Hey there! A while back I did a workshop describing how to decorate your home on a budget. Since summer is almost over (insert sad face) I know that many of you will be starting to get ready for the fall season, and then before you know it Christmas (eeeekkk!). As an Interior Decorator, I know that most people are either decorating to have their homes look beautiful in time for the company they'll be having at Christmas OR in time to enjoy it for the summer. Decorating your home can get costly, but there ARE ways to save money. So, with that said, I thought I'd share the tips from the workshop I gave a while back so that you can save money on your next decorating project. Here are 25+ tips to help you decorate your home on a budget.
Before you do anything else you need to plan. Take inventory of the space you want to design or re-fresh. Do you have existing furniture that you would like to keep and use? If so, take note of these items so that you know what you do and don’t need to shop for. Consider furniture, textiles, art, décor and window coverings as well. Once you’ve figured out what you will be keeping, make a list of the things you need to purchase. Think about what would be a realistic budget for you to spend to design your space so that you can keep it in mind when it’s time to shop. By the way, if you want a list of 200 retailers for shopping for furniture & decor click here.
Photo Credit: Natalie B. via Pexels
Now that you have the list of the items that you want to use in the design of your new space, go ahead and do some research to figure out which colours, styles, finishes, etc. you prefer. Pinterest is awesome for the research phase. When you're pinning, I find it's helpful to take note of what you like in each photo so you don't have to rely on your memory later on when you're trying to convey your vision to any of the retailers helping you to curate the furnishings for your new space. Once you’ve figured out your style preferences, research the retailers that sell these styles online. Take note of the items you like and meet your budget. Make sure to read product reviews so that you get a good sense for how others feel about the furnishings and decor they purchased once they had them in their home so that you can avoid buying something that may disappoint you. If you're comfortable purchasing online, go ahead and order what you like (be sure to read shipping & return policies first). If you're NOT comfortable purchasing online, now's the time to visit each retailer to see the items in person. Take your list with you and make sure you have your Pinterest boards handy via a smartphone or printout so that you can help communicate your desires with each retailer.
Photo Credit: Pinterest
3. BECOME A MINIMALIST
Another great way to save some money when trying to decorate on a budget is to become a minimalist. Opt for a style that isn't overly decorative, but instead focuses on functionality. Don't get me wrong.... you don't need to sacrifice style for function, but you do need to be strategic with the items that you purchase. For example, use accessories that have an intended purpose rather than just being beautiful. Or use just a few decor items to make a statement.
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock
4. INVEST & SAVE
I know this one sounds a little bit contradictory. However, what I'm trying to say is; invest in large pieces that you'll be keeping for a long time. For example, invest in a good quality sofa, bed or dining table. Then purchase your decor and soft furnishings from lower-end retailers or designer discount stores such as HomeSense.
Photo Credit: HomeSense
5. BUY USED
What's that saying? One man's trash is another man's treasure. It's so true! You can find so many great items at garage sales, Value Village, The Thrift Store, Kijiji, Facebook Buy & Sell Groups, Freecycle or Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. By purchasing used items you can save up to 80% of what you would normally pay for any particular item - now that's what I call decorating on a budget!
Photo Credit: Pixabay
6. GET CREATIVE
Make art using inexpensive photo frames combined with images from old calendars, scrapbook paper, fabric or inspirational quotes. Dollarama, Walmart and garage sales are great places to buy frames inexpensively.
Photo Credit: Orangetree Interiors
You know that old end table that your parents handed down to you to use in college and you're still using it? Paint it white or a bright bold colour to give it a fresh new look.
8. GET COMFORTABLE FAKING IT
Can't afford that perfect light fixture, accent table or accessory? Buy an inexpensive version and spray paint it gold for a high-end look.
Photo Credit: Hunted Interior
9. MAKE FAUX WAINSCOTING
Wainscoting adds so much luxury to a space, and it can be done so inexpensively. Get some cheap craft frames from the dollar store or your local craft store and paint them white. Buy inexpensive moulding and/or trim from Home Depot, Lowe's, Rona or whatever local home improvement store suits your fancy to create faux chair rail. Fasten the frames and the chair rail to your wall and paint everything white to complete your wainscoting design.
Photo Credit: Sand and Sisal
10. MAKE YOUR OWN HEADBOARD
If you're really strapped for cash, make your own headboard using decals or some good old-fashioned paint and painters tape. I suggest this tip for kid/teenage rooms only as it's hard to pull off this look in an adult space. That said, you could make a headboard from an old door and turn it horizontally or some barn board or fabric-wrap a piece of plywood, etc....the ideas are limitless.
11. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
To decorate on a budget sometimes means you need to think outside of the box. If custom built-in cabinetry is outside of your budget, then consider buying a less expensive cabinet, chest, or dresser and place open shelving above it to create the illusion of a built-in cabinet. Or try using inexpensive cube storage to create a modular side table that offers extra storage while providing an opportunity to showcase decor.
Photo Credit: Courtney M. Browning
12. SHOP THE DOLLAR STORES
Whoever thought of the idea to create a dollar store is a genius. If you dig around a bit you can find some decor items that are comparable knockoffs to their more expensive counterparts. In addition, they offer much more affordable options in terms of kitchen dishes, accessories and storage - to name just a few. Use decals, stickers or chalk paint to label dollar store canisters. Use dollar store photo frames to create a gallery wall. Buy your candle holders from your preferred retailer, but then get the candles from a dollar store to save a bit of money. Buy light bulbs from the dollar store, etc. The point here is that you need to be resourceful if you want to decorate on a budget.
Photo Credit: The Social Home
13. BUY UNFINISHED WOOD FURNITURE
Unfinished wood furniture sells for substantially less than finished wood furniture. It will require some time and effort on your part to paint or stain it, but you will save money as a result.
Photo Credit: All Things G & D
14. REPLACE HARDWARE
Replace boring cabinet hardware with statement hardware. You can get some really unique cabinet hardware inexpensively from liquidation stores, Wayfair, Amazon, or your local hardware store. Buying basic furniture from IKEA or other affordable retailers and then jazzing them up with custom hardware can really add style to the piece.
Photo Credit: Orangetree Interiors
15. SHOP REMNANT FABRICS
Let’s face it, designer pillows and drapery are beautiful, but they can cost an arm and a leg. When trying to decorate on a budget, shop for remnant fabrics to make homemade pillow covers and drapery. Remnant fabrics often sell for about 1/3 of regular price so there is a great opportunity for savings with these items.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
16. RE-PURPOSE ITEMS
Have something you're not using anymore, but don't want to throw away? Think of a creative way to utilize it in your space. Use an old mirror as a decorative tray. Use a chair as a bedside table. Take the old chandelier from your dining room and use it in your daughter’s bedroom….the options are endless. Be creative.
17. GET MOVING
Have an old rocking chair that is in perfect working order, but want a fresh look? Take it from your living room and install it in child’s bedroom as a reading chair. You can do this with any item. Moving items from one room to another can provide a completely new look without any added cost.... perfect for decorating on a budget.
18. USE BOOKS
Don't worry I'm not going to make you do a whole bunch more reading; I'm long-winded enough! What I am going to do is suggest that you purchase some books that have covers in the colour scheme that you are designing your room in. You can buy these books at thrift stores or consignment shops or check your own collection; you might be surprised at what you’ll find. Books are an awesome option because; they allow you to distribute colour throughout your space very inexpensively, they provide reading material, and they're great for creating the right scale when your accessories aren't quite the right height.
Photo Credit: Classy Clutter
19. DISPLAY UNCONVENTIONAL ITEMS
When decorating on a budget it's not always possible to buy a ton of decor. A great option then is to display things that you normally wouldn't. Display wine bottles, cooking oils or frame a favourite recipe. Be strategic in your selections so that you are displaying items with different textures, finishes and scales so that your display enhances, rather than deters from the style of your space.
Photo Credit: Harbour Mill Design
20. UPDATE BUILDER GRADE MIRRORS
Builder-grade mirrors are so lifeless and boring. Replace them with statement mirrors from designer discount stores such as HomeSense or, if you’re a DIYer, build or buy frames for your mirrors to add some style.
Photo Credit: MirrorMate Frames
21. USE PHOTOGRAPHS AS ART
Use your own photos as art. If you don't like your photos you can buy small art or prints quite inexpensively from ETSY or IKEA. Small prints obviously sell for less than large prints so to get the most out of your small print, buy large frames and mattes to frame the photo and/or print to create large-scale art for your space.
Photo Credit: EyePoetryPhotography
22. REFINISH & REFACE
When decorating on a budget the trade-off is typically your time. Instead of replacing old floors, cabinets or furniture, think about refinishing them instead. It will make a world of difference at a fraction of the cost.
Photo Credit: two twenty one
23. FIX IT OR GIVE IT AWAY
I don't know about you, but I’ve been guilty of getting rid of something that is in decent condition just because it needs a small fix. Call it laziness, call it boredom....call it a desire for something new, but the reality is that throwing out something that's still useful is wasteful. Fix the item that needs repairing and use it in your design rather than purchasing something new in order to stick to your budget. If you absolutely must have something new, then be sure to give away your item that just needs a gentle fix to someone who could use it. If you don't know someone who could use it, donate it to your local ReStore or Thrift Store.
24. BUY FLOOR MODELS
One of the best ways to decorate on a budget is to buy floor model furniture pieces. Since furniture is the most expensive part of an interior design project, buying floor models can decrease your furniture investment substantially. If floor models are not available for sale then consider splitting a furniture set with a friend or family member to save on the individual pieces. Furniture sets typically sell for less than individual pieces so this is a great way for everyone to save - although this tip requires that your peeps all have the same taste of course.
Photo Credit: Wayfair
Let's face it - in the grand scheme of things, paint is so inexpensive when you think about the enormous impact it has on designing a space. Paint walls, furniture, baseboards, trim, doors, etc. Paint makes a world of difference for minimal cost. If you're really strapped for cash, check out the mis-tint section at your local paint store to save on the cost and do the work yourself.
Photo Credit: Amanda Rydell via Twenty20
26. BE PATIENT
If you're on a really tight budget, wait for a sale to purchase your big-ticket items. Alternatively, buy things slowly as you save money for each item instead of purchasing all at once to avoid stress and hefty interest charges on your credit card.
Photo Credit: Nicole de Khors
27. HIRE AN E-DESIGNER
Did you know that an in-person interior decorating or design service charges on average between $150 to $250/hour (The Globe and Mail). In addition to that, the typical interior designer spends 33 to 50 hours on a room design (The Huffington Post). If you do the math, that means that an average room design costs between $4,950 and $12,500. The takeaway here is that it's costly to hire an interior design professional for their talent and expertise. eDesign services alleviate some of this cost by putting the onus of some of the tasks on the client. For example, with eDesign, clients perform their own site measure, order their own furnishings and put their own interior designs together based on the instructions and imagery provided by the eDesigner. Because the client takes on a portion of the interior decorator/designer’s responsibilities, the eDesigner is able to provide their service at a reduced cost – saving the client money. Check out my eDesign services here. And perhaps the best part about eDesign is that get to you see how your room will look before you purchase any of the items, thus ensuring that you'll love the design before you spend any money.
Photo Credit: Orangetree Interiors
So there you have it - 25 + 2 bonus tips about how to decorate on a budget. If you'd like to know how to take your interior decorating project from start to finish, check out my self-paced, online interior design course. It teaches you the step-by-step process I use for decorating my clients' homes.
If you have any questions or would like further information on how we can help you save money on your interior design project, check out my online interior decorating services or feel free to contact me; I'd love to help.
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Principal Designer | Orangetree Interiors
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