During a recession, home upgrades are often downgraded from "very necessary" to "wouldn't it be nice?" Resident interior designer Nate Berkus says it doesn't have to be that way. Here are some easy ways to refresh a tired space without exhausting your wallet.
Throw a Swap Meet: Gather the neighborhood or any group of friends interested in giving their homes an easy update. Ask each participant to choose a few household items she'd be willing to part with—anything from small vases to big couches—and display the goods for everyone to size up. Let the trading begin. Remember, an item's worth comes from the pleasure it brings you, so trades don't have to be pieces of equal value. Go ahead, swap your love seat that's anything but lovely for the vase you can't take your eyes off.
Go Bold with Color: When you're on a budget, a pop of yellow or red makes your handiwork look pricey and professional. A green fireplace or burnt orange walls will breathe life into a dull room.
Make Old Furniture Look Like New: Forget about buying a new couch. Instead, disguise your old one with an inexpensive stretch sofa cover. Nate calls these miracle-workers "Spanx for furniture."
Shop Your Own Home: You'd be surprised at how many great finds are already in your home. Sometimes all you need is creative thinking. If your ottoman isn't working with your new color scheme, how about using it as a nightstand? Or, roll up your sleeves and pull out the toolbox. A little elbow grease and—voilà! An old door is suddenly a coffee table.
Remember, Nothing Is Nailed Down: Nate says one of the greatest obstacles to redecorating is that once people find a space for something, they never consider moving it. "Walk into your bedroom and think, ''Would that dresser look great in my dining room? Can I take these lamps off my table and use them next to my sofa?'" If you've had a room set up the same way for years, you may not be able to re-envision the space. Enlist a friend's fresh—and free!—pair of eyes...a new layout might completely reinvent your home.
What are your best do-it-yourself budget decorating tips? Comment below!