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How to totally transform your home without spending a ton of money


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Photo: Stocksy/Alicia Magnuson

In a world with constant stress, memes-a-plenty, and news that never stops, sometimes you might just wish you could send yourself to savasana mode. Here’s a one-way ticket to that state of mind courtesy of Athena Calderone, founder of the Eye Swoon blog and author of Cook Beautiful, who has created a swoon-worthy ethos in her well-edited Instagram. The feed will send your stress levels plummeting, and at a time when the new year asks us to start fresh, banish bad habits, and quite simply reset, that could come in rather handy. Here, she turns an eye to how to design a home on a budget.

Everyone’s been there—your eyes say, “Time for a total room makeover!” but your wallet says, “Not a chance.” While it can feel really stressful to want to make a change and only have a small budget to do so, the good news is that constraints are far from confining. In fact, they can inspire true creativity and make you feel even more at home in your surroundings.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Paint has the power to transform a room. The kitchen and the living room are the most lived in spaces in your home, so I’d suggest starting there. You don’t have to go for a total room overhaul, however. By simply picking a wall or a part of the room, the coffee table for instance, you can make it more you and help it to reflect your style.

I’ll never forget two apartments ago, my husband and I got the keys and walked into our new spot. The lights were fluorescent and the whole place felt so stark—the opposite from what I envisioned for my home. I wanted it to be cozy with lush layers that reflected our sense of style, but it felt like a cookie-cutter space and we didn’t have the budget to make architectural changes.

I was so deflated, but my husband rightfully said, “This is what you dotransform it.” I tapped into my creativity, gave the place a coat of paint, shellacked the horrific honey-hued cabinets into a sleek grey finish, and all of the sudden I’d created a place I wanted to be in.

In the same rental, I found myself feeling like the bathroom was always dirty. It was old, a bit aged, and no amount of scrubbing could restore the shine to the tile. After a bit of research, I found an economical and effective fix that was an absolute game-changer: bathroom re-glazing. A lot of people use this technique for tubs to restore the shine. This topical process took my entire powder-blue bathroom from a scuzzy to pristine. What’s more, it cost $800 and was done in a day!

So, no matter the project at hand, set a goal, do the research, and find ways to execute it in clever ways. You’ll find you’ve transformed the energy in the space, and that’s something that each and every one of you deserves.

Athena Calderone
Photo: Nicole Franzen

Athena Calderone is a celebrated interior designer, chef, entertaining expert, and creator of the award-winning lifestyle site EyeSwoon. Whether layering flavors in the kitchen, setting a bountiful table, or designing a room, she’s known for her use of graceful yet juxtaposed pairings—finding yin-and-yang in all that she does. Fueled by her belief that beautiful food and design bring us together and turn little moments into lasting memories, Athena remains committed to push the boundaries of her craft. With her cookbook, Cook Beautiful (released this October) Athena shares how to achieve her impeccable yet approachable cooking style in every season.

A quick coat of paint is the quickest route to transforming your home, but if you’re looking to transform yourself, here’s a restorative morning yoga sequence and this is why you should officially prioritize sleep.

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