Inspiring Ideas for Decorating on a Budget

Some of us might dream of remodeling the house or even moving altogether to an empty plot of land and starting from scratch, until reality shows up under the name of Budget. With a sigh, we are left to wonder if we’ll ever be able to achieve the look and feel in our current living spaces with the budget we’ve got. Great news, people Yes, absolutely. Even small projects and ideas that are inexpensive can completely freshen up our homes and keep them current.

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Paint a fresh color on the walls. A fresh coat of paint not only helped to brighten up this small bathroom, but it also tied in the dated countertop and made everything flow together. This is a great example that something as inexpensive as a gallon of paint can make even a retro laminate countertop feel fresh, current, and gorgeous.

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Use more circles. The design world, en masse, trends toward hard angles and straight lines. By incorporating circular or more curved edges, you immediately soften your space and make it feel unique.

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Sew a slipcover. An old sofa with great bones but worn or dated upholstery is still a contender in the budget-savvy and stylish home. There are plenty of great tutorials available for sewing a slipcover and throw pillow covers to extend the life of your most comfortable seat, even if you’re not a professional.

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Treat nature like art. If you go on a nature walk and stumble upon an eye-catching palm frond, a gorgeous leafy stem, some early summer blossoms on a branch, or any number of natural wonders, consider treating those things like art. Bring them home (if permitted) and mount, hang, pot, or otherwise display them for you to enjoy for long after the fact. Nothing says “budget keeper” like a bold display of free Mother Nature.

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Customize a Mirror. A solitary mirror is capable of transforming a small space into one twice its size, visually if not physically. Designer mirrors can gouge the budget, but if you have access to a great frame, simply have some mirrored glass cut to fit. This is a fantastic way to get a designer look for a DIY price.

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Prop or lean beautiful pieces to display them. Not only does this allow a lovely accessory to be seen (which doesn’t usually happen when the piece is lying flat), but it also helps to infuse a space with a more casual air. This is useful in a home where surfaces and colors tend to be minimal or cold.

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Build a bathroom display shelf. Bathrooms are function-based spaces, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be made pretty and restful. Build shelves onto a blank tub wall, or add contemporary floating shelves above the bathroom toilet for an inexpensive solution for storing useful and/or beautiful items.

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Mix animal prints. Animal prints are considered by many to be a neutral, but they’re far from boring. Pair two or three different animal prints together, and you’ve got a delightfully adventurous and sophisticated aesthetic. The budget-friendly component comes into play here with the fact that a little bit of animal print goes a long way. You can keep the scale small and still have a big impact, design-wise.

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Update your cabinet hardware. As much as many other more expensive renovations, simply updating the hardware on your cabinetry, whether in the kitchen, bathroom, or a piece of bedroom furniture, has the power to instantly make over the look and feel of the space. Although you can find great deals, hardware isn’t always cheap, but it’s much easier on the budget than replacing the cabinetry itself.

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Bring in the spring with wicker. Something about wicker’s natural weave makes it automatically a breezy, tropical inclusion in any space. Wicker furniture can be a low-cost alternative to traditional indoor furniture without sacrificing style. For those on an even tighter budget, consider incorporating wicker on smaller scale accessories, such as picture frames or baskets.

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Choose forgiving flooring. While initially it may not be considered a “budget item,” the choice of flooring you make will last much longer – and thus stretch your budget – if you choose something that will wear well. With children or pets in the house, choosing something with a forgiving (e.g., camouflaging) print or pattern is a good direction to lean.

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Repurpose Accessories. Got a mirror that you don’t use? Throw some handles on the side and turn it into a tray. Got a plate or bowl or frame that’s just gathering dust? Have some mirrored glass cut to fit and turn it into a mirror to hang on the wall. Repurposing objects not only extends their life, it also enhances your enjoyment of the thing in your space.

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Rock and roll it. Adding casters onto furniture is an easy way to add style and value to the piece. In fact, casters are king when it comes to quick-fixes on a piece of furniture. Not only do casters add important inches to the height of a thing, but they also bring with themselves flexibility in movement. Casters on any type of table make that single table an essential component of functionality in multiple settings in multiple spaces.

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Mix patterns & textures. This is a cheap decorating tip that applies to any season, any space. Add immediate visual interest by mixing up prints and patterns. Plaid and floral, stripe and ikat, dot and geometric. Keep at least one quality of the patterned pieces similar, such as scale, color family, shape, etc., for the mix to appear harmonious rather than chaotic.

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Lay down a tray. This low-cost solution to many side table-lacking ailments is both style- and space-savvy. Soft surfaces, such as poufs and upholstered ottomans, can serve double duty as comfortable seating without a tray, and as legit table surfaces with a tray. Trays come in all shapes, sizes, materials, colors, and styles, and of course there are plenty of cheap and/or DIY options.

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Choose one punch of color. Not everything in a single space needs to stand out, no matter how much you might love color. By splurging on some orange dining chairs, the rest of this dining room can stay on budget with neutral and natural pieces. The entire look, though, is one of great style and personality.

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Use fresh flowers. Nothing says “fresh” like some cheery flowers inside. Opt for potted flowers if fresh cuttings aren’t your jam. The possibilities are endless, really, with regard to single stems or groupings, small buds or large blooms, vibrant coloring or more demure tints. No matter what direction you take, fresh flowers is a lovely way to decorate inexpensively in any season.

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Throw down textured throw pillows. While any well-selected throw pillow has the ability to enhance your style, if you want to go above and beyond in making a statement, consider adding a textured throw pillow or three to your space. These accessories are both comfortable and on-trend, and updating your space with these is much easier on the wallet than replacing a larger furniture piece altogether.

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Show off a collection. While it doesn’t make much financial sense to start up a collection just so you can display it in your décor, this strategy is a win-win for the decorating collector. Display any number of collectibles on your walls, in frames, or on shelves in your space to serve as beautiful and inexpensive visual cues and great conversation starters.

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Decorate with symmetry. In a small space, using symmetry in décor placement is a classic way to bring order and calm. This type of structure and balance in turn makes a small space, such as this landing-turned-nook, feel larger than it actually is. Consider symmetrical placement with lighting, throw pillows, furniture placement, etc.

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Designate zones with area rugs. Rugs come in all shapes and sizes, which is convenient when you want to designate zones within your home. The spot next to an entryway table, for example, can become its own unit regardless of how large or invisible the actual architectural design of your entryway. Visual cues like this go a long way in bringing larger spaces down to more manageable and comfortable ones…and they don’t have to break the bank.  

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Keep windows uncovered. Most homes crave natural light, so when it’s available, take advantage of it! Window treatments can often be expensive. Keep your room’s aesthetic simple and bright by keeping those windows bare. Your budget will thank you.

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Mix objects with books. While bookcases tend to be used for their namesake – books – a good way to add a designer aesthetic is to mix other objects with the books. Leather-bound and antiqued volumes pair nicely with wood-potted plants. Paperbacks look well with abstract sculpture. Bold spine backs may be well balanced with white ceramics.

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Build-in a bench. Turn those corners or crannies that are awkwardly shaped or too big or too small to do anything with into a functional, stylish nook. Complete with pillows, a throw, and a bit of lighting, a bench like this becomes more than just a place to sit; it turns into a sanctuary.

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Switch out light fixture surrounds. Whether your old lamp could use a facelift via a new or updated lampshade or your pendant light is crying out for a new cage cover, look toward your lighting for an inexpensive decorating boost. Hanging exposed bulbs can also be surrounded with any number of creative, repurposed items found at flea markets or thrift stores. Have fun with this, and make your lighting your own!

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Color block. Color blocking is no stranger to the design world, but it is still a fresh, modern twist on combining colors. Three or four colors tends to look best in color blocking – enough to give each color a respectable piece of the color block pie, but not so many that the chunks become overly fragmented. For a true budget watcher, you can DIY any number of of color blocked pieces, small and large.

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Double-dip by reflecting the best. If your space has a gorgeous focal feature that really should be noticed, don’t hesitate to take advantage of it by reflection. In this historic house’s bathroom, an original exposed brick wall is a show-stopper, and it can be appreciated twice as much because of a strategically sized and hung mirror.

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Paint the ceiling. Maximize your budget by welcoming the “fifth wall” into your actual décor. While many people think ceilings have to be white because that’s their builder-grade default, this is not the case! A ceiling painted in a lighter tint of the wall or floor color will look cozy and more inviting, plus it’s just more visually interesting than plain white. In most cases, anything that draws the eye upward is a good thing, and painting the ceiling is a very budget-friendly way to achieve that effect.

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Accent a wall with wallpaper. Wallpaper can be a budget-buster, but if you choose a small wall to accent, you’ll get a designer look for much less expense. Postage stamp-sized powder rooms, laundry rooms, and other spaces that tend to lean toward the utilitarian are particularly good spaces to beautify with unexpected wallpapering.