In this post: So you want to decorate, but your budget is small? Here’s how to decorate on a small budget with 19 low-cost ideas, including where to shop for awesome budget finds.
Do you know what people ask me all the time? Like all.the.time. “How can I makeover my space with little money?” Maybe you’re wondering the same thing. Hear me when I tell you it CAN be done!
Decorating on a budget can be really simple and some of the tips listed here can make a huge difference in your home.
And I’ve tried them all at one time or another in our house, so I know they work! Here are 19 ideas for how to decorate on a small budget.
How to Decorate on a Small Budget: Tips for Your Home
01 | Make use of existing furniture
Maybe you have an old chair tucked in a corner. Or a hand-me-down table. By looking at them with a fresh pair of eyes, you may be surprised to find that they may work somewhere else in your home, with a little TLC.
- Clean it and repair it if necessary.
- Try slipcovers or beautiful throws to hide a bad color or pattern.
- Repaint the table.
Appreciate it for what it is and make it prettier with a little elbow grease.
02 | Eliminate clutter
I know I’ve said it before. But it’s true – clutter just looks awful. No matter how beautiful a space – how gorgeous its bones or decor – it will NOT look good if it’s cluttered.
It ALWAYS blows my mind how much tidying up can do for a room – and a mood!
Related: If you’re overwhelmed with clutter and you’re not sure why check out this post 7 Reasons You Have Clutter and How to Prevent It.
03 | Change up the lighting
There are three kinds of lighting: general, task, and accent. They’re pretty self-explanatory.
- General lighting is typically overhead lighting that sheds light on an entire room.
- Task lighting is like a bedside reading lamp or a desk lamp.
- And accent lighting is lighting that just adds another, cozy layer of lighting to your home.
Here are a few tips for cozying up your space with lighting:
- Add some accent lights or put on candles instead of turning on the overhead ceiling lights.
- Get rid of those BOOB lights! (Who designed those things anyway?)
- Shop around online for the best deals. You can often find better lighting from big box stores by shopping their online selection. Or try places like Wayfair.
04 | Refinish existing kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them
We did this a few years ago in our last kitchen when there simply wasn’t any budget to replace the cabinets or even the doors.
I even learned a valuable and somewhat funny lesson in how NOT to refinish kitchen cabinets (a great reminder that even with my painting and DIY experience, I totally screw up too)!
05 | Try to buy appliances used on Kijiji or Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace
Appliances can eat up a budget really quickly. (And right now they can be hard to find new, with all that’s happening in the world.)
When we had to gut the kitchen of our tiny bungalow a few years ago, I bought ALL of the kitchen appliances from a man who was moving out of the country, but whose appliances were only a year old. And our laundry appliances were bought at a steep discount during Boxing Week.
06 | If buying new appliances, choose more economical finishes
You don’t always want the trendiest finish. It will not only be “out of style” in a few years but also because it may cost you more.
A few years ago this meant that white cost less than stainless, but I noticed that that had recently changed at our local big box store. Stainless is now cheaper!
07 | Steal like an artist
Of course, I don’t mean you should actually steal. Nor should you blatantly copy someone else’s work.
What I mean is, visit upscale shops for ideas and then hunt for bargains to “get the look for less.”
Pro Tip: Window shopping can make you miserable if you let it (much like scrolling Instagram), but it can provide a plethora of inspiration if you know you can get a similar look for a lot less by bargain hunting or making your own. Try it with a good attitude and you may be surprised!
08 | Repaint your walls
This one is a tip that gets shared a lot! But that’s because it’s tried-and-true and it works to freshen any space.
A new coat of paint freshens up a place more than you’d ever think. Why do you think even landlords paint spaces between renters?!
Related: How to choose paint colors you will love.
09 | Add some artwork
Artwork livens up just about any room and can inject a lot of your own personality into your spaces.
Frame things that are free: pinecones, flowers, book pages. Free printables are available online if you look. We have lots of printable art here.
10 | Print B&W photos and frames in standard frames
Find some great frames at Ikea or shop for them at Michaels when there’s a big sale or a great coupon.
By printing them in B&W, you create cohesion and a much more gallery-esque look.
Related: See our how-to decorate with family photos post here.
11 | Frame a vintage board game or cards in a shadow box
This is just plain fun for any family space. Try it in the living room, or the family room, a games room, or even a bedroom.
12 | Use sheets or lengths of fabric as curtains
You don’t have to buy actual curtains or drapery to get a beautiful look.
Curtain clips and rings, and no-sew adhesive tape turn sheets and fabric an easy, no-sew curtain project! We even used curtains made from drop cloths.
Related: Ikea (or other) Curtain Hack.
13 | Keep it neutral
When purchasing pieces keep your big-ticket items neutral and basic.
I know I say this a lot, especially when we talked about trends. But it’s worth repeating.
If you want to add in trendy looks, or if your budget is tight, keep the color to the easily replaceable and inexpensive accessories like pillows, throws, candlesticks, etc.
14 | Try a Stencil instead of wallpaper
Instead of more expensive wallpapers, stencil a wall using a purchased stencil or a stencil made from cardboard or projected using an overhead projector. Much like our coffee wall and our bedroom wall at our last home.
How to Decorate on a Budget: Bargain Shopping Tips
Bargain shopping. Wow! Where to begin here? There are SO many options when it comes to finding bargains; there really is no need to pay full price for anything! Here are a few ideas:
15 | Don’t buy something JUST because it’s a bargain
Of course, you are trying to save money by bargain hunting – which is beneficial whether you are a one-income family trying to make your home cozy on a budget or you are someone who makes a comfortable income and is saving for the future.
But it should go without saying that you shouldn’t buy something JUST because it is a bargain! ‘Cause, that’s just wasteful!
16 | Know Yourself
When you are shopping for deals you need to keep a few things in mind. Know:
- what you are looking for
- your space’s measurements (where applicable)
- what your skills are
For example, if you see a gorgeous wood table with some damage, but you can repair it – go for it! But if you see an equally beautiful upholstered chair in need of work that is beyond your skillset, leave it for someone else. Make sense?
17 | Think outside the box
Also, look for pieces that can be used for a purpose other than originally intended; a door as a headboard, a bench as a table, etc.
18 | Shop around
So where do you look for these bargains? How about:
- Scratch & dent sales
- Garage sales
- Flea markets
- Dollar stores
- Ikea (don’t forget the As-Is room)
- Salvage yards
- Thrift stores
- Consignment stores
- Trade with family or friends
- The curb(!)
- Outlet stores
19 | Be patient
The other really big thing to remember when decorating on a smaller budget is to have patience.
If you can patiently put your space together a little bit at a time, you’ll get the look you want in the end, even with little money. Just take your time.