One of the best things about DiY culture is being able to repurpose the items we find via thrifting and hunting at vintage shops into beautiful statement pieces that make our homes look just as good as the home of someone with an unlimited decorating budget. If you’re new to the thrifting/budget/DiY world and are looking for tips for decorating on a budget, we can help you dress up your new living space (or redo the space you already have).
Here are some of our favorites…
Start with a Statement Piece
One of the best things you can do, even on a limited budget, is buy at least one very high quality statement piece around which you can build your decorating scheme. The key to choosing which piece to purchase is to choose something that you know you are going to love and use all the time. For example, if you’re a big fan of the Beat Poets, the Raab Collection currently has a broadside collection–signed by, among other people, Allen Ginsburg–in its inventory that would look fantastic above a mantel. It could act as a fantastic conversation starter.
Other statement pieces could be a very well made piece of furniture like your living room couch or your bed. Look for something that you will love using and/or looking at every time you encounter it. Since you’re going to be spending a solid chunk of change, you want the expense to be worth it!
Smaller statement pieces could include a plaid throw pillow or a decorative pouf.
Build Your Own Using Recycled Containers
This take on making your own media cabinet is one of our favorite how-tos on Martha Stewart’s website. It teaches you how to build a media cabinet that fits your space, looks beautiful and doesn’t ever scream “where’s my matching barcolounger? Where are the dudes watching sports?” when you look at it.
Another approach to the media center is to use a vintage dresser that you’ve painted yourself as a television stand and a small stack of wooden milk crates, a book shelf or a few wall mounted shelves that you’ve painted to match to act as shelving for any gaming consoles or media players you use regularly.
This approach works well for almost any sort of supply display that you might want to dress up. For example, painted wooden milk crates bolted to the wall are great for books, DVD collections, music collections or even other decorative touches.
Dress Up The Practical
It is one thing to decorate simply and thriftily. It is another to let that simplicity keep you from addressing the items in your home that are seen as primarily utilitarian and functional instead of formational. For example, covering your box spring mattress with fabric that matches your decorating scheme, painting the pipes under your exposed sink (check with your plumber first!), and painting and covering other foundational elements to your furniture and decorative touches goes a long way toward creating a cohesive look.
On the flip side of this is finding ways to use the practical items in your home as decor. The easiest place to do this is in your kitchen. Hang your pots and pans on a rack that is suspended from the ceiling or on decorative hooks placed in your walls. Julia Child’s kitchen was lined with all of her tools. This is the one exception to the “less is more” rule when decorating your home. Speaking of which…
It doesn’t matter how large your space is, a lot of fussy tchotchkes is going to detract from the overall look you’re trying to create…unless that look is “grandma’s basement.” A few framed photos, a vase for flowers or a couple of candles are all you need on your sideboard. Remember, just because a surface is flat does not mean it needs something sitting on it!
This rule is especially important for spaces that are very small or super huge. In small spaces, lots of little decorative touches can make a space feel claustrophobic. In vast and otherwise empty spaces, lots of small decorative touches can make the space feel chaotic.
Keep it Clean
Obviously, cleanliness is an important part of any decorating scheme. If you don’t keep your space clean and orderly, it won’t matter what decorating scheme you’ve chosen; the scheme will get lost beneath the mess. It turns out, your parents were right: taking a few minutes every day to pick up and put things away and doing a quick dusting will go a long way toward keeping your home beautiful and ready for company.
There are lots of ways to approach decorating and, even if your budget is extremely limited, you can find ways to create a cohesive and beautiful look that will impress even your most judgmental guests, we promise!