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Cheap and Easy Ways to Make Your New House Feel Like Home

Some creativity -- and a little bit of cash -- are all you need to make your new home your own.

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New homebuyers tend to spend approximately $10,000 within the first year. 
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Home sales in the US boomed last year, with 6.12 million units sold in 2021 -- up 8.5% from 2020. New homebuyers tend to spend approximately $10,000 on furniture, appliances, DIY fixes and renovations during the first year of homeownership, according to the National Association of Home Builders. And this is on top of all the other expenses that come with buying a new home, such as a down payment, closing costs and moving. 

Decorating and designing your new space can be particularly expensive. So how can you personalize it to feel like home without spending a fortune? 

Here are 11 budget-friendly and easy ways to transform your house without exhausting your budget.

Add a fresh coat of paint

"To start, the best place to create a blank slate for personalization is paint," says Olivia Mariani, head of marketing at Curbio."Painting walls is an obvious, easy way to make a home look and feel new, but painting cabinets is another great way to freshen up the appearance of a home." 

To decide on a color scheme, brush up on color psychology to create the right vibe for each room. Reds tend to increase energy, while oranges promote activity and greens have been shown to relieve stress. If the walls in your home are painted in basic neutrals, consider adding some color to spice things up. 

Read more: How to Choose the Best Outdoor Paint for Your Home

woman painting a wall green in a room with moving boxes

Painting is an easy way to personalize your space. 

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Hang your favorite art pieces

Empty walls can feel dull and uninspiring, so decorating your home with interesting art pieces that reflect your personal style is an easy way to transform every room. You can find affordable art (both originals and replicas) online through sites like Society6Etsy and Artfinder.

Don't forget about the frame. Choose a frame that complements the piece, but doesn't distract from the main visual. You can also use picture lights to add coziness and charm, says Alexis Peters, a strategic interior design advisor at Real Estate Bees.

Decorate with plants

"Bring the outdoors in! Adding greenery and fresh-cut flowers will make your home feel fresh and homey," says Angela Deniston, who also serves as a strategic interior design advisor at Real Estate Bees. Adding plants to your space has been shown to boost mood, increase energy, reduce stress and improve creativity. Plants also help filter the air in your home, which keeps your immune system happy.

If you want to add plants to your home, it's worth doing some research or visiting your local nursery to learn which plants will thrive in your environment, based on light, space, and the amount of attention they need. Some plants are harmful to pets, so be sure to place them out of reach or invest in pet-friendly or faux plants.

Living room full of verdant green houseplants

Bring the outdoors in with a collection of houseplants. 

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Shop for secondhand furniture and decor

If you're decorating your home on a budget, one of the best places to get affordable decor and furniture is from friends and family. You might be surprised to find out people you know are getting rid of unwanted items in good condition that might fit well in your space.

You can also visit yard sales and estate sales in your area, which often have cheap furniture and decor. Just keep in mind that while you can score great deals at yard sales, some items may need a bit of TLC or at least a fresh coat of paint. 

Upgrade rooms with new textiles

"When designing your home, don't be afraid to pile on the textiles. Pillows, throw blankets, rugs and curtains make a room more inviting and cozy," says Deniston. Not only are textiles an easy way to style every room in your home, but you can find unique and affordable pieces online at places like WayfairAmazon and World Market. Textiles can also help breathe new life into worn furniture pieces that you may not have the budget to upgrade right away.

When buying textiles for your house, experts recommend sticking to one color palette, mixing patterns, and layering different textures. Peters recommends, "Pick five colors you want to style your home with and don't stray." To keep things budget-friendly, mix old pieces with new ones that will give your house the look and feel you're going for. 

Swap out light fixtures

If your house has outdated light fixtures that don't fit your new aesthetic, consider swapping them out. Depending on the mood you want to create in each room, lighting should either serve as a focal point or as an accent to the existing space.

Like with art, it's important to consider the size and positioning of light fixtures when redesigning your home. A 4-foot chandelier, for example, will probably look better in a large foyer than over your dining room table. You can also add dimmers to contribute to the overall mood and balance out natural light.

Although you can swap out light fixtures on your own, lamps can offer a simpler solution. "Go big or go home," says Peters. "Giant lamps can change a room. Plus, the soft light they radiate adds a warm glow to the space and makes any room look lovely and cozy."

couple on ladder changing a lightbulb in a new home

Lighting should either serve as a focal point or as an accent to the existing space.

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Don't forget about hardware and other accents

Sometimes swapping out the smallest accents can have a big impact. Upgrading your cabinet hardware, changing outlet switch covers, adding interesting door knobs, and even replacing crown molding can instantly transform the look and feel of your house.

While you can find small accents like hardware and knobs for affordable prices, if you have dozens of pieces to update, the price can add up. Repainting your hardware might be a more affordable option in this case -- you can even use metallic spray paints to make cheap, plastic knobs look more expensive. Search Pinterest, Instagram and home improvement magazines to get some inspiration for your own house. Work room-by-room to keep things manageable and start by tackling one type of accent at a time. 

Don't discount the accents that aren't visible when you walk into a room, either. Adding contact paper to shelving or using drawer organizers can improve the vibe in your home. "Nothing feels better than when you open a kitchen drawer and find the cooking utensils color coordinated and in a designated spot," Peters says.

Add cozy scents to every room

Making your new home smell inviting and cozy is a simple and affordable way to upgrade your space on a budget. Candles, diffusers and room spray can help elevate your space, and different scents can evoke different emotions, moods and feelings.

For example, you might consider diffusing lavender in your bedroom to promote relaxation before bed. Seasonal scents can also make your home feel more welcoming, and they are easy to swap when you want something new.

Clean and declutter your space regularly

Although you might not consider this a home decor tip, one of the easiest ways to feel good in your new house is by cleaning and decluttering on a regular basis. A clean home can positively impact your mood, too -- 80% of people who live in a clean space are more relaxed and 60% are less stressed than their nontidy counterparts, according to a Clorox study.

Regularly cleaning your home is also very cost-effective. If you have an extra hour or two per week, you don't need to spend money on a professional cleaning crew. If you typically avoid cleaning until the last minute, you might be surprised at how much cozier you feel at home when everything is neat and tidy. 

woman carrying baby while vacuuming an apartment

One of the easiest ways to feel good in your new house is by cleaning and decluttering on a regular basis.

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Make room for your favorite hobbies

One of the biggest perks of owning a home is designing the space to fit your specific needs. To make your new house feel more like home, create spaces for the hobbies that you and your family enjoy. 

If you love to paint, create a mini art studio in an unused corner, someplace for your easel and art supplies to live permanently. If puzzles are more your speed, find a cheap table to use exclusively for puzzles, keeping your dining room table clutter-free. Yoga lovers can create a quiet space with calming elements like candles and greenery for meditation and exercise.