Frugal ways to update your home


You’re probably looking around your apartment/home/condo and thinking: OH MY GOD. I need to change it. It’s looking so drab and it’s making me depressed, especially for the start of such a fabulous 2008.


But the problem is you aren’t exactly swimming in cash, yes? ๐Ÿ™‚

No problem! Here are some of the things I used to do to update my apartment on the cheap…


I cannot overestimate what painting will do to your home. In fact, if you can’t afford the paint for the ENTIRE home/apartment, try just painting ONE wall a dark deep grey colour or chocolate brown, as an accent wall, and see how it goes. That’s what I did in my last apartment, and I put some fabulous paintings up, with an IKEA cubby shelf thingy against it and some lamps. Everyone who came over was duly impressed at how great it all looked together. ๐Ÿ˜› And all it took was one wall to be painted.

Which brings me to my next point…


You’d be surprised. IKEA has some pretty fabulous pictures (sure they aren’t handpainted or real, they’re just prints), that you can frame in an IKEA frame for cheap, and hang on your newly painted wall. I picked orchids, and displayed them across in a grouping of 3, and with a crisp white Japanese-style floor lamp I already had, the entire effect was stunning against my chocolate brown wall.




This is really a bathroom thing, but if you get new bath towels and new hand towels, it may just be what makes the difference in your bathroom. Pick a cheery colour (no black please) and match it with facecloths (if you use them), and a bathmat. It’ll really make a world of a difference in your bathroom. Another trick would be to pick the bath towels in a dark colour like chocolate brown (mmm chocolate), and the hand towels can be a lighter shade of brown, or a contrasting shade like magenta, teal, you get the drift.

Once you walk in, and see the bath towels neatly hung up with a contrasting hand towel shade on top, it’ll look like a whole new bathroom.

While we’re on the subject, maybe you don’t need new towels, but a new shower curtain might do the trick. I used to have an ivory waffle-knit kind of cloth-like shower curtain and every time I stepped into the shower, I felt like I was at a spa. No kidding.

And as for the living room, maybe new, fabulous curtains would do the trick?

Change the taps

Like the faucets, you could get a new style for the kitchen or the bathroom for under $100. This is something someone recommended to me, but I was more keen on buying new towels and paint… Still, it’s worth a try if your faucets are starting to look a bit drab. A new faucet could really spice up your kitchen or bathroom and make it feel like new.



Buy accessories

Not all at once with the paint, faucets, towels and what have you, but think about accessorizing your home. You could get a new wastebasket, or those crisp leather (with white stitching) magazine baskets or trays to place in your front hall for people to throw the mail into. Another place to really accessorize would be in the bathroom. A toothbrush holder perhaps? Or going to the drugstore or L’Occitane, or even The Body Shop to buy some fancy soaps or toiletries to arrange on the counter.

Get some lighting

Sometimes all it takes is a new lamp. A single, new crisp lamp in a modern shape and colour to throw more light into the room, brighten it up, and give it a fresh perspective.

But new lighting is all for naught if you don’t…

Do some major cleaning and decluttering

Sometimes just washing the windows makes the house look better and more updated. No kidding. A bit of a vacuum here and there, and some shining of the faucets and wiping of the counters could make a real difference. Decluttering can also be a real help, to make it seem less messy and unorganized. Clearing out knick knacks, ornaments and things that don’t really define you as a person any more could be the trick.

Update knobs, drawer handles and other furniture decorations

This is probably my favourite tip. I got the cutest little handles for the bathroom in shape of little bear faces from IKEA, and every time I opened my bathroom drawers, I got a tingle of happiness. I really really love bears. ๐Ÿ™‚ But you can get other knobs like starfishes (another favourite of mine), or even something more elegant like a thin stick handle.

I updated a dresser once with these hideous plastic orange knobs, by replacing them with more antique-finished classic knobs that matched the style better, and that made such a world of a difference. It was like a whole new dresser. Not to mention the fact that I put a liner on the inside of the drawers to add some colour and to cover up the ugly orange and brown liners that were in there before *shiver*

Get a very large mirror

You can buy these for quite cheap, around $100 at IKEA, and leaning it up against the wall in the hallway or even in your bedroom/bathroom lends a kind of grandeur to the room I had never expected to get in my old apartment. Worth a try if you’re into that! Plus, I got to check myself out, full-length before I left in the morning.



How about new pillows or linens

Assuming you aren’t going for the $2000 bedsheets, new sheets could be what it takes to make your bedroom more inviting to you. Or replacing your beaten down, flattened pillow with a new soft fluffy one from Bed Bath and Beyond.

Or pillows as decoration is a great idea. I had a grey couch before, and I decorated it with deep emerald green pillows with touches of white and blue. The effect was great, and very comfortable to lounge on. Again, IKEA had some silk striped pillows I really loved, so it helped.

Move furniture around

Sometimes if you rearrange a space, it makes a WORLD of a difference. Try putting things at an angle, or removing pieces that are too clunky for the space, or placing everything in a different area, with a different arrangement.

Sort through your dishes

And pare down what you’ve got. I’m a bit of a packrat and I always end up having more dishes than required, but I have to learn when to let go of dishes (hard, very hard), but when I do, I feel a sense of relief because I’m not afraid I’m going to ruin my favourite mug when I retrieve it from the cupboard, because I’m jangling the other ones beside it.

Any other tips? ๐Ÿ™‚



About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.