Expert Tips for Decorating on a Budget and Outfitting Your Entire Home

By Suchi Rudra

Whether you are refreshing the look of your home or starting from scratch, decorating to suit your taste doesn’t have to break the bank. Taking a flexible approach as you decorate is the key to staying on budget. For a large house with many different rooms and spaces, focus your time and budget on the areas you use most. Consider these budget-friendly ideas to help you get started:


Be open to experimenting with a few different looks. Maybe you want to design your home to look just like the cover of your favorite home decor magazine, but after shopping around, you realize the oxidized steel pendant lights required for your Scandinavian/industrial style living room are too far out of your budget. Try looking for a less expensive style of lighting that creates the same vibe you want.

Skip designer labels, and search for decor that is distinctive, maybe pieces and looks you never considered before. After all, nothing is set in stone when it comes to home decor, and you could discover a whole new style you love.

Do It Yourself

When you can’t find exactly what you want, why not make it yourself? Get creative with a few DIY projects to give your home a more personal touch — and have a lot of fun in the process. For an easy and affordable way to brighten up your kitchen, install a tin tile backsplash or opt for a peel-and-stick glass mosaic tile backsplash kit.

Amanda Barkley, a design associate at Rae Duncan Interior Design, recommends “stacking old crates to create a bookshelf, hanging decorative plates on the wall for a unique alternative to framed art, or making your own coffee table out of practically anything — a crate, an old sewing machine — by placing glass over the top.”

Scour local antique shops for vintage pieces and garage sales for all kinds of cool finds. By shopping locally instead of online, you save a lot of money on shipping costs.

Mirror Magic

Mirrors enhance practically any room in your home. Barkley points out, “Mirrors serve two purposes in interior design: they instantly make a room appear larger, and they function as a piece of decor or art for your space. If you’re in a rental, don’t even worry about hanging your mirror. They actually look casual and elegant when propped against a wall.”

A leaning mirror helps a small bedroom look more spacious and provides a perfect angle when you’re getting dressed. For a dining room with few or no windows, hang a large mirror on the windowless wall to create more light.

Focus on Textiles

Throw pillows and throws are an easy way to add color to your home without spending too much. “Go monochromatic and simply vary the textures for a luxe look, or else have fun and go with your favorite color or a color theme. The best part is that this isn’t forever, and you can always switch out your pillows and throws when you get bored,” Barkley suggests. It’s also easy to change the covers on throw pillows or even make your own pillows instead of buying new ones.

Try adding new color and texture by replacing the shower curtains and rugs in the bathroom. Changing tablecloths, place mats, and table runners creates a similar effect in your dining room and kitchen.

Previously Leased Furniture

If you need some chairs to go with your dining table or you simply don’t have time to make your own coffee table, look for the items you need at a CORT Clearance Center. Perfect for shoppers with tight budgets, the more than 150 stores around the country offer great deals on top-quality, previously leased furniture. Stop by to browse the inventory that includes furniture at up to 70 percent off the retail price.

Suchi Rudra is a freelance writer specializing in residential building and design, often with a focus on sustainability. On the consumer side, she’s covered this topic for The New York Times, Slate, and several other publications. For trade publications in North America and Europe, she’s written feature stories, trend pieces, profiles and technical case studies for, Green Builder, Green Business Quarterly, Green Building + Design, Green Futures (UK), (UK), Construction & Investment Journal (CZ) and New American Luxury. She also writes about travel, entrepreneurship and education.