How to Start a Decorating (or ReDecorating) Project Without Breaking the Bank

Loving design and having the funds to start decorating or redecorating your whole house are two different things. So, how can you start to make a dent in what can be a large, and very expensive, project?

First things first, and the most important thing, start collecting things you LOVE. If you are just getting married, just getting your first house, first apartment, or if you are hoping to change your decorating style, starting with things that you love sounds kind of like “DUH!”. But I know sometimes you are given items, offered items, or maybe have  family heirlooms… Look at everything you have, and make sure the things you start with are things you LOVE.

If you were given an item/ items, maybe some candles holders, a picture frame, mirror, or couch pillows, and they are nice but not your style. Keep them!

  • Are candle holders pink and you are going for an all white look? Spray paint is an amazing décor assistant… Paint them white, light gray, silver, or even an opaque paint to make your glass items colored but still see through.
  • Picture frames or mirror (frames) can also be painted easily. I would stick with a spray paint; hand painting will leave brush strokes. And make sure on painting a mirror, you tape the mirrored part off. If you get some paint on the glass, no biggie. Just take a razor blade and carefully scrape the paint from the glass.
  • Couch pillows in a funky pattern and you are keeping things mellow with your new décor? Buy some cool fabric in your favorite pattern and make some pillow cases, find someone who can make them for you, OR go somewhere like Hobby Lobby and browse through their selection of pillow covers. This is a fantastic way to change out the look of your living room for the seasons, or just as the mood hits you! They are inexpensive and well made. (Thanks, Katie!)
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Pillow Covers from Hobby Lobby

If you are making purchases, look for inexpensive items. Then splurge on a few must have things. Buy a few wooden boxes for decorating at a barn sale, buy a cute rug in the clearance area, but you spend more on an amazing lamp or coffee table. Point being, you don’t have to start out all at once and break the bank. You can start with a few things and add more over time. Actually, I am still doing this. Your décor can be revolving. As you find things you love, rotate them into your décor! And as you fall out of love with other items, they can rotate out. I have a shelf in my storage room that holds décor that I have rotated out. Sometimes those items get rotated back in, sometimes I get rid of them if they don’t get rotated back in within a period of time. DON’T DECORATE WITH ITEMS OUT OF GUILT! Just because you were given something, doesn’t mean you need to make a spot for it. You want your home to be a sanctuary, a comfortable place, a relaxing spot to hang out… but if you have to come home to seeing a 1960’s painted picture of a monkey just because your neighbor gave it to you, it might not be so relaxing! USE WHAT YOU LOVE!

Second, put money into essentials and then secondary items. Essentials are couches, chairs, maybe your television (depending on who you are). Secondary would be coffee tables, end tables, shelves, ottoman, lamps… The items you sit on need to follow a few guidelines: beauty, COMFORT, wearability/ longevity, function. Obviously, it must look great! And you need to love the look. But then you also NEED to make sure the items are comfortable! If these are for a sitting room, or something that is more for show, that’s a different story. But if you are in a store buying for your main living/ family area, make sure you sit on everything, maybe even lay on the furniture before you buy it! If you would have seen me in the furniture store last summer, you would have seen me sitting, laying, relaxing on a bunch of different furniture. I had to be sure if I was dropping that kind of cash on something, it was going to work for us! It also has to have good wearability and last a long time. You don’t want to drop a wad of cash on beautiful furniture and a year later it start to pill up or tear in a favorite sitting spot. You want a sturdy but comfortable fabric that will wear well for years. And function is a given. You don’t want a chair you can’t sit in, a lamp that doesn’t shed light.

Third, your walls are SO important! Wall color and the condition of your walls can make a huge difference in the look of your room. A fresh coat of paint, can dramatically make a difference in a room without changing much else. Wallpaper is a great option these days. And I don’t mean your grandma’s wallpaper. I mean the beautiful designs, textures, and colors that you can find now throughout the internet. Here is one example from a place in the UK (they also have distributors in the US)… Gorgeous. You can also add something like wood paneling or Shiplap. These are a great way to add a rustic look BUT painted, they can add a very modern, warm feel to a room. Here is a great example of clean, modern lines of shiplap on a project by Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper.

Last, remember your home is a reflection of you and your loved ones. Take your time. Buy what you want and love. Design is rotating. And not everyone loves the same things. For me, when someone wants their living room designed, or help to shop for décor; I can show them what I love, but in the end it doesn’t matter what I like, it matters what THEY love! If you buy what I like and put it in your house, you may never grow to like it! So, decorate and design for you and your family! Have fun. And love your home!