All my Christmas decorations are down and my house feels ready for a fresh start – all I want to do is clean, purge, organize, and just freshen things up around here! What I do not want to do is spend a lot of money.
The Christmas season is so fun, but it can get expensive. Gifts, food, travel, experiences, holiday cards . . . it all adds up and January feels like a time I not only want to reset my home, but reset my budget. I’ve been thinking about ways to give my house a little refresh without spending money (or at least spending very little) and I came up with ten things to do. These things are either free or low-cost and I thought I’d share them today in case you’re also looking for easy, inexpensive ways to give your home a little refresh.
These ten things are what I’m doing now to refresh my home for the new year, but they can all be done at any time throughout the year!
Add in Seasonal Greenery
Faux seasonal greenery can be purchased from a variety of stores and there are items out there for lots of different budgets, but the most budget-friendly option is: head outside! This is obviously a bit easier in the summer, when there are abundant types of tree, bush, or flowering plants to collect from, but it’s still possible in the fall and winter. For example, you can snip a few branches from an evergreen tree or winter berry tree or collect pinecones to display in a bowl. If you plan ahead a bit, you can dry some flowers or leaves to use too. I dried hydrangeas from our yard last year and they looked great all winter long! I’m currently loving the look of dried fern stems in our bedroom and also kept an unlit, potted evergreen tree on display instead of packing it up with the rest of my holiday decor (when you subtract lights and ornaments, it feels wintery instead of Christmas-y!)
Clean Out Your Fridge
Since we were going to Virginia for a week over Christmas, I purposely tried to get our fridge stash super low so food wouldn’t just spoil when we were gone (although it wasn’t as empty as that first picture – I had already started taking things out to wipe down!) This ended up being a great time to just clear out all the remaining items and give every shelf and drawer a good wipe down. Pull everything out of your fridge, wipe down all shelves, drawers and items (whyyyyy does my ketchup bottle always get so sticky and gross?) and check dates before you put things back in. It’s so satisfying to open my fridge now and know it’s clean and nothing is expired. Also, I know I’m not the only one who gets on a health kick for the new year . . . here’s hoping my fridge still contains this many vegetables in August, ha!
Change Up Your Textiles
Swapping out bedding is such an easy way to freshen up the whole feel of your room. I love cotton and linen in the spring and summer, but once temperatures drop, I’m a flannel girl. I usually choose simple, graphic patterns so they’re easy to mix and match in different seasons and spaces. Adding wool or knit blankets to beds or couches in the winter feels so cozy too – I expect to use this vintage pink-and-cream checked wool blanket all over my house this winter! If you don’t have extra sheets on hand to swap out and don’t want to buy a whole new set, you can separately purchase pillowcases that coordinate with your existing bedding for a fresh, mix-and-match feel.
And speaking of textiles . . .
Launder Infrequent Items
You likely wash your sheets regularly, but what about your duvet cover, quilt, or comforter? What about throw pillow covers or the blanket that hangs out on the couch? Maybe it’s just me, but I recently realized there are a lot of textiles in my home that rarely get cleaned! The last time I did laundry, I was pulling things out of my hamper, which has a cloth liner. I noticed that the bottom of the liner was looking super dingy and realized I hadn’t washed it in . . . ever? I tossed it in with the load of laundry and it looks so fresh and clean now! It’s a little thing that makes a big difference. My goal this week is to go through our house and wash all the textiles I can find – all bedding, removable throw pillow covers, blankets, hot pads, oven mitts, small accent rugs, etc. – to give everything a fresh start.
Clean Out a Drawer or Cabinet
It can feel daunting to declutter, so keep it small and manageable and start with just one drawer or cabinet. Take everything out, wipe it down, and only put back in what you need (bonus points if you can add some method of organization to keep it this way and even more bonus points if you can donate any item still in good condition so someone else can use it!) It’s amazing to me how empowering it can feel to get a small space in order – it will make your house feel more streamlined, functional, and fresh! It also just might motivate you to tackle another drawer, cabinet, closet, or room. 🙂
Test all your Writing Utensils
How frustrating is it to be searching for a writing utensil to jot something down quickly, only to find a broken pencil tip or pen with dried out ink? This is a great time to go through your house with a little notepad and sharpener and test every writing utensil. Sharpen dulled pencils and toss pens that don’t work anymore. It’s an easy task that will eliminate the inconvenience of reaching for something that doesn’t work, and it can also help you corral pens and pencils that have made their way to random spots around your house, making it feel so fresh and organized.
When your eyes are used to seeing the same thing in the same spot everyday, it’s easy to not even really notice it anymore. You know when you take the same drive every day and then one day you suddenly realize “whoa, I’ve never noticed that house/barn/unusual thing before!” It’s been there, but you’ve just driven by the same thing day after day and haven’t really registered it. The same is true in your house. We get used to a certain arrangement and we stop really even noticing what we have. One of my favorite free ways to freshen up my home is to shop my own stuff and rearrange – it creates a fresh feel but also a renewed appreciation for what I already had! This can be as big as rearranging furniture, either within the room or moving something to a different room, or as small as just moving a piece of artwork or a plant from one spot to another. Try not to get stuck on things “but this is the blanket I’ve always kept on this chair in my living room” – it might look fantastic on your bed too! Trust me, even if you’ve had the artwork/decor/piece of furniture for years, it can feel fresh and new just by moving to a new location in your home.
Incorporate Seasonal Art
I love original art and will always encourage supporting and purchasing from artists if and when you can, but it’s also nice to find inexpensive ways to add quality art to your home. I’ve recently been introduced to an extremely cost-effective way to add some art to your home: the public domain!
Did you know there are millions of pieces of artwork in the public domain? Generally speaking, art becomes public domain 70 years after the death of the artist; what this means is the artwork becomes free of copyright restrictions. Museums like the Met and Smithsonian release it into the public domain and it’s free for you to use and reproduce without permission (I would include the caveat that it’s still important to credit the original artist every time!) The plus side of using public domain artwork over a digital download from a print shop is that it is completely free to download the image, but in exchange, you are giving up the curation that print shops provide. It’s daunting to sift through millions of images! I was thrilled to discover that A Home is Announced has a free curated public domain shop – she has taken the time to curate some beautiful public domain work that you can sift through and download what you like. It’s a great place to start when first exploring public domain art!
I searched through her shop and found five different pieces of artwork that felt like “winter” to me. I downloaded them (for free!) and had them printed at my local FedEx print shop on a matte cardstock for less than $2.50 per print. I put them in various frames I’ve thrifted over the years (anywhere from $1-$3 typically) and voila! Beautiful seasonal artwork for about $5 a piece, and it will be easy to swap out a different print in the frame if I want a change in another season.
Wipe down switch plates, door handles, and wall scuffs
Okay this isn’t an exciting one, but it can make a big difference! These high-contact surfaces get dingy over time and it often happens so gradually that we don’t notice it. Walk around with a multipurpose cleaner and cloth for the knobs and switches and a Magic Eraser for the wall scuffs and see what a big difference it can make!
Swap out scents
This one might be obvious, but changing up the scents in your home is a simple way to make your home feel fresh. Whether you use a candle or diffuser – scent is powerful and can make a big difference!
It might seem like these are all little things that won’t make much difference, but I’m a firm believer that refreshing the way your home feels can affect the way you and your family feel, and that is no small thing! I’ve already done a few things on this list over the past few days, and I will be checking off the remining items in the coming week or so. My home already feels so much better for me and my family, and I hope these ideas do the same for you and yours.