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15+ Ideas for How to Decorate on a Small Budget

So you want to decorate, but your budget is small? Here’s how to decorate on a small budget! 15 low-cost ideas plus where to shop for budget finds.


Do you know what people ask me all the time? Like all.the.time. “How can I make over 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 more than 15 ideas for how to decorate on a small budget. 

So you want to decorate, but your budget is small? Here's how to decorate on a small budget! 15 low-cost ideas plus where to shop for budget finds.

How to decorate on a small budget:

  1. Make use of existing furniture. 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.
  2. Eliminate clutter. I know I’ve said it before. But it’s true – clutter just looks awful. It only takes 5 steps to organize anything! It ALWAYS blows my mind how much tidying up can do for a room – and a mood!
  3. Change up the 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 thing 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.
  4. Refinish existing kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them. We did that a few years ago in our current kitchen, when there simply wasn’t any budget to replace the cabinets. I even learned a valuable and somewhat funny lesson in how NOT to refinish kitchen cabinets (a great reminder that I screw up too)!
  5. Buy appliances used on kijiji or craigslist. Also watch for appliance truckload sales and Boxing Day type sales. When we had to gut the kitchen of our tiny bungalow, 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.
  6. If buying new appliances, choose more economical finishes. 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. The stainless is now cheaper!
  7. Visit upscale shops for ideas and then hunt for bargains to get the look for less. Window shopping can make you miserable if you let it, but it can provide a plethora of inspiration if you know you can get the same look for a lot less by bargain hunting or making your own. Try it with a good attitude and you may be surprised!
  8. Repaint your walls. A new coat of paint freshens up a place more than you’d ever think. Why do you think landlords even paint between renters?!
  9. Add some artwork. 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 frame in standard frames from 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. See our how to decorate with family photos post here.
  11. Frame a vintage board game or cards in a shadow box for the family room, a games room or even a bedroom.
  12. Use sheets or lengths of fabric as curtains. Curtain clips and rings, and no-sew adhesive tape make this a no-sew project! We even used curtains made from drop cloths until we could afford to upgrade them.
  13. When purchasing pieces keep your big ticket items neutral and basic. I know I said this when we talked about trends. But it’s worth repeating. If you want to add in trendy looks, keep these to the easily replaceable and inexpensive accessories like pillows, throws, candlesticks, etc.
  14. 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.

decorating-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!

Of course you are trying to save money with this step – 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 are saving for the future – so it should go without saying that you shouldn’t buy something JUST because it is a bargain! Cause that’s just wasteful!

When you are shopping for deals you need only keep a few things in mind: know what you are looking for, know your measurements (where applicable) and know 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 skill set, leave it for someone else. Make sense?

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.

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)
  • Ebay
  • Etsy
  • Kijiji
  • Wayfair
  • Craigslist
  • Salvage yards
  • Thrift stores
  • Consignment stores
  • Trade with family or friends
  • The curb
  • Outlet stores

The other really big thing to remember when decorating on a smaller budget is patience. If you can 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.

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Comments

  1. Faye says

    These are all awesome ideas Shannon. I didn’t know that IKEA has an “as is” room. Is that in every store? I usually shop at Burlington so I was just wondering. Thanks for this!

    • Shannon says

      I’m pretty sure that all locations have that feature. Ask about it or look near the checkouts on the warehouse area. 🙂

  2. Kira Wright says

    What are the dimensions of your living room? I am trying to visualize how much furniture you have in what size of a space.

  3. Yak carpets says

    Definitely the budget matters when it comes to decorate the home. We want to do a lot many things but when we think about the budget we have to shrink our desires. The ideas you have given are fitting quite well in a tight budget. Just love the tips of decoration given by you.

  4. William says

    Hey Dean, You have shared excellent ideas!
    I was looking for some decor ideas without breaking bank and then I found your website which is full of amazing ideas. You make some good points about how to decorate on budget that I never thought about.

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