Personalized Home Decor on a Budget

1 cover photo

I love to decorate my house, but I also like to buy food and clothes. In today’s economy, it can be challenging to do both well. Today I’m going to share how I keep my decorating both personalized and affordable.

Before we jump in, a few disclaimers: I live in a rental house and am limited in ways that homeowners are not. Be thankful if you own your home, because you can paint the walls any color you want!

Also, I have two children under three.

2 kids

 Which means my house cannot and does not look like a magazine home with delicate glass vases on the coffee table and immaculately clean floors. I’m okay with that, because it’s my job as a mother to make my home both beautiful AND comfortable, especially for those who live in it. Which leads me to my last point.

I believe the decorations in a home should reflect the people that live there. That means, ladies, that your husband should also get a say. It’s not always easy to accommodate his opinions, but working as a team can be so worth it! In my house, I’ve had to work with the fact that my husband is an avid reader and adds to his extensive library on a regular basis.

3 books

At first I found this overwhelming but now I think that without his books, our house would lack character. Plus they make a great photo backdrop! 

4 newborn

Okay, let’s get started!

1) Have a theme.

Start by deciding what style, color scheme, focal point, patterns or textures you are looking for. Having an idea of what you want also keeps you from buying random items that don’t look good together. Remember: fail to plan, plan to fail.

Pinterest is my favorite way to search for inspiration, especially in the home décor category. Browse through the pictures until you find something you like. Or search for specific color schemes and styles.

I also get inspiration from stores like Anthropology, Pottery Barn, etc. Once you know what you like, you have to know where to look to find cheaper alternatives. The home décor section at Shutterfly lets you personalize almost anything.

2) Look beyond the department store.

How about the TRASH? Some of my favorite decorations and furniture have been items I picked up off the side of the road. Don’t be ashamed to grab those curbside treasures.

5 door

I got this door and window for free from a house that was being torn down. And they now serve as a coat rack and picture frame! You have to have an open mind, since most of the time it’ll need a coat of paint or some repurposing. 

6 table one


7 table two

Both of these little tables came from the side of the road. I painted and recovered the folding table and just added red duct tape to the other.

It never hurts to pick up an item and decide it’s junk later. That’s the beauty! You didn’t spend anything, so if it doesn’t work, just throw it out!

Another frugal way to decorate is to use stuff you already have. Try searching your basement and closets. Sometimes simply rearranging and repurposing can give your house a completely different look.

8 bedroom

 The chandelier is a repurposed lampshade and the bins on the shelf are just cardboard boxes with stickers.

9 worn couch

If you can ignore the adorable baby in this photo, you’ll notice the green couch behind him is fraying and worn. Instead of spending major cash to buy a new couch, I made a cover for the one I already had. 

10 new couch

Another cheap resource in home decorating is paper. Just use your imagination!

11 black paper

 This is black paper glued to an old window. Total cost: $6.00

12 birdcages

This is just construction paper taped over my daughter’s bed. 

13 pom poms

These are home-made, tissue paper pom-poms. (See why I wish I could paint my walls?)

Other places to look for décor are thrift stores and Craigslist. Get your big ticket items from those sources and use the savings to buy those must-have accents from craft or discount stores (combined with a coupon or sale of course).

3) Keep it personal.

A large majority of my decorations come from family pictures and artwork. It’s such a fun, easy way to get your own personal style on the cheap.

Pick out your favorites and get them printed in larger sizes. I have been able to get many prints (even one 16”x 20”) for the price of shipping from Shutterfly. I signed up for their emails and am constantly surprised how often they’ll send out a great deal.

Of course, even if you get such a killer deal on the print, framing can cost a small fortune with certain companies. Try looking for frames in good condition at thrift stores or discount stores. And never be afraid to DIY something. Old windows also make great frames. 

14 window one


15 window two

Another way I’ve been able to frame my prints is by simply taping them to a piece of wood. (Sorry for the PDA!) 

16 kissy

Here’s another with a more finished look.

17 bekah

Guess where I got the wood to do this? Yep, the trash!

You’re not limited to photo prints either. I recently used Shutterfly to turn one of my photos into a throw pillow. I love the way it turned out! 

18 pillow

I also use my own or my family’s artwork as statement pieces. Here’s some artwork that my daughter has done. 

19 colors

Most of the decorations on this wall are paper glued to box lids or cardboard.

20 cardboard pics

When my husband was throwing out some old books, I repurposed one to hide our Internet router. So much prettier!

21 router one


22 router two

It is rewarding to look at a room and know that I spent so little and it looks great!

23 room

 Have fun, be creative and lastly…

4) Be patient.

Don’t rush off and pay full price for everything. If you wait, you will be amazed how often the exact same item (or a great substitute) will show up elsewhere for less. Instead of decorating a whole room at once, try to keep a look out for decorations all the time and add them to your home as you find them.

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” Proverbs 14:1


Jessica (Kelsey’s sister-in-law!) is a happy wife and a mother of two young children. When her kids are sleeping, she is also a crafter, seamstress, musician and artist.

(Note from Kelsey: Jessica was gracious enough to step in for this guest post, since I’ve been busy packing for the cross-country move, prepping for Baby Becket’s arrival, and taking a short blogging hiatus until life settles down a bit. Leave Jess a comment and tell her what you liked about her post the most!)

10 thoughts on “Personalized Home Decor on a Budget

  1. Kaylee Trammell says:

    Great thoughts, Jessica! We, too, live in a rented home and some of your ideas were just so clever! Maybe someday I’ll get to plan for some of those fun ideas. 🙂

  2. hailey says:

    Just moved into a rental, there are some great, very practical, do-able ideas here! I’ve been fighting the overwhelming husband library ordeal, but seeing your pictures I think they look great in your home! I probably need to go with it and embrace it because after seeing it in someone else’s home I realize it probably doesn’t look as ridiculous in my own house as I previously thought.

  3. The internet box in a book…awesome idea!

  4. Bethany says:

    Great post! I am especially impressed with how your couch turned out- gorgeous! Sometimes it can be hard not to compare our mostly freecycle and side-of-the-road decorated house with friends’ more glamorous houses. Must keep some perspective.

  5. Jody says:

    Jessica, love the post. The door and window redo are my fave. I also decorate with paper ,paint, recycling, and ‘garbage.’

  6. Victoria says:

    Whattt? Your couch cover looks AMAZING!! 🙂

  7. Audrey DENIS says:

    Thank you for this post. I really like the birds cage in the little girl’s room. I used that theme for my little boy’s Christening (I made everything myself). I also love the picture of the baby boy sleeping against the row of books! So cute! Bless him! And above all, these pictures show how considerate you are for each other in your family, Kelsey. Good luck with the packing! 🙂

  8. Love your comment on keeping your husbands opinion in the mix! I need to work on that. 🙂

  9. Jessica Shade says:

    Thanks so much for the encouragement! I had a great time writing this post.

  10. VeraChen says:

    Excellent ! Amazing

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