How to Spruce Up your Space on a Budget

As we spend more and more time at home, it is inevitable to feel the itch to revamp our current spaces. But with an uncertain future for many, people are hesitant to spend thousands of dollars to redecorate their homes. Luckily, there are ways to update your living space without having to break the bank. We spoke with lifestyle, design, and fashion expert Christian Dare on the best way to spruce up any space on a budget and his favourite go-to brands for affordable pieces.

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What are some of your tips on redecorating or sprucing your space using items you already have?

We are spending a lot more time in our homes these days and I think we have all discovered areas that we need to improve or that just aren’t working for our current lives.

Paint it. Painting can be the easiest and cheapest way to update a space. This is a great time to try out a brave new colour or even to just refresh your white walls (they get dingy fast). Scared to make a big colour change? Why not go bold in a powder room or bathroom? It’s a small space to experiment in. You can order your paint and all the supplies from Digby Paints – they are Canadian and deliver!

Wallpaper It. There are lots of high quality peel and stick wallpapers and murals on the market. They make for an instant update without all the hassle of traditional wallpaper (check out Eazy Wallz)

Move Furniture from one room to another. Reconfigure your living room. It’s all about looking at your rooms and pieces of furniture with fresh eyes. Try it out by living with the new set up for a few days, if you don’t like it you can always swap it back.

Update Lighting. This could be as simple as updating your bulbs to energy efficient options or swapping out that old floor lamp you have been carrying around since your first apartment. Also think about swapping out your light shades, many lights come with simply white shades but swapping them to black can add instant drama.

Swap out drawer pulls, kitchen hardware and doorknobs. Think about these as the jewelry in your home – swapping them out from old brass to matte black creates an instant update to a kitchen or an old dresser.

Update your bathroom. Deep clean it first – you would be surprised how much whiter those tiles are meant to be. And then update the space by swapping out your shower curtain or towels. Perhaps a new fun bath matt? Add in some low light (or faux) plants. Maybe even add in a bidet style toilet seat like I just did (check out Hello Tushy).

Make it Smart. Consider a smart hub for your home (either Google or Amazon Alexa) and all the add-ons that can go with it: smart bulbs, smart thermostats, Wi-Fi extenders, and video doorbells… the options are endless. And you don’t have to do it all at once. You can slowly add to your smart home at any time.

Get Organized. Sometimes all you need to do is reorganize and edit your space. A good deep Marie Kondo’ing can do wonders.

Update with small accessories or throw pillows.

Make your Own Art. Pick up a canvas and some inexpensive paints and go to town. Create something for your space. And the best thing about it, if you don’t like it, paint over it and start again.

Go Green. Get some plants for your space. Greenery will instantly update your space and even help to keep your indoor air clean.

Update your Bed. I bet you are spending more time in there than you used to…so why not take the time to make It the best it can be. Update your pillows (these should be updated every two years) and bedding (I recommend White Terry Home Organic bedding).

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With the warmer weather around the corner, and quarantine measures still in place, how can we redecorate our outdoor spaces to make staying at home more desirable?

As urban dwellers, I think it’s important to maximize your limited outdoor space; therefore you need to think about how you will use that space best. Just like any indoor space, consider its use. Do you want it to be for lounging? Or rather do you want it for eating meals or your morning coffee? Or do you dream of using it as a pop up office on fair weather days? Further, do you want to use it as an urban garden for herbs and veggies? Yes, you can do all those things but it just takes a little creative planning.

The final step, before you decorate, is to observe your outdoor space throughout the day. Does it get full day sun? Or is it mostly shady? This will determine if you need sunshades or umbrellas.

Now where to shop? Since we are all now shopping online or through curbside picks ups, it is more important than ever to plan it out. Measure your patio or balcony and map it out on graph paper. You can even go as far as cutting out little scaled down versions of the pieces you are considering buying on the graph paper as well. Cut them out and plan around with the configuration.

Great online resources where I find great outdoor furniture pieces:
Article: Canadian based company with modern outdoor furniture including loungers, chairs, dining tables, etc.

IKEA: This Swedish affordable design giant has lots of great pieces; especially when it comes to pots, planters, sunshades and umbrellas.

Canadian Tire: A great spot for a variety of outdoor lighting options (solar powered and modern) and indoor/outdoor rugs.

H&M Home
H&M Home

What are some of your favourite online brands to shop at for low budget pieces? 

There are so many great places to get affordable updates for your home. Here are some of my favourites.

H&M Home
Fashion forward throw pillows, dishes and bedding.

Structube
Affordable small accessories and lighting.

Mobilia
Design forward pieces at great prices – love their end tables.

Bouclair
Super affordable and modern lighting options.

Society 6
Great for art work!

Bettencourt Manor
Amazing curated vintage accessories and art.

Zara Home
Amazing selection of handles and knobs. Great dishes too.

ETSY
Great way to discover smaller brands and local artists.

Maison Simons
Affordable and fun printed bedding and tableware.

Amazon.ca
They sell just about everything for your home.

Wayfair
Always great deals on rugs and art.

H&M Home
H&M Home

What are some redecorating mistakes we should avoid?

I would probably avoid any rash decisions in times like these…it might not be the best time to buy an expensive new sofa or large piece of furniture. Especially if it is not a brand you are familiar with or a piece of furniture you have already tested out in a store or showroom.  This is the best time for easy and affordable updates.

But don’t overthink it too much, have fun with your home.

Christian Dare is a lifestyle, design, and fashion expert. He appears regularly on Cityline TV, Breakfast Television and Your Morning. He is also a regular contributor to AmongMen, Complex Magazine and several other publications. You can check out his latest at christiandareedited.com

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