Furnishing an apartment or house is both daunting and expensive. We all have the same end goal: make a house into a cozy home that reflects you as a person. But getting there can take a long time, especially when a tight budget is involved. Furniture is expensive and often times big purchases need to be spaced out. Similarly, finding art, frames, and taking the time to hang everything can be just as challenging. But empty walls make a home feel bare and not lived in so we believe it’s of equal importance as the big furniture pieces.
Fortunately, we’ve had some decor-savvy, budget-conscious women open the doors to their homes on this site. And we’ve browsed our home tour archives and compiled a list of ten tips to save you money when it comes to decorating your home; five to save on furniture and five to save on art and decor.
TO SAVE ON FURNITURE
1. Say it with us. “Ikea is my friend.”
Sure the budget furniture super store sometimes has a bad rap and people feel they need to “graduate” from shopping there at the same time they graduate from school. But as we’ve seen in numerous home and office tours, the home goods juggernaut offers some great classic pieces at amazing price points. So whether it’s a book case, a dining table, or a picture frame collection you need, we always recommend giving this place a thorough look-over. View our 10 Favorite Ikea Finds here.
2. …as are thrift stores, Craigslist, and garage sales.
This absolutely requires more work on your part, but man is the payoff worth it. Time and time again we’re amazed at the unique, beautiful pieces people pick up from thrift stores, Craigslist, and garage sales. Mid-century pieces, antiques, hand-crafted items–all priced well under what they’re worth just because someone at some point didn’t know what to do with it and wanted it out of their house. These treasures might need some TLC, but in the end, you’ll save a lot of money versus buying new items at major retailers. View our How to Paint Furniture feature here.
3. Say “Yes!” to family hand-me-downs.
Whether you’re in your first apartment, first house, or simply on a tight budget to furnish your place, take what you can get to make your house a home. When a family member or friend offers you hand-me-down furniture, say, “Yes! Thank you!” And find a way to make it work. Slipcover a dated sofa, paint your grandmother’s vintage dining chairs, organize your tech in that not-too-sleek media stand. Remember, it can all get replaced one day. But for now, it’s more important to feel comfortable in a furnished home versus the alternative of dining off a card table and sleeping on a mattress on the floor.
4. “Pairs” of things don’t have to match.
Often times in home decor, you need two of something: two lamps, two end tables, two nightstands, or two dining chairs for that matter. And buying two of anything is–pause for shock–twice as expensive! Well, the good news is those two items don’t have to match. So if purchasing only one item is in the budget, you can find a cheaper alternative for its pair. The only thing to keep in mind is size. Have proportions and height be similar so the two items look balanced.
5. Use poufs as extra seating.
Anyone who has ever been in the market for one can attest that a side chair is expensive. We don’t know why, but this will usually set you back a minimum of $400 when purchased new. But having extra seating for guests so you’re not all sitting like ducks in a row on the sofa is nice. We recommend going the pouf or mini ottoman route. They save space and money, usually costing just north of $100. They also double as a footrest and mini table, not to mention they are adorable.
TO SAVE ON ART AND DECOR
6. Make your own art.
Grab a large canvas, some paint, a bottle of wine, and just go for it. What’s the worst that could happen? If it turns out like crap, just paint over it and try again.
7. No art? Use your fashion accessories!
Hang the things you already own: bags, hats, and jewelry on the wall. It not only keeps those items organized but occupies wall space.
8. Treat bookshelves not just as storage, but as decor.
Bookshelves take up a good amount of wall space, removing the need for art altogether (yay! you don’t have to hang anything!), so make sure this display functions on both a practical and visually appealing level. This requires a bit of styling on your part. Instead of stuffing books, files, and paper on the shelves, keep them tidy and add a few accent pieces, mementos, and picture frames.
9. No bar cart? No problem!
A fully stocked tray w/ two glasses on top of a table or shelf you already own works just as well! Bonus points if you throw some stripey straws in a glass.
10. Style your coffee table.
Just do it already! But don’t. overthink. it. Sure we have compiled the ultimate guide with five easy steps to styling a coffee table, but something as simple as a pile of magazines and a decorative object (think vase or scented candle) can make this centerpiece in your home look much more thought out and aesthetically pleasing.