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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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.

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.

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.

Eclectic Bedroom is a Serene Escape

Low ceilings were a challenge in the guest house redesign, so Roman shades are mounted at the ceiling to add height. A neutral color palette keeps the space calm and restful, while dark floors ground the space.

Photo By: Paul Johnson Photography

Stocked Bar With Adjustable LED Backlighting

Kelly and Co. Design created a contemporary-style bar in this renovated barn entertainment space without losing the ambiance of its rustic surroundings. A black granite countertop and zinc bar top sit atop wood cabinets and stainless steel fixtures. LED backlighting, which can be changed according to mood, showcases the bar selections. The bar features a keg tap, a wine fridge, a dishwasher, a refrigerator, and ample storage for glassware and other serving pieces.

Relaxed Living Room Features French Country Style

French Country style is rustic and comfortable. Gray curtains soften the windows, while a mix of neutral fabrics in linens and burlaps is paired with distressed woods.

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

Loft View of Renovated Rustic Barn

At loft level, this renovated rustic barn, now a live performance space, elevates reclaimed wood to its full potential. The vaulted ceiling, staircase railing and even the tables and chairs show a simple sumptuousness.

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.

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