Despite everything he knows about decorating and design, Peter Fallico still can’t solve the dilemma of organizing my girlfriend’s 200 pairs of shoes.

“Yeah, that’s tough. I hear that one a lot,” laughs the home design guru and host of HGTV shows Home To Stay, Home To Go and This Small Space. “You’ll need to find more room for them. Try maximizing your storage.”

So maybe he can’t solve that problem, but he’s got some simple tips on how to decorate a home on a tight budget. There are a few can’t-miss ways to spruce up: De-clutter by following the law of threes — less is more, follow a theme and a can of paint can take you a long way.

Fallico says one of the cheapest ways to make your place look better is to simply clean it up, and substituting a multitude of small decorations with a few big ones. Create extra space by culling older items you don’t need. If you can’t bear to part with something, for instance an older picture, get used to rotations: Put an old picture away in a photo album and replace it with something more up-to-date.

“Half the time a home will look like crap because there’s just too much on display. The rule of threes works. Have a large, medium-sized and a smaller item on top of your mantlepiece instead of a million little photos, let’s say,” says Fallico, adding a large mirror can be more effective than artwork in a living room or bathroom because it can reflect light, especially in brighter seasons.

Another cost-effective way to freshen the house is to slap on some paint, Fallico says, and pastels are the way to go this year. The domestic early ‘60s look is enjoying a rebirth with particular attention paid to apple greens and Tiffany blues.

“More and more, I’m seeing a lot of colour. It’s coming back,” he says. “It’s associated with fun and youth, especially pops of colour. You could take a really big piece in your house, say a table that has seen better days, and go over it with a layer of paint.”

Let’s assume you’re really financially limited and decorating more than one room isn’t an option. Your situation can dictate the room worth doing over. Selling your home? Focus on the kitchen and bathroom. The backyard is where outdoorsy types should turn their attention. If you’re entertaining, it’s the living room and kitchen. But if you just feel like a change for change’s sake, you can’t go wrong with the room where you spend the most time.

“It’s your money that you put into it, “ says Fallico. “Put it in the spot where you’ll get the most enjoyment out of it.”

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