The Broke Person's Guide to Decorating: The Cheapest, Chicest & Most Effective Tricks

The Broke Person's Guide to Decorating: The Cheapest, Chicest & Most Effective Tricks

Adrienne Breaux
Feb 11, 2017

Have hardly any money to spend on your home decor? Have NO money to spend on your decor? It might seem impossible to design a home that won't end up looking like your budget was zero, but it is possible to get creative and design a home that still looks great despite your small (or non-existent) budget. Here are some of our favorite tips.

Focus on the layout, first

Really work on designing your spaces to optimize each room's flow and feeling. If your spaces are small, consider maneuvers that will make a room feel larger than it is. Find a focal point (like the great, big, artwork shown above) and arrange your seating around that. Consider the views into rooms and place furniture in a way that complements or contrasts architecture.

Work with what you've got

Before you start blowing your tiny budget on new purchases, look at what you've got to begin with. Can any of your pieces have decorative elements stripped away to improve their look (since stripping is nearly free)? Sand down mis-matched wood furniture and use a similar stain to make them match a bit better. Take a chance on a pre-mixed "oops" paint cans at your local hardware store which can be really cheap to add fun details or "white-wash" too-heavy or outdated furniture.

(Image credit: Emmadine)

Be your own great abstract artist

A huge, boldly colored abstract painting is going to look impressive, even if you were the one wielding the paint brush! Grab inspiration from online, stretch your own canvas to save money and explore alternative-to-framing ideas to get art up on your walls without spending a ton of money. And although paint chip art might be a little off-trend, that stuff is still free to grab from hardware stores.

Get creative with your plants

If you just don't have the budget for big plants, start small! Grow plants from seeds or find smaller plants you can nurture and transfer into bigger pots as they get bigger. Ask friends if you can propagate cuttings from their awesome succulents. Disguise the fact that you don't have big plants by getting lots of small plants and hanging and displaying them at different heights.

A.B.O.T.H. (Always Be On The Hunt)

Scour Craigslist's free section constantly, join a local free-cycling email group and take rides around neighborhoods in your city that always seem to have full curbs with free furniture potential. You just never know what kind of trash to someone else might become your new treasure.

Hang it

Wall hooks can be pretty cheap (often cheaper than shelves) and though they themselves are small, they have the ability to host larger elements that can become a part of your decor, namely fashion. Don't be afraid to hang your functional clothing and accessories in ways that add to your decor (and save on storage).

(Image credit: Nellie Bellie)

Drop cloths are pretty rad

From table cloths to curtains to decorative wall hangings to rugs, drop cloths can be grabbed up at a pretty low price and with a little artistic flair, be put to use in just about every room of the house.

Be your own best stylist

Found art and objects can look fabulous even if they're free — it's all in the art of how they're arranged. So perfect the techniques behind your wall-mounted art collages and vignettes, even if they aren't filled with the world's priciest designs.

What are your favorite "hardly any money at all" decorating tips that have gotten you through a particularly tight budget time? Share in the comments below!

Re-edited from a post originally published 2.5.15-NT

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