Five Free Ways to Brighten Up Any Room

Occasionally I need to visit my chiropractor, and more often than not, my appointment is in what I call “The Picture Room.”

This is a simplistic title, since there’s far more than pictures on the walls. From floor to ceiling, each wall is covered with pictures and momentos from important events. My chiropractor is a marathon runner, and I know this because every medal and race tag he’s gotten – along with candid photos – are on the walls. He has three boys and two girls, and I know that the boys played football and both girls were on dance team. I also know that he and his family water ski and have taken vacations in Mexico.

The best part about this room is that some aspect is always changing. The marathon momentos are still there, but there are always new pictures as the kids grow older and his family changes.

Every time I’m in that room, I’m inspired to make some changes to my own living space. All of us have a room or two that need to be updated, and here are five free ways to do it by using what you have around the house.

Add Green

New house plants can add a breath of fresh air to a room. Take cuttings from some of your other houseplants and ask friends if you can have cuttings of any of their indoor or outdoor plants. Search your cupboards for any fun, colorful and funky dishes or cups to plant them in, and display them prominently around your living space.

Rearrange for a New Look

It’s easy to place furniture in one place and leave it there, but rearranging furniture, pictures, plants and other decorations can give a room a new look. Look beyond the room itself to other rooms in your home, and consider moving furniture and wall decorations around to different rooms, using an end table as a night stand, or creating a special collection of pictures on a particular wall.

Create Special Scents

If you happen to grow or buy lavender or other herbs like basil or mint, hang them upside down in a window until they dry, then crumble them in a pot of boiling water to spread their scent. Another option is to cut up orange or lemon peel and let it dry out on the counter, then make your own potpourri with the dried herbs and peels. Search around your home for candles that haven’t been used up and burn them for a nice scent.

Display Memorabilia

If you have a growing family, it might be time to update photos, keeping out a few favorites from past years. Change the frames by using leftover paint to make them all the same color, or switch out the frames for antique ones you might already have, along with older family photos. Display posters, ticket stubs or programs from your favorite travels or adventures, along with photos from your trip!


Moving furniture and decor around your home can bring a new look to more than one space in your home. Consider changing lamps, lampshades, and mirrors to different places. Take advantage of a variety of textures or fabrics, using a wispy shawl or scarf to cover a tabletop or serve as a window treatment in a small window, or repurpose throw pillows by covering them in spare fabric (gather the fabric and pin it in the back of each pillow).

Freshening up rooms in your home can be free if you use your own creativity and what you already have around your house. However, unlike my chiropractor, you may want to take some photos and momentos down before adding others!

Kelly Wilson is an expert at using coupons and is the author of Live Cheap and Free! Strategies to Thrive in Tough Economic Times. You can read more about her at

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