The Art of Arranging: Design That Doesn't Cost a Thing

Feeling uninspired by your space? Designer Ryan Brown reveals how to rearrange and refresh your home using what you already own. 

Related To:

While it's tempting to purchase a trendy piece of furniture for your home, you don't necessarily have to spend money to create a new look. Rather, if you've grown tired of a space, you can rearrange your favorite possessions to make your home feel fresh and exciting.

Cozy Living Room With Built-in Bookshelves and Fireplace

Cozy Living Room With Built-in Bookshelves and Fireplace

Built-in shelves, doubling as an entertainment center, nearly take up the entire wall in this living room. The bottom half of the wall includes a fireplace and more shelving to store media and/or personal treasures.

Photo by: Brown Design Group

Brown Design Group

Photo by: Matt Wier

Matt Wier

Los Angeles-based designer and vintage collector Ryan Brown (left) and his partner, Diego Monchamp (right), are the experts when it comes to accessorizing interiors. "It's actually the most fun part of the project for me," Ryan says. "I feel like that's when the whole project locks and comes together."

To breathe excitement into an overlooked setting, Ryan starts by finding new ways to showcase his clients' favorite possessions. Here are his tips for accessorizing your home using what you already own.

Start With Books

Antique Car Artwork

Antique Car Artwork

Adding a punch of color to the palette, nine contemporary white frames feature portraits of colorful, old-fashioned cars above the console table.

Photo by: Brown Design Group

Brown Design Group

For Ryan, a stack of books can easily bring warmth and character into a space. Though many people tuck their books away from view, he encourages his clients to display their collections on side tables, nightstands and shelves wherever possible.

“They really do bring a space to life,” he explains. “You can tell a lot about somebody by peeking at what books they have; they reflect your individual personality.”

Don’t Take Things Too Seriously

Master Bedroom Offers Ample Storage

Master Bedroom Offers Ample Storage

Storage is plentiful in the master bedroom, with a wall of cabinets and bookshelves to accommodate all of your personal treasures.

Photo by: Brown Design Group

Brown Design Group

That said, it's important not to take the idea of a bookshelf too literally. To revitalize your space, avoid displaying books in compact rows and instead mix them with unexpected objects for visual interest.

"Mix in some ceramic, some steel," Ryan recommends. "(Having) a mix of books, a vase, a few photographs, an item here and there, it just creates more interest for the eye, ultimately."

Rearrange + Refresh As Needed

White Coastal Kitchen with Large Island

White Coastal Kitchen with Large Island

This white kitchen is a stunning feature of a beachfront home. The white marble and cabinetry gives it a relaxing ocean feel.

Photo by: Matt Wier

Matt Wier

Of course, when things start to feel too settled, Ryan suggests beginning the process over again. "Take all of the accessories from the living room, the bedroom, the family room, anywhere you have them, and put them all together in one spot," he says. "Then give it a whole mix up and just have fun with it."

By repeating this process, you'll not only see your home from many new perspectives, but you'll also begin to understand how your favorite objects work together.

Eclectic Home Office With Burnt Orange Sofa

Eclectic Home Office With Burnt Orange Sofa

Many styles and textures flow throughout this eclectic home office. A leather burnt orange sofa pairs well with the dark wood office desk.

Photo by: Matt Wier

Matt Wier

"The great thing is that you really can't get it wrong," Ryan notes. "The more you work on it, the more you perfect it."

See More of Brown Design Group's Work

See All Photos

Rowing Oars and Neutral Sofa in Living Room

Rowing oars are displayed above the fireplace in this living room. A neutral sofa and two armchairs pair well with the display.

Contemporary Living Room With Rowing Oars Display

Rowing oars are displayed above the fireplace in this contemporary living room. A neutral sofa sits across two armchairs and a coffee table.

Contemporary Dining Room With Banquette and Pendant Lights

Unique pendant lights hang from the ceiling of this contemporary dining room. The long wooden table is adorned with a banquette on one side and black chairs on the other side.

Photo By: Brown Design Group

Contemporary Master Bedroom With Sliding Door to Pool Area

A sliding door leads to the pool area in this contemporary master bedroom. A pattern rug and the bedding ties in the blue and black color palette seen throughout the space.

Photo By: Brown Design Group

Master Bathroom With Tub and Glass Shower

A paneled vanity serves as a divider between the master bedroom and the bathroom in this space. A glass shower and tub adorn the bathroom as well.

Photo By: Brown Design Group

Globe Light Fixture and Flower on Marble Topped Vanity

A close-up shows the marble countertop of this vanity featured in a master bathroom space. Flowers and globe light fixtures adorn the vanity as well.

Photo By: Matt Wier

Children's Bunk Bed With Bookcase Built-In

A bunk bed features a built-in bookcase for extra storage space. Blue and green add a playful color palette to the bedroom.

Photo By: Matt Wier

Contemporary Bedroom With Blue Chevron Rug

A blue chevron rug sits underneath a black and white bed in this contemporary bedroom. A unique light fixture adds depth to the space.

Small Yet Luxurious Bathroom With Floating Vanity

A floating vanity and spacious glass shower open up this previously cramped bathroom. Rather than splurging on stone slab counters, Brown Design Group cuts costs with a one-piece countertop and sink. A single glass-panel shower helps the room feel larger while saving on extra hardware for a swinging door. Large-format wall tiles make for a quick install.

Photo By: Matt Wier

Keep Reading

Next Up

Master the Art of Moody Wall Colors With These Pro Tips

Want to transform a room from white to WOW? Designer Kelly Sutton shows you how to introduce dark colors into your home.

Meet the Team

Get to know the talented writers and editors of HGTV's show and design blog. 

Go Behind the Blog

From the Archives

Take a look back at our past posts, from entertaining and design trends to up-and-coming HGTV shows.  

Read All Our Past Posts