How to Refresh Your Design Without Spending a Dime

Getting a fresh look at home is simplier than you may think.

When you spend as much time as I do looking at photos and videos of beautiful home interiors, it's easy to want to redecorate your home on a regular basis. But unless you've got a bottomless budget for home decor or have some other sweet design deal worked out, that's not really feasible.

Wood Panel Dining Room

Wood Panel Dining Room

Knotty pine paneling is original to this cottage's living and dining space and was kept natural to maintain the modern country feel. The natural wood provides a backdrop to the owner's colorful artwork depicting a jazz club scene.

Photo by: Jane Beiles

Jane Beiles

Connecticut designer Kelly Mittleman of Kelly and Co. insists you don't really need to hit the stores in order to give your home a refreshing update, though. Just bring a friend in and have them survey what you've already got.

When working with clients on interior design projects large and small, Kelly likes to take a look at the items they already have in their homes — items displayed in other rooms or stashed in a basement — to see if there are better ways to use them.

Transitional Living Room is Comfortable, Inviting

Transitional Living Room is Comfortable, Inviting

The homeowner revamped the guest house for intimate gatherings and music performances. In the main living room, a comfortable gray sofa is paired with an industrial-style coffee table, simple artwork and layered area rugs for lots of texture.

Photo by: Paul Johnson Photography

Paul Johnson Photography

"It's like when you look at your closet every day you see your clothes in the same way, but someone else might see them in a different way," she says. "Your house is the same way. You have tons of cool stuff, but we become creatures of habit, and we don't notice."

Kelly describes one project in which she helped to restore a 1930s Connecticut farmhouse. When it came time to dress the crisp, white walls in the home, she took a look in the property's barn, where they found a cool, rustic pitchfork. In the basement of the main house, she pulled out a colorful painting of a jazz club scene belonging to the homeowner.

Photo by: Jane Beiles

Jane Beiles

In some cases, Kelly finds an item that's almost perfect but just needs a small update, like a pillow needing to be recovered. While it might cost a little bit extra, it's still thriftier than splurging on a brand-new pillow.

Guest Sleeping Area in Entertainment Barn

Guest Sleeping Area in Entertainment Barn

Even the guests have a place to sleep in this amazing entertainment space designed by Kelly and Co. Folding beds are easily concealed when not in use in this airy loft.

Photo by: Paul Johnson Photography

Paul Johnson Photography

"I don’t want people to spend unnecessarily," she says. "You can pare down and be minimalistic in your approach and really have a cool feeling about your space by using what you have."

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Rustic Meets Eclectic Living Room

Inspired by the farm and landscape, rustic wood paneling is used on the top half of the walls in this guest house's media room. The lower half of the wall is painted a cool gray, blending perfectly with a comfortable sectional. The Union Jack symbol and colors add a touch of English love to the space.

Loft View of Entertainment Barn's Living Space

A view from the loft showcases the expansiveness of this rustic open-plan living space. The house is soundproofed to allow the homeowners the freedom to play live music and entertain.

Cottage-Style Great Room With Matching Linen Sofas

What an impressive great room! Look at those long sofas — perfect for lounging by the fire or watching your favorite TV shows. The symmetry of the room is soothing, as are the neutral tones and natural materials used for the ceiling, walls and floor. The space is at once rustic and contemporary, and large windows bring in plenty of natural light.

Eclectic Sitting Room Grounded by Layered Rugs

Adding style underfoot is layered area rugs, a combination of natural fiber jute and cowhide. Built-in bookshelves provide storage, while exposed wood beams bring a rustic vibe to the space. A pair of gray chairs makes for an intimate seating area.

California Beach Cottage Features Large Front Patio

Black roofing provides contrast against this beach cottage's white exterior. As night falls, the home's warm interior light floods outside. French doors open up to a large front patio surrounded by a low privacy wall.

Bright, Contemporary Bathroom With Blue Accents

White walls and light wood flooring and cabinetry give this bathroom a sleek, contemporary look. A pair of lantern pendant lights hangs above the vanity, which features twin sinks and mirrors. A deep tub sits under the blue-framed window.

Bedroom Features Twin Beds With Blue Patterned Bedding

A mix of patterned bed linens gives this bedroom a fun, whimsical look. The light and bright color palette keeps the space from feeling crowded. Hooded pendants give each bed individual light, and canvas artwork livens up the white walls.

Bohemian Bench in Cottage Sun Room

Natural light reflects off of crisp, white walls and a whitewashed wood ceiling in this bright, cottage sun room. An eclectic assortment of pillows sit atop a white and black bench with a furry throw. Magazines are kept nearby in a wooden bowl for lazy weekend reading.

Rustic Renovated Barn Lounge Area

The transformation of this rustic barn into a music/entertainment space provides a place for family and guests to gather. The lounge features comfortable sofas, occasional seating and a massive stone fireplace that inspires listeners to relax with a cool beverage that is easily ordered from the adjacent bar.

Renovated Barn Featuring Lounge and Loft Space

Kelly & Co. Design showed great finesse in a barn renovation that now boasts an interesting venue for musical entertainment. The lounge, bar area and loft are great places to have cocktails while enjoying conversation and the rotating group of musicians that play the room. Murphy beds, tucked away for overnight guests, are available at the far end of the loft.

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