While I’m a single mom who's on a seriously tight budget, I still want a well-decorated home. I’ve always loved looking at decorating magazines, but would quickly get discouraged knowing I don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on decorating. Over the years, however, I’ve found inexpensive ways to decorate my home and still have it look like I’ve spent a small fortune.
Make Your Own Artwork
Finding that perfect piece of artwork can be expensive. And finding the right size and color scheme can also be a challenge. My solution is to create your own artwork. At first this might sound a bit challenging, especially if you don’t think you have much artistic ability, but it’s actually a simple and an inexpensive way to add great decor to your home.
There are essentially three things you need: a frame, a mat, and something to frame. The frame is the most expensive piece of this project, so to pay for it I scope out the best deals, clip coupons, or sometimes recycle old frames I’m not using anymore.
Picture frame mats are inexpensive, and you can get them for a couple bucks at any craft store. The last thing you’ll need is a piece of artwork to frame. The only limit here is your imagination. You can use old pictures from a calendar, wall paper, fabric, or your favorite scrapbooking paper. If you haven’t visited the scrapbook section in a while, you won’t believe the selection of paper choices. They’ve got textured paper, transparent paper, cutouts, and more.
Tip: You can find great frames at the thrift store, polish them up with a coat of spray paint, and you’ve got a new frame that costs next to nothing
Frame Your Child’s Artwork
This is my mother’s favorite thing to do. She has framed artwork from all her grandchildren proudly placed throughout her house. She opts to have her frames customized, but my budget-conscious approach is to frame your own artwork. You can use artwork from school or have your child create a custom piece using colors that will match your decor. Your child doesn’t have to be the next Picasso to produce an amazing picture or painting that looks great when it’s framed and hung on the wall. Plus, having such artwork around the house is a great conversation piece and it warms your heart.
Bring The Outdoors In
It doesn’t get much simpler than this. You can place just about anything in a vase or bowl and it will look decorative. It’s a great way to bring color into a space and, best of all, it’s dirt cheap. I like to fill a glass bowl with tomatoes or red peppers from my garden. It adds pops of color to my kitchen and helps me remember to use the veggies before they go bad. I also love to bring in some fresh-cut hydrangeas, which serve as a perfect centerpiece for my kitchen table.
Tip: It’s fun to change your decor along with the seasons. With fall upon us, it’s a perfect time to decorate with pumpkins. There’s much more you can do with a pumpkin besides carving it!
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Mirrors are a great way to bring light into a room and make a room feel bigger. We all know mirrors can be expensive, but there’s a less-expensive way to go about it. I’m lucky enough to have a good friend who is also a designer, and she shared her latest creation with me that cost her just $4.50 per mirror.
She recycled an old mirror, added some dowel rods, and creatively attached smaller mirrors to the dowel rods. She spray painted the dowel rods and used a hot-glue gun to secure everything together. I’ve seen this same exact style of mirror in the store, but they cost much more. This is a great way to dress up any room.
First, don’t underestimate your level of skill. You would probably be shocked to discover just how much you can really do with some direction. Home Depot and Lowe’s both offer free classes for do-it-yourself home projects. From tiling to installing a floor, you really can take these projects on and save some serious money. The major expense in most projects is in the labor, so if you can avoid paying someone else to do the job you can cut the cost big time. I often search for products that are going out of stock, because they get marked down and sometimes you can even negotiate the price.
Tips: For example, I was able to get several boxes of flooring at a price cheaper than the sale price, because I was willing to take everything they had left in stock. All I had to do was talk to the manager and strike a deal.
The bottom line: There are numerous inexpensive ways you can decorate your home and not blow your budget. You can have a fantastic-looking home with the latest trends and you don’t have to spend all your money in the process. To get inspired, try taking a walk through one of your local craft stores and the ideas will start flowing.
Michal Cheney is a frequent contributor to Go Banking Rates, Credit Card Offers IQ, and Dough Roller, where you can find the best budget tools to manage your money.