Decorating on a Budget
simple, easy ideas to decorate on a dime

Decorating on a Budget

So you’re decorating on a budget these days? Well, join the club, because most of us work within some type of budget parameters when it comes to our day to day living.

I have always approached home decorating with an eye on the checkbook, even when our funds were plentiful. I guess it is just how I am, or maybe the generation in which I was raised (baby boomer).

In any event, I’ve learned to use some nifty methods of decorating my home, and those of my clients, that don’t take a lot of money (yes, cheap home decorating ideas!).

Decorating on a Budget


First, decide what your budget will be. It could range from ‘not one thin dime’to hundreds or thousands...the bottom line will be different for everyone. But, what is YOUR budget for this project?

That decided, here are some tips that will help keep you on track (veering off on a tangent when decorating your home can be very costly) as well as give you some specific ideas for decorating on a budget.

The lovely photo above shows how outdoor pieces can be brought indoors to freshen up a space. The pillow and the side table are both patio pieces.

TIP #1 - Narrow the project down to a room or rooms in your home

If you look around and say, “good grief, the entire house needs to be redone!” it can be overwhelming from a budget and project standpoint. So, decide what is the highest priority.

Where do you spend most of your time?

Great Room...Kitchen...Bedroom...Living Room...answer that question and you will be able to prioritize your project.

If you are starting with a brand new home, or a home with no furnishings or paint on the walls, look at it this way: What room or space is most important to you? What needs to look good in order for you to feel good?

If it were me, I would most likely say that the Living area, or Living/Dining/Kitchen areas, would be the top of my list.

TIP #2 - Start with the walls

Cheap home decorating ideas using paint

You have probably read this a thousand times, but it’s true. Paint can do wonders for a stark, boring, lifeless space.

And, paint is not expensive. Depending upon your budget, you might be the painter, and that’s okay. Just read up on the how-to’s if it is a new venture for you.

If a coat of paint is about all your budget can handle, determine if there is an area or wall that would benefit from an accent color.

For the Living Room or Great there a unique, angled wall? wall with a fireplace? wall that is a focal point?

For the Kitchen...the space behind the counters (if there is no tile backsplash), the soffit above the cabinets...these are areas that are great for an accent color

For the Bedroom...the wall that the bed will be placed against

The idea is to use the walls in your home as a canvas to create interest and personality with more than one paint color.

As you make your color selections, keep the floor finish and color in mind.

Purchase small samples or a quart of paint and make a color sample out of a poster board, so make sure you like the combination.

TIP #3 - When it comes to the furniture, if you are going to purchase anything new, spend your money on the most important pieces first

For example, if you are going to be purchasing a few new pieces for the living room, get the best sofa (or whatever you typically sit on) you can, and don’t splurge on the coffee table no matter how much you love it.

Or, if you love the coffee table that much, decide if it’s worth keeping the sofa you already have and putting a slipcover on it, for example.

It all comes down to planning and prioritizing....and, not making spur of the moment decisions. They tend to kill the carefully planned budget :)

TIP #4 - Use what you have, just change up the location

Budget Decorating for Your Home

Again, you have probably read about this technique and seen it on TV many times when learning more about decorating on a budget. But it works.

Here are some examples:

  • Take a small chest of drawers or dresser out of a bedroom and use it as an entry piece, or as a buffet piece in the dining area or nook. If you don’t like the finish, paint it.

  • Use end tables as night stands in the bedroom, and vice versa. I have a cute little round pedestal end table in our guest bedroom, right next to the bed. It looks great.

  • Take a small table and chairs and tuck them into an area of the Great Room, perhaps by a window with a nice view. It might become your favorite spot for morning coffee.

  • If you have a large kitchen area, take one corner and place a nice accent chair, small table and lamp, to create a small reading space. Who says you have to put a table and chairs in the nook?

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about your home, and how you might create a new look, and function, just by doing some thoughtful rearranging.

Or, see how easy it is to create some interesting shelving...the photo below shows just that with old vintage boards repurposed as shelves in this casual home. Photo courtesy of

TIP #5 - Use accessories to breathe new life into your room

Sometimes we get so accustomed to seeing the same things in a room, we stop noticing they're even there.

Take this little pop quiz:

Write down every accessory and accent piece you have in your living room, including wall decor, without looking.

Did you get them all? I'll bet in most cases the answer is 'No'. Why?? Because some of the things you have in that room are, unfortunately, forgettable.

So, your next tip for decorating on a budget is to create some excitment with new accessories. You don't have to spend a fortune, just make thoughtful decisions.

Say It With Stripes!

One method of creating some fun in a space is to use pillows, window treatments, area rugs, lampshades, even in vases and other artsy displays.

This approach works well if your room currently has subtle patterns or solid fabrics. Don't get too carried away with the idea, but you might find that blending in some stripes in two or three places along with a small print fabric works wonders.

I'll use my living room as an example...

Our sofa is a solid color, light sage green. We have two side chairs - one is a solid burnt orange and the other is a small circular contemporary fabric, not overly bold. Floors are all tile and walls are a cream color.

I have a large, contemporary wall clock with horizontal stripes.

If I were going to say it with stripes, here is a nice combination for my room:

The window treatment would add some brightness to the space, the area rug would add some personality to the floor area under the coffee table, and the striped vases would add just the right touch of accent color...maybe placed on the piano.

I'll help you get started with these selections I found just for you! See what you can find that might perk up a needy room or space in your home!


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Candi Randolphon

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