How to Redecorate Without Buying Anything New

Updated 08/03/19
How to decorate cooler—cool home decor

When it comes to cool interior designer Nicole Newkirk has it in spades. We've long admired the sought-after designer's ability to curate lived-in spaces that feel organic and authentic rather than overly styled. Case in point: This achingly cool modern San Fransisco home. Newkirk selects shades, mixes and matches textures, and arranges everyday objects in ways that make us covet her style, envy her clients, and double-tap her Instagram posts.

Naturally, we turned to the in-demand designer for a masterclass on how to decorate cooler without buying anything new. Yes, you read that correctly. We asked Newkirk to show us how she styles a cool space with exactly $0—and she did not disappoint. From purging your possessions à la Marie Kondo to shopping your home for true gems, her expert tips prove that a little ingenuity goes a long way when making the most of what you already have.

Ahead, the interior designer walks us through the process of making a room look impossibly cool without spending a single dime. Keep scrolling to see how it's done.

1. Declutter

How to decorate cool—Declutter
Courtesy of Elizabeth Roberts

Often, when your décor is feeling stale, the best remedy is to edit down what you already have rather than adding anything new. In the words of Marie Kondo, the best way to choose what to keep and what to part with is to take each item in your hand and ask yourself: "Does this spark joy?" However, when it comes to purging décor items, Newkirk suggests asking yourself: "Is this item contributing to the story I'm trying to tell in my space?" If not, part ways with it to ensure you're featuring just your favorite pieces. 

Jenni Kayne Large Maple Wood Bowl
Jenni Kayne Large Maple Wood Bowl $325

2. Rearrange furniture

How to decorate cool: rearrange furniture
Christopher Sturman ; Design: JHID

Sometimes the easiest way to up the cool factor of a space is to simply reconsider its layout. "Try something different," suggests Newkirk. "Rearrange your furniture in different rooms. Move your bed to the opposite wall or split up your sectional sofa," she offers.

Reevaluating your existing pieces is a zero-dollar way to make everything you already own feel brand new.

Article Happy
Article Happy $499

3. Shop your home

How to decorate cool: shop your home
Courtesy of Fantastic Frank

Experiment with items in new ways you might not have considered before, like using a stack of books as a side table or a small side chair as a nightstand.

Take a step back and try to see your possessions in a new light. Channel your inner stylist and "experiment with items in new ways you might not have considered before, like using a stack of books as a side table or a small side chair as a nightstand," offers Newkirk.

Jenni Sorkin (Author), Yayoi Kusama (Artist) Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life
Jenni Sorkin (Author), Yayoi Kusama (Artist) Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life $70 $44

4. Play around with accessories

How to decorate cool: play around with accessories
Christopher Sturman ; Design: JHID

Don't hesitate to move accessories from one room to another. "Rework those decorative pillows in your bedroom by styling them on your sofa, or place the table lamp from your living room on your bedside table," says Newkirk. "Moving these items around can really change the feel of the room," the designer adds.

Michael Anastassiades for Flos IC T1 High Table Lamp
Michael Anastassiades for Flos IC T1 High Table Lamp $695

5. Display everyday items as art

How to decorate cool: display everyday items as art
Amy Bartlam ; DESIGN: Lindsey Brooke Design

More often than not, getting that coveted, lived-in look is as easy as it sounds. Embrace simple everyday items as art to style a space that exudes effortlessly cool vibes. In other words, go ahead and lean your cutting boards against your backsplash. Put your jewelry on display in your bedroom or your everyday mugs on display in the kitchen.

Bicyclette Round Walnut and Sycamore Board
Bicyclette Round Walnut and Sycamore Board $105

6. Fake a Green thumb

How to decorate cool: add greenery
Amy Bartlam ; DESIGN: JDP Interiors

Thanks in part to Instagram's influence over décor trends, indoor plants are the trademarks of any well-styled space. However, you don't need to head to your local nursery and purchase a potted plant to get the look. For a no-cost way to incorporate greenery into your home, "display leafy branches or flowers from your yard in a vase," advises Newkirk.

H&M Large Glass Vase
H&M Large Glass Vase $25

Next Up: 13 zero-cost ways to make your home feel fresh.

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