And now, find out the best places to shop for affordable furniture and décor.
Tight spaces expand and rooms seem roomier when you prop up a large mirror (at least three-fourths as tall as the wall). It’s a classic interior decorator’s trick to create instant―if not real―square footage.
Garage and estate sales are great places to score cheap home décor and furniture, but stumbling upon one is a rarity. You have to know where they are and get there early to have any chance at scoring the good stuff. When I was young and broke, and needed to furnish an entire studio apartment, on Friday nights, I would make a map of all the Saturday garage sales happening in my area (that were listed on Craigslist). I would wake up early Saturday and add newly listed sales to the map, and then tackle them all in order of proximity—with sneakers on and cash in hand! In those days, I literally was drawing on a printed paper map, but now you can drop a pin and your iPhone will direct you. Ah, technology.
No matter the season, your bedroom will look springlike year-round with floral sheets or pillowcases paired with crisp white linens. Pick patterns with white backgrounds to keep florals harmonious. Drape bedside tables with vintage floral tablecloths or white matelassé runners.
Reupholstering your furniture will automatically freshen up an entire space. And if you love eclectic decorating, take notes from this impeccable living room. All the juxtaposition in this room is working so well—the angular mirror, vivid orange photography, marble fireplace, rustic stool, and geometric pottery are all unexpectedly complemented by the softness of the blush pink chairs.
Symmetry, who? Your chairs and couches don’t have to line up—in fact, you don’t even have to have chairs. Put your side table in the corner flanked by two sofas, and if you don’t have enough arm chairs for a classic living room setup, just place floor cushions by the coffee table.
Every time a new product that matches your search term is listed for sale on your local Craigslist, it will pop up in your reader as a new article. Don’t use an RSS reader regularly? You can use an RSS-to-email service like Feed My Inbox and you’ll receive an email update anytime a new item is listed.
Colored lamp shades can make a bold statement. Limit the colors to one per room, and select other lamp shades in neutral tones, such as parchment and white.
RELATED: 17 Funny Doormats That Say Everything We’re Thinking
As lovely as custom curtains or a reupholstered sofa may be, they’re not for the decorator on a shoestring budget. Instead, consider customizing what you already own. Add some iron-on trim to basic white curtain panels. Paint the edge of a simple black end table in gold. Wallpaper the interior of a bookcase. Or try an IKEA hack like adding a leather handle to a basic cutting board. Get inspired by these 10 genius and chic IKEA hacks.
If you already like the arrangement and style of your kitchen cabinets, opt for the simplest of all budget updates: a fresh coat of paint.
Repurpose mirrors as trays by applying felt backing to their undersides. —Jonathan O’Hea, Jonathan O’Hea Antiques & Design
It only takes a few special antiques to start a collection. Take a cue from the owner of this cozy Texas bungalow and grow your group with a handful of extraordinary originals and less expensive replicas, then display your prized items in a group on shelves.
Pare your stuff way down and your room will look totally different. This doubles as a makeover and spring cleaning all in one.
I am the poster child for shopping for and selling furniture and décor on Craigslist. If you are not doing it already, that’s your biggest mistake. You can find great deals for pieces for a number of reasons: Sellers don’t know the value, sellers are eager to sell, stores are liquidating, or something is brand new and strategically listed for less than retail.
Eisen banishes boring boudoirs with a simple trick: Paint one wall a dark color or cover it with grass cloth. The textured accent wall behind the bed adds warmth to the room and gives it a polished look. Redoing only one wall is perfect for a budget makeover, because you’ll save a ton of money (and time).
Eisen likes to decorate rooms with natural palettes, adding pops of color and texture with accessories. Her favorite color schemes incorporate shades of white, gray, and beige. She also likes to mix and match design from different eras, such as the two white chairs. The Ming-style chair in the left corner (purchased from Craigslist.org) “makes the whole room feel less cookie cutter but painting it white keeps it in the palette.”
This space is rich with texture, which creates warmth and dimension. There’s also plenty of character even though it’s sticking to a strict color palette. For a similarly inviting and grounded environment, get inspired by nature. Think seagrass, rattan, jute, wood, brushed concrete, and marble.
Plates in unexpected colors make a fresh wall arrangement. Vary hues (within a family), sizes, textures. Put the most dramatic plate toward the center (lay out the plates first to experiment); attach wire plate hangers and hang plates on picture nails.
Try this snazzy solution for ho-hum sisal: Stencils offer a foolproof way to bring pattern to a plain rug. Be sure to work with an oil-based paint, then protect it with a clear sealant. Or if you prefer a distressed finish, skip the sealant and lightly sand the painted surface. —Alexa Hampton, Mark Hampton LLC
Better yet, use Behr Marquee paint, which offers one-coat coverage so you won’t need to buy primer as well. So long as you’re painting on walls that have been painted before (i.e., not on plain drywall), and you’re using one of the 420 colors in their collection (i.e., not color matching), Marquee paints will literally paint over any existing interior wall color under the sun with full coverage—trust us, we’ve tried it.
This post was originally published on February 45, 2015, and has since been updated.
Eisen often calls on “unexpected touches” when she’s styling a home. Here, she created a dramatic headboard with inexpensive Ikea desktops propped against the wall. The headboard’s dark hue really pops against the light wall. For another decorating twist, she rotated pillow shams to show off diamonds instead of squares.
Don’t ignore the ceiling! Though most people default to white paint overhead, color gives you something interesting to look at. Gray-blues, lavenders, and buttery yellows draw the eye up without being too brash. —Olga Naiman, aparat.us
Here are 20 things in your home you should toss immediately.
Make a simple wall a little more exciting with oversized artwork. Choose large-scale photography or something abstract and vibrant to really make a statement.
A bold patterned/colored tablecloth can instantly make a traditional space a little more eclectic. This one picks up the blues in the wallpaper.
Add shelving to your powder room to hold pretty toiletries. Remove the back of an old wine crate or wooden box. Make shelves to fit inside the box, then add a bit of glamour by fastening a gilded frame onto the front of the unit. For an antique finish, spray-paint with Krylon Crystal Color.
A fresh coat of white paint brightened up this living room. The homeowner used a mortar wash treatment, known as a “German smear” to ensure the fireplace looked authentically aged look.
“Every room needs a focal point,” says Eisen. If you don’t already have one, center the room using eye-catching wall art. To cut costs, Eisen created her own and painted three giant canvases, saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The key is to hang the panels so that they appear as one oversized piece for the greatest effect.
Making your own furniture and décor can earn you a great savings. But that said, the DIY revolution of the early 2000s unleashed a whole lot of not-so-chic craftiness on this world, and it’s easy to feel you can’t pull off a stylish DIY project unless you’re majorly skilled in the workshop. There actually are a remarkable number of sophisticated projects out there to take on, though; you just have to hunt for them—or read a curate site like, ahem, ours.
Power in numbers: Fanciful house numbers instantly increase curb appeal.
To construct your own cocktail table from a dining room table shop local thrift stores and snag a great value. Or, head to your neighborhood super store.
Instead of dropping a ton of cash on an expensive print, craft your own with paint and a pretty stencil. The homeowner of this Mississippi farmhouse created her own stencil to make this custom pattern.
If you’ve been collecting something for a long time and aren’t sure where to put your knick-knacks, install a floating shelf in your room of choice and then line them up. We love the sense of nostalgia these vintage glass bottles add to the bedroom.
These bookcases were made out of old peach crates borrowed from a friend’s farm.
If you want to transform your bedroom into a palace fit for royalty, add a canopy. This white gauze fabric hangs so beautifully and brings an ethereal look to the minimalist bedroom.
Define a space—here, a foyer—with a mirror that adds both drama and light. This one is a hand-me-down dressed up with one coat of spray paint.
Put an end to kitchen-counter confusion: Use chalkboard paint or decals to create labels on glass canisters. You’ll always know whether you’re scooping salt or sugar, and you can erase and change the wording whenever you like. —Jen Jafarzadeh L’Italien, the Haystack Needle
Candles look best when massed, particularly on a spacious surface, like a coffee table; the larger the surface, the larger the candles should be. Group four or five pillars of different heights (same color) in glass containers.
If any area in your home is feeling austere, sheepskin throws are the easiest solution. They bring in warmth, texture, and comfort while also being super affordable and easy to move throughout your space as your needs and moods shift.
Adding a nice floral arrangement can beautify a whole room on it’s own. The shapely vase, accompanying artwork, and unique rose gold faucet in this bathroom don’t hurt either.
A lift for tired lamps: Enliven a blah base with a sprightly shade. Bonus: a garden theme is guaranteed to keep winter blues at bay!
Fasten together several smaller rugs to expand a cramped space.
Before you start worrying about what you can and cannot afford to buy, consider what you should get rid of. Dated, worn, or damaged items could be doing the look of your home a disservice, and if they’re non-essential, removing them can give your home a clean slate. One of the worst offenders common in rental apartments is vertical blinds. Or how about those not-so-stylish college posters you’ve been holding on to? Let go, or at least put them in storage.
Wallpaper can quickly add up, but check out these finds for a fraction of the cost. And when you’re done, discover surprising ways to decorate with leftover wallpaper.
Even photocopied art looks sophisticated when it floats between two pieces of glass in Umbra’s Document Frames (from $13, umbra.com). The wall color shows through the glass, creating the illusion of a custom mat.
A mix of old and new glassware sit on these white shelves, including green handblown wineglasses that add a pop of color to the open shelving.
Set against the beautifully distressed plaster walls, the camelback sofa pictured here came from a winning $20 bid at a local estate sale.
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If you don’t have a grand foyer—or you do but it needs some love–introduce a small console table. For a formal yet modern aesthetic, opt for a traditional table and then hang modern abstract art above it. Then lean some portraits against the wall for a laidback take on the gallery wall.
An easy paint project: Create a trompe l’oeil headboard. Cost: about $20 and zero floor space. For how-tos, see Paint a Faux Headboard.
Use shells and other beach bounty to warm up a kitchen, an entryway, or a stairwell by creating a rustic, relaxed display.
You don’t need a footboard. A bench will get the same job done. It’ll help anchor your bed, act as a spot to sit and put shoes on, and serve as storage for extra pillows and blankets.
The easiest bathroom redo ever? A new shower curtain! I love the selection at Urban Outfitters. —Sasha Emerson, Sasha Emerson Design
From empty jars to illuminating conversation pieces: Fill a glass jug with Christmas lights to fashion a tricked-out table lamp. —Sirpa Cowell, textile designer
In the months when your fireplace goes unlit, use it to display a collection of vases or other objects. Gather similar pieces, staying in a simple palette, in a variety of heights and shapes.
Add interest to a store-bought lamp shade with the help of ribbon, glue, and an eye chart. (Print one for free online, then have it enlarged at a copy center.)
This home’s 12-foot ceilings called for an abundance of drapery fabric, so the owner opted for budget-friendly painters’ drop cloths
It’s easy to overlook a room when it’s super tiny, especially because there simply isn’t enough useable space for décor. But it’s definitely possible—and well worth it—to show these nooks some love. Take this powder room, for example. With a light blush pink wall color and a surrounding gallery of eclectic artwork, the small room packs a lot of punch.
For an affordable exterior upgrade, paint your front door an unexpected shade, like buttercup-yellow or chartreuse-green. The result: a happy punctuation point that modernizes an old house yet doesn’t compromise its historic character. —Carol Bokuniewicz, Carol B Design
But browsing Craigslist is very time consuming, so my best tip for you is to subscribe to your Craigslist search terms. For example, if you’re on the hunt for a midcentury modern sideboard, search for those keywords in Craigslist as you normally would. Then, on the results screen, scroll to the bottom right corner of the page and click on the RSS button. A new window will open, copy the URL of the new window and add it to your RSS reader (I use Feedly).
Black might sound scary, but it looks totally sexy in a bedroom. To keep it from feeling too dark, opt for white bedding and make sure you have enough natural light in the room.
As lovely as custom curtains or a reupholstered sofa may be, they are not for the decorator on a shoestring budget. Instead, consider customizing what you already own. Add some iron-on trim to basic white curtain panels. Paint the edge of a simple black end table in gold. Wallpaper the interior of a bookcase. Or try an IKEA hack like adding a leather handle to a basic cutting board. Sometimes, just sprucing up your coffee table with a new arrangement of preexisting décor can do the trick.
Don’t be afraid to put window treatments around a breathtaking view. Just avoid bright colors and “frame the view with neutral curtains so the eye is drawn toward the windows,” says Eisen. And if you face the “problem” of too much space, steal this page from her playbook: Buy two wooden dining room tables and cut the legs to make the table cocktail height. “Pushing them together fills up the space and gives the room instant function,” she says.
Can you imagine how simple this bathroom looked before it had a bright blue floor? The quick change allows the tub to take center stage. We’d want to soak in there all day long.
“The bigger the area rug, the bigger the room will feel,” says Eisen. She likes to make spaces feel larger by taping together rugs, like these flokatis. The neutral palette, mirrors behind the sofa, and giant rug work together to make the small room appear bigger (and better!).
Eisen swears by a triptych to instantly up any room’s wow factor. The trio of paneled art, which has been rising in popularity in recent years, can set you back a pretty penny. But you can make your own! Rather than commission a custom piece, Eisen downloaded free art from the web, printed an extra large image at a local printer, and cut the image into three parts to fit into Ikea frames.
If there’s anything that can single-handedly polish off a room, it’s a light fixture. Case in point? That brass pendant light. It feels much more refined and sophisticated than a table lamp would and contrasts with the more traditional elements throughout the bedroom.
If the walls in a hallway are feeling tired or lackluster, add a gallery wall. Bring in antique frames, or hit up a thrift store or flea market, and arrange a ton of hand mirrors into a gallery wall.
Perk up a dull room with vibrant hits of a color like green. Though this space is accessorized generously with the shade (starting with the big burst in the rug), even something as subtle as green blossoms can add pop.
Lend an entryway an earthy vibe with a coatrack made from found materials. Using polyurethane-based glue (such as Gorilla glue), attach a stone to the end of a wooden drawer knob, then screw each knob into a plank of wood.
On the spectrum of home décor styles, eclectic designs are often the easiest to replicate. Why? The look is all about mixing—and not matching. There’s no need to find that side table, or an exact shade of blue, let alone a lofty antique, as there often is with traditional interior design. Succumb to your bohemian self, and shopping for furniture and décor will be much more affordable.
Inexpensive wicker that looks as if it belongs outdoors changes the mood of any room. Put chairs in a sunny corner of their own or mix them with your upholstered pieces.
“If you are lucky enough to have a home that bathes in sunlight and has beautifully natural bones, then let those elements be the star,” says Eisen. She stuck with neutral colors to let the home’s best asset — natural light — shine. To prevent the room from becoming boring, she threw in one zing by way of a chevron pillow. The trendy zigzag adds just the right graphic touch.
—Charles Fernandez, style and market assistant (Numbers, $11.50 each; atlashomewares.com)
No formal reading nook? No problem. Add a bench with a pillow in front of your bookcase and call it a day.
For a graphic statement, color-block your wall. Paint half of it a bold color or opt for two neutral tones. Here, black creeps up about a quarter of the way while the rest is a nice shade of steel gray, creating an understated-yet-unique statement.
A variation on the idea: Make use of mittens missing their mates. Cut felt to fit the backing of the frame ($24 each, mtsframes.com), then use craft glue to adhere the felt. Center the mitten on the felt and glue it down; let dry overnight.
This exquisite living room is playing with shape and scale in so many ways—each design detail offers a universe of inspiration. For extra impact and proportional intrigue, hang an oversized mirror. Keep it simple and sleek, opt for a cool shape or color, or keep it classic with an antique.
Hit up your local art supply store or DickBlick.com for large blank canvases to make your own creations. Not an artist? Check out nearby art schools to find good talent on a shoestring budget.
Brighten up an end table with an updated lampshade. Ready-made appliqués can be found in the scrapbooking section of craft stores. Here, they are hot-glued onto the shade in a whimsical pattern; some appliqués feature peel-away adhesive backing, which requires just peeling and sticking onto the shade.
The Case Factory Python-effect Leather Iphone 7 And 8 Case ($110)
Vintage tea towels and napkins with tears or stains can be recycled into distinctive accent pillows for a window seat.
Frame the prettiest pages of last year’s calendar and hang them up in second-hand frames in a grid formation.
You don’t have to wallpaper your entire room—just pick a wall and accent with it. It’s fast, easy, and makes a big difference.
Mine your albums for your best shots (pick a theme: weddings, birthday parties, vacations) and put them in identical frames. Hang in a tight grid or a long line—you can’t go wrong if you stick to a geometric arrangement.
This probably isn’t what you want to hear since we don’t think of cleaning up as fun, but adding a few pieces that ease organization can make a huge difference. Consider installing coat hooks or bringing in a stylish coat rack coat by the front door. Then place a small folding chair underneath it to sit on when you take off your shoes. This will prevent those dreaded (and previously inevitable) clothing pileups.
Plaid? For winter? Not even close to groundbreaking, but we’re still here for it.
Painting your walls is one of the most cost-effective decorative updates you can make to your home. But if you’re on a shoestring budget, the two cans of $30 paint it may require to paint your bedroom could very well put you out. Instead, consider painting an accent wall. A quart (which covers up to 100 square feet) or a 2.5 liter can (which covers up to 260 square feet) is likely all you’ll need to cover a single wall, which can make just as much of an impact.
Snag a stained glass effect in seconds. Just display colored-glass jars, glasses, and vases on windowsills or bookshelves. —Thomas Jayne, Thomas Jayne Studio
Turn a closet into a simple craft “room” by covering the doors with pegboard.
Stack modular storage units (from $22, amazon.com) to make a stepped side table with surfaces for displays and lighting. Create miniature still lifes in the cubbies, or stack reading material that you’re going to get to…someday.
An abandoned bar cabinet gets a stylish makeover with decorative paint.
Amp up the architectural drama! Installing a chair rail can be a cinch — especially with stick-on molding. Paint the areas above and below it with two different shades of the same color for even more va-va-voom. —Leah Shirey, houseobsession.com (48-inch-long, stick-on panel molding; bellaornamental.com)
If your home is due for a design update but you have a limited budget and even less time, you’re in the right place. We thought of 50 home décor ideas to help you start. With something as simple as an accent wall, colorful light bulb, or new throw pillow (or 47 other home décor ideas if those aren’t calling your name), your entire space can feel fresh, on-trend, and refined. You can tackle each of these decorating ideas in one day, even though the results will look like it took way longer to pull off.
Get the look: White platter ($16, target.com); White pitcher ($14; target.com)
This little corner is sleek, stylish, and perfectly handsome as is, thanks to the modern leather lounger and graphic rug. But that floor-to-ceiling lamp is an architectural stunner that really brings in that added wow factor. Look for a floor lamp that doubles as artwork for a similar vibe.
To create interesting contrast, replace one thing in an otherwise totally traditional room with something super modern, like this geometric coffee table and abstract-painted floor.
Rather than jamming shelves full of knickknacks, Eisen opted for a minimalist look: Several books stand upright along with tall vases that fill the space without overcrowding it. She also added objects of various height and color to give the bookcase personality. Her favorite part about decorating this home? “Turning wasted, unused space into a functional reading nook that can be enjoyed by many by simply adding a chair.”
Small decorating projects can freshen up your home and be inexpensive. Try one or two of these budget-friendly fixes for an instant update! Plus: Check out more of our best ever decorating makeovers!
Actual monogramming can cost a lot — but the look doesn’t have to. On silk chandelier shades from Target, a rich-looking result was achieved by using white iron-on embroidered letters. The result: a deluxe, personal touch.
A bunch of humble rag rugs add up to one stunning runner. Don’t sew? Ask your local dry cleaner or upholsterer to stitch the mats together. —Sirpa Cowell, textile designer
Casters are the ultimate quick-change agents. These babies impart height and mobility to almost anything. Attach ’em to a farm table and voilà: It becomes an extra-large kitchen island with serious moves. Pop some wheels on a crate and you’ve got storage that rolls easily underneath a counter. The possibilities are truly endless. —Paige Schnell, Tracery Interiors
If you’re dead-set on something that’s out of your price range, first look for it on Craigslist (see above), and if that fails, try to buy it on sale. You can use ShopStyle to set a sale alert for products from literally hundreds of major brands; just enter your search filters or terms and press the pink “Add Sale Alert” button and you’ll be emailed when the item goes on sale. Retailers like Overstock, Amazon, and Macy’s will also alert you when something goes on sale or returns after being out of stock.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Replace your bathroom sink’s faucet with a larger, kitchen-size version to give the fixture a unique, bespoke feel. —Abigail Ahern, Atelier Abigail Ahern
For an unexpected (and easy) pop of color, trade in your classic bulb for a bright one. It adds the same vibe as a neon sign without taking up any space on the wall. Try it in a hallway or entryway, where décor moments are precious and square footage is limited.
Slide a stool next to the bathtub. Not only will the extra surface space help with organization, but it’s also a great way to make the whole space feel more luxe.
Piled books draw the eye. If shelves aren’t high enough or deep enough to accommodate oversize books, stack them on a flat surface, such as a bench or an end table.
A single well-placed mirror has the power to make a small room seem larger. For a custom look on the cheap, have mirrored glass cut to fit a beautiful vintage frame. —Betsy Burnham, Burnham Design
Putting a colorful throw blanket at the end of your bed or flung over the sofa is an easy but transformative design trick. It’s also a great way to experiment with colors and prints before fully committing to them.
For an unexpected fireplace display, swap logs for stacked books or magazines.
Ideas that call for a little imagination, and little money, add instant style to any decor.
Hang canvases painted with interior latex paint to brighten blank walls. Think big: The canvases should fill the wall.
Call us optimists, but we think everyone under the sun can have a beautiful home if they want one. Even if you’re pinching pennies, there’s still plenty you can do to create a stylish, inviting home for yourself and whoever you have over. The first step (and this is true no matter where or how you live) is to clean your home and get organized. Doing those two things alone will drastically improve the quality of your space. Then for the fun part—on to decorating. With years of budget decorating behind (and in front of!) us, we’ve amassed a few helpful tips for making house with a slim wallet. Follow our cheap home decorating tips and get inspired by the ideas that prove that style doesn’t need to come at a price below.
Rickety seating can be given a second life as a bedside table. If there’s a hole in the caning, place a tray on the chair to hold an alarm clock, a reading lamp, etc.
If your city doesn’t have a Craigslist, search eBay.com to find eclectic pieces to add to your own mix.
Throw pillows are the easiest way to freshen up in the bedroom or living room. Introducing a new color, print, or shape with a throw pillow can make the whole space feel new again.