21 Totally Free Ways to Upgrade Your Home

The greatest things in life are free—and home design is no exception. From frugal furniture to discount decor, these 21 DIY projects are sure to transform your humble home into an unforgettable abode without putting a dent in your wallet.

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  1. Cut a Rug


    Have a few old T-shirts or cotton knits lying around? Cut them into strips, braid them in alternating colors, and sew them together with a zigzag stitch into a circular or oval rug to transform these humble hand-me-downs into a pocket-friendly pick-me-up for bare floors.

    Related: 10 Doable Designs for a DIY Rug


  2. Lead the Charge


    This cut-rate charging station offers a truly off-the-wall idea for charging tech with unruly cords. By assembling free pallet wood boards, staining the construction, and adhering a vintage crate label to the front, you can power all your wired gizmos—and make them look wireless!

    Related: 9 Home Organization Secret Weapons


  3. Looking Good On Paper


    Choosing paper grocery bags over plastic is as good for your home environment as the outdoor environment. When folded like origami, threaded with yarn, and hung indoors alongside a pendant chord, the resulting luminous lamp is sure to leave you and your home beaming.

    Related: The 9 Best Lighting Picks for Your Bedroom


  4. State of the Art


    Clever placement can make even simple works look like fine art. Don’t let your favorite art languish in corners; make it the focal point of the room by hanging it in unexpected locations, like behind the sofa. Periodically, shuffle portraits to keep your home gallery as fresh as the day it opened.

    Related: 10 Ways to Fill a Blank Wall for Under $20


  5. Sweeten the Pot-pourri


    If you can’t stomach the scent of store-bought, synthetic potpourri, swap it for this frugal, all-natural equivalent. When simmered over the stove, vanilla, bay leaves, rosemary, and fresh oranges make for an oh-so-sweet but subtle air freshener for the whole home.

    Related: 7 Super Simple Ways to Make Your House Smell Fresh


  6. Plant an Idea


    Can’t tell the parsley from the parsnips in your container garden? Using an X-Acto knife, shave the bark from the top of a small branch. On the stripped wood, scrawl the plant name in marker, and then stick the twig into the matching planter to instantly identify your homegrown horticulture.

    Related: 10 "Zero Dollar" Garden Hacks


  7. Big Picture View


    This miniature greenhouse terrarium will have you seeing green without forking over any cash. The base and roof—constructed from picture frames that are spray painted, hot-glued together, and reinforced with duct tape—come together into a picture-perfect paradise for plants.

    Related: 12 Tiny Gardens You Can Grow on a Tabletop


  8. Bed and Board


    This dreamy pallet wood swing bed offers a durable, budget alternative to fabric hammocks. To take a swing at this project, assemble free pallet wood boards into a bed frame hung from a tree with rope. Then, place a spare mattress atop the frame, adorning it with cushions to bring the comforts of home outdoors.

    Related: 9 Creative Ways to Build a Backyard Hangout


  9. All Over the Map


    If your drab walls lack purpose and style, give them a new direction—literally—with this DIY geographic-inspired wallpaper. When tacked to drywall with push pins, old world maps meet with new world sophistication to elevate the ambiance of any interior.

    Related: Too Cool for School—9 Ways to Bring Home Classroom Style


  10. Full Plate


    Wall art doesn’t have to be limited to familiar framed accents like portraits or posters. Here, nailing down melamine dinner plates in myriad colors, shapes, and sizes unexpectedly transforms an empty wall of shame in the dining room into one of cozy, eclectic charm.

    Related: 11 Big Ideas for a Small Dining Room


  11. Votive Motive


    The perfect solution for lighting a small indoor or outdoor space, these DIY candle holders are made from glass jars that have been tinted with Mod Podge, water, and food coloring. After setting the tint in the oven, use paint pens to add fanciful, custom patterns to the luminaries.

    Related: 8 New Ideas for DIY Outdoor Lighting


  12. Earn Your Stripes


    Homes of all stripes could lift this washi tape idea to create a striped entryway door. The banded pattern, created by adhering alternating colors of washi tape and painter’s tape along the doorway ledge, is as easy to install as it is to remove.

    Related: 10 Mini Makeovers You Can Do in Minutes


  13. Reinvent the Wheel


    As useful as they are outdoors for lawn and garden projects, wheelbarrows are equally effective—and even a little elegant—indoors. When topped with a pre-assembled sheet of wooden slats, the backyard barrow transitions into a mobile coffee table for the living room.

    Related: 8 Unique Ways to Build Your Own Table


  14. Stepped-Up Style


    Still stashing pots and pans at heights you have to climb a ladder to reach? By situating a ladder horizontally, and hanging it from dependable ceiling hooks, you can upcycle it into a pot rack. The ladder rungs, cleverly adorned with S-hooks, let you hang or remove cookware with ease.

    Related: 7 Kitchen Trends You Might Forget


  15. It’s a Wrap


    Give small spaces the gift of looking bigger, bolder, and more beautiful with a leftover roll of wrapping paper. Using washi tape, stick precut wrapping paper panels to back walls in the kitchenette, laundry area, or office nook to create an atmosphere of play in these hardworking spaces.

    Related: 7 Reasons to Reconsider Wallpaper


  16. Any Way You Slice It


    These slice-of-life shelves offer an easy-to-build and even easier on the wallet alternative to traditional open shelves. After mounting L-brackets to pre-cut wood slices, secure the shelves to the wall with screws. For an even more rustic finish, line the shelves with cork-topped bottles.

    Related: The Best 9 Storage Spots You Aren't Already Using


  17. Re-routed Router


    You can’t judge a book by its cover—least of all this homemade hardback for storing bulky tech. To create one of your own, pull a vintage book from the shelf, remove its pages, and then bend the spine. Tuck your router under the cover to make a stylish signal even when you’re offline.

    Related: 10 Novel DIYs for a Better Bookshelf


  18. Crate Minds


    With a bit of roughening up, you can turn dime-a-dozen wooden crates into one-of-a-kind book shelves. Sand the crates, ding them with a hammer, and stain them before sealing this kid-friendly furniture. Add metal angles at the corners to give it a polished look and round off the rough edges.

    Related: 18 Clever Storage Solutions You Can DIY for Free


  19. One Fine Sway


    A rickety old door and an antique table might seem destined for the junkyard—until you assemble them into this pretty porch swing. The door forms the back support, while the tabletop acts as a luxurious, distressed seat with armrests fashioned from table legs and leg braces.

    Related: 15 Best Cheap Furniture Makeovers We've Ever Seen


  20. Down to the Wire


    To hang your spring jackets in style, use pliers to bend one piece of heavy wire into a custom message, and another into a coat rack with hooks. After wrapping the two wire frames with colored telephone wire, combine them into one crafty catch-all.

    Related: Organize Closets with 11 Things You Already Own


  21. Cat Out of the Bottle


    Don’t recycle your empty soda bottles; upcycle them into these fun, feline flower pots. Shear off the bottle tops into a cat-like shape, then spray paint them and draw on a friendly face to create a fertile bed of soil in which growing plants can take a cat nap!

    Related: Buy or DIY—7 Hanging Planters for the Great Indoors


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