How to Redecorate Without Buying Anything New

Updated 08/21/19
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Courtesy of Elizabeth Roberts

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.

Interior Designer Nicole Newkirk
Nicole Newkirk

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.

01 of 06

Declutter

A decluttered living room
Courtesy of Elizabeth Roberts

Often, when your décor is feeling stale, rather than adding anything new, the best remedy is to edit down what you already have. 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.

For some, parting with our belongings is easier said than done, and may take a little more introspection beyond just asking whether or not an item brings us joy. Anxiety, overwhelm, and deprivation thinking are all common barriers to decluttering a space. To address these potential obstacles, if you're feeling overwhelmed for example, Eve D'Onofrio of the self-care app Sanity & Self shared in a previous MyDomaine article that breaking up a decluttering project into manageable parts may help.

Pick a specific area of a room, and just focus on that before moving on to another part of the room. "Decluttering allows us to clear out and refresh our environments, as well as to clear and refresh our minds," D'Onofrio says.

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02 of 06

Rearrange Furniture

A styled living room with plenty of pastel-toned seating and lots of natural light
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.

Go a step further and incorporate feng shui design principles to attract abundance into your space. Consider these tips to open up your space (yes, even if you have a small space), or these ideas to turn your home into a relaxing retreat.

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

03 of 06

Shop Your Home

A minimalist living room in a neutral color palette
Courtesy of Fantastic Frank

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.

In the same vein, revisit décor and collectible items you've stored away. This time, they might be the catalyst for your room's next look. For example, do you have old posters hiding in the back of your closet? Unroll them and consider displaying them with a wooden pants hanger. Or, have you been collecting glass bottles and other vessels you can repurpose as vases? Can you reuse wallpaper scraps to decorate boxes and magazine holders in your home office?

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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.

04 of 06

Play Around With Accessories

A room with wooden four-post bed and purple-toned wall art and rug
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.

The same goes for other items that can be rearranged, like the books and objects in your bookcase, or switch up the art and photos on your walls. Have outdoor furniture that could work well indoors? Reassign that patio stool indoors for extra seating or as a side table. Or, if your drapes are long enough, consider moving the curtain rod to the ceiling to add height to your space.

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05 of 06

Display Everyday Items as Art

Sleek white kitchen with everyday items displayed, including round cutting boards
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.

Want more ideas? Remove dust jackets from your hardcover books and create a tablescape with your "new" books. Create a vignette from those family photos that have been stuffed in a drawer and repaint frames you already have. You could also go super bold and remove the cabinet doors in your kitchen to display your favorite dishes, cookware, and pantry items.

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06 of 06

Fake a Green Thumb

Bright dining room with a vase full of leafy branches placed in middle of table
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.

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