How to Decorate on a Shoestring Budget

Discount stores are good sources for home decor items.

Discount stores are good sources for home decor items.

Decorating your first apartment or new home is an exciting prospect, but it may also be a daunting one when faced with having to do it on a limited budget. Stretch your decorating dollar by hunting for bargains, re-purposing used items and adding color and texture to the walls. You don't have to do it all at once: Break it into manageable projects that allow you to be creative and display your own sense of style.

Look through decorating magazines, visit home interiors stores or watch the budget decorating shows on cable television to get ideas that might work for you. Identify one or two color themes, style motifs or decorating ideas that you want to feature in your home.

Develop a room-by-room plan to decorate your home. Few people on a budget have the option of decorating a whole house at once, so pick one room to start with and prioritize the others to decorate as your budget permits. Determine what you want to do in the first room -- paint only, paint and a new rug, or perhaps new furniture.

Select paint colors to use in your main rooms. Painting is one of the quickest and easiest ways to give a room a makeover, especially when you are on a budget. Add style by trying a textured paint finish in a dining room or painting stripes in a bedroom. Add a colorful area rug to complement the wall and furniture colors and tie the room together.

Visit consignment stores, flea markets and garage sales to look for bargains on furniture, lamps and picture frames. Select one or two unique pieces to serve as focal points in your living room. Look at plain wooden chairs or tables and imagine them with a fresh coat of paint in a modern color to match your kitchen. Update a cheap garage-sale picture frame with paint or decoupage to enhance a favorite travel poster and create an eye-catching piece of art for your walls.

Use fabric to decorate any room. Make new curtains to brighten up the kitchen or bedroom. Turn a yard of fabric into decorative covers for throw pillows to add an instant -- and inexpensive -- splash of color to your old couch. Transform a thrift shop lamp by covering the lampshade in fabric to match your new living room decor.

Look for pieces that serve more than one purpose. Old steamer trunks make one-of-a-kind coffee tables that also provide storage for picture albums, blankets or games. Dollar-store baskets decorate kitchen counters and also serve as places to put plants, recipes or kitchen utensils. Stack inexpensive plastic milk crates to create colorful bedside tables in which your child may stash favorite books or toys.


About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

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