One of the most difficult parts about living on your own is finding the money to decorate. When you’re paying off debt or living on a tight budget, it can be hard to reconcile having a nice apartment and saving money.
Here are the strategies I’ve used to make my house look stylish without spending a fortune:
Thrifting is your friend
It’s tempting to shop new when you want a picture frame or new bedside table. But buying used is the best thing you can do when you’re trying to save money. You’re also more likely to find unique items that won’t look like you shopped from the IKEA catalogue. Hit up local thrift stores, Goodwills, yard sales and Craigslist.
If you choose to buy used, it might take you more time to complete your house. I graduated college four years ago and have only recently felt like my vision is finally being realized.
DIY When You Can
The other day I bought two backless frames for less than $10 at a neighborhood flea market. I love vintage frames and it’s hard to find them for a good price. I went to a custom frame shop to get an estimate on adding glass, mat and backing. Their cost? $85. For one frame. I called Michael’s and asked them for a quote. $30.
So I took my frames to a hardware store and had them cut glass for $13 total. I went to a local Value World and bought two frames of similar size for $5, took out the backing and put it on my frames. Total cost for both frames? $18.
If you have a priceless work of art, going to a custom framer might be a better option. But sometimes the DIY method works better for what you need and fits your wallet.
Mix It Up
My parents bought two me vintage frames at a yard sale. For months, they’ve sat unused in a drawer. I liked the texture of the frame, but not the color. And I wasn’t sure what to put in them. Last week I had a brilliant idea. What if I spray paint them gold and then put black and white wedding photos in there?
We already had gold spray paint from a previous DIY job and I ordered two photos from my wedding photographer. Now I don’t have to buy new frames for wedding photos and found a use for some old ones.
If you have furniture or decor that’s not being used, think about some ways you can spice it up. Does it need to stained or repainted? Can you repurpose it in another part of the house? If you like the item, find a way to make it work in your home.
I’ve never been a big fan of Pinterest. Their projects always seem too difficult and I get overwhelmed when I try to search for things. I like to find my inspiration when I go shopping. There’s a sewing store I love that recently put up fabric in embroidery hoops and hung them like picture frames (can you tell I’m obsessed with picture frames?). I have a few embroidery hoops that aren’t in use and plenty of cool fabric scraps.
Next time you’re shopping in a cool store or browsing the mall, note what you like about the displays. Is there anything there you can mimic in your house? What do you like about how the furniture is laid out or how the mirror is positioned? People who set up displays are often experts at decorating – use their ideas for your own space.