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vintage side table with plantSometimes creating new home decor becomes an adventure of furniture shopping, accessorizing and scouring every home store for the latest and greatest. But if you don’t want to dish out half your bank account for the perfect room, look around at what you already have. These tips can help you change up your atmosphere, and in most cases you won’t spend a dime.

Blend the Old and the New

Nobody ever said that your home decor had to match perfectly. One of the best tricks is to blend a few good pieces with the hand-me-downs from family and friends. If you don’t like the way something looks, cover it up in a pretty way.

For example, an old cedar chest with a scarred top can make for great storage and look fantastic with a weathered quilt thrown neatly over it. That brand-new Ikea kitchen table might look great with your mismatched chairs. Don’t be afraid to experiment with items from other parts of the house, too — that clothing armoire can be easily repurposed into a entertainment center, and that bookcase can hold much more than books.

Baskets and Bins are a Home’s Best Friend

Organize, organize, and then organize some more. That’s one of the keys to a lovely home decor that doesn’t take anything more than time — and a stubborn will to get everything in its place, once and for all.

Invest in baskets and bins, pretty boxes and other items to hold the various items that accumulate everywhere. Tuck them away, either in plain sight or in storage. Over time you will realize what you really use and what needs to be accessible. The other stuff will be tucked away — out of sight, out of mind. To save money, pick up those bins and baskets at yard sales and thrift stores.

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wicker storage basket

The Ruthless Pare-Down

In order to create a new look, you must start by removing as much of the old one as you can. This is where your knick-knacks start to tremble and those wall hangings get a little nervous. Clean off those cluttered shelves and leave only a few choice pieces. A bare coffee table with only a good book or a small basket of flowers can be perfect. Banish the clutter into bins and baskets, then hide the ones that aren’t attractive enough. Do you really need all those things? By paring down, you can focus on a few elements that really matter to you and give your home cleaner decor lines.

What’s the Focus?

Every room should have a clear focus. Look for the one piece of furniture that is simply stunning, or could be with a little work. Then build the rest of your decor around it. For example, a fantastic red sectional couch can be a perfect focal point. Everything else should be downplayed a bit in order to make that couch shine. Be sure to put table lamps on either side of it to better illuminate that focal point. If it’s a fine piece of art, highlight it by putting it on a wall by itself and allowing it to take over the conversation.

Light Makes the Room Glow

Sometimes a change of light can be all you need to dress things up. If you have overhead lights, you might be tired of the constant glare. But if you are living with lamps, you might find it a hassle to deal with turning them all on when you need illumination. If you have a combination of overhead lighting, tall lamps and short lamps, then you’re in luck. You can move the lamps around until you have the lighting the way you want it. Perhaps a tall light can help highlight a pretty corner chair, or the table lamp can create a glow from the top of the entertainment center.

living room lighting couch desk

Keep It Clean

Sometimes all your house really needs is a good cleaning. When you can’t get to most of your stuff, or you can’t see the floor, or all you want to do is wave a magic wand and get those dishes cleared and the toys picked up, your thoughts can go toward a complete makeover.

But once you get things completely in order and corral the clutter, you will be surprised at just how much space you have and how great everything can look. If you need help with this, invest in the aforementioned bins and baskets to get things under control, and then pare down like mad. Your house will thank you, and so will your pocketbook!

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.