How to brighten up a space without spending any money

Here’s the thing. Many of us have been at home for a while now, either working, home-schooling or just trying to stay alive. And if you happen to be in the urban area, you’ll probably notice that this seems to have caused a home improvements boom. Home improvements can be costly, so here is a list of free and inexpensive ways you can positively transform your space.

Edit your possessions

Majority of homes I have seen, and recently I have seen almost too many, share one problem. They are filled to the brim with possessions – neglected bookshelves heaving under the weight of old volumes and photo albums, dusty frames, shoes that have not been worn in years and ugly vases as far as the eye can see. If you happen to live in a space which is filled with items you do not find attractive, as long as they are yours, it is entirely permissible to get rid of them. I’m not suggesting that you Marie-Kondo your whole house tonight, but I do suggest getting rid of the clutter.

Put things away

Some clutter is fine if you like that look. But here’s the thing – items which appear to be in their right place make a room cozy. Item which just sit around make a room messy. So if you want to keep things out, find a good placement for them and make sure they look like you’ve put them there on purpose. If you can’t find a purpose for them on display, in the cupboard they go and yes please, keep that cupboard making sense so you can find them easily when you miss them.

Give it all a good wash

I have this suspicion that soft furnishings get dirty from me just looking at them. I don’t need to touch the white curtains in my office, I just need to be *near* them for them to go off-white. So take down your soft furnishings – curtains, cushion and sofa covers, tablecloths and whatever else you have draped around your space and get it washed. If you’re feeling adventurous you could even try fabric stripping (yes, find it on TikTok), but a good ole wash should do. Once they’re dry, iron everything before putting them back on display. While the wash is running, get yourself a damp cloth and wipe everything down, including window sills, walls, window and door frames, door knobs and furniture handles, pictures, tops of cupboards and whatever else you might have in the space that’s wipeable. And yes, the vases too. You basically want to have the space free of dirt and grime before your soft furnishings come back in. Once ready, arrange your soft furnishings and continue editing – if you don’t like how something looks, let it go (sell it!).

Bring more light in

Rearrange light fittings which are not fixed to improve the lighting in the room. I am not recommending going out and buying lamps – instead work with what you have. This could also include cleaning the chandeliers (mine get dusty to the point where they obstruct light), using fairly lights or candles (careful with the flame please!) just moving furniture away from the windows to let more light in. And almost forgot this – wash your windows. It’s remarkable how grimey they get for no good reason, blocking the light from coming in.

What seems to help in many spaces is also updating the window dressings – while not free, this can be done inexpensively.

Move things around

Move your furniture. Try different configurations, see what seems more comfortable or attractive to you, what makes the room serve it’s purpose better. Prioritise the use of the room – if it’s your bedroom, the bed gets the best spot. If it’s a living room, the seats meet in the middle. Even if you arrive at the same placement, at least you’ll have given yourself the chance to look at your space and how you use it from a new angle.

I hope this post comes right in time for Christmas holidays. The running joke in my country of birth is that before every big holiday extensive ‘Świąteczne porządki’ (holiday cleaning) must happen. This includes rearranging rooms, extensive decluttering to make space for whatever the new year will bring and handing down everything no longer needed or wanted, from kids clothes to home decor items. And while the practice by large is centered around having a neat home so that we can welcome guests without feeling embarrassed for the state of our abode, it’s also about finding refreshment and new energy in the midst of winter. I hope you can take this short article as an inspiration to give yourself that energy boost which comes with a space you enjoy being in.

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