move, measure your curtains to make sure they will still graze the floor if you reposition the rod. If you need a little extra length, try hanging the curtain from drapery clips.

12 of 40

Recover Pillows

bedroom pillows
Anthony Masterson

Pillows can be pricey, and if you're getting tired of yours, try swapping out the cover instead of buying new. Using the old pillow as an insert, zip or button it into a different cover for a fresh look. If you're handy with a needle and thread, consider making your own pillow covers. You can even use a sweatshirt or T-shirt for fabric.

13 of 40

Add Pattern to Shelves

shelving with wallpaper in back
Emily Followill

Upgrade ho-hum shelves with a boldly patterned backdrop. Wallpaper, fabric, and wrapping paper remnants are all perfect fodder for lining the backs of bookcases or built-ins.

14 of 40

Display Jewelry

bedroom dresser diy framed hanging jewelry
Greg Scheidemann

Take your bracelets and necklaces out of hiding and hang them along a bedroom wall. Mount simple hooks or hardware knobs inside an empty frame to define the arrangement. The colorful jewelry will add visual interest to your walls and keep items from becoming tangled.

15 of 40

Fill Your Fireplace

Eclectic style sitting chair near fireplace
Jeff Herr

Spruce up a non-working firebox with an eye-catching fireplace filler. Using books from your home library, line the inside of the firebox with a stacked arrangement. For a streamlined look, wrap the volumes first in white paper. Birch logs make a rustic, farmhouse alternative.

16 of 40

Accessorize with Collectibles

desk top tray dual parrots floral décor
Helen Norman

Embrace an eclectic style by bringing a few family treasures out of the attic. Thoughtfully select one or two interesting pieces, rather than an entire curio cabinet. Decorating with what you have on hand is great, but too many small collectibles can read as clutter. Limit yourself to a few prized pieces integrated with your existing decor, and it will come off as charming.

17 of 40

Repurpose Glass Bottles

pink flowers in bottles mantel place
John Bessler

Display a collection of bottles, vessels, or vases in a similar colorway for vintage-style appeal. Instead of sending glass bottles straight to the recycling bin, check to see if they have an interesting shape or color. Clean them out and save them until you have enough to create a pretty ensemble for a centerpiece or mantel.

18 of 40

Display a Poster

Eclectic style bedroom with orange, yellow and green color scheme

Skip the frame and use a wooden pants hanger to display a poster instead. This hanging technique works well with smaller posters that are just slightly wider than the hanger itself. Wider posters may flop over at the corners.

19 of 40

Add a No-Cost Cushion to a Bench

dining area with vintage furniture
Reed Davis

Try this trick to soften a wooden bench and instantly add style. Fold a colorful blanket over the seat to use as a cushion. Secure belts around the seat to hold the blanket in place.

20 of 40

Bring Outdoor Decor In

Claw foot tub in bathroom in front of window
James R Salomon

Move outdoor pieces inside for an easy addition to your indoor decor. Garden stools work just as well indoors as they do on patios and porches for extra seats and surfaces. Bistro chairs and other outdoor seating can also relocate inside.

21 of 40

Remove Cabinet Doors

white kitchen shelving marble counter tops
Edmund Barr

Remove doors to turn basic cabinets into open shelving. Check inside first, as they may need a fresh coat of paint or a good cleaning. Remove doors and fill any holes with putty, and paint or stain to match the cabinet box. Display favorite dishes, utensils, and cookware or large jars filled with pantry staples, such as flour, pasta, and rice, inside the newly exposed cabinet.

22 of 40

Decorate Your Coffee Table with Books

Living room with rug, fireplace, and coffee table
David A Land

Books are good for more than reading. Bring hardcover books off the shelf to create an interesting tablescape or mantel arrangement. Removing dust jackets can reveal a beautiful cover with eye-catching colors or designs.

23 of 40

Dress Up Basics

twin beds white bed linens yellow accents
Richard Leo Johnson

Even decorating basics can look extraordinary with a little embellishment. Wrap rickrack trim around a lampshade, hang picture frames with ribbon, or attach decorative veneers or trim to plain bookcases. Here, vertical stripes of rickrack dress up a plain white table lamp and lengths of rope draw back curtains.

24 of 40

Display Your Finds

seashell and starfish décor on table tray
John Bessler

Incorporate mementos from vacations or special occasions into your decor. Dig out these small treasures to decorate with what you have and create a meaningful display that integrates your personality and life experiences into your home. Whether it's a collection of shells from a beach vacation or a framed wedding invitation, even the simplest of items become display-worthy when they recall a special memory.

25 of 40

Beautify Office Supplies

office supplies on shelves decorative magazine holders
James Carriere

Turn office staples into accessories you actually want on display. Wrap file boxes or magazine holders with small scraps of wallpaper or wrapping paper to add a quick dose of color and pattern to your home office. This trick also works with desktop items like pencil holders.

26 of 40

Hang Kid's Art

framed pictures by children
Reed Davis

Kids' finger paintings, construction paper creations, and carefully colored drawings are cherished works of art. Instead of stowing away these masterpieces, put them on display in pretty frames. Change up the gallery occasionally with fresh artwork or rotate a few favorites.

27 of 40

Hang a Plate Display

Bedroom with colored plates over bed
Heather Anne Thomas

Turn a hodgepodge of colorful plates into a fun display. Use items from your own collection in various colors and sizes (or gather inexpensive thrifted pieces). Plan out your arrangement before you start hanging to avoid making unnecessary holes in the wall.

28 of 40

Swap Out a Throw Blanket

master bedroom wood chandelier blue blanket
Edmund Barr

Throw blankets can add style and a softer touch to any furnishing. Bring a blanket out of storage to add an extra layer of color to a living room or bedroom. Fold a throw over the back of a sofa or the edge of a bed, allowing any pretty edge detailing, such as trim or fringe, to be visible.

29 of 40

Accessorize Shelves

Living room toward fireplace and shelving
Heather Anne Thomas

Refresh your shelf display by incorporating objects from around the house. Whether it's a serving platter you love but never use or horse figurine you found in the attic, anything with an interesting shape or design can be a candidate. Look for objects that have commonalities, such as white finishes, to create a more unified display. And resist the urge to add "just one more" item. If you have a large collection, rotate objects in and out from time to time, rather than displaying everything all at once, to prevent the vignette from looking cluttered.

30 of 40

Add a Table Runner

homemade table runner breakfast nook
Jay Wilde

Dress up a tiny table with simple decor you already own. If your dining table is too small for a lot of accents, add just a little elegance with a table runner. Use a pretty patterned fabric scrap, retired window treatment panel, or an oversize scarf.

31 of 40

Color Your Mantel

mantel yellow flowers vases
Michael Partenio

Conquer a blank mantel with color. Choosing one common color, such as yellow, gives unrelated objects a unifying theme. Shop your house for items in the same color family. Pitchers, plates, magazines, and pottery come together to make this interesting grouping.

32 of 40

Use Fruit as Accents

citrus fruit glass jar displays
Michael Garland

Shop your refrigerator for fun accessories. Put colorful fruit on display in glass jars or footed glass bowls. Choose the long-lasting fruits of the season for a colorful, affordable, and delicious display. Oranges, lemons, and limes add a refreshing touch to spring or summer decorating. Apples are a great choice for fall or winter.

33 of 40

Turn Cookware into Art

kitchen copper pot pans hanging
Michael Partenio

Fill empty kitchen walls with cooking essentials that double as decor. Pots, pans, baking supplies, and utensils make great wall art when hung in multiples. Bonus: These supplies are easy to find when cooking.

34 of 40

Decorate with Nature

Fall leaves in blue glass vases behind couch
Greg Scheidemann

Why spend lots of money on accents when you can find beautiful pieces just by stepping outside your front door? Colorful leaves become artful arrangements when placed inside vases. Also consider decorating with birch tree limbs, driftwood branches, twigs or grasses in vases, or bowls of rocks and shells.

35 of 40

Hang a Quick Canopy

sheet as bed canopy green walls
Kim Cornelison

Let a curtain panel or an old sheet act as a makeshift canopy or tester. Find fabric in a pattern or color you like and use curtain rods or cup hooks to attach it to the wall. Hanging the panel from the ceiling accentuates the architecture of the room. If you have an existing canopy bed frame, simply drape a sheet or fabric over the top.

36 of 40

Dress up Chairs

colorful accents white room
Kim Cornelison

Dress up plainly upholstered chairs by adding a colorful scarf or fabric runner. This is an easy way to add color to a room. You can change it on a whim or with the seasons.

37 of 40

Accessorize Curtains

patterned curtain colorful tieback
Richard Leo Johnson

Tie-backs add style to shower curtains and window treatments. Tame unruly curtains with scarves, belts, or ribbon. Choose an item in a contrasting hue to add color and interest to your curtains.

38 of 40

Display Pretty Towels

white hutch in bathroom with towels and other items
Studio Au

Towels are a bathroom necessity, but with clever arranging, they can also become a bathroom accessory. Choose towels in multiple colors or patterns and layer them to add splashes of color. Show off decorative accents along with other bathroom essentials, such as soaps and lotions, for fun and functional decorating with what you have on hand.

39 of 40

Customize Window Treatments

yellow kitchen eat stencil on blind
Michael Partenio

Customize plain white window treatments with text. Print letters in your favorite font and transfer them to the window shade by tracing the letters with a fabric marker. You could also add a custom design with adhesive vinyl if you have a Cricut machine.

40 of 40

Pretty Up Your Headboard

fabric used as headboard bedroom
Cameron Sadeghpour

Add interest to a plain or outdated headboard by draping a panel of pretty fabric over it. Cut to size and tuck the ends under the mattress to help it stay in place.

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