I’m so excited to share my Brilliantly Frugal ways to decorate on a small budget! Decorating is often what makes a house a home, but it can be dauntingly expensive and discouraging. You’ll find Pinterest full of large home renovations and million dollar budget redesigns on Pinterest. I’ve personally have had to decorate my homes on a small budget and have gotten very creative over the years. What that meant though is that my house was beautifully decorated and put together in a unique way. I’ve always received compliments on how my home is put together and questions on how I chose my items, where I found them, and how I came up with the ideas.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #1: NEVER PAY RETAIL!
This is 100% my motto when shopping and it holds true. I almost never pay retail prices. It makes me physically irritated to do so. I do my best to only buy an item if it is on sale or with a coupon, if that’s an option. If it’s not on sale or I don’t have a coupon, I wait. I practice my patience. And believe me, it is practice! I know it is torture to want an item very badly BUT IT WILL GO ON SALE. STAY PATIENT.
Although, there are some items that don’t go on sale or have coupons. For those, I try to buy secondhand or get free what I can. You can save SO MUCH MONEY that way.
These are my favorite Brilliantly Frugal ways to decorate and make a space a home on a small budget.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #2: Paint
If you have hand me down furniture that you don’t like, paint it (ask for permission first!) You can also paint your walls, cabinets, even small home decor items. You can paint almost anything, even upholstery. Paint is probably the cheapest way to turn something you don’t like into something you love. Also, you can avoid doing an entire tear our renovation this way. For example, you can paint cabinets that seem outdated but are still in very good condition. You’d be surprised how a fresh coat of paint can make it look as if you got all new cabinets, when in fact, you only gave them a color update.
This is one of those items that rarely go on sale or has coupons unless you’re buying from Sherwin-Williams (they often have coupons available, but they are a more expensive paint option). Your family, friends, or neighbors may have some leftover paint from their home projects that you can use! Ask on our local neighborhood Facebook pages or Nextdoor. Even if they don’t have quite enough for your project, you can use what they have and spend a lot less at the hardware store by buying only what you need to finish the project! If you’re looking for a popular color, you’d be surprised how many people have that exact color leftover. They are usually happy to pass it along and get it out of their garage or attic.
Alternatively, if you’re flexible with your color choices, you can try the paint “oops” section of your favorite hardware store. Most hardware stores have a bin of paints that were incorrectly mixed, were returned, or never picked up. You can buy those instead of having a new batch mixed and save quite a bit of money.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #3: Wall Art
If you’re renting and can’t change the wall colors by painting, you can try temporary (removable) wallpaper. You can get it at most hardware stores, and even online from Target. This can be a bit more expensive than paint if you’re doing an entire room. However, if you only cover one wall ( an accent wall), it can make a huge difference in a room and save a bit of money!
Alternatively, you can buy large tapestries as cheap alternatives to expenses canvas. You can find these online on Amazon, Target, Ikea, and other stores relatively cheap. These are often available at thrift stores as well.
Also, be sure to support your artist friends or local artists! Your friends may have relatively inexpensive prints or other art available for sale. This is a great opportunity to support your friends or community and have beautiful unique pieces in your home. If you don’t know any artists yourself, look out for local art shows on Facebook or in the local paper. Many cities, even small towns have annual art shows were local artists can showcase and sell their artwork. These are often hosting on the main streets and have music and food vendors as well. They can be a lot of fun on a weekend with friends to look at great and inspirational pieces.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #4: Greenery
Plants are perfect for decorating on a small budget! Bring the outside inside. Houseplants can add a pop of color and life into a small space with little to no money. Are you scared of killing it? No worries! Get a succulent or ivy that is low maintenance. Don’t go to a big box store like Home Depot or Lowes. You’ll have more luck by going to a small local plant store. The owners and employees there will have specialized knowledge in the plants in the store and can help you pick something that fits your home, expertise, lifestyle, and budget. They also sometimes offer consultations online with suggestions of what would work best in the space and can provide delivery.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #5: Thrifting
You will not believe how many New With Tag or like-new items you can find at Goodwill, Savers, Salvation Army, or other thrift stores. It’s insane! I regularly find new with tag or like new clothes, picture frames, candles, candleholders, pillows, and other decor items for 70-90% off the original retail price.
Even if you end up buying something used, you can often find the most unique and interesting items at thrift stores. It is so much more interesting to have one of a kind items to decorate your home. Having the same 5 things that everyone else is buying from big box stores that will be out of style next season can cost you more money in the long run.
Just be sure to carefully inspect items before purchasing them. Go to a well-lit area of the store and look over every share inch of the item for chips, stains, or missing buttons or pieces. I’m definitely guilty of getting too excited about a great deal and not realizing that the item is broken or damaged until I get home.
Thrift stores can also be a great resource for DIY projects. You may be able to find broken or cheap items that can be reused or remade into something new. You can also find items that have good bones, but the color, stain, or finish is a bit outdated for very little money. Antique, vintage, and other well-made items are frequent finds at thrift stores. You can paint, stain, or refinish items in contemporary colors for a lot less than buying the item new or at an antique store!
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #6: Estate and Garage Sales
Estate and Garage sales are two of my favorite Brilliantly Frugal places to find items to decorate on a small budget. At sales like these, the sellers are often motivated to get rid of the items and are hopefully not sentimentally attached to the items. This can make for some great sales. If you get vary lucky, you can find new with tag, vintage, or designer and luxury items for a great price if you dig enough. Just be sure to bring hand sanitizer and to wash all items as soon as you get them home. Many times items have been in storage for a bit and can be dusty or dirty.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #7: Discount Stores
Discount Stores like Ross, HomeGoods, Burlington, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and others are honestly some of my favorite places to check for new but deeply discounted items to decorate my home.
Caution. These stores are addicting. They have GIANT home decor areas with cute decorative furniture, decor items, linens, and kitchenware for fractions of the original pricing. You can often find designer or even luxury brand items there for fractions of the cost. Just be careful. Sometimes the deal on a designer or luxury brand item looks great, but the quality of a lesser known brand or other option at the same store is the same or even better for a much lower price.
Again, be sure to inspect items for any damage or missing parts or pieces. By the time the item makes it to the discount store, it has been through several warehouses and damage does happen, unfortunately.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #8: IKEA
Ikea has an amazing amount of home decor, art prints, and trendy home pieces for incredibly cheap. We’ve gotten aesthetically pleasing home storage solutions for under $10 that I love using in our pantry. We were also able to find two large poster size art prints for only $4. I cut one down to fit a frame that I found at Salvation Army for another $5 and hung it up in my office at work. It is the item that I get the most compliments on and I only spent $9 total on it.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #9: Target
Even Target sometimes has extreme discounts on home goods and furniture. Full price, a lot of their offerings can be expensive. However, if you wait for the end of a season or during Target’s big sales, you can often get trendy contemporary pieces for great prices. Read about how to save more at Target with Target Circle here.
Brilliantly Frugal Decorating Tip #10: Maximize Social Media
Facebook Marketplace, Offerup, & 5Mile and other similar apps are great spaces to check for hidden gems. You’ll often find people selling items that they no longer want for very little in good condition that you can grab in your area. This is especially true if you can find people who are moving. They often desperately want to get rid of the item quickly before they have to be out of their current home. This means you get an item for very cheap and they don’t have to move it! Win-Win!
The downside to these apps is that you often have to do A LOT of scrolling through junk or overpriced items to find something you like. You’ll have to check back often because a good deal will usually go pretty fast. Also, be sure to double-check that the item you are looking for is actually listed in your area and not somewhere else that will ship unless you’re willing to pay the shipping.
If you have a local Buy Nothing Project group on Facebook, be sure to join and check back regularly for items that neighbors are gifting! We have acquired so many items from our neighbors on our local Buy Nothing group. We’ve received a lamp, large mirror to hang above our front entryway table, coffee table books, and so many other things that our neighbors were no longer using but we were happy to give away. We’ve returned the favor by gifting our unused or unwanted items frequently as well.