How many hours a week do you spend surfing the internet or watching people remodel houses, looking at other homes and longing for a finished, cohesive look in your own home? I get it. We’ve been living in rental properties for twelve years now, and have finally purchased a home of our own again. I’m ready to put our personal stamp on it, but with five more kids yet to finish college, we need to budget carefully and take it slow. I could spend hours surfing Pinterest, looking at all the amazing home decor ideas and pinning them for a later date when they fit better in my budget.
Here’s the thing. It is possible to decorate a home and stay on a budget while doing so! With careful planning, a lot of flexibility, and patience, you can put your personal stamp on your home without breaking the bank. With some creativity, you can have those upgrades that you’ve been dreaming about. But, you have to set a budget and stick to that budget. Be in careful communication with your spouse, and be honest with yourself about your budget. Trust me, going over budget may seem tempting, but it isn’t fun in the long run!
Once your budget is planned, now is the time to move forward in making those plans a reality. Here are ten ways to decorate your home on a budget!
- Paint the walls with clearance paint. We like to buy really good paint, like Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore. But the price tag is not frugal. You can save up and pay the full price for paint if you have a strong opinion about what you want. But, to save money, you could head to the store and see what they have on clearance. Stores clearance out some really beautiful paint colors that were custom-created by people and then not picked up. The store can’t put them back on the shelves to sell because it is a custom color, so they slash the price on it to see if anyone else may want it. I’ve seen 5-gallon buckets of high-quality indoor paint in a beautiful gray color for as low as $15! Have fun with those savings! Pro Tip: Write down your new paint colors in a home-owners notebook so you can do cheap touch-up later without having to paint a whole room or ceiling or all the trim.
- Create your own artwork. Artwork can be pricey, but technology has made it even easier for us to create amazing art for our homes. If you don’t feel particularly artistic, take some of the best photos you have of your family, change them to black and white, do some interesting cropping or angling of the photos, and have them printed on extra-large canvases. This will still be cheaper than paying for something custom on Etsy. Grab some paint, some canvas, and create. Abstract? Modern? Eclectic? You get to decide since you are the artist. When you make it yourself, it is sure to be a conversation starter for those who are visiting! When you see DIY art on one of the home design networks, take a quick pic with your phone so you can jog your memory later.
- Declutter. Nothing freshens up a room faster than removing extra stuff. Less is more. Keep your decor simple, clean, and easy-to-keep-clean. Go from room to room and minimize what you have in that room. Then, look at what you removed, and see if it would go great somewhere else in your home. Just because it wasn’t used one way before, doesn’t mean its reached the end of its need in your house. Have some old curtains that you no longer need, but love the pattern of the fabric? Make a pillow cover out of the fabric, or a unique table runner to add some flair in your home. Instead of buying new, see if you can reuse what you have.
- Shop Used on Facebook Marketplace. I love me some Facebook Marketplace for finding that perfect piece for my home. I keep a running list of things we’d love to have but don’t want to budget at full price. Right now, I’m looking for that perfect conversation piece for my front entry – which also needs to hold the dog treats and leash and stuff. I’m also on the lookout for cheap kitchen cabinets for our kitchen remodel, budget-friendly hardwood flooring from someone else’s leftover project, and a riding lawnmower. Keep yourself a list and set up automatic searches on Marketplace to let you know when new items in your search pop up. I keep a constant search going for Broyhill. Ethan Allen, or Kincaid because I’m slowly replacing all of our furniture with real hardwoods. I might not have the budget when something comes up, but I often set aside $50 – $100 for a fantastic deal on Marketplace on something we’ve been looking for. You can search for local “yard sale” groups in your area on Facebook to tap into the local Facebook marketplace.
- Take it one room at a time. Save up enough money to finish one room, and then pay for the updates in full with cash. Don’t put any purchases on credit, as that just tempts to string out the timeline for paying. Go one room at a time and pay for the decorations, as you can truly afford them. I like to make a once quarterly trip to Hobby Lobby or Home Goods and spend budgeted money on whichever room I’m currently making over. Once I have a room finished, I’ll move on to the next room.
- Check out the garage sales, thrift, and salvage stores! Did you know that Habitat for Humanity stores are open to the public, and in fact, the sales from these stores are how they fund new projects? I’ve found awesome new doors, light fixtures, a really nice double oven, and more just from popping into these stores from time to time, or making yard sale rounds once or twice a summer. People are always getting rid of the best things ever. Take a Saturday and see if you can stumble upon some great deals to help decorate your home!
- Be patient for seasonal sales. Have your eye on a big item or upgrade? Wait it out. Sooner or later, it will go on sale and you will be able to buy it with more bang for your buck. Home decor and remodeling sales on hardwood flooring, carpet, appliances, and more often happen around major holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Veterans Day. That means there is probably a big sale coming on exactly what you need — right around the corner. I have a policy to never pay full price on anything.
- Decorate with fresh fruit and plants. Add a fun pop of color throughout your home by buying brightly colored fruits that are in season and placing them in glass bowls. Lines, lemons, and oranges add an awesome pop of color and decoration to any room, plus they smell nice too! Obviously, you don’t want to buy more fruit than you can use, but a beautiful glass bowl filled with blueberries or apples or walnuts waiting to be cracked is a welcome addition to any kitchen and you get to change it out often as your family eats it up!
- Upcycle and Update old furniture. My sister recently went shopping to buy new bedroom furniture and found that not one of her local stores carried real hardwood furniture built to last. So instead, she invested a couple of weekends to strip and re-stain her old furniture in a fun new color. If the furniture you have is solid, try new stain or new paint which is much cheaper than buying new. If you hate your curtains but need new chair coverings, look up a Youtube video and get to work!
- Don’t forget Buy Nothing. I’m serious! You can find your local “Buy Nothing” group with a quick google search. Groups are arranged by zip code, and members are invested in keeping stuff out of the landfill. This week, I gave away 25 moving boxes, a resume book, and an old microphone with a cord. Now, none of those things will help you decorate your home, but these groups are often filled with just the right thing. A friend of mine has been able to get a free shed for her backyard. I’ve seen kitchen tables and chairs, unused paint gallons, bookshelves, swing sets, and more. It’s a great community way to share what you have and bless someone who is looking for exactly what you are getting rid of today. Also, if you happen to get a couple of bags of fantastic kids clothes, that gives you more room in the budget for home decor spending. And keep stuff out of landfills. Buy Nothing groups are win-win! Search Facebook for “Free”, “Swap” or official “Buy Nothing” groups for your area.
Whether the updates you want to make in your home are big or small, you can start now with a small budget, and use these tips to make slow and steady improvements in your home. You can decorate your home on a budget! Share your best budget home decor finds in the comments below.