How To Shop Your Own Home
Does the term “home refresh” bring to mind the image of a tumbleweed blowing through your savings account?
Erase that vision, because I’m here to show you how you can freshen up your home without spending $500 on a haul of glitzy new pillows, throws, and artwork from HomeGoods.
You already have what you need to spoof up your home.
You might be looking with raised eyebrows at your 90s-inspired home decor and feeling skeptical of my claim. Keep reading—I’m going to show you creative and inexpensive ways to shop your own home, whether you’re preparing your home for the market or you’re simply in the mood for a change.
Set up shop.
First, clear a space to be your own “shop.” When I do this, I give my dining room table a pumpkin-to-carriage Cinderella story—instead of a table, it’s now my very own Target aisle filled with items ready for me to “shop.”
Start small, with just two or three rooms. Let’s say you want to refresh your living room. Collect items from your master bedroom, your dining room, and your office for your shopping center. Go through these rooms gathering all decor: artwork, greenery, vases, candles, books, and other decorative items.
This is also the time to go through those items you’ve had hidden for years on the top shelf of your guest room closet—there might be treasures you’ve long-forgotten about inside that dusty cardboard box!
Voila: You’ve created your own home shopping center, and you haven’t spent a dime.
Repurpose your items.
Maybe the items you’ve gathered don’t match your personal Room Refresh Master Vision. Perhaps your room currently features only neutral browns, but you’d like the room to have a blue or green color scheme.
Let me tell you what’s the greatest thing in the whole world (aside from modern medicine): A can of spray paint!
Spray paint opens the door to instant color refresh without gauging a hole in your wallet. For instance, if you have a vase that (as Marie Kondo puts it) doesn’t spark joy, a can of spray paint is your new best friend when it comes to transforming that old vase into a new piece of decor.
Welcome to the money-saving world of repurposing. You take items that aren’t up to date—like old brass candlesticks that you received as a wedding gift 23 years ago—and give them a fresh coat of paint, like black or iron—and poof!—a new-to-you piece of decor.
Even a lampshade can be given a second life with paint! If you have a lampshade that is in good condition, but maybe dirty from years of wear and sporting the stain of children’s fingerprints, these can still be salvaged with a coat of spray paint, a new cover of fabric, or a touch of twine to give it a rustic feel. Don’t give up on your loyal lampshade just yet!
Here’s a secret: Sometimes I daydream about being the person who gets to design the pillows that are included when you purchase a new sofa. Why are they always so drab?!
But there’s no need to purchase brand new pillows—your local craft store is waiting patiently in the wings to help you find the perfect fabric to recover these pillows with a print that pleases. No sewing skills necessary: Search for “no sew” pillows on Pinterest, and you’ll find ways to cover your pillows without even needing a sewing machine!
Don’t let the idea of repurposing furniture send you sprinting in fear to your nearest Rooms for Less for a new bedroom set! Wood furniture doesn’t have to be sanded if you are using chalk paint. Chalk paint is durable and wears well. If you’re painting a piece of furniture in a high traffic area or you have children, I’d recommend putting a coat of thin wax over your newly-painted piece to keep it in tip-top shape.
This is a great way to turn old wooden tables into brand new pieces! For instance, if you have a side table, you can paint it with black chalk paint, add a piece of glass to the top and abrakadabra: you’ve got a new piece of furniture minus the expensive investment!
Pinterest is your fairy godmother for finding ideas and instructions for these easy DIY projects! Create a board and pin 3 - 5 ideas for projects that are realistic for your energy and time commitment for the refresh. Don’t go wild with 50 different pin ideas… you’ll never have time for these, and you’ll be less likely to follow through with any of the projects when you have to wade through a swamp of sparkly pins.
Add in natural elements.
Add life to your room (literally) with greenery.
For those of you who have the green thumb of a forest fire, faux greenery is your save-the-day superhero. You can find some realistic and inexpensive faux greenery at any home goods store. Add these to your newly-painted vases!
Aside from greenery, pebble rocks are another inexpensive way to bring in a natural feel to your room; your local dollar store should have these. Place some candles on a pretty tray, add pebble rocks, and you have a beautiful table piece!
Driftwood is another trendy way to add a natural feel to your room. Bring some home from your next beach vacation, or you can find affordable driftwood-inspired pieces from places like Wayfair, World Market, and Etsy.
Tap into your inner Bob Ross.
No art school degree or thousand-dollar investment at your local art gallery is necessary to freshen up your home’s artwork!
If you have a piece of canvas you dislike, you can repurpose it yourself. Start with a can of spray paint (our trusty friend!), and cover the canvas with your color of choice. Add additional interest by drawing some abstract lines on the canvas inspired by your room’s color scheme.
Don’t ignore the power of well-placed picture frames! Frames can completely change the tone of a room. Consider framing your children’s artwork or other art pieces you already own to create a gallery wall.
Frames that are alike make a huge difference. Even if you have a hodgepodge of frames that span the entirety of ROYGBIV, you can pull out that handy can of spray paint and repaint them all one color to create a gallery or place throughout your room.
Add a touch of class.
I love having a touch of black—at least—in every room! It’s a classic color that’s always stylish. Again, a can of black spray paint can make the magic happen with little effort.
Be a bookworm.
Besides providing us with words of wisdom and a break from reality, hardcover books can also offer the perfect decorative touch to a room.
For instance, books can help raise the height of a vignette. Stack 2 - 3 books on a table, add a case or candle on top, and you have an easy and attractive new piece of table decor.
You can also unleash your creativity with book covers! Cover books in wrapping paper, fabric, or twine to add a unique piece of decor to your room.
I’ve wrapped books in brown or white craft paper, tied twine around it, then hung little trinkets from the craft stores’ scrapbooking section. Beads are coming back into trend, and they’re fun ways to add color to your book-wrapping piece!
Your floors want some attention, too! If you have beautiful hardwood floors, let these take center stage, especially if you are selling your home! I call hardwoods the “glow of money”—that’s what people are buying! Don’t hide it.
Pre-pack your rugs for your new home so that when potential buyers walk over your door threshold, they are floored by your hardwoods.
If your home has linoleum floors, you can put a rug or two down. If you’re looking to sell, add rugs that are simple—nothing too bold or bright. No rugs are better than bold rugs when it comes to wooing potential buyers. Save the rugs that fit your personal style for when you are settling into your new home!
Make the master bedroom “yummy.”
When you’re refreshing your master bedroom, give yourself the gift of comfort. Think: a cloud-like fluffy, white comforter and a couple of throw pillows you’ve recovered with fabric or found on a clearance rack. This room should feel cozy, soft, inviting… in a word: yummy.
If you’re selling your home, the master bedroom is one of the top 3 money rooms in your home! Along with the kitchen and foyer, the master bedroom is a key room to making your buyers ready to sign on that dotted line, like immediately.
Change up the space.
Simply rearranging the furniture in your room can be an easy way to make a space feel brand new!
Consider the focal point of your room. Is it the fireplace? If so, move a chair or bench by the fireplace and add a floor lamp. This puts a metaphorical spotlight on the fireplace, drawing the eye to the focal point of the room.
If you’re selling your home, consider the room’s flow: Does the furniture placement make it difficult for potential buyers to walk through the room, especially when it comes to reaching the focal point? If it’s the fireplace, you want the buyer to be able to easily approach it without tripping over an ottoman and breaking an ankle. The more a buyer looks and touches the focal points in a room, the more money they are likely to offer on the property.
Rearrange furniture to make the room easily-walkable. This may require removing some furniture altogether to create a simple flow to the room.
Show people how to live in a room.
When staging vignettes for a room, show people how to live in each room. In your bedroom, stack a couple books and place a pair of glasses on top. In your living room, place a cute, simply-designed mug on an end table. In your office, place a candle in a teacup or two. The idea is to add decor that gives purpose to the room. (You can read more about this in How to Give Each Room A Purpose.)
When creating a vignette, use odd-numbers when grouping objects: I use mostly groups of 3 or 5 objects. To create visual appeal, between 2 - 3 different heights and widths.
Don’t forget the fun.
When it comes to shopping your own home, be creative and, most importantly, have fun with it.
When we provide an Occupied Staging, we go through a client’s home and show them how they can rearrange and repurpose items they already own to set the stage for selling success, often without spending any money on new items.