Decorating on a Budget – 10 Quick Tips

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If you are decorating on a budget, then you need these expert tips! Learn how to make your home look like it was designed by a pro 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 luxe home you love!

wall plate rack at end of hallway example of budget decorating tips
The plate rack at the Sutton Place house.

Home Decor Ideas 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, accessorizing a bookcase, or replacing a lamp shade. These low price tips are going to transform your interior design.

wall plate rack in kitchen blue and white plates
The same plate rack at the Sugar Maple house.

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 any diy projects that are 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 wall plate rack above was made by my daughter’s boyfriend. The materials were my only expense.

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, flea market, Craigslist, eBay, discount, or craft store shopper. It’s totally possible to make a big impact with very little money.

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 really 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 with my thrifted tureen.

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 everything so you stay with your color scheme. You can easily create a focal point with free art! 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 at the Sutton Place house, and chose to print the photos in black and white. It’s a cohesive and personal reflection of our family, and it was 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. Sign up HERE!

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. Add a pop of color by bringing flowers in from your yard, or pick them up at the grocery store.

It’s amazing how a $10 bunch of flowers can make you happy, 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!

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5. Use Throw Pillows + Blankets for Color, Style, & Texture

No list of budget decorating tips would be complete without including the versatility of pillow covers and throw blankets. They are also an easy and budget-friendly way to give a room a whole new look, 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
Paint colors at the Sutton Place house.

7. Connect the Dots with Paint

A fresh coat of paint is affordable, and it’s 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 the walls at our Sutton Place house, 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 used that exact same color strip until the day we moved!

I’m definitely not saying you have to stick with your choice for life…but it’s an easy way to start.

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 on Sutton Place, all the doorknobs, cabinet knobs, and door hinges were bright gold brass. 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.

P.S. Don’t forget about that brass fireplace screen! 

10. Know When To Splurge & When To Save

My last tip is that 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 furnishings, that might be more expensive, but that last over time. Like a sofa your whole family uses, the wallpaper that adds so much personality, light fixtures, kitchen cabinets, area rugs, or curtains.

annabelle hydrangeas in clear pitcher 2022

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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. Look for inspiration and repaint them, or use them in totally different ways. 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.

How can I decorate for no cost?

My best tips for no cost decorating are:

  • Shop your house and use what you have in different ways.
  • Look to your yard for natural elements.
  • Use free printables.
  • Look at Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for free items.
  • Move your furniture from one room to another.
  • Swap furniture or accent pieces with a friend. (I’ve personally done this and it’s really fun!)
  • Clear away all the clutter.
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books on coffee table with pitcher of flowers

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 plenty of 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!

You might also like:
14 Designer Decor Ideas That Are Not Trends

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33 Comments

  1. CarolBinTX says:

    I love these suggestions! I have an internal budget spidy that keeps me from blowing the bank on decor! I’m guilty of wanting cheaper furniture/big items and my husband generally talks me out of it. He goes for quality and durability. This means that they sometimes fall out of favor with the design world, but when we bought them we conscientiously though they were “classic”. I sometimes have to decorate around my expensive cherrywood pieces and my big brown couches (those will be replaced though in the next few months), but I’ve managed to keep things light and airy by purchasing lighter textiles, pottery and other decor. I love switching things out with the seasons, but I find myself decorating with a lighter hand these days. I also think keeping my home clean and clutter free is the biggest decor boost. I love your blue color scheme…it’s timeless!

  2. Susan Toto says:

    I love your living room lamps. Where did you find them? Love your ideas!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Susan…I don’t have a source for the lamps. I purchased them years ago at a local furniture store. Wish I had better news!

  3. I went to a party once, with a bunch of my fellow teachers, where we each brought 1 or 2 decor items that were in good shape but were willing to give up, sale or trade. There were about 15 of us there, and we had such a great time. I took a little cowboy lamp from my youngest sons boyhood room (he was getting married that summer and didn’t think he’d need it🥲) and two mismatched tea cups and saucers. We had so much fun, and I thought a couple of gals were going to come to blows over that lamp. Well, we are in Texas. You’ve got me thinking, I need to have a decor party of my own!

  4. Great post Ann! I have shared before we are looking to downsize this year. I have gathered so many ideas from your posts.
    Maybe an odd question but how did you let go of flower vases? I, like you love flowers in my home. In fact your posts including beautiful pitchers have inspired me to try that look and I love it. Still struggling with the other vases I have. Same goes for candy dishes. Too tempting for the candies to be out in my house😊. Any thoughts?

  5. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says:

    Ann, you are such an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your wonderful tips with us. Your home is absolutely beautiful. You always do such a lovely job with all your decor.

  6. Josee Turner says:

    Thanks for this. I am not a natural decorator and I really need a pick me up. I appreciate the ideas. My home is in transition with my last child, sadly, leaving the home and I am frustrated by my lack of options for moving furniture around. Your advice helps.

  7. Thanks for the inspiration! I like your sofa —w you please share the manufacturer and color? Thanks!

  8. Thanks for the inspiration! I like your sofa—would you please share the manufacturer and color? Thanks!

  9. Totally agree! I wanted to do something different to my fireplace (it’s not your normal fireplace) After contemplating many ideas, as well as expense and seemed like it took forever, it turned out that paint was the secret! Can’t get much easier then that! Thanks for your great ideas.

  10. Karen Mary says:

    Love your fresh and pretty blog, Ann! One budget tip I have is to completely clean (top to bottom, spring clean!) and de-clutter a room before you spend a penny on it. Maybe move some things around (re-arrange furniture, if it suits). Maybe bring in something from another room. Then I always add fresh flowers or greenery from the yard. If the room still needs it, make an inexpensive purchase for the room as a reward (a new pillow cover, for example). Oftentimes the room feels fresh enough that you don’t even need to spend money on it. I find this method is also good incentive for getting rooms cleaned and organized. Thanks for all the lovely inspiration!

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. Great tips! Your home is so lovely.

  14. 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!

  15. Kare Mary says:

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

  16. 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!

  17. 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😉

  18. 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!

  19. Dottie Willard says:

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

  20. 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?

  21. Patricia Ritchie says:

    Ann,
    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.

  22. 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.
    Karen

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

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

    1. Great tips.With downsizing,lots of things had to go.I always shop my house repurposing items with paint and spray paint.It gives the them new life in a new space.