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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Gray, Eclectic Living Room is Comfortable, Relaxed

Cozy and sophisticated, this living room pairs comfortable armchairs with a rustic wood coffee table and jute area rugs. Gray curtains soften the windows, while a sleek white table adds a contemporary touch to the room.

Rustic Cottage Living Space With Vaulted Wooden Ceiling

What was once a dark and cramped living room is now bright and airy after designer Kelly Mittleman bumped the ceiling up, taking advantage of empty attic space above. Bare windows on both sides of the room fill the space with daylight.

Streamlined Table in Rustic Farmhouse Living Room

A simple vignette in this farmhouse living room pairs a sleek table with rustic stool and distressed wood mirror. The statue showcases the homeowners' love of horses.

Kitchen Space With Wood Cabinet and Hanging Pot Holder

Who doesn't wish for more counter space in a kitchen? This little nook with an extra cabinet is a place to stash often-used oils and vinegars, fruit, veggies and just about anything. A hanging pot holder above makes the space extra functional, stashing cookware within reach but not taking up room in cabinets or shelves.

Photo By: Kelly and Co Design

Antique Wooden Cupboard in Stone Cottage

This wooden cupboard, which holds everyday dishes, is a great addition to a small kitchen. The piece also adds authentic charm to the cottage-style space. It's positioned perfectly below a beautiful window, offering a great place to display flowers, herbs or cookbooks.

Photo By: Paul Johnson

Cottage Living Room With Blue-Framed French Doors

Blue-framed French doors open out to the front yard from this lovely cottage living room. A gray velvet sectional faces the glass coffee table and charming white brick fireplace. In addition to the brick fireplace and the wall that surrounds it, the white paneled ceiling with exposed wood beams adds texture to the room.

Bright Staircase With White Painted Brick Wall

A beautiful globe light fixture with a frosted glass top hangs down the center of this winding staircase. A painted brick wall adds texture to the space while blending with the white surroundings. Light wood stairs keep the space bright, and a blue window frame adds a small touch of color.

Stone Cottage With Garden Full of Flowers, Herbs and Plants

An outdoor garden sits just outside the bedroom in this stone cottage, allowing smells of the flowers and herbs to waft through the open windows. The charming garden adds a beautiful touch to the exterior of the stone cottage.

Photo By: Paul Johnson

Stone Cottage With Pitched Roof and Stepping Stone Walkway

The stone facade of this seemingly small home hides a multitude of space inside. A stone walkway leading to a simple door makes the space feel homey from the very start, and the pitched wood roof feels oh-so-rustic. The large plot with mature trees is a perfect setting for a quiet getaway.

Photo By: Kelly and Co Design

Comfortable Reading Nook in French Country Bedroom

Comfort is key for this French Country-inspired bedroom. A reading nook next to the French doors features a cozy chaise lounge with a simple end table and lamp. A natural fiber area rug adds warmth and softness to the floor.

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