I’ve gotten a lot of emails recently asking me how to decorate with things you already have. This is such a great question! I have smart and savvy ideas and tips today so you can use what you have to decorate your home. .
Using what you already have to decorate your home is easy and very economical, and smart! The biggest thing holding us back is our mindset. We sometimes need to think out of the box a little and be willing to take a chance or learn something new.
The image below is a good example of using what I have. When it came time to decorate my office, I used what I already had. There is not one new piece of furnishing in this room. Everything except the built-in cabinets was used in other parts of our home!
Shop Your Home
First of all, it is most important to shop your house! It’s the best way to find items that will look nice in other areas of your home!
Make a list of what you have and where you might want to put the things on your list! It may sound like a bit of extra work, but it will pay off big time! Or better yet, take pictures of things you have to decorate your home and put them in files on your phone or computer.
Knowing which things in your home will look great used in new and fresh ways and which items won’t is decorating gold.
Decorating your home on a budget and using what you have is all about the thrill of the decorating hunt, my friend!
Sometimes What We Have Might Need To Be Replaced
An outdated or worn-out sofa might not be able to be used again if you want a fresh look. It is much harder to disguise it.
Yes, adding great pillows and throws will help, but a sofa is a big piece of furniture. And if it is upholstered in a patterned or bold colored fabric, it might be very hard to use as is. Sorta like trying to put lipstick on a pig. Better to reupholster or get a new piggy!
The reality of decorating your home with what you have is that not everything can be used. It’s better to save up for big-ticket items and replace them with neutral-colored furniture. Sometimes we can’t use everything we have. And replacing a piece or two will make a room look totally different.
A side table or an accent chair you already have is a much better and easier choice to use to again!
Be savvy and choose the items you already have carefully! Some can look better and are easier to incorporate into a room than others.
Here’s a rule of thumb…
The larger the item and the more of a focal point it is, the harder it is to use if it is outdated or worn out.
This is a good rule to keep in mind!
Give Decor A New Look
I love, love, love to use decor I already have in new and fresh ways. And I almost always tweak them in some way.
Decorating your home will give you an opportunity to rescue and restore your furnishings!
Paint is magical and my “magic” of choice when it comes to updating the
I’ve painted chairs, clocks, tables, pillows (yup!), legs of soft furnishings, curtains, buffets, garden stools, mirrors, coat racks, and more! And sometimes things get painted and repainted again.
Learn how to paint furniture. Start small, like a frame or a chair. YouTube has tons and tons of great videos to show you how to use paint. My favorite channel is AMY HOWARD’S.
Second to painting, slipcovering, and reupholstering works to change the look and livability of what we have. I’ve let fabric work its magic on accent chairs, sofas, benches, dining room chairs, and more!
Play Musical Chairs
How about taking a piece of furniture or an accent from one room to another? I do this a lot! Especially with accent chairs.
Because the color palette and style of each room here at Tanglewood are pretty similar, I can easily change out furniture.
I also move around lamps, pillows, bowls, trays, side tables, drink tables, baskets, flowers, plants, mirrors, and more! We will talk about smaller items you have to use in fresh ways later in the post.
Divide and Conquer
If you are still living with any sets of matching furniture in your home, I have the BEST tip for you! Break them up! Divide and conquer your look.
Matchy-matchy is a hard style to update if you are not willing to break up the matched set.
I know many of you, like me, have purchased a dining room set. And you probably spent a fortune decades ago, right? If you love your set and the look of things that match, you can skip over this part.
But if you are aching for a new look, I have the answer for you! You don’t have to replace all the furniture!
How To Rescue Matchy Matchy Furniture
Think about keeping a piece or two, maybe the bigger, most expensive piece, and replacing some or the rest of the set.
Here are some examples…
- In the dining room, keep the table, buy second-hand chairs in different styles and paint them all the same color, or paint the chairs you have all the same color and reupholster them (I did this)
- Use the bottom part of your china cabinet and get rid of the top. Now you have a buffet. If you are not using the displayed dishes, think about letting them go too. Maybe paint the buffet or refinish it.
- If you only have a matching buffet, paint it (I did this too)
- Let go of your head chairs and buy updated upholstered ones (I did this). Or use those chairs in another room.
- In the living room, keep the sofa or the loveseat of a matching set, but not both. Maybe reupholster the one you keep. And buy two new chairs (or borrow them from another room in your home) to replace the piece you get rid of.
- If you have matching end tables, you might think about using one in another room in your home and replacing it with an updated floor lamp. End tables work great as nightstands.
- In the bedroom, use end tables from the living room or family room and repaint or refinish them to work with your bedroom’s color palette
- Use a long coffee table from your living room as a bench at the bottom of your bed. Make a padded cushion for the top of it to coordinate with what you have. (I love this idea)
Bring The Outdoors Inside
Outdoor items can look amazing inside! I often bring small indoor/outdoor rugs from my porch indoors and use them as accent rugs. So pretty! And they add a punch of color in my neutral home.
The pom pom pillow in the image above is from my back patio. I often bring it indoors to put on a sofa or a chair.
I’m such a fan of using my outdoor pillows indoors and planters and even my outdoor bench inside! Be creative!
A pair of side tables and a bar cart, all outdoor furniture, are permanent fixtures inside my home!
Especially if you live in a
Change Up Accents
We’ve been talking a lot about larger pieces of furniture. But accent pieces in your home are perfect items to switch around.
And you can make little changes when you decorate your home with what you have with things like vignettes, lamps, mirrors, pillows, and throws, right now!
At the Tanglewood House decor like urns, vases, baskets, pillows, and trendy items fly from one room to another and to the basement and back almost daily!
Changing out small decor items in our homes is the easiest way to give a room a new look. Think about using items from one room to give them new life in another. This is such smart use of decorating with what you have!
Just like giving furniture new life by painting it or reupholstering it, you can do the same for accent pieces too!
I am obsessed with covering books! My fabric of choice is burlap.
Burlap books go with my style. They add texture to my decor, and have such a nice uniform, unbusy look!
I’ve also painted books too! And I can still use them! What a big decor win/win!
One other way to cover books or other decor accent pieces like a vase or mirror is to use paper napkins. I call this “torn tissue” art! It’s really decoupage! And decoupage is addictive. I covered these leopard print books with napkins and decoupage medium. You can see this easy DIY HERE.
Here is an old lamp I almost gave away to my kids. I used napkins and decoupage medium to give it new life.
You can see this easy DIY HERE.
Think about giving things you love like books, baskets, urns, and pottery, a new look with a coat of paint or covering them with something to work with your decor. Again, this is using what you have to decorate your home gold!
About Our Homes
Our homes are our sanctuary! A safe place away from the noise and clutter of the outside world! A place of comfort! It’s so important to create a space that is uniquely yours. It really does not matter what is on trend or in style or the best. Not at all! What matters is YOU and your family.
It matters that you create a space that works for YOU! Be happy and content! Change what you can, and be grateful for the rest!
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the 3 5 7 rule?
This is the rule of odds. Our eyes love things in odd numbers. Three is called the magic number in interior design. Grouping three things together is very attractive to us. So when you decorate, use things in odd numbers.
What is the 80 20 rule?
This rule is all about creating beauty and balance in a room. This rule states that 80 percent of a room should be neutral in color, and 20 percent of the room should be other colors that work together and with your neutral color palette. Watch the undertones in decor. Make sure they work together.
What is the 70 30 10 rule?
This is another rule about color. This rule states that 70 percent of a room should be one color, 30 percent a secondary color, and 10 percent an accent color. Remember to watch undertones and make sure they work together.
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