34 Affordable Ways to Refresh Your Home in the New Year

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As we enter a new year, there’s no better time to give your home a makeover and get off to a fresh start.

While you may not have the budget to do a major remodel, there are still ways to make your home look good on the cheap.

Following are some great options for sprucing up your digs without spending an entire paycheck.

1. Add indoor plants

Woman reading a book
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Whether fake or real, plants add pops of green throughout your home and freshen your space — sometimes literally. Live plants can improve the air quality by removing impurities, as we explain in “9 Houseplants That Remove Toxins From Your Indoor Air.”

Place potted plants near windows throughout your home if you have a green thumb. If you don’t have the time or inclination to care for real plants, look for realistic-looking artificial plants.

2. Create a cozy corner

An older couple uses a tablet computer
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Consider creating a corner that lets you relax and recharge. Find a quiet space and add a comfortable chair and a small table. Don’t forget a fuzzy blanket and comfortable pillows.

If you enjoy reading, put a small bookshelf and a reading light in the space to make it easier to get lost in your favorite book.

3. Declutter

Kitchen countertops
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Getting rid of clutter can change the look of your home. You may not realize how having extra stuff on every flat surface and mountains of pillows affects the look and feel of your rooms.

Go through every room in your home and try to clear off most surfaces, leaving only essentials such as lamps or a clock. Remove extra pillows and blankets and get a feel for the room before adding anything back.

Add to your decorating budget by selling items you don’t need. If you don’t clear out enough clutter to hold a yard sale, check out “6 Websites that Will Sell Your Clutter for You.”

4. Swap out your hardware

Woman in front of kitchen cabinets
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Adding new hardware to your cabinets is an easy way to change how your space looks and feels. Cabinet hardware is inexpensive — you can even buy it on Amazon if you don’t want to drive to your local home improvement store. It can completely transform the look of a room.

Unless you plan on drilling new holes, your new hardware will need to have the same dimensions. So, before you pick out new handles and drawer pulls, remove one of your current ones.

Measure the screws and, for pulls with multiple screws, the space between them. Or take a piece of your current hardware with you to the store.

5. Change the artwork

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After a while, you stop really seeing the art on your walls. It becomes just a part of the decor. But your wall art can set the tone for a room or tie into your color scheme. Mixing things up can breathe new life into a room at a fraction of the cost of remodeling.

If you have framed photos, swap them out for more recent ones. Look through photos from recent vacations and outings or find a few images of nature that you like. Consider blowing them up and framing them to accent your walls.

6. Remix your accessories

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Accessories can add a pop of color or an interesting element to a room. Consider switching throw pillows between rooms or pull out any accessories you have in storage.

Add a new throw blanket to your sofa and experiment with arrangements for lamps, candles and other accessories.

7. Change up your lighting

Woman changing light bulb
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Make sure you have sufficient lighting in all of your rooms to fit your needs. Add lamps to brighten up dark corners or shine a light on frequently used areas.

Switch up your lighting by changing lamp shades or moving lamps around. If you’re up for bigger changes, consider swapping out hard-wired fixtures, such as entryway ceiling lamps or a dining room chandelier.

8. Install new door handles

A handyman replaces a door lock
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Door handles are an often-ignored detail in most homes. However, having just the right hardware can change the look of your house.

For example, if you have old brass-colored door handles and you switch to a new modern look, your doors could get a facelift for less than $100.

9. Rearrange your bookshelves

remote job
Aleksandar Karanov / Shutterstock.com

Updating the contents of your bookshelves can have a big impact on the look of your home. Here are ways to do this on a shoestring:

  • Group books based on color.
  • Position knickknacks off-center on a shelf.
  • Mix up how books are displayed: Place some in horizontal stacks and use them as bookends.
  • Make a pyramid of books and add a favorite display item on top.
  • Mix framed photos and art with the books.

10. Add new storage options

Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.com

New storage options can add color and function to your home. Colorful baskets or boxes on bookshelves or side tables can hide remotes and other unsightly items.

Adding a storage ottoman or bench gives you more functional seating and a place to hide extra blankets or pillows. Spending a little on key organizing essentials can be money well-spent.

11. Change switch plates and outlet covers

A man flips a light switch
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It’s the little details that can make a difference in the feel of your room. If you have old or yellowed switch plates and outlet covers, consider updating them with a new look.

Most hardware stores sell them for just a few bucks, so you can update the look of your entire home on a budget.

To add pops of color or extra polish, look for ceramic or stainless steel switch plate options at hardware stores, on Etsy or at Walmart.

12. Give your home a deep cleaning

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Nothing beats the feel and smell of a clean home. If you want a great way to update your home in the new year, don’t just wipe the surfaces and give the toilet bowl a quick squirt of cleaner. Instead, consider a deep clean.

Dust the tops of cabinets, wash windows inside and out and give baseboards an extra scrub. Throw your pillows and pillow inserts in the washing machine. Don’t forget comforters and blankets.

When you’re done, your house will smell and feel squeaky clean.

13. Add some trim

Woman painting trim
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Crown molding can change a home from ho-hum to elegant. Check out this tutorial on the This Old House website showing how to install crown molding.

If adding crown molding seems a little too advanced, start with window and door trim.

Measure three times before making a cut or installing your trim. If you don’t have the tools, some hardware stores will cut the molding you purchase if you give them the dimensions.

14. Spruce up your couch

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Couches are big pieces of furniture that take up a lot of real estate in your living room. An easy way to update the look of your home is by adding a pop of color to the area.

This can be in the form of colorful accent pillows or a new throw blanket. If your couch could use a little more help, consider adding a slipcover.

15. Repaint a room

Couple painting a room in their home
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If you’re looking to make a big statement on a small budget, change the color of a room. With a few tips, you can paint like a pro. Repaint a main area such as your living room or a smaller space such as a bedroom.

Look through design websites and magazines for inspiration. Before you commit to a color, get a sample of the paint (most are $5 or less) to test it out. Put it on a piece of wood and hold it up to the wall to see how it looks in your space. Home Depot is one place to find paint samples and wall colors.

Keep in mind that a paint color when it’s dry can look different than it looks in the can. Also, the shade can look darker or lighter depending on the lighting in your room.

16. Paint your front door

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First impressions matter: What better way to make a good one than refreshing your front door?

The color you choose will depend on the trim and color of the rest of your house. Consider going with a bright and welcoming shade such as blue, yellow or red.

Some paint colors even can boost the resale value of a home.

17. Add container plants

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Dress up your porch and yard by adding new plants. You can use seeds to start your plants in the spring or dig up a few perennials from your garden and arrange them in pots.

Look for a discount area in your local nursery where you can pick up plants and pots for half-price or less. Container plants are a great way to add a splash of color to your home. You can easily move them around and group them for a bigger impact.

18. Paint photo frames

Woman hanging artwork
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If you have photo frames throughout your house, consider changing them up. Buying new ones can be pricey so consider painting them instead.

Don’t stick to safe and boring options such as black and white. Instead, opt for a few bright colors to add interest and brighten up your home.

19. Add some contrast to bookcases

A young woman with a toolbox assembles a bookshelf
Elnur / Shutterstock.com

If you’re not ready to commit to painting an entire room, consider sprucing up your bookshelves. Add a pop of color to the back panel of your bookcases by either painting them or using colorful paper. This can be contact paper, gift wrap or wallpaper with fun shapes and designs.

If you want to do a trial run, cut cardboard boxes to fit the size of each bookshelf opening, and cover or paint it. Place it at the back and add your books and accessories as usual. This will tell you if you like the look before you make a permanent change.

20. Paint furniture

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Painting furniture can take it from boring to spectacular. This works best with pieces made of wood, since the paint will stick to it better. Don’t forget to sand it down and strip any lacquer or other shiny coating before painting.

Doing a coat of primer can make your paint go on more evenly and make it more durable in the long run. Start small with a side table or a chair before moving to bigger projects such as a dresser or bed frame.

21. Add path lighting

Garden lights line a walkway in a yard
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Upgrade your walkway or garden by adding path lights. This will make the area safer come nightfall and add a little romance.

Look for solar-powered lights, since they don’t need additional wiring.

22. Paint exterior shutters and trim

Busy House Painter Painting the Trim And Shutters of A Home.
By Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock.com

Bring the exterior of your home to the next level by adding a fresh coat of paint. Depending on your home’s design, a little paint can go a long way.

You can refresh your current color or switch it up to another shade within your home’s color scheme.

Short on time? Focus on street-facing trim for maximum impact.

23. Make a new headboard

Woman making a bed
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Change the look of a bedroom by adding a new headboard. This project can be done for less than $50 while dramatically updating the look and feel of the room.

Either refurbish an old headboard or search for free and cheap materials to keep costs down. DIY Network has ideas for simple headboards anyone can make.

24. Change your house numbers

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Your house numbers can set the tone for your home. From classic to sleek and modern, they are more than the numeric display of your address.

Search for new house numbers online or at your local hardware store. And, for something unique, check out Etsy for handmade options.

25. Add a chair rail

An empty room of a house
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Chair rails add elegance and upgrade the look of a room for less than you’d expect. They are easy to install, but require close attention to detail so they are level throughout the room.

Increase the architectural drama of a room by painting the wall above and below in two different shades of the same color.

26. Paint the ceiling

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Most people paint their ceiling a boring white, which is why going for something different really stands out.

Consider a neutral color such as a soft blue or gray to draw the eye up without overwhelming the room.

27. Add mirrors

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Strategically placed mirrors reflect light and can make a room appear much larger than it is. If you have a small or dark room that needs pizazz, add a decorative mirror to brighten it up.

Or, add several small mirrors to a dark corner in a main area, such as the dining or living room. Update the look of an outdated bathroom by swapping out the mirror over the sink with one that has an ornate or fun frame.

28. Switch out your window treatments

A woman reads a book and drinks coffee next to a window
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Add drama to your space by swapping out your window treatments.

Switch up your drapes for a new pattern that ties into your color scheme. If you have blinds, consider adding fabric curtains in some of your rooms for added impact.

29. Rearrange your furniture

Women move a sofa into their home
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One of the easiest ways to make a change on a budget is by switching your furniture around. This could be as simple as rearranging your couch and chairs or grouping furniture in a way that encourages conversation.

Consider moving some furniture from a bedroom and using it to mix up things in your main living areas. An armchair or a side table from elsewhere in the house can change the feel of a room and add a new element.

If you have a friend with an eye for design, ask for ideas on how to freshen your space.

30. Try a theme

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Going with a theme can take a room from boring to fun. Whether you opt for the French country look in your living room or a nautical theme in your bathroom, choosing the right accessories is key.

Go with a color scheme to tie everything together and blend it with the rest of your home.

31. Paint kitchen cabinets

Woman painting kitchen cabinets
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If you want to make a big change in your kitchen and you’re on a small budget, paint the cabinets. It will take time and attention to detail, but the end result will be worth it.

Don’t forget to make notes as to which cabinet doors go with which cabinet to make it easier to put back together once you’re done painting. Also, group all the hardware for each cabinet in a plastic bag and label it so you’re not hunting down screws when reattaching the doors.

Considering remodeling? Check out the “17 Home Renovations That Give Owners the Most Joy.”

32. Change rugs and flooring

Father playing with his child
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The floors set the tone for a room so switching them up can shake up the feel of your home. Consider adding a soft rug to a bedroom to warm up your feet as you get up in the morning.

Or add an area rug to a living area to define the space and bring in more color and texture. If you’re up for a bigger change, consider refinishing hardwood floors or removing existing flooring and staining the concrete underneath.

33. Add display shelves

Woman hanging a shelf
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Mix up your wall decor by adding display shelves to an empty wall. Shelves are easy to install and can display art, photos, small plants, favorite pieces from traveling adventures and much more.

34. Update your kitchen backsplash

home upgrade
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If you don’t have a backsplash in your kitchen, adding one can make a big impact. Even if you’re not handy, there are many backsplash options such as peel-and-stick designs you can add with little skill.

For those who have basic DIY skills, consider installing a tile backsplash that will last longer and protect your wall from water, food grease and damage.

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