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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Bathroom Hooks With Turkish Towels

The designer added charm, warmth and modern farmhouse details to this cottage bathroom. The Turkish towels are a change from the standard towel, creating a design element from something functional. The main event in this room, however, is the vibrant painting of a steer, which is at once austere and fun.

Stone Dining Room With Sleek Dining Table & Wicker Armchairs

Neutral tones in this dining space allow different design styles to blend seamlessly. Stone walls, high wood ceilings and plank wood floors bring a rustic element. The substantial dining table feels cool and industrial. Wicker armchairs surrounding the table are cozy and whimsical, while a woven area rug below almost looks Southwestern.

Photo By: Kelly and Co Design

Rustic-Style Bathroom With Reclaimed Wood

Kelly & Co. Design didn't miss a single detail when transforming a barn into a music/entertainment space, as evidenced by this rustic bathroom. The ceiling was contracted from reclaimed wood, and the walls were covered in a cream-colored material that gives the space a clean, industrial aesthetic. A double sink vanity with rustic wood cabinetry completes the look.

Photo By: Paul Johnson Photography

Rustic Reclaimed Wood Bar

Kelly and Co. designed an amazing space for their client who loves to play music and invite exciting acts from all over the world to join him for events benefiting his music foundation. Also included in the space is this fabulous bar made out of reclaimed wood for kicking back between sets.

Photo By: Paul Johnson Photography

Country Kitchen With Farmhouse Sink

Pale pistachio green cabinets make a statement in this all white country kitchen. Updated fixtures in polished nickel and classic styles pay tribute to traditional farmhouse features.

Cozy Seating Area in Guest House

Natural light pours in from the windows in this French Country-inspired seating area. A distressed wood wingback chair has slouchy neutral pillows, creating the perfect chair for enjoying your morning coffee. A simple striped area rug adds softness to the white hardwood floors, while an antique cabinets provides hidden storage.

Red Country Cottage Exterior

Built as a caretaker's cottage on a Connecticut horse farm, this home now serves as a guest cottage, Airbnb rental and a private retreat for the property owner. Rust red exterior paint gives the house a subdued touch of color for an updated take on traditional barn red.

Bluestone Shelf Holding Vintage Green Glass Bottles

Thick bluestone shelves provide color and complement the room's stone walls. When grouped in threes, accent items feel especially pleasing to the eye, as is the case with these vintage green glass bottles.

Modern Cottage Kitchen With Green Cabinets

Pea green shaker style cabinets provide soft color without distracting from other elements of the kitchen. A simple rustic wood table serves as a kitchen island. A whitewashed vaulted wood ceiling makes the space feel airy and bright.

White Galley Kitchen With Honed Black Granite Countertops

Though located in a tight space, this galley kitchen is highly effective; space is maximized with high cabinets and multiple drawers. The all-white color scheme and bright windows provide a sense of openness, and the cabinet-front refrigerator seamlessly blends with the rest of the cabinets. Honed black granite countertops and a matching stove backsplash provide contrast within the space.

Photo By: Paul Johnson

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