10 Ideas for Swapping Decor with Your Friends


If we can swap party dresses and soccer shoes, why not club chairs, throw pillows and framed art prints, too?

You can probably convince a designer friend to work for food, trading services for a veggie burger and a smile. Even IKEA organized a swap at its Amsterdam store in February, advertising the husselmarkt as a way to get customers to think like designers by exploring the rearranging of vignettes in their own homes. Up to 250 people were invited to bring in unwanted pieces to shuffle around and swap.

Swapping and trading is a good alternative to shopping Craigslist for purveyors of bargain furniture and accents. When you shop Luanne’s list or Sara’s list, you can get it for free.

Here are 10 ways to freshen and color your space without spending a dime:

1. Hold an art swap in your backyard inviting friends to bring framed prints or unimportant paintings they no longer enjoy. Serve lots of wine so that everything looks extremely enticing and you leave the party feeling you plucked something great from the treasure chest.


2. See if you have a designer friend who will work for food. Offer to make him or her lunch or dinner for a design consultation. What do you say, Orlando? You do my dining room and I cook you an omelet. Deal? Things are so slow – designer buddies might take you up on it. If you need the designer to return for more free advice, offer a massage!

3. Form a design crew with your circle of friends and travel to each other’s homes to help with a quick-fix makeover. Often, simply rearranging the furniture can make a huge difference. Let’s face it; some of our friends just don’t have the talent but still desire a cool pad. It’s also a way to get a small room painted. Call it Extreme Makeover – the economic collapse home edition.


4. Pillow Talk: Changing out pillows is an easy way to make a big difference in reviving a sofa or bed. Flickrstream photos of pillows you no longer love and get friends to do the same thing. Hopefully, the bed pillows won’t tell tales.


5. Have a Father’s Day garden party for actually gardening, not just firing the BBQ and watching grandpa rock and sip bourbon. Turn on some lively tunes and get down to that urban gardening. Replant those pots and flower beds. Maybe someone has a bird house or feeder they don’t want that would attract feathered friends to your garden.


6. Roll out a fabric free-for-all with rolls of extra upholstery fabric from your past projects. I have several I’d be happy to part with that might be useful to someone. And I know my friend, Susanne, has some spare Ikat I wouldn’t mind using to cover a bench.


7. Pass on kids’ furniture that your little ones have outgrown. There is nothing like getting a used rocker or desk set that your child will view as special and new. It’s absurd to have to buy a lot of furnishings for children’s rooms when so many of our friends also have children and can share the wealth – especially pieces that aren’t marred with permanent marker graffiti or dented from raucous play.


8. Media rooms are simply spare spaces with televisions and lots of good DVD’s. But we all know they get pretty tired. Have a Hollywood night and let everyone bring movies they can’t watch again, no matter how sentimental the scene of George picking out a Cracker Jack ring for Audrey at Tiffany’s. I’ve even given away large-screen televisions to people who wanted them. Electronics are another good thing to swap. Anyone got an iPod for Sydney? I’ll give you a Hello Kitty CD player for it.

9. Register for serving items again (with your friends), after the divorce or when you have decided you never use that china in the spare closet or that giant salad bowl in the attic. Tell everyone what you need, and offer to swap with what you no longer want. I could use a can opener that actually opens the entire dog food can.


10. Call area hotels and department stores and find out if they have spare furniture they want to get rid of. You’d be surprised how much of their stuff is headed for the heap. I’d take anything from Hotel Vitale. You might be able to score a nice headboard or set of chairs. Say you will return the favor by telling all of your guests to stay there. Hospitality, indeed!


Image: Jeff Kubina

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.