Decorating on a Budget – 10 Quick Tips

If you are decorating on a budget, then you need these expert tips! Learn how to make your home look designer without the price tag.

In this guide, you’ll find a list of actionable budget decorating tips to help you create a warm and welcoming home you love, and that reflects your personal style. They are all simple, they won’t break the bank, and no experience is required!

When your decor needs refreshed, but your budget is limited, there are still ways to accomplish small updates without spending a fortune. I’ve put together a list of 10 simple budget decorating tips that range from shopping advice, to picking paint colors. I hope you find one or two tips that speak to you, and that help you create a home you love!

wall plate rack at end of hallway example of budget decorating tips

Decorating On A Budget: Tips You Can Use

Here are my most-used room decorating tips. They will help you save money and make your home look incredible! From making your own artwork, to using pillows and color to maximize your designs, these tips are going to transform your interior design.

1. DIY When Possible

My first tip is for you to figure out how much of the project you can do yourself. This is something that has saved me a lot of money over the years.

When I start a project, the first thing I do is figure out what I can do, and then what I have to hire out. If I can do the whole thing myself, I am so happy. That rarely happens though, especially with anything that’s labor-intensive. Most big projects around here are a combination of DIY and paid labor.

In recent years, I have been relying more and more on contractors and handymen, which has greatly impacted what I can and can’t do. I know for a fact that money can be saved if you have access to free labor…a handy husband, family, or friends. So carefully consider your budget, and go from there.

For example, the plate rack above was made by my daughter’s boyfriend. Get all the details {HERE.}

limelight hydrangea centerpiece in ironstone tureen budget decorating tips example

2. Shop Second-Hand and Discount Stores

One of the best budget decorating tips is to shop second-hand. Nothing is really off-limits, or out of reach, if you are a good thrift store, Craigslist, eBay, discount, or craft store shopper.

My favorite ironstone tureen was a Goodwill find, and cost a whopping $3. I rarely shop at the higher-end stores because I know I can find the look for less if I take my time and try. It takes patience, because sometimes you can’t find exactly what you want. Hang in there though, and keep looking.

It’s only a matter of time before you find exactly what you are looking for. In the image above, I made the hydrangea centerpiece out of thrifted items.

flowers and framed picture on shelves budget decorating tips

 3. Make Your Own Artwork

Making your own artwork is a very simple and inexpensive way to fill your walls. Frames and mats can be purchased at any craft or discount store. You can personalize the colors too. Here are a few ways to find budget-friendly artwork:

  • Find free printables online. Pinterest houses a treasure trove of free art.
  • Search Etsy for original art. Many artists have the capability to scan their original pieces, and sell them digitally.
  • Take your own photos. Enlarge them at a photo center, and then put them in frames. I did this for a gallery wall on our stairway, and chose to print the photos in black and white. It’s a cohesive and personal reflection of our family, and it’s inexpensive.
  • Join the OSP email subscriber list and get instant access to the Members Only Library. You will find digital downloads that are perfect for DIY wall art. Click {HERE} to sign up! Get the printable pictured above {HERE.}
white roses in pitcher on round table budget decorating tips example

4. Add Inexpensive Natural Elements

I love natural elements. I love fresh flowers and greenery. They bring a room to life, and you can use them in your decor without breaking the bank. Bring flowers in from your yard, or pick them up at the grocery store.

It’s amazing how a $10 bunch of flowers can cheer you up, and light up a room. Forage for pinecones, add dried lavender, cut low branches from your trees, or display your produce. The next time you are feeling stuck with your decor, and don’t have much money, give this idea a try. You will love it!

*Affiliate links included. Click HERE for my disclosure statement.

5. Use Pillows for Color, Style, & Texture

No list of budget decorating tips would be complete without including the versatility of pillow covers. They are also an easy and budget-friendly way to switch up the look of a room, seasonally or just for fun.

By choosing two or three main colors, any pattern or textured fabric will work together. For example, my color palette is blue and neutral. I use different shades of blue, and make sure to add texture when I use neutrals. By sticking to these colors, my pillow cover collection can be mixed and matched, as well as moved from room to room. 

Here are my favorite sources for inexpensive pillow covers:

tufted chair in living room with neutral pillow

Nothing will eat into your budget faster than jumping on every style trend that goes by. Don’t do it! I admit that occasionally I am tempted to buy that trendy rug at Crate and Barrel, or that fun vase at West Elm. I quickly talk myself out of it though. I know I would get tired of them, because they aren’t really “me.”

Buy what makes you happy when you walk in a room…not what is on the cover of the latest catalog. Unless, of course, whatever is on the cover makes you blissfully happy.

If you want to shop the look in the image above, here is a quick list:

on sutton place paint colors lid graphic 550c

7. Connect the Dots with Paint

Paint is cheap. Paint is easy. Paint is the quickest way to transform a room. The best way to make the rooms in your home flow is to keep everything in the same basic color family. In my case, that color is blue.

For walls, I used different shades of blue, along with one main neutral. The easiest way to accomplish this is to pick colors from the same paint swatch. I picked my paint strip several years ago when I painted our front door navy blue. I am still using the exact same color strip today.

I’m definitely not saying you have to stick with your choice for life…but it’s an easy way to start. Read this guide to learn more about our paint colors.

spring wreath on blue front door

8. Shop Your Home & Stash

Remember to shop your home before buying anything, and to look through your “stash” regularly. Most of us have a place where we keep decor items that we may not be using at the moment, but aren’t ready to discard or donate.

The spring wreath above was made almost for free…the only thing I had to purchase was the faux pink ranunculus. I already had the wreath, garland, and white berries. So this project covered two budget decorating tips: shop your stash, and DIY!

french market basket on doorknob

9. Update Your Hardware

One of my favorite budget decorating tips that has a huge visual impact is changing the hardware on cabinetry or furniture. It can instantly update an old piece, and it’s the perfect way to add color where there is none. It’s also an update that can be accomplished over time, which is a very budget-friendly way to decorate.

When we bought our home, all the doorknobs and door hinges were bright gold. They were old, scratched, and definitely needed to be replaced. I started with the first floor and changed to oil-rubbed bronze hardware in the entry. I worked my way through the downstairs and then moved upstairs.

It took two years, but eventually, all our hardware was replaced. Nowhere is it written that a project has to be done all at once. Take it slow, and update at your own pace. 

small master bathroom remodel reveal

10. Know When To Splurge & When To Save

My last tip is that sometimes, it’s ok to splurge on your home decor – you just have to know when that is, and do it intentionally.

Personally, I think this is a hard one…especially if your first instinct is to always go the less expensive route. (I’m raising my hand!) Sometimes spending less is perfectly fine, and the end result isn’t compromised. Other times, it’s best to buy quality products, that might be more expensive, but that last over time.

Replacing an important design feature because it didn’t hold up is like throwing away money. Follow your instincts, and you won’t go wrong.

hydrangeas in clear pitcher

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some more questions that people have about saving money on home decor. See if any of your questions made the list.

What should you not do when you are decorating a room?

I’m not a fan of giving people a long list of “decorating don’ts.” Decorating is such a personal thing, and I stand behind my “decorate for you and don’t follow trends” tip.

I think the only thing you should not do when you are decorating a room is to spend a bunch of money on something just because it is the current fad. Instead, follow your heart. If it makes you happy, decorate with it.

dough bowl centerpiece in dining room with board and batten

What are some tips on how to decorate a room with things I already have?

One of my favorite ways to decorate with items I already have is to make your decor items look new. Repaint it, or use it in a totally different way. For example, use a mason jar as an office organizer, and repaint it so it has a different look and feel.

When you redesign what you currently have, it all looks completely brand new.

arranging garden flowers 3 2021

Share your budget decorating tips!

Well…if you made it to the end, thank you for hanging in there! Like I said at the top of the post, I hope you found one or two budget decorating tips that you hadn’t thought of before. The most important thing to remember when decorating your space is to surround yourself and your family with meaningful pieces.

It doesn’t matter how much they cost, or where you purchase them. All that matters is that YOU love them. If you have a favorite tip you’d like to share, please leave a comment!

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  1. I break down my decorating goals and projects each season – August’s project is to paint our front door Naval Blue! I have had a French blue for a few years, and I am looking forward to the change.

  2. Great tips! Your home is so lovely.

  3. I enjoy your inspiring posts so much! You have a lovely home. I am planning to use SW Alabaster paint for my living room and plan to paint some of my old mismatched furniture white also. Should the white furniture be the same shade of white (Alabaster) as the walls? Thank you!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Patricia! The furniture can be the same color as the walls for sure…but it’s also OK to make them a shade or two darker so there’s a bit of contrast. Either way, it sounds like it will be beautiful. Enjoy!

      1. Love your new home. Always look forward to reading your posts. I love the black chandelier in the dining room. Did you purchase it? If so, could you please tell me where you got it. Thank you.

  4. Kare Mary says:

    You have the freshest, prettiest rooms and pictures. Thanks for all the inspiration! Cheers!

  5. Great tips, Ann! I recently repainted my kitchen table top, bought a new pitcher at Home Goods to put on the table, and regularly fill it with fresh flowers from Trader Joe’s. I feel like my kitchen has new life!

  6. Wonderful ideas. I have used many of your ideas over the years after I discovered your blog. Thank you for a delightful post.

    1. Thank you for these practical and great tips. I especially love being reminded to go with what you love, not the latest trend. It can be easy to fall into that trap and be stuck with something that just isn’t you and your family. After all, who is going to be living with it and looking at it everyday? Our home should reflect our lives and make us happy and comfortable. We do not live in an Instagram Picture😉

  7. Hi Ann, I’ve been looking for the perfect white lamps. Do you have a source for your white/cream lamp?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Julie! I have had those lamps for so long…they are at least 15 years old. Unfortunately I don’t have a source. I wish I could help!

      1. Thank you! My search continues…
        I’m really enjoying your blog and look forward to updates!

  8. Dottie Willard says:

    I love your blog! Such wonderful and practical advice and tips! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Shirley Glanville says:

    I would add to this list under the diy art that if you see craft art ( online, Pinterest etc) that looks like it might be possible for you to make – go for it! I have a turquoise and white theme at our cabin so thought I might try some coloured glass and shell art I saw. I gathered old frames with glass, painted them white then added glass I broke (old gin bottles) with dollar store glass filler, flat marbles and glass bits to them with white glue. I then added shells from Walmart and my travels and sea stars from Michael’s. Voila! I achieved results which were worth close to 100$ And more on Etsy for around 10$! I have given away many as gifts and even sold some!

    1. I would love to see how you incorporated those colors in your cabin…would you be willing to post pics?

  10. Patricia Ritchie says:

    Seems as though I’m not the only one who read it all the way to the end. Well written and full of good ideas.

  11. Ann,
    This was a great post. I’m starting to make a few changes for spring and you gave me some great ideas and inspiration. Thank you.

  12. I followed your suggestion for a winter wreath with pine cones and white berries. It is beautiful. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. All good tips. I have a couple of suggestions. First of all, I look at all the higher end vendors, Serena & Lily, etc., then I figure out a way to duplicate some of their ideas. Second, as far as art work goes, although I have a few commercially made pieces of art on my walls, I choose photos my husband has taken on our trips – Italy, Ireland, etc. I then go on line and have them printed on canvas – I have three of them in our home now. and have a fourth photo selected to do. You can pick your size and other details – never have had a problem. I also have printed off some of the photos here at home, and my nephew and his Mom go to garage sales and they look for nice frames for me. I purchase the mats, paint the frames white, and they are so nice. I love these prints because first of all my husband took the photos, and they are unique and no one else has anything like them. It’s easy to pick out the right photos to fit your color scheme and decor.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I love to decorate with photos…and creating the look for less is always a good idea!

  14. Mary Alice Kenley says:

    I LOVE this post, Ann! We’ve just downsized (tough stuff right there), and are having a ball with our new home. Interestingly, just last week we changed out all the door hardware and freshened up the doors and doorframes. One of my go-to decorating tips is to use books. We are both read-a-holics, so we have plenty to use. And I’ve established the “stash” you talked about. Great resource, and you can’t beat free.

  15. I have been looking for yellow buffalo check pillows like that everywhere! Mind sharing with me your source?

  16. Melissa Pabich says:

    Loved it! 1st blog I’ve read all the way through in a VERY log time… thanks!

  17. Dear Ann I love all your budget ideas and have used some of them. I love blue and white, porcelain and bedding, just about anything blue and white. I started collecting it when I was about sixteen. I’ve been married 45 years and now have 5 grandchildren so you can tell I’ve loved it a long time. I love your home and how you have decorated it. I’m very excited to follow your blog and learn new ideas from you

  18. Love all the ideas, wonderful

  19. Diary of a Product Junkie says:

    I like tip number 4 & 6! Pinterest has been a great place for decorating ideas. Thanks for the decorating tips! ^_^

  20. Mary Alice Kenley says:

    Good morning! I woke up early this morning, so I took some time to go through some of your posts I’ve been saving. As I scanned, I had one over-riding thought: Classic. I read your posts when others go into the bin because it’s not always the “newest” thing, but many times the tried and true. I have way too much on my plate to change colors and styles when the magazines suggest. I like subtle changes that fit into what I have and don’t require a major life change to incorporate!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      What a nice thing to say Mary Alice…thank you so much. I agree that life is too short to just change for the sake of change. Subtle changes are sometimes all we need. A am so glad you are following along…enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  21. Hi Ann, we have recently purchased a 45 year old house and it has NEVER been updated. Wallpaper in every room, no appliances, a green sink, green, orange and yellow tile… it was a nightmare but had the bones. It’s been 2 years and I just about have all the wallpaper off, but painted almost every room the same color just to get it fresh and clean. Now it’s screaming for color and I LOVE your blue and yellow and would love to have that in my bedroom. I love to visit ARC our second hand store and have built a nice white ironstone collection for my kitchen. I shop in my Sister’s basement all the time as our parents have passed and it is full of treasures. I am a firm believer in paint and repurposing. I love visiting your site and your gorgeous home…keep it coming!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Oh Pendra your house sounds lovely…you are smart to go slow and take your time. Good luck!

  22. Ann, I am passing this on to my young daughter who is moving into an apartment by herself for the first time. I hope she will utilize these ideas. Is that color strip of blues the same one you use in your home? I am a blue girl too and will be moving. I typically furnish with blue and have cream walls but I may switch it up this time. It always helps me to see colors on someone’s walls and with their furnishings. Thanks!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Joan! I think I may have already answered this but just in case…yes the color strip in the post is from Sherwin Williams and they are the colors in my house. Good luck with your new home!

  23. Great tips Ann…your living room looks beautiful!! Love all the yellow and blue!

  24. Ann……as usual, some great ideas. I wish Ikea was closer to me. There’s one in Charlotte, and I live in Cary, NC. That’s quite a trip. However, I know they will ship certain items. I’m considering downsizing sometime soon, and I’ll probably purchase their loveseat (in the style of your sofa). Have a great week!

  25. Another great post! I love blue & yellow rooms, so photos of your home really speak to me.

  26. Love this post! Thanks Anne!

  27. Ana Maria says:

    Hi Ann!
    Thanks for the great tips. I’m forwarding your blog to several young women who are newer at decorating and will benefit greatly from your advice. One question: Where did you find the great ladder from which you hung the quilts. I would love something like that. Thanks!

    1. Ana Maria says:

      Thank you so very much for your lightning- fast reply!

      Ann, you are a special kind of blogger. So many times I read in other blogs, readers post questions, and they often stay unanswered. I knew you would answer because I’ve read your answers before. Imagine my surprise to find that item is still available! I will be ordering one soon, regardless of the shipping cost, because in my neck of the woods, Miami FL, it is difficult to find vintage items (although I’ve found some beauties!)

      Thank you!
      Ana Maria

  28. Hi Ann! I’m going to get the paint chip…what a great idea! I also love the tulips in the bucket!

  29. Many wonderful ideas, Ann, even for those of us who have been keeping a home for many years! When our daughter live in Minn. we had so much fun going to IKEA, but now she an her family live near us and the nearest IKEA is 8 hrs. away. But following your advice can be done anywhere. Thanks for sharing this!

  30. WOW! Thanks for a bunch of ideas!

  31. Peggy Zortman says:

    Love your blues and thank you for just down to earth ideas we can use. I have to add, I am smitten with your tulips and enamel bucket in your foyer. Such a simple, beautiful idea.

  32. Rona Berry-Morin says:

    I actually utilize many of these budget decorating tips, especially shopping at second-hand stores. Ross, TJ Maxx and Marshalls are my favorite stores for finding discount home decor items.

  33. You are so right on every one of these!! You should repost this once a year to remind us all. :)

  34. Marvelous post Ann :) Everything looks fabulous!! Pinning!!

  35. nan - odesss delawa says:

    You alwsys say it with common sense that is understood and great!

  36. Ann Drake says:

    Thanks for the tips Susie!

  37. Great post as always Ann!

  38. debbiedoos says:

    Love this post Ann! So helpful and so inspiring. You are a fantastic decorator without breaking the bank! I just love your style.

  39. Charlotte says:

    These are all wonderful tips Ann! I absolutely love your wall of blue and white plates and don’t even get me started on that georgous ladder of quilts! Love!


  40. Hi Ann,
    This is truly a terrific post. All of your posts are terrific, but this one really hightlights the fundamentals of DIY and cost containment. I particulary like the “Buy what you love” segment. Trends usually fade before a room is finished, but what you love can last a lifetime.
    I love getting your updates via email. Thanks for sending inspiration.
    Best to you,

  41. Those were really wonderful tips, especially the paint flowing from one room to the rest. That is my next project.

  42. Debbie Hall says:

    Love your style! Your posts are always so informative and give me lots of good ideas to use in my home. Thanks for all your inspiration, keep up the good work!

  43. Kathleen, i am with you! we are also empty nesters, but, Yes, I too, pick up after my husband! Love him to death, but he is worse than a kid! :)

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Yes Kathleen I don’t have kids at home. The unused rooms in my house stay picked up…and I don’t show my husband’s room because it’s not exactly picture perfect. There are days when I don’t even cook but my kitchen looks like a bomb went off!

  44. I love all of your ideas, Ann! i am a quilter and am going to start looking for a quilt stand…. and start decorating in the same color strip! :) thank you!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Ohhhh Ida yes you need a ladder! I got mine on eBay but I’ve seen them in antique shops too. Good luck!

  45. Penny @ The Comforts of Home says:

    Great tips Ann!

  46. Meadowsweet Cottage says:

    Great tips–I love the thrill of the hunt at yard sales and GW much better than plain ol’ shopping.

    And I’m so glad I’m not the only one who sits on an idea for a blog post for months, lol!

  47. Mimi -247 Mulberry Lane says:

    I love the blue and yellow palette you’ve used throughout your home–it’s one of my very favorite color combinations! I’m just curious, and maybe you’ve addressed this before in a previous post, how did you decide to use those colors? Are they just favorite colors of yours, did you have an inspiration piece, or did you see a room in a magazine? I absolutely adore the flow of color you have created, but it just seems like it would take forever to achieve…

    Thanks so much for all the inspiration and ideas you share!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Mimi!
      I have always loved blue. I remember when I was in the 8th grade my Mom bought me a navy blazer and a navy/white wool plaid skirt. It was the bomb for sure! I have gravitated towards lighter colors so I have more light blue now than navy. I used to be all navy. I added the yellow several years ago again to try and lighten things up. I live in the woods so my house is almost always dark.
      I’m not going to lie. It does take a long time to get your house to flow the way you want it to. Be patient and I promise it will happen. Take one room at a time. We’ve lived in this house 25 years and it’s only been in the last 10 that I feel like it’s the way I want it. Of course it’s really never finished! Right now I’m dreaming about hard wood floors. lol.

      Good luck!

  48. These are great tips, Ann! We used most of these in a recent reno project for our girls. You can really save a lot this way!

  49. Jeanette @ Creating a Life says:

    Wonderful tips, Ann!

  50. I have no ounce of decorating savvy myself. I have to rely quite a bit on Pinterest and my sister who has all the talent. This post has helped me a great deal, it’s a keeper! Thanks for sharing :) -Bev

  51. Elizabeth@ Blue Clear Sky says:

    These are all great tips, Ann. I enjoy reading each one and I’m happy to say I follow them all. Your home is always so polished and pretty looking and of course your pillows are stunning as usual. The ladder with quilts is especially gorgeous and really helps to reinforce your colour scheme.

    1. Dawn at Cottonwood Corner says:

      Hi Ann! I agree with just about everyone else – you have amazing ideas and helpful hints! One thing I do to freshen my rooms is to simply rearrange the furniture. We have a smallish home but I still have a couple options for furniture placement. It always feels like I’ve done so much more than moving the furniture around!

  52. Lisa at Texas Decor says:

    I agree with everything here! Especially the part about the spray paint. I’ve learned through the years that spray paint can fix (almost) anything. The internet is a great source for inspiration. I just did a small gallery wall with free prints from the graphics fairy and $4 frames from Walmart. :) And when we recently painted our kitchen cabinets, I found great tutorials online from other bloggers. Makes me wonder what we did with ourselves before the internet?! Lol!