How to Decorate Your Home When You Don’t Have a Budget for It.

 

I have been thinking about writing a post about this topic for a while now. I think in this current age of blogs, Pinterest and Instagram it seems that everyone out there has a beautiful custom home and a HUGE budget for decorating. Since that isn’t always the case, in fact most of us have a very limited budget for home projects and decor, I thought I’d share some of the ways I have decorated my home over the years, on essentially– a dime.

My current home is the result of six+ years of blogging projects,  some generous sponsors {like HomeGoods}, and several years with two incomes when we were able to acquire some new furniture and do some updates that in the earlier years of our marriage we would never been able to afford to do.  I remember back in those hazy days when my oldest son was a baby, I stayed at home with him and we needed every penny of my husband’s salary to keep us afloat. My Aunt {who has one of the prettiest houses around} and I were discussing some decorating quandary or another and I remember her saying wisely, “it takes a long time to get your house the way you want it” and she is so right. I think it’s more important to enjoy the process of making your home your own, whatever stage of life you are in.

Anyway–so if you are on a tight budget or simply don’t want to invest to much in your home right now, here are some ideas for decorating without spending much money.

Shop your house. {or your parents, in-laws and anyone else who might have furniture they are willing to pass down to you!} Starting out, it seems like you need everything and someone’s pass downs may not be exactly your style, but a coat of paint can make a BIG difference. {Read our chalk painting furniture tips HERE}. You can even paint upholstery, this chair came from my grandmother’s house, but a coat of paint {Tutorial is HERE} updated it perfectly. Christy did the same thing {with a different painting technique} and you can see it HERE. Either way works to make an outdated chair something that you’ll be proud to have in your home.

 

 

Learn to sew. I admit to not love sewing but I am so glad that I know how. My mother took time to teach me when I was young, though now I think it’s getting to be a bit of a lost art {though my daughter is actually taking classes at the cutest little sewing school in our town, which I love}, but fabric is inexpensive and the options to make things are endless. If you can sew a straight line you can make curtains or pillows, there are tons of tutorials online. A simple envelope pillow case takes just a few minutes to make, and adding a few new throw pillows can change the entire look of a room. I sewed my daughter’s pillow shams {below} and even turned one set of Pottery Barn silk curtains into two sets by splitting them and hemming the raw edges, it was a huge savings vs. buying another pair.

 

 

Learn to DIY. I guess this is fairly obvious but taking on house projects is so much cheaper then hiring it out. Painting is simple to do and will totally change the look of a room.  A simple project like DIY Display Shelves are inexpensive to build without fancy tools, a few decorative items arranged on them makes a space look pretty for almost no cost. You can also fill a whole wall with them like Christy and I did together here.

 

 

 

Sell what you don’t want to buy what you want. This trick I learned from Christy, and it is a good one! If you have some furniture that isn’t exactly what you want, list it for sale and then use the proceeds to buy what you really want. I did this with my dining room set. I had fallen out of love with my Dining Room table but at the time we had just moved but we’re still carrying two house payments {talk about broke!}, so I couldn’t just go out and buy a new one. I found a set I knew I could refinish on Craig’s List, so I listed my current table and another set of chairs and used the proceeds from selling it to buy the new set.  A few coats of white chalk paint and my dining room had a whole new look {below} and in the end it cost next to nothing.

 

 

Fall in love with IKEA.  I wish this concept had been mainstream when I was a newlywed with no furniture,  as the supply of IKEA hacks on Pinterest is limitless. Their furniture, while not always the highest quality, is perfect for making into something better–especially when you pay so little for it in the first place. We’ve done several IKEA hacks but you can find all sorts of ideas and inspiration online.

Here are some of the transformations we’ve done.

 

DIY Greek Key Overlay on IKEA Dresser | 11 Magnolia Lane

Greek Key Overlay Dresser

How to build a faux wall of built-in bookcases using IKEA billy bookshelves to create beautiful shelving. Full tutorial and how to do it in this post.

DIY Built-In Bookcases from IKEA Billy Bookshelves

Under the Counter Kitchen Shelves

Shop second hand stores. You can find pre-owned furniture at Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Habitat Restore, Craig’s List, yard sales and plenty of other places.  Again, a coat or two of paint can totally transform an old piece of furniture. I have many painted secondhand pieces in my home, I love the idea of giving them a new life and often the older pieces are better quality then you could buy now. My favorite bargain find was this hutch {below} which was a $30 Craigs List score and perfect for the small space in my former kitchen.  I had to swap out a piece of broken glass on the side for chicken wire but I think that added some character {See the post HERE}.

Find a local Auction House. Hands down, my very best furniture finds {like this custom Armoire below, which was only $150!} come from our local auction house. Auctions are so much fun and you can get amazing deals {a set of lamps for my daughter’s room–$2. My son’s iron bed–$20, you get the idea!} on all sorts of things–you can even find mirrors, jewelry and tools, books and all sorts of things at auctions.

Spray Paint.  There isn’t much we won’t spray paint, it’s an essential to low-cost decorating.  Again, we have a ton of projects here on this blog with spray paint I could show as examples but for a few dollars there isn’t much that will give you as much of a bang for your money!  You may even have some dated accessories in your home that a little spray paint could refresh for smaller accents, or you can transform a larger piece like Christy did below to this $10 table, see this transformation HERE. 

$10 thrift store table gets a pink and gold makeover | 11 Magnolia Lane

Shop Online for Furniture. I am constantly amazed by the furniture deals I see online, things are SO much cheaper! While it is hard to make a major purchase without seeing it, if you carefully check the return policy you don’t have much to lose.  We wrote this post HERE on our favorite online sources for Decor. Amazon has amazing deals {like these barstools that are currently in my shopping cart}, and so does Target  {I have my eye on this headboard HERE, it comes in so many colors and it’s a great price}. Of course, flash sale sites like Joss and Main or Overstock also have great deals too and are worth checking before you make a purchase at a higher end store.

Have empty walls? See how to create and frame inexpensive or completely FREE art to decorate your home.

I wrote this post HERE about places you can find free {or almost free art} for your walls to help you fill up those blank spaces on a budget. You can find frames at second hand stores, yard sales or again maybe in your parents basement 🙂  A little spray paint on an old frame along with a free printable is a way to create artwork for pretty much nothing.

Here is an easy to pin image so you can remember these tricks!

I am sure you all have favorite spots for finding decor, let me know what I missed in the comments. Have a great weekend everyone!

Don’t forget you can sign up for my new health newsletter and get more information HERE.

XO,

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Comments

  1. Marty Oravetz says:

    It seems like I have decorated on a zero budget my whole life. Great post and super tips.

  2. This is such a great post! We live in a wealthy area and I feel like everyone is always renovating and we have so much we want to do but no money to do it!

    I love your ideas but I wanted to add one — Freecycle! There’s a lot of junk, of course, but there are some incredible finds, esp. if you’re willing to paint or fix it up in some way. You can even post when you need something and you’ll be amazed at what people will give away.

    thanks so much — I always look forward to reading your posts! 🙂

    • That is a great idea! Also you can looks for things that are Free on Craig’s List–I hadn’t thought of that! Thanks for sharing 🙂 XO, Amy

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