Small Budget, Grand Style: Frugal Home Decorating

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refined living room space

(image: jinkazamah)

Home decor and interior design style doesn’t have to live or die because of the size of your budget. Here are some frugal tips on how to up the style quotient.


In uncertain times, priorities matter. Dollar bills don’t grow on trees, after all. (Even though I wish they did.) Unless you’re Donald Trump, dropping thousands on a complete design overhaul isn’t always an option. But chic décor isn’t reserved only for the chaise-lounging well-to-do.

Low on cash? No problemo. A modest budget shouldn’t limit your decorating options. From DIY to buying second hand, here are a few pointers for decorating on a shoestring budget:

Don’t replace, refurbish

After years of cat scratching, mustard spilling, and backside shuffling, your furniture may have seen better days. (In hindsight, that white couch doesn’t seem like the brightest idea.) But before you invest hundreds—or even thousands—into new furniture, give restoration a chance.

If your chairs don’t look so hot, slap on a fresh coat of paint. Or you could reupholster them yourself. (If wielding a staple gun doesn’t put you on edge, that is.) In case you haven’t heard, there’s a handy little resource for everything DIY: the internet. *End of sarcasm*

Amidst the sea of fluffy kitten videos, there’s tons of online instruction for every DIY project imaginable. If you’re no longer smitten with your furniture—but DIY isn’t your bag—embrace the art of disguise. Cover that worn-out couch with a few stylish throws, for example.

throw pillows small sofa

Become a pirate

If you circle the thrift shop isles like a buccaneer at sea (Ahoy, matey!), sometimes you spot a diamond in the rough. Wooden chairs—easy to spruce up—are a common thrift shop find. With a fresh coat of color, those tacky, fluorescent-green chairs are transformed from ‘80s to awesome.

If second-hand shopping isn’t your thing, keep an eye on the giveaway section of Craigslist. You wouldn’t believe what people are throwing away. Who knows, you could find a treasure that fits nicely within your decorating scheme. (Makin’ Black Beard proud.)

Embrace minimalism

A monastic way of life may not be your cup of tea, but minimalism makes sense when you’re short on funds. Despite how awesome it sounds, do you really need that bum-massaging La-Z-Boy with cup holders? Will that extra ottoman add anything to your life?

Furniture can be pricey, so select each piece wisely. To get the most bang for your buck, choose furniture with high-quality materials in colors that won’t fade or stain easily. If you have pets, like me, protect your furniture from little paws. Throws are a great way to add style while preventing, or hiding, nicks and scratches.

Get obsessed with details

You know what they say: It’s the little things in life that count. Small changes can make a big impact. Gather some fresh flowers and arrange them into a brightly colored vase. Buy some new houseplants. (Just don’t murder them.)

small vase with mimosa flowers


Add a few new throw pillows to the mix. Buy new picture frames and create a family tree. Get your hands on some fancy-looking candle holders. Spicing up your style doesn’t mean going into overdraft.

Rearrange your stuff

Instead of going gung ho on a full design overhaul, maybe a shuffle or two would do. Move your couch to the other side of the room. Turn your coffee table in a different direction. Move that chair into the bedroom to open up your space.

Swap out furniture, room by room. Once you’re done rearranging, everything old seems new again. Voilà! Just remember to lift with your knees. (Unless you have your chiropractor on speed dial.)

Take-home lesson

Sophisticated interior design and décor isn’t just for the moneyed among us. Small tweaks—from refurbishing furniture to hunting down thrift shop treasures—are all you need to spruce up your space.

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