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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California Beach Cottage With Enclosed Front Yard

The white exterior of this California home shines in the low evening light. Black roofing creates striking contrast and frames the shape of the home. Two sets of French doors open out to the front yard, which is surrounded by a low privacy wall.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Stone Dining Room With Wicker Chairs and Large Lanterns

The sleek dining table and wicker chairs in this dining room are different styles that work well together. Large lanterns bring great light to the dining space without feeling oversized, and an Aztec-style rug echoes the neutral tones in the stone cottage but adds a funky, modern feel to the space.

Cozy Country Den

White painted wood panels surround this cozy country nook. A taupe loveseat nestles perfectly into this small space. The gray striped rug defines the area and adds warmth.

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