Bedroom Makeovers for $500 or Less

Bedrooms are where we dream, wake to face the day, retreat when the world’s beat us up a bit, and where we heal when we’re sick or injured.

It’s an important place that people often tend to neglect. Instead, it’s a place we sleep, and a door we have to close before visitors arrive.

With a little planning and scheming, $500 or less and a weekend of work could turn your bedroom into a whole new world.

Remember the magic they did with $500 on TLC’s juggernaut decorating classic, Trading Spaces? Well, you can do that, even in today’s economy.

If you can sew, you’re one step ahead of anyone who can’t, but I can’t sew, and I can make a room over for $250-500, by scouring decor shops, thrift stores, and fabric haunts in order to make a grand design come together.

universal design bedroom cork floors

Getting Started

First, what do you already have that you love? Pictures, furniture, books, knickknacks. Figure out what you’d like to highlight or display for the world to see.

Second, consider your floor plan. How much extra room do you have? If not much, what can you do with the space you have?

It’s probably the nerd in me, but I find it a really good exercise to have some graph paper, and then measure out all your furniture pieces and cut them out roughly to scale and move them around on your graph paper to really get a sense of your space.

I know: Nerd. But really, you might find an arrangement that gives you more free space. It’s a great way to figure it out before you make the mistake of decorating around a less-than-ideal-but-now-you’re-stuck floor plan.

Rearranging furniture is always the best first way to make a big change in your room. Come up with a “reading zone” and a dressing zone if you can find the space for it. Otherwise, try to establish a nice flow in your room. In fact, if you want to do a bedroom makeover for zero dollars, stick to just step two.

Enter: Color

Painting is another huge way to impact your room, which brings us to the next step.

Third is figuring out what color palette works for you. Maybe this is the thing that overwhelms you. Then take your time, pay attention to spaces you love in magazines, on TV, stores you visit, or even in your friends’ homes. What colors make you feel best? Look around your belongings. Does one color keep coming up?

Don’t be afraid to pick dark or dramatic colors. Bedrooms are a good place to have boldness, but calm and cool works too. You’ve got a wide range of options, so really consider lots of things. If you’re still antsy about committing, go for the sample can of paint and do the trusty test-patch.

Red Bedroom

Search and Rescue: Sales & Thrift Shops

Fourth comes scouring stores, thrift shops, yard sales, and more for great finds that can either be cleaned up, fixed up, repainted, or used as-is, for new accessories in your soon-to-be-new room. Found a great lamp but it has no shade? Great! You can find a shade somewhere else. Better yet, buy a plain shade and attach beads to it, or line it with gold leaf, or whatever else inspires you. Found a table that has a stunning base but the top is all scratchy? Either refinish the top or look for great antique linens at thrift stores and camouflage it. There are endless ways to improve bargain finds. Don’t look at it for what it is, dream of what it can be.

You can even let your friends know you’re redecorating. Consider doing a swap night where friends trade art, keepsakes, and other accessories. “New to you” is still pretty good when you’re dying to get out of a decor rut.


The fifth key is keeping an eye out for linen sales. A new duvet cover is the biggest statement you can make in a room, and if you find the right one in a sale online or in the bargain bin at your favorite bedding sale, it can really complete the look. You can always get a nice bold-but-plain print in contrasting colors. It doesn’t have to be matchy-matchy with your wall palette, remember. Embrace the quirky side.

Sixth is draperies and other accents. Having new drapes that match somewhat to your new duvet is a great way to go. You can do not-so-matchy pillows that pick out specific colors from your duvet or curtains. If you pick solid bold contrasting or complementary prints, you can sometimes get them insanely cheap. Creating little pops of interest is playful and fun, which is great in any room.

Once More Enter the Fray, Dear Friends

Seventh and last is taking a deep breath, buckling down, and getting it done. As always, take the opportunity to ditch clutter. Keep in mind that you want a bedroom that’s easy to keep clean, relatively low on dust-attracting objects, and is ultimately a restful place to be. Also remember that every bit of pre-painting prep work, as boring and laborious as it is, pays off in the end.

When you’re spending a third of your life in your bedroom, it’s really worth all that work to come up with a beautiful design. Even if you’re hamstrung by a budget as low as $250, it’s amazing what you can do to change a room. With an eye for deals and a willingness to get your hands dirty, you might just give yourself a dream-room makeover you can enjoy waking up to every single morning.

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