How to Decorate on a Budget

August 3, 2015

Love Pinterest but hate your budget? How to decorate like you belong on Pinterest on a tight budget for a gorgeous new space

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.

Find Inspiration

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.



7 comments so far.

7 responses to “How to Decorate on a Budget”

  1. Finding inspiration is huge for me because I need to have a vision for the space before I make any design changes. Otherwise, it ends up being a bust.

  2. Athena says:

    Loved the idea of mixing it up. I never would have thought of getting the glass cut at the hardware store!

  3. Great post! I’m a BIG thrifter. I can’t tell you how many great pieces I’ve found and get compliments on that cost me less than $10.

  4. judy h. says:

    I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one frustrated by Pinterest when looking for projects or anything else. I don’t have the patience to browse through thousands of crafts and projects. It seems when I do find something that catches my eye, it is far too difficult or the supplies to make it will cost me a fortune and often, when I click on the source, there is either NO tutorial or the page itself is no longer available!
    My sister-in-law and I have become huge fans of auctions/flea markets, where we find plenty of inspiration (many times at less than $1) and can bounce ideas off of each other on what would be something great to do with a found treasure! Thanks for all of your great suggestions!


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