I've been writing and editing home content for the past seven years, and there are a few terms that I've heard more times than I can count—Scandi, Mid-Century Modern, Minimalism, the list goes on and on. But there's one particular thing that designers tend to suggest time and time again, and that's the idea of "shopping your own home."
Shopping your home is a designer-approved trick that helps you refresh and redecorate without spending a single dollar. Essentially, you take items you already own and use them in a fresh way. It's almost like cheating your way to a makeover.
In an interview with designer Nicole Newkirk, she explains shopping your home as a chance to "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."
Similarly, it's a great chance to break out items you might have stored away, or make small changes like swapping out the frames on your art or simply moving your bed's throw pillows into the living room.
To give you an idea of just how easy it is to change up your space without breaking the bank, I tasked my teammates here at MyDomaine and our friends over at The Spruce to join me in the Shop Your Home Challenge.
Read on to see 8 real world examples of how we made over our spaces without spending a single cent. You just may be surprised by the huge impact a few small changes can make.
A Personality-Packed Bedroom Update
"I updated the bedroom because it's my favorite room in the house, and probably where I spend the most time since my home office is there as well. I redecorated my bed by switching my heavy down comforter to a breathable linen quilt that had previously been tucked away in the closet, and swapping out my throw pillows for more colorful options that were originally on the couch.
Now the room feels more inviting and has a bit more personality. I like the bright colors from the throw pillows and the slight contrast between using pillowcases and a comforter that aren't the same color.
I learned that I can totally transform the look of my space just by switching things around. In my 'before' photo, the bed arrangement felt a little more elevated, but in the 'after,' I think it feels cozier and a little more 'lived in,'" — Candace Madonna, visual editor at The Spruce
An Elevated Living Room Refresh
"I chose the corner of my living room where my white leather rocker lives because this chair has a lot of sentimental value to me. It was given to be my a very close friend as a nursing rocker in advance of my daughter’s birth. I rocked and nursed my baby late into the night for months on this chair. I still like to sit and read on it, so I thought this area of my home deserved a little makeover.
I used an orchid, which sits within an awesome terra-cotta pot, a set of beautiful side tables, and a throw pillow to update the space. The orchid had been on my dining room table. The end tables were hiding in the corner of our guest bedroom rather than getting their fair share of living room limelight. And the throw pillow was on another chair, being used as a seating cushion.
I think I really elevated the space immediately simply by removing one item, swapping another out, and adding two more. That’s a really simple formula for freshening up a frequently used corner of our living room.
This taught me there’s a lot of power in changing things up—and that you don’t necessarily have to spend any money to achieve a new look. The next time I get the urge to freshen up my space, I will remind myself that my first instinct shouldn’t be to shop online but to shop my home instead." — Mélanie Berliet, general manager at MyDomaine and The Spruce
A Simple Settee Makeover
"I've had this settee for a few years, and never really gave it much thought or attention beyond placing it between my favorite window and the door to my balcony. Because it's polka dotted and sits atop a striped rug, I was afraid introducing additional elements would make the vignette feel overdone.
But when I added a simple white throw pillow, a metallic wall hanging that had been hiding in my bedroom for the past few months, and a gold-accented floor lamp, the whole area finally felt finished. The swaps were so easy too. I simply moved the lamp from the other side of my living room and brought the throw pillow out of storage.
I think I took the area from feeling like an afterthought to a truly intentional part of my space. The impact really wowed me, and I think I'll make "shopping my home" a seasonal occurrence." — Bridget Mallon, associate editorial director at MyDomaine
A Beachy Dining Room Refresh
"I live in a small 650 square foot apartment that is essentially one big shared room that includes my kitchen, dining room, and living room. During this time at home, I've done my fair share of redecorating my living room and kitchen, but I noticed I've neglected the dining room area a bit. I decided to tackle this section and give it some decorating love using what I had for this Shop My Home challenge.
Originally, I had a small vase holding some pampas grass on my dining table. While I love pampas grass and the vase that was holding them, it just looked a little... boring. With a table as long as mine, I knew it needed something a bit bigger. I decided to use a vase that was hanging out in my bedroom closet, and I swapped the pampas grass with a dried palm leaf that I bought for my husband's vintage surf themed birthday breakfast a few weeks back.
I didn't want to stop there—I decided to swap two of my dining chairs with a bench that's been hanging out under my bedroom window for years now. These very tiny changes make the room feel a bit more exciting, and ties in that beachy, minimal vibe I always go for so nicely with the dried palm leaf, wooden accents, and abstract art.
With this challenge, I've learned that our initial instinct when we crave change is usually to buy something new, but simply moving things around in your home, using things you already own, can give it that same magic of newness we crave without spending a single dollar." — Kim Carvalho, associate social editor at MyDomaine
A Detailed Dining Table Update
"When I moved into my new apartment in May, it was the first time I’d had a dining room. I bought this dining set pretty much right away, but that was about as far as I’d got in decorating this part of our home. (Without being able to host dinner parties, it didn’t feel urgent!) So it was about time I gave it some color.
I repurposed a Oaxacan wall-hanging as a table runner, and put a couple of leaves from my monstera in a vase. The framed pictures had hung in our old bedroom and hadn’t found a place in our new apartment yet, but they paired well with the turquoise in the table runner.
I had become tired and bored of the pictures, but hanging them in the dining room made them feel fresh again. And being able to use greenery from my plant collection was a great alternative to fresh flowers!" — Kate McKenna, email editor at The Spruce
A Newly Curated Bar Cart
"I bought this cart over a year ago with the intention of using it to store and display my perfume collection. As evidenced by the before pictures, it's ended up serving as a home to a random collection of junk instead of my treasured bottles of Byredo.
When I first heard about our Shop Your Home challenge, this cart was the first thing I thought of. I toyed with the idea of turning it into a wrapping paper station (to make all of my Pinterest dreams come true), but decided to go with something I'd get more use out of. I'd been wanting to curate a bar cart for a while, so this challenge was the perfect opportunity to do so without spending eons on a new item. I just added a few bottles of wine, glassware, and a vase of fake flowers I had been moving around from room to room.
I used to feel a pang of irritation every time I saw the cart and the mess that was accruing on it, but now I swear I feel my mood lift every time I glance at my new setup." — Karli Bendlin, email editor at MyDomaine
Updated Altar Space
"Though it's just a tiny spot in my room, this corner is my altar and means a lot to me. It's where my journals, tarot cards and crystals live. I have been 'shopping my home' and rearranging rooms/spaces for basically my entire life, almost weekly, if not monthly—if you've lived with me before, you've experienced this, and reaped the benefits if I do say so myself! I usually focus on bigger areas, like full rooms, so I wanted to welcome this challenge in a different way by reimagining a small but special space.
The items I added were the letterboard which previously was in the kitchen at our coffee station, a vase with a feather and pampas grass that was on another dresser, a propagating pothos from my nightstand, a handmade card + incense holder that I moved from my windowsill, and lastly my aura polaroid. The wooden crate is now holding my dumbbell set underneath a table which looks way cuter than having them out in the open like they were before.
I love that the space feels even more intentional now. Before, it was somehow transitioning into a catch-all area which is the opposite of what I intended it to be, so revamping it to only contain items that are relevant to my altar space again feels refreshing. I also wanted to get rid of the wooden crate for a more open, airy feel to mimic summertime. After seeing the letterboard in my kitchen for so long, having it at my altar makes me feel excited—it's the little things! This corner now feels like the grounding, breath of fresh air that it was meant to be.
Some of my go-to tips for styling a vignette area were reaffirmed. Adding various heights in different ways (stacking books, flowers extending tall out of a vase) creates interest and gives your eyes permission to scan the area easily. Another idea I've always stood by is to use things of all different shapes (round, square, pointy) and layer them together to cultivate harmony between the objects." — Amy Cooper, photo editor at MyDomaine
Cozy Couch Reset
"Because I live in an NYC studio, redecorating a corner of my apartment is like redecorating the entire thing. I love my “living room,” but I realized I never really made the transition after last winter (aka that charcoal gray cashmere throw was getting little to no use).
I swapped out my throw for a pink linen number and kept my pillows neutral for a zen and summery look. Now it feels fresh and clean." — Caroline Utz, associate editor at MyDomaine