I don’t know if it’s just me but whenever I take all the Christmas decorations down, my home just feels a bit… I dunno… flat. Is it the same for you?
Don’t get me wrong. By the time the end of December comes, I actually really look forward to removing the decorations and just letting my house breathe again. And while I love that feeling of ‘getting my house back’, its as though all the things I’d been unhappy with or wanting to change are so glaringly obvious again. I have a ridiculous amount of items on my internal list of Things I Want to Change In the House™ but I know the reality is that after the festive season, our bank account needs a bit of time to recover before we can start on anything major again.
It’s like the new year (and new decade!) all feels fresh and different and yet my home just looks exactly like it did before the festivities began. It can be a bit of a downer. Maybe you are feeling the pinch of a budget stretched too far over the holiday season, and although you might like to redecorate, perhaps you just can’t justify the spend right now. If so, I’m right there with you! BUT… you’ll be happy to hear… there’s a way around it.
I’m going to show you that you don’t need to spend much (or any!) money to give your home a bit of a shake up. Consider them my 10 tips to give your home a total refresh. You shouldn’t need more than a weekend or two to start the new year with a home that feels as fresh as the new year but bear in mind these tips can be used at any time of year so be sure to pin that image above so you can come back to it whenever you’re ready.
I originally shared these tips on AO Life but I thought I’d update and share them here with you today!
Step 1: Clean
Start with a good deep clean of your home. It’s not sexy but it’s going to be a necessary first step to really see your home in a new light – literally and figuratively. I share some of my favourite cleaning tips in this post.
Don’t forget the inside glass of your windows as well. Use a combination of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and give every window a good shine using newspaper (it doesn’t leave behind any lint and is environmentally friendly, too). You really want to let as much light into your home as possible especially during the winter when the days are so much shorter.
While you are cleaning, remove all the small accessories from the surfaces for Step 2 below. Carry a microfibre dust cloth in your hand as you go and as you pick each item up, give it a thorough going over. You’ll be clearing surfaces as you go which first, makes it easier to clean but also, they’ll be coming in handy in a bit which leads me to my next step…
Step 2: Gather
I normally clear a large surface to ‘house’ all those small accessories from Step 1. This is normally my dining table but it can be anywhere you can gather them all and see them as a whole collection where they won’t get damaged. Collect all of these smaller items – small picture frames, ornaments, vases, candles, etc – and put them all together. This will make it much easier to see what you have when we get to Step 7. But we have bigger fish to fry at this moment in time so we’ll be coming back to these in just a bit!
Step 3: Move
With your surfaces cleared of small extraneous things, it’s time to have a look at your furniture placement. You may have not moved your furniture around since you moved in, but perhaps a different placement might make your home flow better. You could even consider changing whole rooms around (would your dining room be better suited as a living room and vice versa?). If you have a larger space to play with, consider moving furniture away from the walls to create more intimate conversation areas and a more interesting layout.
Step 4: Renew
Have a look at the furniture now itself. Is it looking a bit tired or worn? Can the old sideboard you inherited from your parents do with a good sanding and staining? Could you give your coffee table a new look by painting it a different colour? If the lamps you have in your living room are looking a little old-fashioned, could spray-paint and new fabric covered shades make them new again? If your cushions looking a bit tired and flat, can you update the cushion inners or – in a pinch – stuff them with old clothing or jumpers to fill them out again?
Step 5: Swap
Now have a think if there are things like curtains, lighting, textiles or artwork that might be better placed somewhere else. Perhaps the rug in your dining room might work better in a bedroom? Would the curtains in the 2nd bedroom refresh the master? I have often swapped simple pendant lamps from one room to another (obviously this is more complicated for lighting that’s wired in but pendant shades are simple to remove and change when there are no electrics to mess around with). Even hanging a picture in a different space or swapping the cushions from the sofa to the bedroom can give a room the lift it needs.
Step 6: Declutter
Like everyone out there, you probably have too much stuff. Now is the time to decide what’s staying and what’s going. Have a good hard look at rooms where there’s simply too much clutter (home offices, bedrooms and kitchens seem to be the worse culprits for this) and separate out in 4 different piles: the items you are happy to keep and use, a pile for charity, a pile for repair/refresh and a pile for the tip! Be ruthless!
If you’re having issues with deciding whether to keep something or get rid of it, invite a friend you trust around to help you go through it and keep you on track. And then take those items marked for removal to their final destinations!
Step 7: Edit
It’s time to go back to the small accessories and decorative items that you left on your dining room table from Step 2. Are there items in your collection that simply don’t work anymore for your chosen style? Are you keeping things because you’ve had it for so long that you no longer notice it’s a bit tacky or just doesn’t work with your decor any longer?
Another lesson in being ruthless – it’s time to let go of those small things you no longer genuinely love. If you can’t bear to part with something for sentimental reasons but it really doesn’t work with your current decor, then carefully wrap it up and store it until your next refresh or change it with spray paint. Whatever you do, don’t put it back up on your surfaces without careful consideration.
Step 8: Collections
You may find when you view all your items at once that you have a small (or large) collection of objects that are similar to one another. Consider displaying them in a single setting rather than spreading your collection around. The look will be more purposeful and really have impact when viewed all at once. This works well with pieces of pottery, ceramics and glass but really, even if it’s vintage toys or handbags and shoes, creatively displaying your collections will share a bit of your personality with guests.
Step 9: Style
Now it’s time to create some vignettes with your smaller accessories. Layer your items from tallest at the back to smallest at the front to create interesting displays. Normally objects look best displayed in odd numbers so use this trick to your advantage. Consider layering smaller artwork or prints leaning on a table with smaller objects displayed in front of it. And ensure you use different heights, widths and textures – that variation allows your eye to move over a display naturally.
For smaller items, use trays to corral the items together to create a purposeful look. In the bathroom, a small tray under perfumes or jewellery will create an attractive display of items. On the coffee table, use stacks of books and perch smaller decorative items on top.
Step 10: Greenery
Finish off your vignettes with fresh blooms or houseplants. You will rarely see a picture of an interior in a magazine without a display of some kind of life! Plants and flowers add so much to a room and really make it look lived in and loved. The scent of fresh blooms renews a space and houseplants look beautiful displayed en mass – vary the leaf types together for the most effective displays.
Bonus Step: Balance
There is an art to balancing your home – too much clutter and it will look overwhelming and too little on display and your home could risk looking cold. Find the right balance for your home and your lifestyle by letting the things you chose to keep “breathe” in the space. Continue to edit your collections throughout the year to keep your home looking fresh and new in your eyes.
I hope you enjoyed my tips today for giving your home a whole new look without having to spend a lot of money! What tips would you add? Anything I’ve missed? I’d love to hear how you keep your home looking fresh each year without spending a lot of money!