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Decorating on a budget has always been key for us. When I was growing up I was introduced to saving through shopping store sales and garage sales at an early age. It’s ingrained in my being to try and save money whenever I can. Since we bought our current house almost two years ago, we chose a beautiful house with a lot of cosmetic needs. There is so much we want to do but the budget isn’t there for everything. This has forced us to be creative and learn to live with certain parts of the house until we can find an affordable solution to rework them. Decorating on a budget may not be secondhand nature to everyone so I wanted to share some of my tips to help you learn how to decorate on a budget.
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#1 How to Decorate on a Budget: Shop Garage Sales
This tip is definitely seasonal to the warmer months (or maybe your area has garage sales all year round. If so, I am jealous.) Garage sales are such a great place to get anything for cheap. I have found so many great furniture and home decor items. It’s key to plan out your sales first. I like to check the local paper, regional paper or Craigslist. Then figure out a route. If I am going on Saturday I prioritize the Saturday only sales first, as opposed to a Friday/Saturday sale. Also I look at the description to see what type of items will be at the sale. A tiny blurb doesn’t usually explain everything in the sale so keep an open mind. I like to write a list in order with a brief description and then use it to help guide my route. I’ve found one city in my area just has better stuff at their sales so I tend to stick with sales there. I may stray to another city if it is convenient but I spend most of my time where I know I will find the best stuff.
Get to the sale early to find the best selection. Some people will come before the sale even starts, aka “early birds”. When you get to the sale, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Just because you initially don’t see what you want, doesn’t mean it’s not hiding in the back of the garage or covered under other items. Also, don’t be afraid to bargain. People expect it and in my experience will almost always come down on price. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
#2 How to Decorate on a Budget: Shop Thrift Stores
This is a great option for all year hunting. We have several furniture and decor thrift stores in our area and I discover new ones all the time. Sometimes I find some of the prices to be over inflated but we have found some really great deals as well. We especially love to look for furniture pieces to give a makeover. My latest great find was a child’s wooden step stool for $4. A wooden step stool online is easily $20+.
Many of the thrift stores will bargain with you as well. They typically have a sign posted they will bargain, or you can make an educated guess based on the type of shop it is. Goodwill probably won’t bargain but Joe’s Mom and Pop Thrift Shop is more likely to.
Also check to see if they have a Facebook or Instagram page because many of them do these days. Then you can get a sneak peak of new items and swoop in when you find what you are looking for.
#3 How to Decorate on a Budget: Shop Online
There are lots of great sites that have prices much lower than in the stores. I am specifically thinking of my favorite online store, Amazon. Recently, we have found amazing prices on hardware and hooks on Amazon compared to prices at Lowes.
Other sites I like to check are Wayfair, Target (online sales sometimes differ than in store) and Kohl’s.
#4 How to Decorate on a Budget: Shop Around
I mentioned I am a bargain shopper and when I am looking for a particular item I don’t look just one place. As much as I love Amazon, I will check out other sites to compare prices. When we bought new chairs for our kitchen table I looked at about 10 different websites to find the best price. It was a popular item and so many places were selling the style I wanted, I just kept comparing until I felt like I had gotten the best deal.
This applies to in store purchases as well. Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, World Market, Home Goods, Hobby Lobby and JOANN are all places I like to shop in store and compare similar items.
#5 How to Decorate on a Budget: Wait For a Deal
This takes a little patience but if you find an item at a store that typically runs sales, wait until you get the lowest price. I bought our dining room light at World Market and I waited until they were running a 30% off sale to snag my big ticket item. I saved so much! Another place that has frequent sales is Target, either through a promotion or a coupon in their app. I have held off buying home decor items from there until they are running a special promotion on what I am looking for. When you are shopping at Hobby Lobby or JOANN always remember to grab a coupon from their app.
#6 How to Decorate on a Budget: Paint It
Did you find a great deal on a piece of furniture or other home decor item but it’s not the right color, or maybe a little beat up? Then learn to paint. Painting can really transform a piece without that much work. We have refinished so many pieces in our house and now I almost prefer it instead of buying something new because we save a ton of money and can customize it to our liking.
This applies to bigger home projects like painting walls, trim, cabinets and hardware as well. A little bit of paint goes a long way to transforming a space. It also saves tons of money. A gallon of paint is much cheaper than replacing all your cabinets. A can of spray paint or two can transform all of your hardware for a fraction of the cost.
#7 How to Decorate on a Budget: Get Crafty
Did you find something in the store that is way your of your price range? With a little DIY craftiness you can probably recreate it for a fraction of the cost. We recently built our own towel racks in our bathroom. Not only did we get to create them custom for an awkward space but they were so much cheaper than buying them from the store. One of my favorite crafts to make is wreaths. If you find a cheap wreath frame at the thrift store and add some faux flowers or greenery you can make a great wreath on the cheap.
#8 How to Decorate on a Budget: Work With What You’ve Got
Do you have flooring or countertops that you hate? (I do) Work your design around these big ticket items. Our countertop in the kitchen looks terrible with our cabinets and I hate the color. But they are in great shape and countertop is very expensive to replace. Instead of trying to fight it, I painted the walls a color to make the countertops not stand out like a sore thumb. One day we will replace them but there are other priorities in our budget and now is not the right time.
Another example is the layout of our bathroom. It is a great space but it wasn’t well thought out. I would love to rearrange it but I don’t have thousands to spend on a contractor to help us do the work so we are working with the existing space by painting and updating fixtures and accessories. It may not be my first choice but it still looks pretty fantastic with much cheaper updates.
#9 How to Decorate on a Budget: Have A Good Mix of Trendy and Timeless
This is one I have really started to live by. When we are making decorating decisions I always ask myself if something will be timeless or is it just a trend that will date my house in a few years. For major remodeling decisions or big ticket items I choose timeless. Our new couch was a huge purchase for us. We went with clean lines and a light neutral grey. No trendy bright crazy colors for this purchase. One day when we fit our kitchen countertops and backsplash into the budget I am planning on going timeless with white.
Now when it comes to accessories I love vintage (I think it’s timeless) and rustic farmhouse. Farmhouse can be trendy so while I love this style I try to use accessories and light fixtures that can one day be easily replaced to bring this style into my home.
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