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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
The chandelier is a repurposed lampshade and the bins on the shelf are just cardboard boxes with stickers.
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.
Another cheap resource in home decorating is paper. Just use your imagination!
This is black paper glued to an old window. Total cost: $6.00
This is just construction paper taped over my daughter’s bed.
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.
Another way I’ve been able to frame my prints is by simply taping them to a piece of wood. (Sorry for the PDA!)
Here’s another with a more finished look.
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!
I also use my own or my family’s artwork as statement pieces. Here’s some artwork that my daughter has done.
Most of the decorations on this wall are paper glued to box lids or cardboard.
When my husband was throwing out some old books, I repurposed one to hide our Internet router. So much prettier!
It is rewarding to look at a room and know that I spent so little and it looks great!
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!)