Cheap Decorating Ideas for the Budget-Savvy Stylist

Decorating your home to your taste can be expensive. But it doesn’t have to be. You can decorate your space stylishly and pretty cheaply with just a little creativity and thinking outside the box. This might come simply by moving an object to somewhere unexpected, or by doing a simple DIY project, or repurposing a thing to take it from aging to admirable. Read on for inspiration to help you create a space you love using some cheap decorating ideas.

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Decorate with useful items.

Open shelving in kitchens has been popular for a few years now, in large part because of the opportunity to double down on a piece’s function. Not only do you use your glassware for drinking, for example, but you also use it to decorate and showcase style and color. When contrasted against a different wall color, the pieces themselves pop.

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Display a collection.

You don’t need an expensive collection of antiques to create a beautiful grouped display, although if you have a collection of precious and/or expensive items, it makes sense to show them off! Even if they’re hardly more than thrift store treasures, give your pieces a place of honor on a top shelf or wall mounts. If you have a large collection, choose a few pieces to display at a time and rotate them occasionally.

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Freshen up walls.

Being vertical, walls are among the first visual components our eyes encounter in a space, so it makes sense that freshening them up is a cheap decorating idea that pays off big in the décor department. There are a variety of ways you can do this – wallpaper, of course, although that can be expensive. You can also paint stripes, chunky horizontal or pinstripe vertical, or even paint stencil patterns onto the wall itself, depending on your space and taste. For the time-pressed decorator, consider simply painting your walls a new color that makes your heart happy.

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Hang oversized text.

You can print huge black and white engineering prints at Staples and perhaps other print facilities for cheap, like less than $5. This is one of the best cheap decorating ideas, particularly for a large wall, and an awesome way to customize your space with something that represents your personality.

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Get creative with window treatments.

Window treatments don’t have to come from the “window treatments” section of a retailer’s shop. Think creatively when it comes to covering your windows on the cheap. You could use drop cloths, shower curtains, or deeply discounted fabric yardage, for starters. Or if you don’t have the time to DIY some sort of window treatment from other items, choose inexpensive window treatments, such as Ikea’s solid panels, to mix into your space.

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Layer stuff.

You don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of new stuff to create a new look in your home. Take what you already have and give it depth and dimension by layering it. Hang garlands over wall art, for example. Layer framed art and photos three or four frames deep for a casual, luxe look. Layers definitely intensify the visual cues of a space, so take care to keep a restrained color palette.

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Repurpose your furniture.

If you’ve got a rickety or mismatched single chair, no fear! The piece can be given a second life as a stylish nightstand or bedside table. If the chair has caning that’s holey or worn, you can set a tray on top to cover it up and provide a secure resting spot for an alarm clock or nighttime reads.

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Display glass bottles.

Thrift stores offer plenty of glass bottles, in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Snag a few and bring some instant stained-glass coloring to your space. Windowsills are a particularly pleasant venue for glass bottles, with the natural light illuminating them beautifully. The kitchen is another win-win, with form and function meeting up perfectly as you store everyday useful items in the bottles.

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Turn a yard sale box into a side table.

Anything with a horizontal surface can work beautifully as a side table, and sometimes the funkier the better. If you find a box or piece with a relatively small footprint that would fit the bill for a side table, don’t hesitate to grab it and repurpose it as a useful place to set a lamp and a lemonade.

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Mountplates onto the wall.

Due to their inherently flat nature, plates make an excellent choice for cheap decorating. There are so many varieties in terms of color, size, shape, pattern, picture, that you can have a fun time hunting down an impressive plate collection to display. It’s a good idea to arrange the plates on a flat surface before mounting them, though, so you can get the balance right. Large, dramatic plates work best in the center to ground the display.

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Embrace vintage finds.

One of the best cheap decorating ideas is to mix and match styles and eras within your space so that even a vintage piece can look at home in a modern setting. While your style may not gravitate toward distressed, worn, chippy goodness on all the things, tossing in a lovely vintage upholstered wooden bench, for example, can give a hard-surfaced space warmth and approachability.

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Give a lampshade a facelift.

Table lamps are a staple for many interiors, and they can be freshened up for cheap to give the room a completely new vibe. Cover the existing lampshade with some thin patterned fabric, paint the lampshade, glue ribbon around one or both edges of the lampshade, apply a ready-made appliqué…the possibilities are endless, really. And the end result will brighten your space as much as your wallet.

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Decorate with originals.

While it might not be what you would choose on its own, original components in a home are historic and endearing. This door, for example, is an original 100+ year old door in a charming historic home being restored. It’s been modernized inexpensively with a barn door installation to save on space, but it retains its vintage finish and perfectly imperfect original appeal.

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Update throw pillows.

One of the easiest ways to decorate on the cheap is via throw pillows. These are easy to DIY, even if you don’t sew. You can also purchase covers for throw pillows pretty inexpensively and enjoy changing them every season to keep your space looking and feeling fresh.

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Decorate with nature.

Some of the most beautiful pieces of décor come from nature – wood, shells, rocks, leaves, and flowers, to name just a few. Take advantage of this free resource and get creative in how you show it off. Mount shells or leaves in a shadow box, use a favorite found large stone as a doorstop, or lend a formal mantel an inviting air by displaying a slice of lumber, bark-on.

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Shop your closet.

Decorating is totally affordable when you can shop your closet or storage shelves and find things to reuse. Pull them out and position, arrange, or use them in a different way amid different pieces, and you’ll have a fresh look that feels completely new…for free! This cute chair is tucked cozily into a bathroom corner, for example, for a sweet look and useful resting surface.

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Display photos without frames.

While this cheap decorating idea has the potential to look sloppy, it also has the potential to exude a chic minimalist sensibility. One, maybe two, well-chosen photos on display without a frame will draw attention to the photo content itself…even with other décor around. Also, try piling your books horizontally for an eye-catching décor strategy.

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Contain your cords.

Find a box that integrates into the style of your space, be it cardboard, paper, wood, metal, glass, ceramic, whatever. Place in it cords and/or odds and ends that you like to have accessible but that are ugly. This is a super simple and cheap way to keep your space looking decorated but also maintaining its modern-day functionality.

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Hang a map.

Bring the world home by hanging, framing, or mounting maps to your walls. But look beyond paper maps – metal cut-outs, wooden maps, even string art in a map shape provides a similar world-wise vibe, especially maps that can be personalized to your travels.Maps of any kind can add a global touch to a dining room, an academic touch to a home office or study area, or just plain color to a kitchen command center. However you choose to incorporate them, maps are décor that have the power to move our minds.

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Pamper your feet.

Just because you’re on the hunt for cheap decorating ideas doesn’t mean you should avoid luxuries in your décor. A small (faux) fur rug placed thoughtfully at the side of a bed, for example, is an inexpensive way to pamper your eyes and your cold feet.

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Strategize a mirror.

Mirrors have, not surprisingly, an amazing ability to expand and brighten a space because they reflect. A mirror placed strategically across from a window, or in a corner of a tight space can help the room feel airier. Just be sure to reflect those things that you want amplified; don’t, for example, aim the mirror to reflect a chronically chaotic nook of the room.

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Hang art in unexpected places.

“Art” can sound a bit pompous at times when used in the context of interior décor, but it definitely doesn’t have to be. In fact, artwork can comprise one of the primary facets of cheap decorating. Inexpensive frames and beloved print or pictorial pieces can transform a space. For an even greater effect, hang the artwork in unexpected ways and in unexpected places – the bathroom, at knee level, for example.

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Go green.

Plant life is beneficial to décor on so many levels, but for the purposes of this article, it can be a cheap decorating idea that works wonders. Plants can hide architectural flaws or awkward spaces. Plants can infuse a space with natural energy. Plant greenery balances out many color schemes and styled spaces. Plants are versatile in their formality or casual auras. Plants are a budget-conscious decorator’s best friend.

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Create your own (DIY) art.

You don’t have to be an artist, per se, to incorporate some cost-saving DIY effort into your artwork. DIY art can take any number of forms, really. You can simply frame some favorite calendar photos, cover canvas with beautiful fabric, or just mount some clips to the wall for a relaxed rotating art display. Viola. Custom art that brings you joy.