Small Updates that Matter
Accessories do a great job of adding a lot of style without emptying your bank account. Carefully selected items like rugs and artwork can bring your decorating to the next level while still staying within your budget.
You can get photos printed for pennies and affordable frames for just a few bucks. Put these two budget finds together to create one fabulous gallery on a plain stretch of wall, such as in a stairwell or in a hallway.
Style is caring about how you live and how it looks and putting thought and effort into doring it all with elan. It's that simple. Remember, style doesn't have to be expensive, but it does take thought and time.
Don't be afraid to paint dull furniture. It's an easy way to update what you have and get like-new pieces without having to make the investment in something truly new.
Mirrors work wonders in any room. Have one cut to fit a tabletop or an extra-large picture frame (which usually costs less than buying a big mirror).
Decorating with nature is free and fun. Cut an interesting branch from your yard and put it in a vase, or gather stones and display them in a tray.
When to Spend
Spending a little more for a sofa or chair is actually budget-smart if it meets these criteria: a timeless neutral color, clean lines, and the right scale for the room.
It's easier to go bold with color on a piece of furniture than on walls. Pick a color you love, and paint that dresser.
The best place to look for quality furniture on a budget is consignment or thrift stores. If the bones are good, you can always update with paint or fabric.
Walls with Flair
Cover walls with secondhand mirrors, baskets, large clocks, and other items that add dimension.
Break up your bedroom set. Bring a bedside table into the living room; use a dresser as a dining room buffet.
I love to pick up inexpensive drawings from street artists while I'm on vacation. It's nice to have artwork that means something to you personally.
Painted the same color, mismatched secondhand dining chairs look happy together. Use white for a simple look, or embolden your dining room by painting the chairs a deep, rich color.
Remove the jackets, then group books by color, standing some upright and stacking others. Shelves will seem more organized and have an artistic, color-blocked look.
Make an easy table runner for your next get-together with assorted paper napkins. Lay out napkins (we used lunch size, but cocktail size would also work) in your desired design, tape the edges together, and flip it over.
New Take on Tables
In place of a predictable coffee table, use two inexpensive side tables. Outline the edges with strips of nailhead trim for a high-end look.
On a Corbel
A corbel is a clever perch for an accessory. Try painting it a bright color to draw attention to whatever you put on it.
Brighten Your Kitchen
Cheery dish towels are a super inexpensive way to bring a little zing into the kitchen. I always find great towels at World Market and Anthropologie.
Plants are an underappreciated decorating tool. They bring life and color to a room, they're relatively inexpensive, and they're good for you, too.
Thinking about buying a new lamp, pillow, or throw? Don't bring it home unless it will work in at least two rooms.
Add one woven or wicker chair to a room. Spray-paint it a great color, and you have both seating and an element of surprise.
An extra-large mat is a simple trick for giving a small photo or piece of art big presence.
Create an affordable triptych with basic frames and patterned paper. Frame wallpaper remnants or pretty wrapping paper in three frames of the same size, and hang the frames in a row.
They've been around forever, but candle sconces are still brilliant for adding ambience without calling an electrician.