I’ve always loved to have beauty all around me, and my home is no exception. Even as a little girl, I longed to have a beautiful room with pink gingham curtains and flowered wallpaper. As a married adult, my tastes have changed somewhat, but my desire for beauty remains. My budget, however, has not always supported making large purchases. So today I’m sharing with you 10 ways to add beauty to your home for little to no money.
1. Declutter it.
It’s impossible to have a peaceful, beautiful atmosphere in one’s home when there is a lot of clutter. Now, I’m not talking about a stack of books with a half-empty tea cup on top. Or your child’s toys in a corner of the room where the family gathers. These things represent life in a home. Rather, I’m talking about a dresser-top littered with old receipts, change, tags you cut from new clothes 3 months ago– you get the idea. Things stacked to be “put away” that should probably be thrown away; things your family doesn’t use that could be used by someone else. Need help? I recommend this book by Emilie Barnes. Years ago, I learned a great system for organizing from another of her books. She uses simple methods and short slots of time for getting your stuff organized.
2. Clean it.
When you clean your house, you are injecting some love into it! Take a rag and dust those surfaces and see how your house sparkles! Vacuum the carpets and see how fresh they look! Mop that floor and look at it shine! Enlist your family’s help– even young children can dust low surfaces and empty waste baskets. I used to think it was a privilege to help my mother clean the house– it’s all in how you approach it.
3. Rearrange the furniture
Call a friend to come help you and, if you are undecided about the layout, to give her input. My parents never got around to having nice living room furniture, but once, they got an upscale set of used items, and my mom called her friend over to help decide how it should be arranged (the friend’s house was stylishly done– always call a friend whose house you admire!). I’ll never forget my dad’s resistance to the arrangement the friend suggested because he would have to crawl under the house and drill a hole in the floor for the tv cable. My mom was about to give up on the whole thing, and the friend stepped in and told my dad to grab his tools and go drill because the furniture was definitely going in the pattern she suggested. When it was all finished, our simple living room looked 100 times better.
4. Shop your house
This is fun! Start by clearing an area of decor– say your mantel. Now walk around your house and look for inspiration within a certain color scheme or theme. Mantel looking too dark for the current season? Could you grab some vintage books in coordinating pastel colors, a teacup with similar hues, a few pictures in wood-toned frames, a plant, and a candle? Your personal style may be entirely different but you get the idea. You can then take the items you removed from your mantel and either put them away if they are out of season, or re-purpose them in another area of your home.
5. Paint something
You probably have leftover paint in the basement, so this could be free or else inexpensive. Paint is one of the easiest, cheapest and quickest ways to update a room. When we moved into our cottage, the living and dining rooms were “Agreeable Gray.” A popular color, it just didn’t look right in our house. We decided to try this color, and I couldn’t be happier. If you had told me years ago that I would purposely paint a room in my house white, I would have laughed at you. Now I love that the sun’s rays bounce off the walls and the rooms are warm and light-filled. It was an easy fix that made a huge difference. You can also paint a piece of furniture and take it from drab to fab! I recently painted some large candlesticks I got at a yard sale with leftover paint from my basement, and am super happy with the result.
6. Purchase one new item from a thrift store or yard sale
If the item is perfect, leave it alone. If not, see #5 above! I love going to thrift stores and yard sales; you never know what you are going to find! (Usually, it’s either absolutely nothing or a great treasure!) Mr. Muse and I started going to yard sales early in our marriage, and I was hooked! At the time, we had ordered a coffee table for $225 from a local furniture store (to go with our $100, used couch!). The table was taking forever to arrive, and one Saturday, we were at a yard sale and saw a wooden coffee table with some items stacked on top of it. The seller was just using the table to hold some items and hadn’t thought about getting rid of it, but we asked how much she’d want for it. She replied, “How about $5.00?” and we grabbed it! The table was unfinished, so Mr. Muse stained it and it was beautiful. I canceled my other order and saved $220.00. Later, Mr. Muse added longer legs to the table and painted them a dark green while keeping the wooden top, and we used it as a side table. A friend once asked us if this refurbished table was from Pottery Barn! So you see, all it takes is a good eye and little paint or stain. Other things you can purchase inexpensively to update your home are throw pillows (often on sale at Hobby Lobby), inexpensive artwork (or a canvas for a talented artist in your family to create a custom design), and vintage books from your local used bookstore.
7. Add plants or flowers
I have recently become a plant lady! Plants are popular decor right now, but did you know they were regularly used years ago? One of my favorite shows is I Love Lucy, and I noticed the Ricardos have a lovely pothos plant on the pass-through between their kitchen and living room. There is nothing new under the sun. Here is a list of popular houseplants that are easy-care:
- English ivy
- Christmas cactus
- fiddle-leaf fig
- African violet (get the special pot for it)
- snake plant (I don’t care for these, but apparently, many people do, because I see them all over!)
Not only do plants beautify your home, they improve the air quality, thereby improving your health. So invest in a plant or two (or grow a cutting from a friend for free!). Just remember to water regularly– I practice a great idea I got from Nesting With Grace — Water Wednesday. If you forget Water Wednesday, you do Thirsty Thursday. Brilliant! (Just go check out her blog– she’s kind and helpful and I get tons of ideas from her!)
8. Play some music
Sure, it’s great if you can play it yourself! Open a window and play the piano– people walking by will be blessed by it! If you can’t play an instrument yourself, put on a great playlist from Spotify. One of my favorite “home” books is At Home with Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott. Jennifer gives playlists for morning, afternoon, and evening. Do you like classical music in the morning while you’re still waking up, but something peppy in the afternoon so you don’t fall asleep? Make your own playlists for different times of the day and see how music improves your home and even makes things look a little prettier.
9. Light a candle
Have you ever heard the advice regarding selling your house and scent? It works! When we have looked at houses with delicious aromas filling the air, I’ve been tempted even if the house wasn’t exactly what I wanted. There’s just something so powerful about a scent. You can light a candle, or bake something yummy, or diffuse some essential oils… all of these will give the allusion of improving the appearance of your home just by uplifting your mood. Chances are, you have some half-burned, yummy-smelling candles stashed away– why not bring them out and use them?
10. Improve your attidude
If you have tried a number of the above and you still feel like your house is way behind in the beauty factor and just has too many problems and will never be like so-and-so’s house (maybe you’ve never had this problem and I applaud you– I have), it may be time for an attitude check. Every house has some issues, and yours is no exception. Why not make the best of it, and, according to Melissa Michaels, Love the Home You Have. I think that’s the best advice there is on improving the appearance of your home.
I hope these ideas inspire you to do some of your own improvements for little to no money. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve ever implemented one of these ideas, or if you are especially inspired by one of them.