6 easy ways to update a bedroom without buying anything new, according to interior designers

Looking for some quick, easy, and potentially totally free updates to refresh your bedroom for the new year?

Bedroom with large window and table with vase of folliage
(Image credit: The White Company)

Updating a bedroom without buying anything new sounds like it would be tricky, however, I have set it as my aim to do so in those quiet times over the holiday period when you need a project. I would like to give my bedroom a refresh for the new year without actually having to spend any money on it. 

I had a few ideas to try out, but I have also asked for the help of designers and found out the tips and tricks they look to when wanting a bedroom to feel updated. 

A lot of it is about shopping your own home and borrowing from other rooms - switching out a lamp or a rug that goes unnoticed in one room can be given a new lease of life when added to the bedroom. Layout is something that I often play around with to freshen a room too, you get so used to your furniture being one way, and moving pieces can make a space feel like new.

How to update a bedroom without buying anything new

Updating any room without actually buying anything takes a bit of creativity, but there are plenty of ways to freshen up your bedroom with super easy switches, or with pieces you already own. Here's how interior designers suggest to go about it. 

1. Switch out lighting to change the ambience

Neutral bedroom with purple headboard

(Image credit: Julie Soefer)

Lighting may not sound like a room-changing design element, but switching out your fixtures or even just the bulbs can make a difference. First point of call, look at the lighting in your other rooms, could they work better and have more of an impact in your bedroom. Sometimes you get so used to seeing something in one space that you stop noticing it, but swapping a lamp around or just a lampshade can give two rooms a refresh.

'Updating your bedroom to give it a fresh, new look doesn't always require new purchases. Instead, get creative and resourceful by using what you already have. Start by reimagining the bedroom lighting,' suggests designer Kati Curtis. 'Swapping out your neutral lamps for something colorful, or even changing the lampshades can dramatically affect the ambiance and create a whole new look.'

Check your bulbs too - in a bedroom you want at least some of your lighting to be low and warm so ensure you have a couple of sources that offer this kind of glow. Just this simple switch can have an impact. As designer Jennifer Davis suggests 'You can experiment with lighting by changing the bulbs to a different temperature to change the overall feel of the room too.'

Jennifer Davis
Jennifer Davis

Jennifer fell in love with design at a young age and has been working in the industry for over 25 years. She has developed an eye for detail and a talent for creating timeless designs. Jennifer offers a balance of creativity and forward-thinking with a structured, organized, and detailed mentality. Jennifer is driven by her deep passion for design while curating an exceptional client journey, ensuring pure delight from the very beginning to the end.

2. Shop your own home

Pink bedroom with artwork on walls

(Image credit: HÁM Interiors, Mary Wadsworth)

This is the biggest tip for updating a bedroom without buying anything new, take a good shop around your home. Again look for pieces that just aren't doing it where they currently are, or even furniture you haven't found a home for yet so are storing in the attic or the basement or the garage, could be put to use in the bedroom. 

'For your nightstands, consider creating contrast by switching them with other furniture pieces in your home,' suggests Kati. 'A small bookshelf or a chair can serve as a unique alternative to a traditional nightstand. Next, look at your walls. If you have art or souvenirs from travels, showcase them as a gallery wall. This not only becomes a focal point in your room but also brings your personality and experiences into the space.'

Kati Curtis
Kati Curtis

Kati Curtis is the founder of Kati Curtis Design, an design firm based in New York City specializing in classic design with a global influence. Kati founded the studio in 2005 after 12 years of working with international architecture and engineering firms. 

3. Make small but impactful changes to the layout

Green brown and yellow bedroom with four poster bed

(Image credit: Future)

One of the biggest and most impactful switches you can make for nothing is reconfiguring the layout. It can make a bedroom feel like a totally new space. 

'Refreshing a bedroom without purchasing anything new can be a creative and budget-friendly endeavor. If the room allows, start by rearranging the furniture to give the room a new bedroom layout,' suggests designer Jennifer Davis. 'This is a simple change that can lend a fresh perspective. And utilize what you have by repurposing items, swapping out curtains from another room, repurposing decorative accessories, or using different bedding combinations to alter the room's appearance.'

Designer Kathy Kuo agrees, 'If you have the space to do so, I love the idea of changing the layout of your accent pieces in a bedroom to achieve a refreshed look. Try swapping your dresser and your accent chair, or orienting your bed differently. You can also change out wall art, table lamps, and throw rugs for ones you currently have in other rooms. Sometimes the perfect pieces are already in your home, and they just need to be placed in a new room to take on a whole new look.'

kathy kuo home
Kathy Kuo

Kathy Kuo is a celebrated interior designer and international guru within the home and lifestyle space. She has 20+ years of experience in the design industry. 

4.Create displays with nature

design a home that feels like you, bedroom with cream brick painted walls, large arched doorway to garden, beams, upholstered grey bed with blue and white bedding, table with foliage, books, sheepskin, footstool

(Image credit: The White Company)

This is a quick and easy update that's ideal for changing how your room feels with the seasons. Create displays from whatever is blooming (or even things that aren't) in your yard and bring some texture and interesting shapes into your bedroom. 

'Cut a branch from the yard for a vase you already own, and voila - a new feel to your bedroom! I do this regularly in my own home, whether it's because of a change in the season or a change in mood and it really makes the place feel like new,' recommends designer Bethany Adams.

'Introduce nature into the room by bringing in fresh flowers or greenery from your garden or yard. These small, thoughtful adjustments can breathe new life into your bedroom without spending a dime.' adds Jennifer Davis. 

5. Change your bedding set up

Bedroom color drenched in peach paint

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

Making your bed look more luxurious can be done without spending anything and as this is usually the main focus of the room, updating how it looks can have the biggest impact. 

'It's quite easy to switch up your bedding. If you have a quilt or blanket at the end of your bed, try unfurling it and making it the main event. Look to your other rooms for large, square pillows to add impact, and steal a colorful throw blanket from your living room to casually toss at the end of the bed,' suggests Bethany.

Try using your bedding to bring some new colors to the room so it really does feel refreshed and different. 

6. Hang new (or borrowed) drapes

Bedroom with subtle striped yellow wallpaper

(Image credit: Future)

Bedroom window treatments are often overlooked, however, switch them out and you will notice how much of an impact they have on the room. 

'If there are no window treatments in the room, this is the best way to update without doing anything else.  Sure, paint can make a big impact, but adding two layers of a beautiful shade to block daylight and create privacy and drapes will really complete the room in a way you never realized!' says Jennifer Walter, founder of Folding Chair Design

'Draperies create a framework for the windows, just like a picture frame for a picture.  The windows are no longer floating unadorned.  They also serve as an element of furnishing in the room, taking up wall space like art does. The room's walls won’t feel as vast.'

All these ideas prove you can update your bedroom without buying anything new and I will be trying them all out to give my space a refresh for 2024. There are so many pieces around my home that I know would have a better life in the bedroom and add far more to the space than where they are now. Plus, adding in some different colors and patterns to make the feel of the space fresher for when spring finally arrives. 

Head of Interiors

I am the Head of Interiors at Homes & Gardens. I started off in the world of journalism in fashion and luxury travel and then landed my first interiors role at Real Homes and have been in the world of interior design ever since. Prior to my role at H&G I was the digital editor at Livingetc, from which I took a sabbatical to travel in my self-converted van (not as glamorous as decorating a home, but very satisfying). A year later, and with lots of technical DIY lessons learned I am back to writing and editing, sometimes even from the comfort of my home on wheels.