How To Use What You Have To Decorate Your Home

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. Let’s dig right in…

Use what you have decorating 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!

a desk, chair, basket, vase and pillow what was used in other parts of the house but now are used in the study.


A white spindle chair and chest and mirror that was used in another part of the home but now are in the great room.

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!

Knowing which things in your home will look great used in new and fresh ways and which items won’t is decorating gold.

Decorating on a budget and using what you have is all about the thrill of the decorating hunt, my friend!


An outdated or worn out sofa might not be able to be used again if you want a fresh look.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”.

Yes, adding great pillows and throws will help but a sofa is a big piece of furniture. And if it 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!

A side table or an accent chair you already have is a much better and easier choice to use to use 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Here’s a rule of thumb, the larger the item and the more of a focal point it is the harder it is to use if it is outdated or worn out.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!


a wall clock that was painted white to give it new life.

I love, love, love to use decor I already have in new and fresh ways. And I almost always tweak them in some way.

Use what you have decorating will give you an opportunity to rescue and restore your furnishings!

Paint is magical and my “magic” of choice when it comes to updating decor in my home I want to give a new life to!

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!


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 and pillows and bowls and trays and side tables and baskets and flowers and plants and mirrors and more! We will talk about smaller items you have to use in fresh ways later in the post.


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!


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.
  • 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. 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.
  • In the bedroom, use end tables from the living room or family room and repaint them to work with your bedroom
  • 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.


Outdoor items can look amazing inside! I often bring my small indoor/outdoor rugs from my porch indoors and use them as accent rugs. So pretty!

And they are a punch of color in my neutral home.

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 four-season area, look outdoors during the cold months and see what you might like to “borrow” from outside to bring in!



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 with things like vignettes, lamps, mirrors, pillows, throws, etc right now!

At the Tanglewood House things 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 what-you-have decorating!

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 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!

You can see how I cover books HERE and paint books HERE.

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 so super easy! You can see how to cover books with napkins HERE.

Think about giving things you love like books, baskets, urns, pottery, etc a new look with a coat of paint or covering them with something to work with your decor. Again, this is use what you have decorating gold!



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!



  1. I love this because it’s about sustainability! It’s about collecting things we love, that speak to us, and using in a new way to reignite that first love once they are well used and seen so many times. Great ideas – thank you.

  2. Thanks so much for the great advice. I will be using some of your amazing ideas. I love my home, but sometimes it can feel a bit stale. These are wonderful ideas to wake up my home. Thanks again and blessings to you.

  3. Your ideas are inspiring and I am thinking of mixing up the bedroom furniture. I painted a headboard black in a guest room with a new spread and I like it. Now to tackle my main bedroom.

  4. I swapped out my bed for an upholstered one and that made a welcome change. I now have to get up the courage to paint my night tables. I’m so afraid of ruining them in the process.
    I’m going to get busy today switching decor items up from different rooms to create new vignettes. I’m like the pieces I have but am bored with the way they are displayed. Thank you for the kick start!

  5. Shopping my home has two benefits.Gives my rooms a fresh look and makes me find things that I need to donate because I really don’t love them anymore. Great time to purge.

  6. I’m right there with you Yvonne.Can’t really move furniture around, but am painting accent pieces to give them new life.Heading toward neutrals with a lot of black and white.Also a good time to donate items.

  7. Could you tell me where you got the cute blue lumbar pillow with white band and white stripes with knots?

  8. Great tips, Yvonne! I’m also a believer in investing in some good pieces of furniture that won’t go out of style quickly, and finding good deals on decorations at places like Home Goods to freshen up my home and keep up with changing taste and styles. I don’t spend a lot of money on something I know in a few years I’ll get tired of. Last fall I purchased the most beautiful cabinet for my kitchen, it is now my favorite piece in the home and I get so many compliments on it. That was an investment I will keep for years. Then I change things around inside as I want to, and for holidays and seasons. I’m about to tackle painting my bedroom furniture. It’s going to be changed from solid black to white and slightly distressed. I know I’ll love it! I love to paint.

  9. Hi Yvonne! I love all of your ideas on using what you have to decorate. I practice myself as it’s so refreshing to see how different you can make your home look just by moving things you already have around. I wanted to let you know that I featured you this week on Homestyle Gathering. Thank you for coming over and joining our party. I hope you’ll join us again this week.

  10. Great advice! I live in a small cottage style modern ranchers house I love, and a full hutch and buffet would overwhelm the dining area, which is a spot and not a room. My living, dining, and kitchen are open to each other (the kitchen is open on one side to the dining area which is blended into the living area). I have a small, really cute gem of a dining table that I found at a thrift store, and I am using an old wood dresser with metal wheels, from the 1930s, with a cute plank style top (everything except drawer pulls is original) as my “buffet.” I put four gray chairs around my dining table. I put a mirror above my dresser buffet, which looks far better here than a traditional hutch and buffet would.

    I have been checking out your blog and like how you are decorating your home and the solid advice. I am going to keep checking out what cute stuff you continue to do!

  11. Yvonne,
    I found your website a couple of months ago and I am totally addicted. I am constantly updating and arranging things in my home. I am using many of the tips that you suggest. Right now I am in a huge purge and update post a kitchen renovation with a living room, dining room update too. I wish I had seen your site before I picked rugs for my living room and dining room.
    Do you have suggestions for decorating a round kitchen table? I find that we can’t have things too big and tall but I like to always have something in the middle. You have a round basket tray on one of your tables. Where did you get that?
    Do you ever have people send you photos and do you help them update and suggest changes? Can anyone hire you to help decorate or use what people have? I just love your style!
    Thanks for all the great info!

  12. I wanted to dress up the stairway to our basement and I did it with minimum cash outlay. I already had an antique cabinet minus the door with shelving, an antique wooden box that I hung on the wall, and several framed prints of the Irish countryside that I had for over 20 years. My only real purchase was a $30 little wooden board with black hooks on it. I was going to make one, but it was actually cheaper to buy it from Home Depot. My colors are cream, golden yellow and green. I hung 3 of the over 100 baseball caps that my husband has hanging on the basement rafters – they are all the golden color. The only other purchase was $6 worth of flowers from the Dollar Store that I arranged in the antique wooden box. I wanted to buy a couple of the wooden tobacco baskets, but didn’t want to go to a store, so I hung a thick woven highly textured placement instead. It is so cute. Total cost $36! I used a few accessories I had to stage the antique cabinet. It’s bright and cheery.

  13. Tgank you for sharing all your ideas and faith
    I am looking at jute style area rugs. What should I be looking for in quality. Edges etc?
    Thank you

    1. That’s a BIG question, Cynthia! It really depends on where you are using the rug and how much wear and tear a rug will get. There are all kinds of natural fiber rugs. Sorry, I just can’t answer your question because I really don’t know what you are looking for. Maybe this would be a great post!

  14. Advice…how to paint bedroom furniture that cannot be moved out of the room. New house with new carpet ! Help!!

  15. Under “Bring the outdoors in” heading you have some beautiful pillows shown. Can you advise where you sourced these?
    I find your decorating extremely helpful!
    Thank you, Nancy

    1. Nancy these are a mix of annuals and perrenials. There are oak leaf hydrangeas, knockout roses, salvia, purple verbena and clippings from a bush on the side of our house, but I don’t know what it is. Hope this helps.

  16. Hi Yvonne, can you please tell me where you bought that darling very narrow table next to you couch in the living room. Perfect size and very different. Thank you, Mary

  17. I think often we go buy more stuff first, but we may love our homes more using what we have. I see people shopping buying cartfuls of decor, but I think that can be the desire for new things when maybe at home they actually have prettier items they don’t have displayed to the best advantage. I donated more “cutesy clutter” type stuff, and I feel like it was donating rather than buying that helped me to get the house more so how I want it. I also tried to aim for “Is this my FAVORITE of something, or just an item I LIKE?”. I only want my favorites and not a million things. I have also loved plants being here more than I have ” more decor items.”.

  18. I typically gut and clean at least one room in my house each month. This includes deep dusting (moving furniture away from the walls to get back into the baseboards and corners), cleaning windows, cleaning the floors, cleaning out closets (sometimes those are rooms in and of themselves) So, I end up doing this in each room about twice a year (ok, sometimes only once per year). When I do this, the ideas just spark! I take things out, bring things in, move things around. This sometimes causes havoc in other rooms, but it really works. I don’t even have to exercise on these days because it’s a workout! I did this yesterday in my bedroom. I didn’t spend a dime other than the cleaners that I used and my time!

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