If you have a big fat home-improvement budget, then making your home beautiful is no great challenge.
But since most of us have a lot of other things vying for our money, I thought I’d make a list of ways to make your home feel more lovely for a grand total of $0.
1. Clean it up.
I remember my grandma telling me that if you haven’t got much in the way of a home, you can at least keep it clean.
Even a fabulous home doesn’t feel too great if it’s dirty, you know?
And a not-as-fabulous home can be greatly improved with some cleanliness.
Assuming you already have cleaning supplies and a vacuum/mop/broom, cleaning up your house shouldn’t cost you anything out of pocket.
2. Clear it out.
When I feel unhappy with my house, getting rid of excess possessions usually helps me a lot.
Even a large house can feel crowded when it’s filled up with junk, and a small house can feel (more) spacious when it’s not holding a bunch of unneeded stuff.
Really, unless you have a cavernous, empty home, you’ll probably like it better once you declutter.
Related: How to declutter without creating trash
3. Let the light in.
Natural light makes a world of difference when it comes to how your home feels.
So, every morning, opening the blinds/curtains is one of the very first things I do.
Even on cloudy days, windows let in some light, and on sunny day, the outdoor light is positively fantastic.
Open your curtains, people!
4. Shop your house.
Shopping at stores costs money.
Shopping around your house for options costs nothing.
- rearrange furniture in a room
- put furniture in different rooms
- dig up some old frames and hang them (the three on that wall above are spray-painted frames from Goodwill)
- switch curtains around
- use on-hand paint to change up a wall/frame/piece of furniture
5. Be kind.
Have you ever been in a home where there’s something in the atmosphere that just doesn’t feel quite right?
Where happiness seems to be missing? And it doesn’t feel very warm or inviting?
It’s a little hard to put a finger on this type of thing, but I think the behavior of the people in a house is a big factor.
No matter how beautiful a home is, or how perfectly decorated it is, if the people in the home aren’t being kind to each other, it doesn’t feel like a good place to be.
Greeting each other with a smile, helping each other out, sympathizing with each other, asking about each others’ day, saying good morning and good night….even if you can’t change a thing about the structure of your house, all of those little kindnesses are the best kind of home improvement.
You can’t necessarily control the behavior of your housemates, but one person can often set the tone for a home (especially true if you’re a parent), so don’t wait for other people to be kind first.
Start things off on the right foot yourself and see what happens.
(Please note: I do not do this perfectly, and neither do my housemates. No one on the planet does! But the point is this: when we are kind, our house feels better.)
6. See your home with new eyes.
This has nothing to do with changing your actual home, of course.
But adjusting your perspective can make your home feel more lovely in a hot minute.
When I look longingly at Colonial-style houses (or really, any house that’s not a split design!) or open kitchens or master bedrooms with attached bathrooms, I start to feel like my house is pretty…lacking.
(In fact, just as I was typing that, I felt a wave of unhappiness roll over me. I miss having a master bathroom! Even a tiny one! Waaah! Poor me!)
But when I consider that a lot of people in the world live in grass huts or slapped-together buildings in slums, or in refugee tents, my attitude changes and I feel really silly for complaining about not having a bathroom attached to my bedroom.
I have a bathroom with plumbing.
My house actually has TWO bathrooms.
I live in a safe neighborhood.
My house is in good repair.
We have four bedrooms and an office.
There’s a yard to play in.
We have heating and cooling.
When I realize that most of the world’s population would see my home with grateful eyes?
Well, that changes the way I view it too.
Friday 27th of March 2020
Great advice. I would add to go outside and bring in some plants, cut some branches, leaves or flowers and put them in a vase. Even a simple large leaf in a vase can bring life to your home. Plants are a must and if there is a nice plant you can dig out of the ground or take a cutting from that will grow, it can bring you joy!
Wednesday 25th of March 2020
I love these ideas. It's a great way to give your house a new look without having to go out and spend money. I actually felt the desire to rearrange the master bedroom the other day, and while I haven't actually done it yet - there needs to be some measuring done to make sure everything will still fit well, I am looking forward to it since the room has been the exact same for 13 years. Letting in the sun really does help to brighten the day and your mood, plus it can help to heat up the home a bit too which is nice when the weather is still on the cool side as it means the furnace doesn't have to run so much during the day.
Monday 23rd of March 2020
I read The Nesting Place a few months ago, and the first step to doing any room is to remove as much as possible, to make the space as visually calm and open as possible. We're in the middle of getting our townhouse ready to sell (maybe? if the offer for the new place doesn't fall through?), and the decluttering process has been AMAZING. Tons of work, but the results are amazing.
I know we won't live exactly like this long-term if we do end up ultimately not moving, but I will definitely keep some of the spaces as empty as they are now!
Sunday 22nd of March 2020
Much as I dislike the phrase, I literally shopped my house for decor a couple of weeks ago. I was rearranged some art because I rearranged some furniture. Which led to more rearranging to accommodate that first change. Which led to more,... lather, rinse, repeat. In all, 10 pieces of art now have new homes. The closest I got to buying new, was getting 3 pieces framed. Nice framing makes the art look amazing.
Sunday 22nd of March 2020
I remember reading this the first time around. Still so true! I even have fresh new perspective now. Last time, we lived in a smallish 30's style bungalow. It was a fixer upper but we loved it. But with our growing number of children, we needed larger bedrooms (the bedrooms were actually really tiny, and we didn't want to put three kids in one room). Now we have a larger updated colonial, with an open floor plan and four large bedrooms. All I have to say is this new house is not all it's cracked up to be!!! The open floor plan is a huge pain, IMO. Because there's no way to keep a kitchen clean 100% of the time, you're looking at kitchen mess a lot of the time. In our old house, the kitchen was a room of its own, so if the kitchen was messy at least we couldn't see it. Open floor plans have definite downsides. I don't understand why they're so popular. And with the larger amount of space, it's SOOOO much more difficult to keep clean and neat. More space doesn't mean things get less cluttered; it just means there is more space to attract clutter and try to keep tidy. MORE WORK. If it wasn't for the fact we needed one more bedroom, I wish we would never have moved away from our old house. I would take our sweet old bungalow over our big modern colonial any day. :'-(
Sunday 22nd of March 2020
That's exactly why I never want open plan in my home. I have a kitchen/family area (knocked out the wall between the kitchen and formal dining room) which is where everyone ends up. I love having it and I do not love how it attracts All The Clutter.
Sunday 22nd of March 2020
Well, this is a good reminder to me to be content with the not-open-floor-plan design I am currently stuck with. Heh.