Are you bored with your home’s current look, but short on cash? Instead of splashing out money on a costly remodel, consider making a few simple changes to freshen up your home. The following tips will help you create a new look for your Chicago-area home without breaking the bank.

  1. Get creative when reupholstering furniture. Instead of letting a beloved quilt or blanket sit among mothballs in the attic, Jeff Fernstrom, co-owner of Chicago-based Brimfield, recommends using the quilt to reupholster a chair. “You can even repurpose old sweatshirts and college pennants into pillows,” he said. Using the repurposed materials will give your furniture a more personalized touch.
  2. Get a handle on new door knobs. Whether you use brass, bronze, chrome, nickel, steel or other materials, replacing the existing door knobs in your kitchen or bathroom can go a long way in refreshing and updating your home. For a unique look, select door knobs in the same finish, but in different styles.
  3. Use maps as a decoration. Whether you have a historical map of Chicago, road maps from your recent travels or a vintage map of the L, frame your map and hang it in a prominent spot in your home. It can also work as an ice-breaker at your next party.
  4. Repurpose parts of old furniture and household items. With a coat of paint and some creativity, furniture originally destined for the landfill can be given a new life. For example, dresser drawers can be repainted and hung on walls to hold books, and old cribs rails can be repurposed to hold tools and craft supplies. Containers with interesting labels, such as coffee canisters, can be reused as flower pots, while doors and shutters can be painted or stained and rebuilt as coffee tables.
  5. Cut–or throw–a rug. A few pillows, a throw blanket and an area rug can give a tired room a revitalized appearance. Instead of matching pillows exactly with the color of your couch, choose pillows with funky patterns and in bold colors that complement your furniture, instantly updating what is already on hand. As pillows and blankets can be easily switched out, consider buying items in bright yellow or green colors for summer and darker colors for winter.
  6. Paint can work wonders. A coat of paint in a bright, vibrant color can immediately change the look of a room or piece of furniture. When painting furniture, make sure to strip the piece prior to painting it.

Below are some local businesses that may be able to help you get started.

5219 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 271-3501

Specializing in home decor, Brimfield’s products include pillows repurposed from sweatshirts, antique chairs and blankets in a variety of plaids. Brimfield also carries a selection of antique wall pieces.

Chicago Brass Architectural Hardware
220 W Kinzie St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 245-0200

Established in 1985, Chicago Brass features products such as doorknobs, deadbolts, hinges, handles and levers. Chicago Brass has a second location in Chicago as well – 3912 North Lincoln Avenue.

Clark & Barlow Decorative Hardware
353 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 726-3010

Established in 1894, Clark & Barlow carries a variety of handles and door knobs for residential and commercial purposes. Clark & Barlow has more than 10,000 decorative hardware items from over 500 manufacturers.

Related: Sprucing Up Your Table For New Year’s
5 Tips for a Successful Garage Sale in Chicago

For more great tricks, tips and advice about your home, visit

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at

Watch & Listen LIVE