5 Tips to Refresh Your Space on a Tight Budget

Do you have a list for spring cleaning? When I recruited my dad into helping me re-paint the apartment during the holiday break, I didn’t realize it would turn into a full-on deep clean. But, it is amazing that it did!

When you paint, you have to pull all the furniture away from the walls and take everything off the walls, of course. It’s also important to clean the baseboards so that you don’t get dust and grime caught in the brush and paint while you’re cutting out the trim. In this space we also had to take the shades off the windows. As all of this happened, I realized I hadn’t cleaned any of these areas since moving in two and a half years ago…gross!

The only money spent for this “reimagining” project was for three gallons of paint, a new couch cover, and two plants. That’s it. It doesn’t take much to make a change!

Before I share a few tips on refreshing the space on a tight budget, here’s some before and after photos of the changes that ended up happening in this space.

Living Room

Before:

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After:

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Dining Room

Before:

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After:

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5 Tips to Refresh Your Space on a Tight Budget

1. Paint

Paint is one of the easiest (and most fun) ways to transform a space. Don’t be deceived by the before and after photos; we painted the space a completely different color. Before, it was this awful terra-cotta orange yellow. No offense intended if you painted your home terra-cotta colors, but it was dark and it made the space feel dark, even with the windows open. Also, it wasn’t a neutral color so the decor had to tie into it. In a small space with limited natural light, a light and bright neutral color makes it feel larger!

Instead, we went with a really nice off-white and it drastically changed things! Even in the evenings with all the windows closed, the space still feels bright and peaceful. I didn’t want to do a true white; it wouldn’t have been as complimentary with the tones in the kitchen countertop and cabinets. This nice off-white is the perfect neutral to act as a blank canvas for the rest of the decor.

2. Declutter & Rearrange

Clear out things that are on the floor and make sure every item has a place to live. I completely cleared out the area by the return air vent; there were some items that had just been hanging around there and it made the dining area feel cluttered.

I moved the little green bookshelf to the wall by the dining table and completely cleared out all the books that were living in it. Those books didn’t belong in the common space, so instead, it is now displaying tea cups, dishes, and cook books. I also felt like the dining table would look better without the table cloth. With light walls and a nice light couch, the light cloth was too much. Plus, it’s always nice to showcase the wood!

The layout of the living room furniture ended up staying the same for the most part. I tried moving some things around, but in the end, the layout from before felt best. However, the table under the window was unnecessary, making it feel crowded, so it had to go. I replaced the old couch cover with a new lighter and brighter one and removed the extra pillows from the chairs.

3. Balance it Out

The wall on the right side of the TV was empty. Balancing out the wall was as simple as adding a trio of frames there. But, another element of “balance” is playing around with utilizing different materials, dimensions, and textures.

Mixing woods can work, as long as the tones are in the same general family. This space has several different woods, but they all have a slight chestnut feel to the tone. In such a small space, that helps tie it together. The wood is then balanced out by adding a few metal elements with the side table and bar stools.

The “daisy chair” in the living room is a pop of pattern, so the couch and Papasan chair are a neutral color with colors in the pillows to tie them in to the patterned chair. The pattern on the dining chair cushions are different but still similar to the daisy chair. They aren’t right next to each other, so it works.

I added three-dimensional elements on the walls with the wire basket, glass bottle crate, and wooden utensils. And finally, texture comes from the coffee table trunk (also extra storage), bamboo Papasan chair, and woven wood on the front of the drawers on the storage unit to the left of the entertainment center.

4. Add Some Life!

For months I have been wanting to have hanging plants and finally made it happen! In next month’s DIY post, I’ll be sharing how to make these super simple hanging planters. Adding plants to a space it’s a great way to bring life into it, literally.

Don’t worry, if you aren’t keen on having real plants in your space because your thumb isn’t the greenest, it is also effective to use faux plants (You can find faux plants that look and feel so real, it’s scary!). However, if you’ve never tried sprinkling your space with real plant life, I’d encourage you to give it a try!

Plants are less maintenance than most may think; you just have to chose the right ones for your space. One day, pay attention to where, and for how long, you get sunlight coming in your windows and choose plants accordingly. For example, if your windows only get sunlight for four hours a day, you wouldn’t want to pick an entire succulent garden because succulents need full sunlight.

When you first get started, set a reminder to go off on your phone for the first couple weeks so you don’t forget to check your plants and water them.

5. Don’t Get Discouraged if You Can’t Do it All

There is still a list of things I’d love to do in this space, but they are out of my budget right now. Just a few of those things include replacing the couch and rugs, adding a backsplash and open shelving in the kitchen, crown molding, adding a shelving unit on the wall by the air return vent, and changing the window treatments.

If you can’t do everything, that’s okay. That doesn’t mean you can’t to something! 

Don’t get discouraged if everything you want to do isn’t in your current budget. Prioritize and make your way down the list and with each item, don’t forget to have fun!

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