7 Cheap Ways To Update Your Space

Want to update your space? Looking for cheap design tips and easy decor tips that make a big difference? Look no further! I swear by these 7 decor ideas - I do them once or twice a year! #budgetdecorating #thriftydecor #moneytips #personalfinance #FIRE
Here’s how you know it’s time to update your space:
1. You still have framed photos of That Non-Awesome Ex
2. The dust on your artificial plants has made them appear beige

3. You find yourself spending more money on coffees and cocktails so you can hang out outside of your lack-luster space

Sound familiar? Updating your space doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. You don’t have to take time off work to repaint everything or spend $500 on a new couch. You’d be amazed at the changes you can make with $20 and  a Sunday afternoon!

7 cheap ways to update your space 

1. Swap out the prints and photos in your frames 

If you’re like me, you’ve probably had the same prints and photos in the same frames for, oh, five years. Dig through your Facebook albums and print out some funny photos, find some cool black and white pictures of your grandparents, or just have a poke around Etsy and order a few prints.

It’s amazing what a difference it can make! This set of four prints is only $13!

2. Level up the cozy by getting a new throw blanket for your living room

Adding a new blanket immediately makes your home warmer + snugglier and can provide a pop of color. If you’re reading this in the summer, get a light, cotton throw. This throw is cuddly and neutral enough to match any color palette.

Thrift stores are rife with grandma-style hand knitted afghans or you can usually pick one up at Target or Ikea for less than $30.

3. Upgrade your lampshades

Innocuous lamp bases are one of my best and most common thrift store purchases. But why match an innocuous base with a bland shade? You can frequently find fun patterned lamp shades at Target and Ikea (apparently the only places I shop other than thrift stores) for under $30. This statement lampshade is $13!!!

Or you can just make your own!

4. Elevate your space with new towels

Other than your shower curtain, your bath towels are pretty much the most exciting design piece in your bathroom, right? Or at least, they’re probably displayed someplace where everyone can see them?

Why not get something other than white? Or if you’re feeling really kicky, what about something other than terry cloth? Apparently cotton Turkish towels are amazing.

5. Make it smell amazing

I know this seems ridiculous but it really, really isn’t. We all know that an apartment that smells like cinnamon + cloves feels really different than an apartment that smells like gym clothes + litter box. You can make your space smell good with crackling wood wick candlesoil diffusers, or ‘stove simmers.’

6. Put something new in the middle of your dining room table

I am exactly the kind of try-hard who always has something artfully arranged in the middle of my dining room table. And by ‘something’ I mean ‘a wooden bowl of produce and a candle.’ It’s better than nothing, but it feels nice to switch it up sometimes. Here are some cute, cheap centerpiece ideas.

7. Improve your pillows by changing out (or at least washing) the shams

So easy! Unzip your old shams (and probably throw them in the wash), slide on some new ones in a different color or fabric. Done. You can frequently find pillow shams at Ikea for less than $20 or, of course, you can just make them yourself.

I probably won’t be undertaking every.single.one of these but I think I’m ready to get rid of my stained dish towel and frame a few new photos.

But I want to know about you! What do you do when your space is feeling stale?

P.S. How to make your house cozy when it’s gray + horrible outside and 8 ways to show your home you love + respect it

photo by sara dorweiler //cc

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  1. Elise

    Excellent tips! Because I rent I can't put anything on the walls but I've been thinking about moving some furniture around and adding more lamps and some cushions 🙂

  2. iris

    Contact paper wall decals are also a cheap/nifty way to do up a space. I have a how to, here but I really like my latest birch coat tree forest best. Totally awesome for rental apartments, as the contact paper is removable without too much difficulty.

    Heck, even just acquiring some mature (i.e., big) plants on craigslist is a cheap and effective way to mix things up.

  3. Cinders

    Excellent ideas Sarah – but please, please don't use air fresheners! They are full of nasty chemical cocktails that are really dangerous to human health. I've attached some links to info below if anyone's interested:


    Instead of that, I'd probably suggest opening the windows/ using a wee touch of lavender in an oil burner, or, if you have a spare 15-20 minutes, whip up a batch of muffins.

    All the rest of your suggestions are great though, especially when you're living in a rental – it can be really hard to shake it up a bit!


  4. Ren M. Brock

    These are great ideas! Although, I'm not really concerned with my towels. My cousin and I just moved into a house together and I've been wanting to get a center piece for the kitchen table. Right now, everything's still a bit cluttered, though. Thanks for the tips!

  5. Nessbow

    I'm currently in the process of crocheting a new throw rug for our loungeroom. It's really colourful and I'm hoping it will brighten up the joint (plus it's super-snuggly).

  6. Rachel

    more tips:

    – Make a “home bar”! Arrange your bottles of booze & accessories on a tray in your living room. Instant chic.

    – Scrub your cabinets! Not sexy but kitchen cabinets are always shockingly gross when you look closely, and washing them (I like diluted apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle) makes a huge difference!

    – Pretend you’re a guest! Walk in and look at your place as if you’d never seen it before. Notice what you like, and what you’d change. Then, you know, change it.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes! I love taking a magic eraser to every surface in the house!

  7. Slackerjo

    I bought some dollar store chalkboard paint and some chalk and painted a small chalkboard on the back of my apartment door. When I make myself a note, I can draw a silly stick figure of my buying carrots or returning a library book!

  8. Joanie

    Turkish Towels are amazing! They absorb water better than the terry cloth kind, and dry super fast. If you live somewhere humid, they are a must. And! They take up less room and are easy to line dry.

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