Ashley Trudeau is a San Francisco–based blogger who writes about interior design and home décor. She grew up around her mother’s interior design business and retail shop, and moonlights as an interior decorator when she isn’t working as a lawyer. Ashley has redesigned and redecorated several flats in the Bay Area and has a line of pillows she makes by hand in her Bernal Heights kitchen. She’s an ardent devotee of interiors and all things décor.
As a lover of interior design, I’m a firm believer in the phrase, “There is always room for improvement.” That being said, sometimes there’s another famous saying that comes to mind when it comes to refreshing the look of your home: “You can’t always get what you want.” That’s the constant push and pull of interior decorating.
Some pieces will always stand the test of time, no matter what trend is de rigueur, but the design obsessed know that a home is never truly “done.” So what to do when you know your home needs an update but you can’t afford to completely redecorate? Whether you have $100, $500, or $1000, you can refresh your space in an impactful way. Read on for easy, affordable tweaks you can make, no matter your budget.
A home doesn’t truly come alive without some greenery. That’s why one of my tried-and-true tricks for bringing any space to life is to add plants. The good news is this is one of the easiest and most wallet-friendly ways to bring a creative element to your home. Whether it’s a tall cactus to accent your spare modern space or a full fern to create a relaxed boho vibe, there’s something for everyone. You can either go big with a large statement plant, or add a collection of smaller succulents to create a focal point.
Looking to refresh your dresser, kitchen cabinets, or other casegoods? Whether you’ve invested in a piece that now feels a bit dated or you’re looking for ways to make your IKEA buy feel more upmarket, one of the best updates is to add new hardware.
Knobs and pulls can be expensive, but they don’t have to be. There are so many affordable options out there at big box retailers, vintage shops, and everything in between. Having just switched out the knobs in my kitchen to a more streamlined, contemporary design, I can personally attest to the transformative power of this small, easy tweak.
They say we spend approximately a third of our lives in bed. Why not make it count? You’ll never regret investing in good sheets. I made the switch to Belgian linen sheets last year and am still impressed by how luxe they feel.
While you’re at it, refresh your curtains, too. I’m always surprised by how strongly curtains can set the tone for a room. A pair of simple white linen curtains says easy-breezy, while a pinch-pleat set creates an elevated tone.
Art is an integral piece of any home. You may think $500 isn’t enough to acquire eye-catching art, but these days there are so many websites offering affordable, interesting artwork that even the most budget-conscious can afford. Two of my personal favorites are Citizen Atelier and Tappan Collective, but don’t rule out home décor sites like One Kings Lane, Furbish Studio, Chairish, and 1stdibs. And of course, there is always Etsy, a great resource for finding new, undiscovered artists. Another great way to keep costs down is to print some of your own works and frame them at home. Another great alternative is using fabric as art—think a piece of cool embroidered cloth or a printed scarf.
Another easy, affordable, and high-impact change you can make to your home is to incorporate a statement rug. Whether it’s a simple jute rug or a statement-making kilim, rugs add an easy wow factor to your space. And while some vintage rugs can cost an arm and a leg, they don’t have to. In fact, eBay and your local flea market are both great resources for scoring reasonably priced vintage rugs.
If you have a little more room in your budget, consider breathing new life into your chairs by reupholstering them. I recently needed to revamp my living room but couldn’t find a new sofa in my budget. But I did have a pair of perfectly good chairs from World Market in great condition. So I recovered them in a stunning blue ikat fabric by Thibaut that I got a great deal on. The chairs have really revitalized the room, and I barely even notice my well-loved sofa anymore.
Finally, if you have a little more to spend, consider replacing big-ticket items. This centers on items you’re likely to have for years, such as your sofa, dining table, or bed. When purchasing items like these, it just makes sense to follow the old adage “Buy once, cry once.” If you spend more money now on a high-quality piece, you won’t waste money (and time) replacing it earlier than you have to. Of course, these are big decisions, so you should carefully consider each piece and how it will fit in with your taste now and as it evolves.
For more design inspiration by Ashley Trudeau, find her on Instagram.
Are you making small tweaks to your space? Which have you found to make the biggest difference?