7 Ways to Change it Up When There’s No Cash in the Decorating Envelope


change it up for freeI’m a craver of change in my home and I’ve come to accept the fact that it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m discontent but that I simply enjoy a little shift of scenery.  I mean, it’s not like I go out and buy a new sofa and throw the old one away every time I get bored.  Over the years I’ve settled on a few methods that I fall back on when I crave change in the atmospheric pressure in our home.

dotted sofa table


1. Move The Furniture Around

My very favorite way to have instant mix-it-up-ed-ness is to MOVE THE FURNITURE it’s free, you’ll burn calories and who knows, maybe you’ll find a better place for the dresser that’s sitting in your garage.

2. Organize Something

Personally, I don’t like to organize.  I pretty much avoid it at all costs but, I admit, once I force myself to go through a drawer or a coat closet, I usually have a sense of accomplishment and a little more peace in my home.

3. Finish A Project

I’m hoping I’m not the only one who has a few loose ends to tie up from re-potting a plant to putting that extra coat of poly on our table.  I usually have some things around the house that I’ve started, have the supplies for, but having tied it up with a bow.

4. Clean

Yes, it’s organizing’s pesky little sister.   Another one I hate to commit to but, 30 minutes of shining the sink, and picking every item up off the floor can make me feel like I have a fresh house.

5. Touch Ups

Whether you own or rent, the reality is, baseboards and doors get filthy fast.  Especially when you have three boys and a mangy animal running wild.  This photo was my gross, embarrassing reality.  We rent but, I don’t let that stop me from purchasing some trim paint in a normal shade of white.  When something looks dingy, I wipe it down and bring out the paint.  Even I was surprised at how power a clean, painted door has in a foyer.

6. Alter the Experience

It’s been said a thousand times.  Because it’s true.  Bake something, cook a delicious meal, turn on some music {Wallin’ Jennys & George Winston are two of my favorite Pandora channels} and  set the tone in our home.  We listen to Blue Grass while I cook dinner and moody solo piano when it’s dreary out and the boys are doing school work.  And by all means, I beg of you, OPEN your drapes, pull up the shades and turn on the lamps.

7. Go Outside and Get You Some Pretty

This is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve been known to stop on the side of the road to grab some random weeds, cut branches from the back sides of shrubs at our church, even when we lived in an apartment I would cut some big leafy branches from trees at the park and bring them home.  Break off a branch of newly turned fall leaves, clip a twig of non poisonous berries, vase up an empty branch for sculpture or cut a few pieces of evergreen in the winter even after Christmas. Don’t underestimate the power of a branch of something fresh and real in your home.  For free.  Can I get an amen?


See?  We don’t have to resort to disposable sofas, tables and toilets to have change in our home.

darnette disposable toilet

I promise it’s worth clicking here to watch this SNL clip... “It’s that easy!”


What tricks do you have when you crave change?


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  1. Hi Nester! Since there is NEVER any cash in our decorating envelope, I find that I am always moving and organizing to scratch the itch. That being said, the one project I have been avoiding, struggling with and I can’t even seem to start. Any ideas/suggestions you have would be appreciated? http://thecannycouture.blogspot.com/
    Best, Canny

  2. Love these! It’s always amazing to me what cleaning my kitchen, playing music, and lighting a candle will do for my mood and how I feel about the rest of my house! Like the old saying do what you can with what you have where you are…or whatever it is. :)

  3. These are such great tips! We’re renting too, and kind of struggling with it because we really miss owning a home. But you are so inspiring with how you’ve made the house you’re renting HOME by really making it yours. my itch for change in my house, combined with my tiny budget makes me need every tip I can get for how to stave off the urge to go buy something new! Thanks for helping me keep myself in check!

  4. Ha! I love Will Ferrell :) Thanks for posting this today. My funds for decorating are indeed running low, especially with Christmas on the way. This was a timely reminder that we already have plenty, I just need to change my perspective!

  5. Baseboards are the loathe of my life. And finger prints on doors. I wipe mine down about once a month. But it is probably time to break out the paint!

  6. You said, “I simply enjoy a little shift of scenery.” Yes! Some of us like that. When you described cleaning as “organizing’s pesky little sister” it made me laugh out loud.

  7. It was nice to hear that you don’t like organizing or cleaning, either :) I did organize two closets in the past week and a half and it was wonderful :) I still have two more closets, and countless cabinets and drawers to go… but those two clean ones satisfied my need to change something for a bit :)

  8. Oh, and cleaning the windows helps me feel better – I think it’s because clean windows let the light in more and you can see prettiness outside better if the inside isn’t so clean and pretty (which, of course, the windows don’t stay very clean for long with a slobbery, sticky boy and a slobbery, muddy-pawed dog in the house).

  9. I pick a room…clean it out except for large pieces such as furniture or big screen tv…dust, vacuum, Windex windows…and then go house shopping from other rooms to come up with something new. Sometimes the shopping includes things from the outdoors! Please come on over and visit my blog and get some great ideas for your Thanksgiving table…with some outdoor things!

  10. PinonCoffee says

    It’s so real! Yep, I am ALL THERE with you about moving things for a change of scenery. :-) And sadly, cleaning really does help.

    You can always make or paint things. Craft paint is awesome. I came from a crafty family, and while I’m not particularly good at it, it keeps you out of mischief and stores. Um, yeah.

    Oh, and my sister and I have a great arrangement. When we get bored with our stuff, we give it to the other one. PRESENTS! :-D

  11. Thank you! I always feel guilty that I am ‘discontent’ when I really do love my house, but CRAVE change. Great tips!

  12. I am in the middle of changing the scenery right now, and cleaning as I go, because I’m discovering quite a mess behind some of this furniture……5 kids will do that for ya!

  13. Great ideas! I find so much peace in organizing and dread it terribly at the same time. Why is that when it is instant gratification?!?

  14. I love this! I am currently working on a post about decorating on a budget….we do the envelopes as well:) And lately, there has been no decorating envelope! I am just like you about needing change in my home…my husband asks me why I can’t be content with it like it is , and I’ve struggled with the same question, so I love how you said it’s not necessarily discontentment, but “a shift of scenery”. I’ll tell him that next time:) I have told him that I am here all day, everyday, and I look at those same walls WAY more than he does:)) Anyway, love this post!

  15. I too move things around. I like the change. Drives my husband and our friends nuts.

    I will share with you the BEST thing I ever moved and I still love it. I moved our refrigerator. It was ‘built in’ in our kitchen but I always hated the way the door opened. As my frige is ‘French Door’ there was no changing the way it opened. So I moved it against the window of our some breakfast area. The window is no loss because it looked out on the neighbor’s bedroom anyway and is one the Texas sun shines bright through. Now it is just as easy for me to get to as it was before and I can open both doors all the way and get large things in and out.
    I took the space opened up and put shelves in it. Now I have a wonderful pantry area. I also made one of the shelves into our ‘coffee bar’ area. So nice to have the pot right there, water close by, and it opened a large area of counter space.

  16. Word to your mothah- love a list and love a mr clean eraser on the drips around the dishwasher and baseboards. Ps I was shaking like a crazy person laughing at that snl skit. So funny

  17. Great tips! When there are no funds, I go to my craft room and make something with supplies I already have. There’s always paint leftover, so I paint something that needs painting. Another thing I do is pick a room, then shop the house. It’s amazing how things from other rooms look new in a different room.

  18. Paint. I ALWAYS have cans of left over paint. So painting is a great way to spruce up furniture and accessories. I often use quilt to cover my furniture which changes it up And finally I rotate my pictures, artwork and accessories. I have a stash of items in my spare bedroom closet. It is amazing what a little switch-a-roo can do!

  19. Your great post is so true! Right now I’m in the middle of painting my cabinets white and yes, I could have stomped my feet and asked for new but I just can’t see doing that when they are still in good condition and just need a coat of paint to spiff them up! The only thing I did request was new counter tops the ones there (almond ) are just plain old and I don’t want them, and I didn’t ask for granite ones either just whatever Lowes had that I liked! What I’m trying to say is for the price of a gallon of paint you can get what you want for very little money!

  20. Nester, your blog is a breath of fresh air. I recently have been feeling like my home was not enough, did not compare to other people’s beautiful homes…and I even think I do have a beautiful home! All this to say, I am trying to cut back on my compulsive thrifiting issues, and use what I have in my home already. I too like a change of scenery in my home but it doesn’t mean it needs to cost me more money. I already have so many things that can be painted a new color or used differently to bring a new look to a room. There is also so much more contentment and a sense of accomplishment when I use things I already have. I see it as a challenge. And when I am able to find success in that challenge, the satisfaction is so much greater. I want to live a more simplified life and I think that means I need to have less and enjoy and use the things that I do have. It is so encouraging to read your blog and not feel like everything needs to be immediate gratification. Blogs can really suck out the fun of decorating when you feel like you are always comparing. You my friend, inspire AND encourage.

  21. I loved this post too…we’re renting and the house we’re living in is…less than dreamy :) I’ve tried to pretty it up but I too get frustrated and know that there’s only so much I can do in my rental…so this is the kick in the pants I need to focus on what i DO have and what I CAN do…the next few days I’m going to take a good look around & try to spice things up a bit :) Thanks for the encouragement!

  22. These are great tips! Thank you for sharing!

  23. Three cheers for George Winston and his moody piano. Even my six-year-old asks for George Winston before bed! Since we have zero decorating dollars and are living in someone else’s house, I loved your grab a branch idea when you mentioned it in the past. Behold the power of a stick.

  24. Looks like we were having the same thoughts today. Too funny!


  25. Great tips. I like you, always have a ton of unfinished projects. I usually try to buckle down and finish some and that makes me feel happy. I also like to play musical accessories and switch things around from room to room. Sometimes that can take something from tired to new again. If all else fails I get out some spray paint and go to town. Thanks for all the great tips!!


  26. Great ideas! I don’t move my furniture around as much as I once did, seems like this house doesn’t have a lot of options (or maybe I’m lazy). My house is in serious need of organizing- I know I would be much happier if I could (would) get things in order. Thanks for the push- time to go finish a project, or two! :)

  27. Amen. Great stuff. For me, it all comes down to contentment. I have so much to be thankful for. In this new chapter of my life I’m now learning to not just make do with what I have but make it extraordinary. That’s contentment with pizzazz!

  28. I love changing it up! That video is hysterical. Thanks for sharing!

  29. I thought decluttering was organizings’ pesky little sister. Must be the red-headed step-child instead. ; )

  30. Had to post this blog to my pinterest…under winter arranging…just because this is exactly when I have these empty vases and planter boxes and have to really be creative. Recently retired and falling in love with home all over again so I really appreciate your blog.

  31. BOOO i cant see the video because I dont live in the USA. Whats it called Ill try looking it up.

    I like to change up some furniture, re paint and hit the thrift stores. I tend not to re arrange furniture because there is one optimal position for everything and change it would not make it better. I am with you on the cleaning, fresh fauna. Best I find is cleaning out all the garbage, recycling and compost bins really well and airing the place out. Nothing feels better to me then fresh air. I also like to rotate out my decorative pieces. Paintings go away for some seasons as do vases and other pieces and come back later. It is taking time to make this cache of stuff and a some place to keep it. We have a small house so there is not a lot of seasonal decor items (besides Christmas). Just 1 tote I rotate through changing where things go every season. IE the black sating glass vase and grey veined bowl are going away in order to accommodate winter decor, in spring something more springy will take its place but in fall they will likely be back but in a different local than this year.

    • so sorry Erin, yes, I pulled it from the NBC site–it’s the only place I could find it but, it’s super funny if you are bored :: Saturday Night Live: Darnette Disposable Toilets

  32. As a public school teacher married to a college student, I really appreciate this post. I’ve been trying to focus my thoughts on thankfulness this time of year and yet as the holidays are fast approaching, I’ve been feeling more and more *anxious* about finances– but still wanting to decorate and have a festive home! Thank you for the reminder that I can still change it up a little with some creativity, an open mind, and perhaps a scrubber!

  33. I crave change too. One of the best things I can do to bring a “lift” to my home is to clean it. When I have everything put in its place and things tidied up, it feels like a new house. Cheap.

    Loved the video. Oy!


  34. I love this post and all the comments TOO. I thought I was the only person on the planet renting and your post made me feel better about that.

  35. Great post!
    I’ve been amazed with what I could do when I started to look around my house to declutter and realized I had really cool stuff I could be using for other purposes. I have an old flour bin with glass handled containers in it (popular back in the day here in Germany) which I just couldn’t quite make work in my office. But it rocks as a tea box in my kitchen, and my Nespresso sits on top so I have more space on the counter :)

  36. Loved your last point: Go outside and get some pretty. It doesn’t always work out as you plan, though. Two years ago I went out to collect some sticks; it was about this time of year when the leaves were mostly gone. I collected a nice, big wad for vases and stuff. A few days later I broke out in a rash, mostly across my face and all over my ear. Soon it spread to my eye, my arms, my hands. It was poison ivy – the worst case I have had yet. I still had it three months later in February!

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