If money is tight, decorating your home may not be a top priority, but you can take some steps to spiff it up that don’t cost a fortune. Think outside the box when you shop for furniture and remember that new is not always better. Paint makes any room look cleaner and brighter. Accessories give new life to any space and don’t have to break the bank. Finding new ways to use items you already have is free.
Clear out the room so you are starting with a clean slate. Take everything out including rugs, window treatments, wall art and accessories.
Paint the space. Choose a different color palette or freshen up the walls with a new coat of the existing color. Make the trim pop with a contrasting color. Add some interest with a stenciled ceiling border. If the floors are wood and need a lift, paint them too. Paint is an inexpensive and dramatic way to give a room new life.
Assess your furniture and decide what you can keep and what you can donate or toss out. Look for items at flea markets, garage sales, your neighbors’ and friends’ attics and basements and even your neighborhood on trash day — one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Watch for going-out-of-business sales and keep an eye out for furniture stores selling their floor samples or those with a “scratch and dent” section where damaged merchandise is sold at rock-bottom prices. Clean the items up. Refinish, paint or slipcover them.
Repurpose items. Use a vintage trunk as a coffee table. Make it do double duty as extra storage. Freshen it up with a coat of paint or cover it with a pretty sheet or quilt if it is too shabby chic for your taste. Stack benches on top of one another to act as bookshelves or a media center. Create art by hanging a couple of weathered old doors or shutters on the wall. Leave them as is or use them as the backdrop for a mural. Arrange a group of platters on the wall behind your couch or in your dining room. Add interest and display space by hanging wooden kitchen chairs on the wall to exhibit collections or family photographs.
Splurge on something. If your budget allows, buy something new. It can be a large item or small accessory. Tie your flea market finds together with a new area rug. Make a couch pop with new throw pillows. Add a shabby chic air to the room with a vintage chandelier you found at an antique store. Buy that painting you’ve wanted and use it to determine your color palette.
Sew curtains and throw pillows out of sheets you already have or pick some up at a white sale.
- Country Living: Budget Decorating and Makeover Ideas
- Style at Home; Decorating on a Budget: Cheap Chic; Margot Austin
- Good Housekeeping: Cheap and Easy Room Decorating Ideas
- "Shabby Chic Interiors"; Rachel Ashwell; 2009
Jan Czech has been writing professionally since 1993. Czech has published seven children's books, including “The Coffee Can Kid," which received a starred review from School Library Journal. She is a certified English/language arts teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts in education from Niagara University.