Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How to decorate on a dime.

Pin It

When we bought our twin house three years ago, it wasn't my dream place by any means. But it was something we could afford that was suitable for our needs and had enough place to grow in case we were going to stay here for a while. I really didn't like this idea. Our original plan was to find a better place and move within 5 years. We were thinking that my husband would finish school, find an awesome job, we will buy our perfect house and live in it happily ever after. Oh the dreamers!!! Fast forward three years, no fancy job, the ... market tanked and we started realizing that it might just be our house for a long-long time. If not a forever home! Even more, we learned to appreciate it and be grateful for it. But we also started slowly making it ours. It's a constant work in process. I'm not kidding, I sometimes dream about it. But we have little money to work with...

I love to browse decor blogs with perfect rooms, dream kitchens and not a single speck of dust anywhere. But I quickly learned that what other people consider to be "on a budget" greatly varies.The other day I stumbled upon a "frugal" decor blog where they created an absolutely gorgeous living room but just the loveseat alone (that didn't look very comfortable but was definitely trendy) was more than $1000.

Recently somebody asked me how I can find enough money in our already tight budget for house decor. So I decided to share a few ideas today about decorating on a shoestring budget. I want to give you a disclaimer - I AM NO EXPERT! I merely want to share with you my observations and experiences. Feel free to offer your own expertise in comments. I sure do love to learn from others!

Whatever big or small change you want to make to your house, it will not be literally for a dime (unless it's a super-cute thrift store find). It will cost you some green. Plan accordingly. Write down all of the upcoming expenses you can think of and price them. Then leave some wiggle room in your budget for all of the unexpected expenses. I can tell you that I'm yet to have a project that we didn't have to buy something extra for - nails, extra quart of paint - you get the picture. Be sure to have some money set aside for it.

 Is it a new living room that you want? Does your kitchen need some updating? First, take a closer look at what you already have. Could a certain piece be painted, stained or updated in some other way? Could you re-purpose things? Will this lamp or that little nick nack be better in the living room? Could you re-use this old sweater to make a new throw pillow for a couch? You'd be surprised how much you can do with what you already have with a little creativity.  Remember my very cheap vase? It's certainly something anybody can do. Or check out this amazing lamp that Melissa made. Isn't it cool? The point is, you already have a lot at home that could make your space look awesome. Just give it another chance.

 Now that's pretty simple...Or not!! There are so many projects you can do by yourself in your house. Be patient! Learn from your mistakes! But also be diligent and don't be afraid to change things and re-do if you are not satisfied with the results. You will feel much happier, I promise! When we bought our house, I painted our whole living room but I didn't do a very good job and got some paint in a corner of the ceiling and never fixed it. So now every time somebody mentions this room, I look at this particular spot (which is in a place that I can't reach very easily, without a very tall ladder that we don't have at the moment). Do be afraid to spend some extra time to make it look perfect.

And for extra ideas, tips and inspiration check out It's a great site with lots of valuable information.

 And classifieds. And yard sales. And curbside. And dumpsters (if you are into it). Sometimes you can find true gems for a fracture of a price. Just be sure, it's something you really need/want/will love in your space. You don't want to clutter your house just because you got a deal. 

 Now this is what I struggle the most with! My husband always teases me that I want it all and now. And I do :) I always work on 3-4 projects in my head and have at least two going on at any time. But projects take time, and if you want to have great results, don't rush it. Even if it means waiting 3 days between coats of paint :) Also sometimes it takes time to save money for projects too. Don't look for a quick exit by putting it on a credit card unless it's an absolute necessity (like when your pipes bust and you have to re-do the basement...)

 It's amazing what a little paint can do! Just by painting a room in light colors, you can create an illusion of a bigger, more open space. And you all know how much I love spray paint ( like when I worked on these lamps). I've spray-painted so many things in our house with great impact. Check out what transformation a couple of cans of paint did in this bathroom. Isn't it awesome? I don't know how the paint holds up in her bathroom but you get the picture. Plus it will be an easy fix for Janette- just another can of paint. Explore the possibilities a can of paint can do in your house. You'll be surprised! This is a very inexpensive way to update your place.

 Sometimes we have to buy more expensive things like, let's say, a couch or a new appliance. Invest in things that will last. Read reviews. You don't have to buy the latest brand, state of the art piece but it's often worth it to pay a little more for quality. Or to make a statement in your house. You don't need to fill your place with expensive things. Less is more! Invest in what you want to be in your house for a long-long time (and withstand all those dirty fingers or paws :).

And last but not least, BE YOURSELF. 
 All these beautiful DIY blogs or glossy pictures in the magazines might make you want to be "just like them". Please, don't! Bring your own touches to your place. If you like something, go for it! It's your house, you will live there. Make it your home even if it's not trendy or popular. Plus, who knows, maybe it will be back within couple years, and you'll have the coolest house on the block :) The bottom line, you can decorate your house like a designer but if it doesn't hold your personal touches, it will never become your home.

Decorating doesn't have to break the bank if you are smart about it. A beautiful house takes time, love and planning. But that's also what makes it your own!


  1. Love this, Lena!! My house is simple, with the basics... I'm not much of a decorator but would love to add a touch here & there!

    1. I think your house is really cute (from what I've seen on the pictures). And I love your coffee table :)

  2. Great post and lots of good advise.

  3. Wonderful post Lena! I am not talented as you with DYI; you do wonderful always with what you tackle. xx

  4. Good summary of tips. I'll add another. Declutter. Too much stuff in too small a space makes everything look bad even if you have special designer touches.

    1. That's a great point! I'm constantly working on minimizing clutter in our house.

  5. Thank you thank you thank you for the shout out about my lamp :) You are so sweet! All of these suggestions are great and I pretty much do them all :) We didn't think we would live in our house as long as we have either. But now I can't imagine living anywhere else. We may have to but we will see!

    1. You are welcome! I love what you did with that lamp (and all of your other projects too :)

  6. Hi there! New to your blog, love the post! All very very good points! I've utilized a lot of the same (except for paitence WHEN painting, lol!)... wish more people could be real with their design & budget. It wouldn't feel so lonely ;)

    1. Oh, I don't have much patience with painting either! That's why I was the one painting out whole living room :) Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Great post Lena. The first thing that came to mind is that chair project you shared with us not long ago.

  8. I always said my house was done in early attic. It is only in the last 2 years that I have been able to even buy a piece of furniture. In fact in 33 years of marriage we have had 3 sofas. I really had to learn to recover and redo and now I am grateful for it. Take an upholstery class at a local college if possible it really helped me.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...