When you’re trying to save money, you spend a lot of time at home. That can you make feel like you’d like to spruce the place up, which…of course… is expensive. But these frugal decorating tips will make your home feel beautiful and personal without ruining your budget.
First, rethink decor in general.
Picture a little bungalow with a big window overlooking the backyard. Inside is a cozy room painted a buttery yellow color. The sunlight pours in, and a little boy is arranging a puzzle on the floor. There’s a rocking chair behind him with a quilt draped over it. There’s a table nearby with a stack of well-worn books and a vase of fresh wildflowers. In the next room, a grandfather clock ticks audibly.
Lovely, right? You just know this home is warm and welcoming. There’s no need to “spruce it up” with cheap art from Home Goods. It is no worse off because the little boy’s mother didn’t buy knick-knacks from the dollar spot at Target.
No, this home is not filled with cheap junk labeled “decor.” It feels genuine and authentic. Of course, we have good intentions. We are trying to capture a warm, welcoming feeling in our home, and we think that the right sign or pillow or statue will be just the ticket. But the truth is, making our homes feel cherished is not about what we buy.
Now, that being said, there are cheap home decor ideas that are practical and pretty. Just keep in mind that you probably don’t need anything on this list. The home you’re dreaming of can be yours without them. And buying nothing is the most affordable strategy of all.
Put family photos in inexpensive frames.
A big purpose of decorating your home is to make it personal. Pictures of friends and family are about as personal as it gets.
You know that you have plenty of photos stored on your phone or computer. Please take a few minutes to turn them into real, physical pictures. Online photo services are inexpensive and easy to use. Try Shutterfly, Mpix, or your local drugstore website. It’s one of those things that’s easy to put off, but you’ll be glad you did.
As far as frames, it is straightforward to get them affordably. Look at garage sales, discount stores, and the clearance section of department stores. If you aren’t too picky, you can get a great deal.
And of course, don’t forget Goodwill and thrift shops.
Check out the thrift stores and yard sales.
Ah, thrift stores. You love them or hate them. If you hate them, this is actually good news. It means you won’t go inside and buy a bunch of junk for your entire house because you think it’s a good deal.
But it’s also a mistake to totally overlook them: there are some great frugal finds inside.
We’ve discussed picture frames, and thrift stores are the ideal place to find them. But there are even more practical timeless items that are great candidates for buying secondhand.
- wooden furniture
- pitchers, bowls, and other kitchenware
- vintage books
- lamps and other light fixtures
Spray paint finishes you don’t like
We all have a few hated finishes in our house, usually super shiny brass that was hand-me-down or just cheap. Instead of replacing them, you can change them with an inexpensive can of spray paint. To avoid any regrets, matte black is always safe. Remove the fixture, take it outside, and spray it. Once it’s spray-painted, make sure it’s totally dry before bringing it in.
(If you have leftover paint, you can use it on picture frames.)
No more glowing brass spider above your dining room table. That wasn’t so hard, right?
Clean is beautiful
Time for some tough love.
Are you looking for frugal decorating tips because your home doesn’t seem pretty enough for you? Well, all the spray paint and pillow covers in the world won’t do a thing if your home is a mess.
Before shopping for anything, give your home a good cleaning and do some light decluttering. Most of the time, you’ll find that’s all it needed. Really.
Bring the outdoors in
Remember those vintage items, like vases and pitchers, that we found at the thrift store? Well, filling them with ten-dollar bouquets from the grocery store isn’t exactly frugal.
The good news is that all you need are scissors and a little imagination to find fresh, pretty things to bring inside.
If you have a cutting garden, obviously use that. But if you don’t, go outside anyway. Are there blooming weeds on the side of the road? Those are wildflowers. Enjoy them. What about sprigs of greenery, or holly branches, or petunias from your flowerpots?
Clean off that dusty windowsill above your kitchen sink and pop your foraged bouquet there. Isn’t that better?
Sew your own curtains and throw pillows
If you’re handy with a sewing machine, a whole new decorating world has just opened up for you. You can have custom, high-quality home linens that match your personal style and that you absolutely love. These are also two of the easiest things to sew, so even if you’re a beginner, give it a try.
Start with affordable fabrics (fabric can be costly) for lesser-used rooms, and as you grow in skill and confidence, try more expensive ones.
Find your style
Frugal decorating is partly about buying home decor that you absolutely love, not a bunch of future trash.
If you know what you like, you’ll probably make better purchases. Use Pinterest, magazine clippings (remember those?!), or anything method you want to really hone in on what you like.
If you can nail down your style, you won’t go buying random stuff at antique stores because it’s a good deal. You’ll save money by only buying things you’ll continue to love years down the road.
Keep a running list of what you want or need
Of course, buying home decor is not just about your style. It’s also about what you need. If you need a table lamp, a dresser, and some decorations for the baby’s nursery, write that down. Use the notes app on your phone, so it’s always with you.
This keeps you focused when you go into stores. They are trying to distract you and make you want a bunch of stuff. Stick to your list.
Try making your own art
This won’t appeal to most people, but it’s worth considering. If you don’t want to buy junky art prints but you can’t afford originals, what can you do?
Well, you can try making your own. There’s a chance you might actually be good.
(If your circumstances allow it, I’d highly recommend looking at young local artists for affordable, original artwork. DIY art is often terrible.)
Don’t let a small budget keeep you from a well-decorated home.
Remember, buying what you love and can afford is the most authentic decorating style of all. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.