A new year usually inspires most homeowners to at least think about making some changes to their home that will improve both the way it looks and the way it functions. If however 2012 is the year that you really want to get beyond the thinking about it stage and actually do something money can be an obstacle. Not all changes of this kind have to be big expensive structural ones though. Here are some tips for making relatively inexpensive cosmetic changes to your surroundings that will actually make a real difference:

Changing the Way Your Home Works

Far too many people have a formal dining room that they never use (or only once a year at Christmas) but have a real need for a playroom, or an

extra guest bedroom. Rather than getting too bogged down in what a room is “supposed” to be used for give some thought to how the space can really be put to best use.

Changing a room’s function does not have to be that hard. Unless you are converting a room into a bathroom or kitchen it is really just a matter of changing the decor scheme and the furniture, neither of which should be too hard to achieve.

Let There Be (Better) Light

All some rooms really need is a lighting makeover. Replacing that harsh, middle of the room light fixture in your bedroom for a softer layered lighting scheme in the form of accent wall lights and table and/or floor lamps can transform a dull and uninviting bedroom in an afternoon.

This rationale applies to every room in the house. There are generally two types of light needed in any successful lighting scheme: task lighting so that you can see what you are doing and accent lighting that is not as bright or focused but provides that ambient extra “glow”.

Little Changes Make a Big Difference

Even very small tweaks can make a big difference. Sick of your sofa? Before you go and splash out on a new one why not try a simple change in the form of a slipcover instead (and buy new curtains to match while you are at it)

Decluttering can make the biggest difference of all. Getting rid of what you really don’t need and then storing away stuff that you may need again one day can free up a lot more living space than you might imagine. If you are stuck for storage space consider buying furniture that does double duty, like a storage ottoman or a coffee table with storage cupboards.

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