7 low-cost ways to give your home a makeover

These easy, inexpensive tips can help breathe new life into your decor.

Sarah Mitroff Managing Editor
Sarah Mitroff is a Managing Editor for CNET, overseeing our health, fitness and wellness section. Throughout her career, she's written about mobile tech, consumer tech, business and startups for Wired, MacWorld, PCWorld, and VentureBeat.
Expertise Tech, Health, Lifestyle
Sarah Mitroff
5 min read
James Martin/CNET

In the CNET Smart Home, we're constantly thinking about decor. With all of the tech we bring in, we want it to still look like a stylish and relaxing space -- not one overrun by machines.

We've learned a lot along the way about how technology can make tricky decorating tasks -- like picking a paint color -- so much easier, and how to seamlessly blend smart home devices into your home.

Start with paint

Are your walls in need of a fresh coat of paint? You don't need to (and shouldn't) start the process by staring at rows and rows of paint chips at the hardware store.

Many major paint brands, including Sherwin Williams, Behr and Valspar, have websites where you can use photos of your space to virtually apply color to your walls. That gives you the chance to see how a paint shade will look, before you even head to the store.


Color sensors like this one from Nix can help you match paint colors to your wall.

Chris Monroe/CNET

If you've ever tried to match a paint color, you know it's tricky to get just the right hue when you don't know the original paint brand and shade. Again, the major paint brands can help with color-matching apps. You can also buy dedicated color-matching sensors that are pricey, but can work better than an app.

Need some color inspiration for you walls? Try one of these famous shades.

Paint your walls with these famous hues

See all photos

Now, add art

Your paint is dry, but what if your walls are bare? If you don't already have a stash of artwork, it can be expensive to build up a collection, and hard to find pieces that reflect your personality better than the generic art you'll find at a big box store.

Try Densenio and Society6, where you can find thousands of pieces of artwork that match anyone's taste and budget. Ready to frame those pieces? Avoid the high costs of custom frames with sites like Framebridge or Etsy.

Looking for the ultimate art experience at home? Check out the Depict Frame (above). It brings museum-quality artwork into your house that would only otherwise be available for millions at an auction. At $899, it's not even remotely cheap, but you get access to thousands of famous pieces.

Hang it right

Now that you have your art, your next step is to hang it. What seems like an easy task can feel hard, but it doesn't have to be. With a just a few supplies, you can hang your art perfectly every single time.

Looking to fill up a wall with art? Start with a gallery wall. They might seem hard, but with a few supplies and a bit of time, you can create one that looks amazing and adds a lot to your home's decor. We've got your foolproof guide to building a gallery wall.

Watch this: Build a gallery wall perfectly every time

Just like hanging up photos and art, mounting your TV on the wall can feel intimidating. It's a great way to position your TV perfectly in your space, but you need to have a game plan to do it right. Otherwise, you might end up with your pricey new TV smashed on the floor.

Here are the 7 things you should consider before you mount your TV on the wall.

11 cheap ways to make your home smarter

See all photos

Decorate with the Internet

If it's time to retire your couch or dining room table, harness the power of augmented reality to find a replacement. There are several apps out there that can show you how that new sofa or coffee table you're eyeing will look in your existing room.

With a few taps, you can see in real time if the color or design clashes with what you have, or if the furniture you want is too small for your space.

Buying a rug online is a good way to save a few hundred dollars. But without seeing the rug in person, it can feel scary. Check out our guide for everything you need to know about shopping for rugs online to make the process painless.

Watch this: 4 places you should put smart speakers in your home

Small upgrades, big impact

Upgrading your kitchen on a budget can seem impossible, but it's really not! Forget about new countertops or cabinets; you can easily breathe new life into your kitchen with many inexpensive and easy changes. A consistent color scheme and some new knobs can go a long way to creating a kitchen that feels fresh.

Most of these aren't permanent, which is great if you're renting and want to get your deposit back.

Read More: Best essential oil diffusers of 2019 

Make tech blend into your space

It's exciting to bring new tech into your home, but it can also easily clash with your interior design. Smart speakers can look out of place, TVs can create a big, black hole on your wall and cables can look messy. The good news is that it's not hard to create harmony between gadgets and decor.

Before you purchase any smart devices, think about how their aesthetic will work in your home. If you can, pick smart devices in colors that work well for your space, so that they blend into the background instead of sticking out.

Cord management can also go a long way to help a smart speaker or security camera look at home in your kitchen or living room.

6 products to organize all of your messy cords

See all photos

Though Amazon has designed its Echo speakers to look nice in your home, they still might look out of place in your space. We've rounded up several ways to disguise and customize your Echo smart speaker to match your decor.

Read more: Where should you set up your smart speaker?

If you do want to drop some serious cash, consider upgrading your TV to one that blends into your decor. Samsung 's The Frame TV literally looks like a framed piece of art on your wall, and has a catalog of available art so you can change it every hour, every day or whenever you want.


Use plants to bring some life into your decor.

Josh Miller/CNET

Bring in some green

Nothing can add life to a space quite like plants. They are great for maintaining air quality and they add an organic element to your decor.

If you consider yourself a black thumb, hope is not all lost. There are plenty of plants you can successfully grow indoors without a ton of effort.

Consider starting with an indoor herb garden. Just a pot or two and some space in your kitchen is all you need. If you pick herbs that need a lot of water, like basil, try one of these watering tricks to keep them hydrated.

Read More: Best Portable Humidifiers 2019

Learn how to make your home a smart home.

CNET's Guide to Smart Living is a destination for tips, tricks and guides that make your life smarter.