How to Add Pops of Color to Your Home on a Budget

By Ingrid Fetell Lee
A colorful spiral cushion on a black desk chair.

When people ask me how to add more joy to a home, my first suggestion is always color.

Color makes any space feel more alive. Indeed, research shows that people working in more colorful spaces are more alert, confident, friendly, and joyful than people working in drab spaces. Around the world, bright colors are associated with celebration and joy. It’s no wonder that they also do the same in our homes.

But if you’re new to decorating with color, you may be wondering where to start. The paint store can be intimidating, as can investing in a colorful rug or piece of furniture. Even if you do have the budget for some larger colorful design touches, you may find it easier or more livable to add color to a room by introducing a pop of a vibrant hue to a background of neutral colors. (If you’re curious about how to choose an overall approach to color in your home, this post can help.)

Or you may be renting, saving up to renovate, or have other reasons for wanting small, affordable ways to add color to your home.

How to Add Pops of Color to Your Home on a Budget

There’s no wrong reason to want to add a pop of color to your living space. But so often, when I’ve searched for interior design resources on this topic, the ideas I get are just lists of products: add a piece of art, area rugs, or coffee tables.

But what I’m interested in are truly creative ways to add color to a space — ideas that inspire you to put your own personality into your space. What follows is our collection of truly unique and affordable ways to add a pop of color to your home.

Red apple painted over light switch | How to Add Pops of Color to Your Home on a Budget

1. Transform Your Light Switches

Have you ever seen such a cute light switch? Artist Sloan Brown of Drake Cereal created this whimsical light switch art inspired by fruit. The sticker is a genius extra touch.

Rainbow door handle | How to Add Pops of Color to Your Home on a Budget

2. Give Old Cabinets a New Look

If you’ve been wanting to add vibrancy to your kitchen, but can’t handle a renovation right now, consider swapping out your cabinet hardware. Handmade out of colorful building blocks, these unique handles from WestWoodBrick add a color-blocked pop to ordinary cabinets.

This idea is renter-friendly, too. Just remember to save all the original hardware to put back when you move out.

colorful upholstered picture frames | How to Add Pops of Color to Your Home

3. Give Your Frames a Facelift

A colorful frame is a playful way to set off a piece of art, but adding a pattern steps up the fun. These DIY upholstered frames by Erica Chan Coffman of HonestlyWTF use small remnants of fabric to add a dose of joy to your family photos or gallery wall.

Framed antique prints and paintings | How to Add Pops of Color to Your Home
Lia Burke Libaire

4. Make Your Mat Boards Pop

Charleston-based artist Lia Burke Libaire framed these antique prints and paintings using patterned mat boards. It never occurred to me to do this until I saw this image. I love how it takes a very subtle piece and turns into a head-turner.

Wood flooring with pops of color in between made from Sculpey.
Max Burkhalter via Architectural Digest

5. Fill Gaps with Color

When sculptor Molly Findlay’s wood floor popped up shortly after moving in, she opted against the time-consuming process of sourcing and finishing wood pieces to match. Instead, she made colorful pieces out of Sculpey, creating a character-filled color-ribbon in her floor. She eventually plans to replace the pieces with stone, though I have to say I’d be sad to lose these colorful gems!

multicolored door panels
Annie Schlechter via Curbed

6. Color-Block Your Doors

Designer Matt Austin’s Bushwick apartment was a wreck when he moved into it. But his landlord (who happened to be a friend) gave him permission to change anything he wanted, apart from the structure. His handpainted multicolored door panels are one of many colorful touches that Austin has added to the apartment.

Image: Annie Schlechter via Curbed

A piece of art hanging on a wall with a pink painted picture frame around it
Andrea Ramirez via Cup of Jo

7. Paint a Funky Frame

This painted frame by designer Andrea Ramirez began out of boredom during the pandemic. Picking up on the pink in the portrait of Zero the Lobby Boy from the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ramirez painted a colorful, organic frame for the artwork. The strong color makes it a joyful focal point, and the curvy shape also helps to break up the structure of the narrow hallway.

White tiled shower with bright pink grout and candy apple red fixtures
Janet Kwan via Apartment Therapy

8. Level-up Your Grout

When designer Fiona Watt moved into an apartment where the shower was in the kitchen, she had to get creative to make the unusual space work. Stretching her limited budget to the max, she transformed this white-tiled shower with bright pink grout and candy-apple red fixtures.

Textured and multi-colored pillow covers | How to Add Pops of Color to Your Home

9. Swap Out Your Throw Pillow Covers

Perhaps one of the easiest color-pops out there, swapping out your throw pillow covers for brighter ones (like these from Honey Art and Nature on Etsy) lets you bring a burst of color and texture to your living room or den.

Table linens in a rainbow of colors

10. Add Color to Your Table with Linens

One thing we often talk about in the Design a Home You Love course is focusing your design efforts on “moments that matter” in your daily life. If family dinners or entertaining are important to you, then colorful linens (like these from Matilda Goad & Co) can turn an ordinary dinner table into a colorful beacon for family and friends.

Blue and white striped door trim on yellow door

11. Paint Your Door Edges

You’ve probably seen suggestions to add color by painting your door trim, but for a playful dose of surprise, you can also paint your door edges. Designer Hayley Stewart added a striped pattern with pops of blue to the edge of her front door.

Tan carpet runner with orange and pink colored trim

12. Add A Border to Your Runners

I’ve seen so many plain stair runners that it never occurred to me that one could be a source of joy. But then I discovered these colored trims, which can be used to add a fun stripe along the edge of a neutral runner.

green wallpaper border

13. Use a Wallpaper Border

Wallpaper is one of my favorite ways to add color to a space. But if papering a whole room feels overwhelming, wallpaper borders (like this one from Studio Atkinson) are having a resurgence and can offer a gentle pop of color.

Multi-colored window film on pocket door creating a stained-glass effect

14. Create Faux Stained Glass

Stained glass adds a double-dose of color to a space, both with the translucent hues of the panels, and the reflections that are cast when light shines through them. But while true stained glass is expensive, the effect can easily be achieved with colored window film, as Chelsea Foy of the blog Lovely Indeed did to transform the glass in her sliding door.

White kitchen cupboards with teal paint on back of cupboard and on shelves
Janae Hardy via A Beautiful Mess

15. Paint the Inside of Your Cabinets

The insides of cabinets are often treated as an afterthought, but there’s a real benefit to adding color to the inside of a space. It allows you to maintain a simple, serene space, while still getting bursts of energizing color during mundane moments throughout the day. In this example, Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess reveals the teal interiors in her kitchen cabinets.

Looking for more ways to add color and joy to your space?

November 10th, 2023


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    Discussion (1 Comment)

  1. Nancy Nix-Rice on November 11, 2023

    While most of these ideas are illustrated in ways that are over the limit of my more traditional taste, I can see using a removable paper to add color inside my cabinets, mixing colorful accent pieces with my plain white dishes, arranging my bookshelf contents in rainbow order, repeating the teal blue accent color from our family room in napkins and towels for the adjacent kitchen/dining area. It all could add up to a brighter environment during the longer nights ahead. Thanks for the nudge.


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