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Stylish Updates for Less: How to Refresh Your Room on a Tight Budget

Want to give your living space a fresh new look without spending a fortune? Check out simple tips on how to refresh a room on a budget.

Welcome! Are you feeling a bit bored with your current living space? Are you tired of the same old decor and looking for a change but have a very limited budget? I’m excited to share helpful tips and tricks for finding inspiration and changing your decorating style on the cheap with a room refresh.

Change your room style for cheap graphic showing a collage of six images of blue and white home decor.
Change Your Room Style on a Budget

How to Refresh Your Home on a Shoestring Budget

Refreshing a room is a great way to breathe new life into your home and is the best solution when you don’t have the budget for a complete room makeover.

My family and I recently got stationed in beautiful Okinawa, Japan in a rental home off base near the ocean six months ago. Someone pinch me! We’ve been through the process of unpacking our limited belongings and I’ve been experimenting with the best furniture layouts and interior styling with the rental restrictions.

Here is how we had our small open layout set up before the refresh. 

Before photo of a living room with an modern TV stand and plain decor. The room lacks cohesion and needs a refresh.
Before Photo with Boring Decor
Grey and white living room before giving it a refresh on budget.
Rental Living Room Decorating Before
Grey and white small kitchen and living room combo in Okinawa, Japan with pops of purple and green before giving it a refresh.
Rental Kitchen into Living Room Before
Before photo of a living room with a beige sofa featuring a floral patterned throw pillow on the sofa.
Fun Textiles but Not Very Cohesive
Before photo of a grey and white living room with a pair of carmel barrel chairs and a grand piano.
Room Layout Looks Good in a Rental House in Japan

Yes, I even have my piano here. 🙂 This layout and decor were a great start for making this rental our home and perfect for Spring.  Just like my hair, I never stay with one style for long!  

Finding Inspiration for Your Room Refresh

You may have already saved pictures or know what kind of feeling you want your refreshed space to have. It’s always great to have visual inspiration and a simple pattern on a throw pillow or an interior picture of a specific decorating style is a great place to start!

Since we moved here, all I’ve been thinking about and seeing is the ocean colors right outside of our house, and love the Mediterranean decor and design I see in local restaurants and shops so I knew I wanted that same feeling in my refresh.

Besides adding deep and light blue, I also wanted the living area to feel more casual.   A few simple changes were made to achieve the look I was going for.  Best of all, I spent $40 for this makeover. Here are the inspirational photos I took of our local beach.

A picture of Gushikawa beach in Uruma, Okinawa.
Inspiration Photo of the Beach in Our Neighborhood
A picture of the steps on Gushikawa beach in Uruma, Okinawa Japan and the pacific ocean for room refresh inspiration.
Gushikawa Beach in Uruma, Okinawa

Prepare Your Room for Refresh

Starting with a clean and clutter-free room will make a refresh much more enjoyable and simple.

  • Is everything where it belongs?
  • Do you need a better organization to keep the room less cluttered? If so, find a new home for the item(S) or corral/store it in a decorative basket or bin on a shelf, under a piece of furniture, or in the corner of the room.
  • A quick dust and vacuum will go a long way.

Tips for Rearranging Furniture

Changing the room layout in your space can also make a big impact in creating a new style and its free! Sometimes this is enough to create a brand-new feeling in a room.  

  • Pull furniture away from the wall to create more intimate seating arrangements.
  • Try small accent chairs and tables in new places or create a different feature/focal point by moving the tv and/or sofa! You want an open feeling when you walk into a room so keep heavy pieces on a back wall or as a divider in an open layout.
  • Do something small like placing a matching pair of chairs together or try them one on each side of the sofa. An ottoman in front of the fireplace.
  • Leave all windows unblocked if possible to let in the most natural light.

Since we have been only here for a few months, I’m totally happy with our furniture arrangement but I did move the TV.  Before, everything was symmetrical lending to a more formal feeling.  Offsetting our tv to the left on the beautiful walnut media stand created a more casual atmosphere and provided a larger area on the right side for me to style decor.

Off setting the tv to the left creates a casual atmosphere and provides a larger area on the right side for styling decor.
Moving the TV to the Side is More Causal

How to Add “New” Decor on a Budget for a Refresh

Three basic rules for decorating with what you have.

  1. Shop your house first. Collect items that fit into your new color scheme or inspiration photo taking note of lines and textures as well.
  2. Repurpose items to get the most out of your current decor. For instance, using a tablecloth as a lightweight throw blanket.
  3. DIY new decor if you have the materials to save money!

Use your limited budget for what you don’t have and consider looking at second-hand goods.

The biggest impact for me was changing the textiles.  What a difference, different curtains, rugs, pillows, and throw blankets can make! Try one or all of these!

I had snagged a few yards of Mediterranean shibori blue fabric at a local shop for about $15 when we first arrived. Using a simple envelope pillow cover pattern, I transformed 6 pillows with it. (Two are in our master bedroom.)  

You can find an easy tutorial for pillow covers here.  I also bought two new pillow covers for $20 at Nitori, a chain store in Japan similar to IKEA. 

Refreshed living room with pops of blue and white including a cozy couch and stylish decor placed on a coffee table.
Layers of Blue and White Textiles and Stylish Coffee Table Decor
Changed textiles on the sofa with two blue pillows on grey sofa.
Pops of Blue Make a Big Difference

“Shopping the house” for items that fit in my new color scheme saved me a lot of money (and time!). I repurposed a tablecloth as a throw on one of our club chairs.

A room refresh with blue textiles showing a beige chair with shibori pillow.
A Table Cloth “Throw” and DIY Shibori Pillow Cover

On my piano is an Obi, the sash that goes around a Kimono.  A really neat find in Okinawa and used in a nontraditional way. 

A kimono obi is draped over the grand piano for a stylish refresh.
A Kimono Obi Looks Perfect and Protects the Piano

Another $5 was put into the room to give my palm a proper planter. 🙂 It needed it!

A close up of a monstera plant.
Add Green to the Space with Plants

Coral, rocks, and shells from our beach made a great pot filler.

Use beach finds to fill and a cache pot for a plant.
Staying with the Ocean Inspiration

The gold bowl and other accessories on the coffee table needed to be toned down a bit.  I reused faux succulents from my St Patty’s door hanging and made arrangements in two blue Japanese tea cups.  

Blue and white decor gives an instant refresh to neutral living room in Okinawa, Japan.
Cobalt Blue Pops Against the White Trays
Coffee table styling idea with Mediterranean look.
Coffee Table Styling
Coffee table styling ideas for an instant refresh.
Simple Coffee Table Decorating Ideas

Little bits of Mediterranean blue also made its way into the kitchen (and other rooms). The open-concept bottom floor has a nice, cohesive feel now.

Blue plastic glasses bring the color into the kitchen.
Dollar Store Glasses Bring Blue into the Kitchen
A cute centerpiece for a small kitchen table.
A Wood Slice Has Great Texture
A close up of a mini planter with faux plants.
Mini Planter
Blue and white towels in the kitchen make the refresh cohesive in the open floor plan.
Blue Hand Towels
Japanese blue and white tea towels on a oven handle.
Japanese Dollar Store Cotton Towels
A cute denim and white rug in a white kitchen for an easy refresh.
Blue and White Rug

The last styling I changed is our side table.  It has a sculptural look with candle pillar holders which makes a lovely focal point when you first walk into the room.

Blue and white decor continues on a white campaign style sofa side table.
Sofa Side Table with Blue and White Decor
Close up of books and lamp on a white surface.
Close Up of Books
Layers of blue textiles and and white and blue decor in a bright white living room is a nod to the ocean views.
Lots of Layers and Interest for the Refresh

Our living room has an entire wall of sliding doors.  It’s really fantastic. Our pup, Misha, loves it too.

A dog looks out the sunny window in a stylish living room refresh.
The Backside Wall is all Windows and Doors
Close up of a beautiful brown dog.
Our Misha Pup

There you have it!  Once you have a new style inspiration in mind, “shop the house” for items with colors and textures that can work in the space.  Add new or repurposed textiles.  Change the furniture layout and create new tabletop styling to achieve your desired look.

Check out this helpful article on decorating with what you have and tips for saving money when decorating your house.

Q&A for How to Refresh Your Home

Q: How can I refresh my room without spending too much money?

A: There are many ways to refresh your room without breaking the bank. Some ideas include rearranging your furniture, adding a new coat of paint, swapping throw pillows, blankets, and curtains from other rooms, and adding some inexpensive decor items like plants, trays, and thrifted art.

Q: How do I know what colors to choose for my room?

A: When choosing colors for your room, it’s important to consider the mood you want to create. Cool colors like blues and greens can create a calming atmosphere, while warm colors like yellows and oranges can create a cozy and inviting feel. Consider the existing colors in your room and choose colors that complement or contrast with them.

Q: How can I make my small room feel larger?

A: There are a few tricks you can use to make a small room feel larger. Use light-colored paint or wallpaper, add mirrors to reflect light, and use furniture that serves multiple purposes, like a storage ottoman or a dresser as a sofa table. You can also create the illusion of height by using vertical stripes or hanging curtains high above your window.

Q: Can I refresh my room without buying anything new?

A: Absolutely! Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity to refresh your room without spending any money. Try rearranging your furniture, switching out your artwork, or creating a new focal point with a gallery wall. You can also repurpose items you already have, like using a decorative scarf as a table runner or a vintage ladder as a blanket holder. Give a piece of furniture or decorating accessory new life with spray paint.

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  1. I really like your blue glasses with the stems. Where did you find those? Great color. Your kitchen towels are beautiful too. The obi is a wonderful idea for a table runner. So beautiful.

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