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11 Essential Books to Refresh Your Home on a Budget

Book covers for "Cozy White Cottage," "Make Life Beautiful," and "Habitat"
Thomas Nelson/Harper Horizon/Abrams

While major home renovations are mostly on hold these days, we’re turning more and more to smaller revamps and refreshes that we can do ourselves. If you’re not sure where to start, let these books be your guide!

Most of the time, updating your living space is more about finding the small techniques that can have a big impact. It’s a great way to save on money and time, while also allowing each individual a greater degree of freedom to personalize a room, an apartment, or even a whole house. When gazing at Pinterest pictures or Instagram tutorials doesn’t cut it, these books are your best resources, packed with practical advice that will make you feel like a design expert in no time!

Best for Organization

To refresh your home without breaking the bank (or your brain), getting organized can be a great first step. Simply improving the way your current “stuff” is stored, displayed, and styled can make a huge difference! If you’re lost on how to even get started, these are the books for you: fun, clever guides that prove organization can be both useful and decorative.

The Home Edit: A Guide to Organizing and Realizing Your House Goals

Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin are here to help you solve even the most difficult spaces in your home with this room-by-room guide, designed to help you make the most of your space, stay organized, and turn any room into an aesthetically pleasing and yet practical space for actual living.

Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff

If you’re trying to save money and redo on a budget, one great way is to downsize a bit! Myquillyn Smith has the perfect guide to minimalist living, which proves it isn’t about getting rid of everything, but more about homing in on what works best for you and styling it in a way that gets the most design impact possible.

Best for Room-Specific Tips

When you’re trying to refresh your home on your own, it can be helpful to break the work down into individual rooms. Focus on one room at a time, pulling together what you want it to look and feel like and seeking out pieces and accessories that all work together in a unified look. You’ll want to take a different approach when you’re working on, say, your kitchen than you will when updating a bedroom.

These books emphasize tips for individual rooms rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, giving you the kind of expertise that a designer might bring, but for a DIY solution.

Design the Home You Love: Practical Styling Advice to Make the Most of Your Space

Lee Mayer and Emily Motayed of the design service Havenly created this room-by-room breakdown of how to get the most out of your living space. It’s designed specifically for ordinary people, giving anyone (yes, even you!) the tools to be able to make tweaks (or start from scratch) and learn the basics of design without having to go overboard or hire a designer.

Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave

HGTV breakout star Joanna Gaines shares her guide to making décor work for making a home, rather than just following trends. The book provides how-to guides, templates and checklists, and practical room-by-room advice on how to combine your favorite things for a space that’s distinctly you.

Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life

It’s easy to feel discouraged when your attempts at designing your home don’t live up to those beautiful Instagram and Pinterest pics. This guide from Erin Gates is all about how to embrace imperfections and learn the top styling tricks of the pros to make your space look amazing. Includes a resource and style guide for more direct tips.

Best for Creating Personal Style

These books are designed to help you figure out how to keep your personal sense of style and your emotional history in your home while taking avoiding the trap of over-designing any given space. It’s easy to be tempted to go overboard when refreshing your home, but these books focus on finding ways to make your living space feel like a true home: personalized, creative, cozy, and creating that feeling of being “at home.”

Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home

Liz Marie Galvan’s guide focuses on how you can create a “home” that’s simple and lovely rather than just a design-perfect showcase. The book especially focuses on DIY projects and easy, budget-friendly tips that make a big impact without breaking the bank or taking a huge amount of time out of your busy lives.

Make Life Beautiful

Syd and Shea McGee have created a home guide that ties together easy-to-follow tips for revamping your home with advice on how to subtly and effectively overhaul your living in general, not just living space. It’s all about finding the simple ways to refresh your life, inside and out!

Best Design Crash Courses

If you’re interested in actually learning more about design theory than just basic how-tos, the books in this section are perfect for you! These are the deep dives, the books that don’t just give you specific advice on focused details, but explain why design works the way it does, equipping you with the knowlege so that you can apply it to your own home in your own unique way.

Feels Like Home: Relaxed Interiors for a Meaningful Life

Lauren Liess’s in-depth guide focuses on the connection between design and emotion. Each section features a different style of home, a crash course on a different physical aspect (like color or proportion), and a theme based on how a home should make you feel.

Patina Homes

It can be tricky to feel like you have control over your living space if you’ve got an architectural style you’re not sure what to do with. This book by Steve and Brooke Giannetti features a dozen different styles, with photos and tips on how each one can be styled to showcase its best features and bring in each individual owner’s personality.

Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating

From Lauren Liess comes this complete guide to bringing natural textures, vintage pieces, and quirky personality into your home for a custom look that seems luxurious but is surprisingly simple. It’s essentially a crash course in design, with focus on design concepts, room-specific needs, and all the other info you need to get the professional feel but do it yourself.

Made for Living: Collected Interiors for All Sorts of Styles

Amber Lewis and Cat Chen have written a guide to one of the secret tips of pro designers that anyone can duplicate easily and affordably: layering. The book offers up tips for mixing and matching colors, patterns, textures, and other accents to create unique spaces that look designer-made but without the hassle or expense.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »

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