Odds are that you’re like me, and you want your home decorated right now. Unfortunately the number one rule of decorating on a budget dictates that it may take months, or even years to make your home look just the way you want.
The first step to decorating your home whether on a budget or not is to know what you want. What colors are you looking for? Is there a theme to the room you wanted to decorate? What does the room need to feel like? I always start by looking online on sites like HGTV.com for ideas, or by watching shows on HGTV or the DIY network.
Once you know what kind of design you want, you are ready to begin decorating on a tight budget. It is important to know what you want so that you know what you are looking for.
Let’s pretend that we want to decorate our imaginary kitchen in a coffee shop theme.
1) The cheapest way to change the look of your room or home is by painting. Choose a color scheme that fits the look you want, buy the paint and cheap painting supplies, and get to work. For our coffee shop kitchen example we’ll choose a warm red paint with creme brown as an accent because coffees shops usually have a warm feeling to them.
2) Decluttering your space is the next thing you need to do, and can actually get you some money to help with decorating costs. I’m always amazed at how cleaning up a space can transform it into an inviting living area. Take things out of the space that you don’t use, don’t need, or that don’t go with your new theme or color scheme. If you can part with any of the items, sell them online on sites like Craigslist.org, or donate them to charities like Goodwill where you can use the receipt as a tax write off and get some money back for your items. You can also sell things at a garage sale for extra decorating money.
3) The next thing you need to do is think about the types of things you want in your area (in this case our coffee shop kitchen). Things like curtains that will go well with the paint on the walls, art like a metal sign that says “Coffee” or “Cafe” or pictures of coffee cups or coffee beans will go well in an coffee shop themed kitchen. Be sure not to over do it with the literal translation of your theme. Buying new hand towels and potholders that go with your color scheme, or buying new dishes or coffee cups that can be displayed on an open shelf or on cup hooks will add to the look of your coffee shop without being too literal. In this case, you may want to look for a newer style coffee pot or espresso machine to set on your counter.
4) Once you know what types of things you’re looking for, it’s time to shop around. It is not always necessary to buy things new, but if you insist on getting something new, check discount stores like Ross, Marshall’s, or Big Lots where they often sell wall art, towels, curtains, and other home decor items for less than half off of retail. When you shop at stores like these, be sure that what you’re buying isn’t defective, and if it is, ask for a bigger discount. Also check around for sales and coupons that will apply to the items you want, and don’t be afraid to ask the manager if the display item is for sale. When decorating my daughter’s room I once got an overstuffed child’s chair for $20 because it was the display and was a little faded looking and I also had a coupon. Brand new the chair would have cost me $150.
5) Shop thrift stores. Some of the best finds in our house are from thrift stores. A lot of people donate new or gently used items to places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other used goods stores. Antique stores are also a great source of discounted home decor items. If the store is a privately run business, and not a chain like Goodwill, then you can often bargain with the owner or clerk to get a better price, especially if you point out any damages to the item like scratches, stains, or other blemishes. Don’t forget, that most things can be cleaned, or fixed to look like new once you purchase it.
6) Shop garage sales. These are the ultimate bargain sales. We have quite a few things in our home from garage sales that have made wonderful additions to our home. If something is a little beyond your budget, ask the people running the sale if they’d be willing to lower the price. If they won’t lower the price, then decide if it is something you can live without, or if it’s a must have item.
7) Don’t be afraid to mix and match. One of the worst things you can do in a room is to buy sets of items and make everything match. Matching everything just makes it look hokey and like you’re trying to hard to make it all cohesive. In our kitchen example, it’s not necessary to buy the matching coffee bean kitchen towels and curtains, the matching mug, bowl, and plate set, or the matching art set.
8) Edit your selections. If you purchased something and get it home and it’s not going to work, don’t use it. Donate it or sell it, or return it if you have a receipt, but don’t put something that doesn’t work for you in your space because then you will look at it day after day and be unhappy about it inside. Going back to uncluttering your space, you also have to know when enough is enough. If you bought some wall art and put it in your space earlier, but found something better later on, it’s ok to replace what was up there before.
9) Let friends and family know what you’re looking for. Often times I have friends who let me know where they saw something on sale that will work for one room or another in my house. This saves me time and gas money because then I know right where to go to find what I need.
10) Be creative and make things yourself. Don’t be afraid to make things yourself. Use what you know how to do. If you draw, or paint, make your own artwork. If you sew, make your own accent pillows for your couch or bed. If you found two sets of curtains you liked, don’t be afraid to cut them up and piece them together to make that perfect, unique piece that you always wanted.
Decorating on a budget doesn’t need to be a headache. In fact shopping smart can be a lot of fun. While it may take some time to find the things you want within your budget range, you will find the wait well worth it as you can see your room coming together into a personalized living space that you’ll love.