Big Dreams, Small Wallet: How to Decorate on a Budget

Krista Diamond |

Your new home is perfect. Floor to ceiling windows, a big master bedroom, walk-in closets and the stainless steel kitchen you’ve always wanted. It took forever to find and even longer to lock down but now it’s all yours. There’s one problem: The walls are blank, the windows are curtainless and the only place to sit is the floor.

We’ve all been there. You want your house to be a home but a tight budget is standing your way. There has to be something in between an all out Pottery Barn shopping spree and dumpster diving for old furniture behind your local Wal-Mart. Luckily, there is. You can have the cozy furniture and modern touches without the hefty price tag. Here’s how.

1. Splurge on the Big Things

Yes, it seems a little contradictory to start off a list of budget decorating hacks by telling you to spend money but this one tip will actually save you a lot of it in the long run. Items that anchor your home like a great couch, large area rug and dining room set are worth the splurge. It might be tempting to buy the cheap loveseat now, but if you do you’ll only end up buying something better—and pricier—later and taking up valuable real estate in your storage unit with the original not so great piece. The same goes for renting furniture. The instant gratification factor makes it seem perfect but in the grand scheme of things, it’s going to cost you. What’s the bottom line? If there’s a king sized bed frame that you love, love, love but can’t afford right now, wait until you can. It’ll be worth it.

2. Don’t be Intimidated by DIY

Pinterest certainly makes crafting your own headboard or curtains look easy but sometimes the instructions and the supplies (A power drill? Really?) are way too complicated. Don’t write it off too quickly though. There are plenty of DIY decorating projects that can be done by anyone. A fun piece of cloth, some fabric glue and scissors are the only tools you need to make covers for boring, inexpensive throw pillows and there’s no sewing required. You can also make your own photos look professional by buying mats and frames from any craft store. It’s stylish, classy and it’ll turn your space into a little art gallery.

3. Pops of Color

You don’t have to break the bank on yards and yards of wallpaper and gallons of paint. Instead of doing every wall, pick one. An accent wall is very hip and will add a pop of color to a room. A bright red or electric blue will make your living room look sleek and modern long before it’s even furnished. Wallpaper in a romantic pattern at the head of your bed will make the space cozy and inviting. You can apply the same thought process to a colorful piece of furniture as well. To accessorize with plants, buy basic succulents and spray paint the pots that they come in.

4. You Might Already Own It

To minimize clutter and jump start your decorating process, look no further than the depths of your storage unit. Use a funky old vase to store cooking utensils on your kitchen counter. Those floral mugs you never touch? Perfect for organizing makeup brushes and all of the little odds and ends that end up scattered around your bathroom sink. A wicker basket with no purpose can be the solution for storing magazines, mail and other reading materials all in one place. Consider repurposing that tacky poster you’ve had since college with a new frame or placing old knick knacks from your childhood in an unexpected place like a bathroom or kitchen. Instant vintage.

5. Minimalism

Luckily for the budget-conscious decorator, the less-is-more vibe is very on trend right now. We don’t know about you, but the idea of upgrading your home by getting rid of stuff rather than buying more of it sounds pretty great to us. Instead of art on every wall, pillows on every couch and accent rugs in every room, define your space with a few key pieces rather than cluttering it with too many of them. You can always sell or donate items that aren’t worthy of the spotlight, or go with our favorite option: self-storage. Trust us, it’s cheaper than you realize. A closet-sized 5x5 unit will cost you less than $50 in most cities, and many facilities offer move-in specials like discounted rent or free moving trucks. Consult our size guide to make sure you’re only paying for the space you need and then search our site for a facility in your area that offers month-to-month leases so you can move out whenever you want or hang onto your storage until that corduroy couch finally comes back in style.