7 Ways to Update a Room for Under $100

The following is a guest post by Teri Larsen, a professional interior designer and freelance writer at A Little Design Help.

Good interior design has a major effect on our everyday lives. Color choices, furniture layouts and material selections all impact our mood and productivity. But with so many of us on a tight budget, how can we update our homes without breaking the bank?   Believe it or not, there are many ways to create a big design splash on a small budget.


Whether you paint your walls, a piece of furniture or an old mirror, paint can make a huge impact in a space for very little money. Consider painting an accent wall in a bold color to make a dramatic change in your space.   Or, a set of dining room chairs could become something amazing when painted in a fun color.

Use your imagination and choose your paint color to coordinate with the fabrics and patterns already in your space.
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  The chair in the photo above was refurbished for under $20, including the cost of the chair at a garage sale.

Let There Be Light

Lighting is an essential element in any room, and adding new lamps, pendants or accent lights can change the look of a space immediately. Not only will a new light fixture add needed task lighting, but it will also serve to bring personality to a room. From modern to traditional, choosing new light fixtures makes a big change on a budget.

Something else to consider: add undercabinet lighting in your kitchen or above a desk. For just a few dollars, you will have super-functional lighting that accents your cabinetry perfectly.

Use What You Have

For a no-cost room refresher, take a moment and move 5 things in your room. Look at your accessories with new eyes (consider using a friend’s eyes for this) and place them in a new place or even in a different room.
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Look around your home for furniture and accessories that could be moved to a different room for a fresh look. Just rearranging what you have can make an amazing difference in the feeling of the room.

If you are crafty, use what you have for a new purpose. Convert your coffee table into an ottoman or make a new shade for your lamp.   I used an old silk plant, terra cotta flower pots, styrofoam cones and white spray paint to make the winter tree topiaries shown in the photo above. For very little cost, I have a great feature for the top of my piano.
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Frame Those Windows

While custom draperies and curtains can get expensive, you can update your look on a budget by using ready-made treatments. Check local department stores, discount stores and websites for deals, and install the treatments yourself using hardware from your local home improvement store. A couple of side panels and a rod/brackets can cost less than $100 but will make a huge impact.

Choose treatments in an accent color or a bold pattern for extra punch. If you can find treatments tall enough, install closer to the ceiling to make windows and ceilings appear taller. Move drapery panels to the walls on either side of the window to make windows appear wider.   If you are handy with a sewing machine, you can sometimes find longer panels that you can hem to the correct length.

Bring In Some Green

Plants, that is! Adding something living to a room breathes new life into a space. Be sure to choose something that will thrive in your light conditions and something that will work for your lifestyle. If you forget to water your plants (like I do), succulents can be a nice option and they will survive a (self-created) drought.

Use large plants to fill an empty corner and smaller plants on tables, shelves or furniture. I am currently in love with air plants; these are so very inexpensive and they create a unique display that is easy to maintain. Check them out locally or online at sites such as www.airplantcity.com.

Take a Cue from Nature

Go on a treasure hunt – take a walk with your family and find some great objects to use as decorative accessories at home. A gorgeous rock, seashells, antlers, a pile of driftwood or a bowl of acorns can all create a rustic or modern display – at no cost to you!

If you are so inclined, spray-paint your items in bold colors for a more contemporary look. Three votive candle holders filled with agates (see photo above) create a lovely display in my bathroom at nearly no cost.

Go Bold

Buy just three new accessories for your room, but make sure you buy pieces that are bright and bold. Consider this year’s hot color trend: tangerine.  Placing just three tangerine items in your room (perhaps a vase, a decorative pillow and a table runner) will bring a pop of trendy color to your space for very little cost.

A small budget is no reason to neglect the interior of your home. Muster up your creativity and look at your space with new eyes. With a little imagination, anyone can freshen up one’s home for spring.
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Teri Larsen, ASID, is a professional interior designer and freelance writer based in Wisconsin. She firmly believes that good interior design should be accessible to everyone, no matter their budget. Her website, A Little Design Help, offers free design tips, advice, resources, photos and more, giving everyone a chance to change their space for the better – even on a budget.

Your turn:  What ideas do you have for revamping a room on a budget?