It’s been a while since my last home décor post, but don’t worry, my dedication to being both cheap and chic has continued. I’m coming to you today with not one, but FOUR spaces in my house that I’ve made over, and some insights into how I did it economically.
First, the spaces:
Here are a few of the principles I found helpful along the way in making over these rooms on the cheap.
Buy cheap and then embellish
It’s often less expensive to take basic items and dress them up to suit your tastes than it is to source something that’s already perfect. Plus, it’s a way to personalize your home with things that are totally unique, since you made them that way!
You can paint furniture to suit your color palette. Add ribbon tie-backs to basic white curtains. Put a fancy bulb in an inexpensive light fixture. Customize furniture with new hardware or legs.
Better yet, look for ways to dress up what you already have. Since new light fixtures can be so pricey, I added beads to one of ours, and flowers to another.
This probably goes without saying, but buying used is way cheaper. Most of the furniture and décor in my house has come from the Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, thrift stores, and antique stores. In addition to saving money, you really can find some of the most unique and well-made furniture when you go vintage.
Better yet, go free. And yes, a lot of the free stuff on Craigslist may be, well, what you would expect from free stuff on Craigslist. But I’ve found some gems on there, including good quality fabric, and furniture which I’ve made over and sold at a profit, allowing me to get the furniture I actually want.
Buy things that have multiple uses
Invest in craft supplies that you can plan multiple uses for, or try to get creative with the leftovers you already have. Those flowers from the light fixture also made their way into vintage oil lamps from a thrift store. The ribbon I bought for the living room curtains has been useful all over the place, including to hang art in the mudroom.
Use a consistent color scheme
Finding multiple uses for the things you buy is way easier when there’s some cohesiveness from one room to the next. I’m not trying to keep the exact same style all over the house, but I do use a lot of blue and gold, which has made it easier to reuse materials between projects.
For instance, I never throw out paint if I can help it. The gray paint I used on the end tables and coffee table in the living room was initially bought for a couple pieces of furniture in my office, the paint from the living room walls and ceiling has made its way onto furniture in the kitchen and master bedroom, and I’ve used gold spray paint on both furniture and picture frames.
Look for savings on art
Speaking of pictures: art is another area where you can spend way, way less money if you’re willing to put in a bit of effort. I’ve railed before on this blog against the prices of picture frames and advised buying frames in thrift shops, which I still stand by. That’s easier if you’re not committed to finding a very specific type of frame, so you can always use paint to dress up or unify the frames in a room, or add ribbon hangings to make basic frames more interesting.
As for the art itself, one way to get the art you want super cheaply is to find high resolution images online and get them printed from a photo service like Shutterfly, as opposed to buying from a dedicated art print company. If it’s the work of a living artist whose pieces are not in the public domain, I try to avoid this as I like to make sure I’m buying the art in a way that supports them. But for Van Gogh, gogh for it.
Also, don’t limit yourself to paintings and prints when it comes to art. I love finding vintage dishes, often for only a dollar or two apiece, and hanging them, and these 1950s school workbooks have such pretty covers that they definitely count as art! You can also try hanging a lovely tea towel, tacking up a pair of vintage gloves or a scarf, or wall-mounting a plant.
Accept your losses
When you’re looking for bargains, sometimes “You get what you pay for” rings true. I bought a very cute white and gold throw pillow from Ikea that, within a matter of months, turned a very not cute yellowish cream and brownish green, and I had to replace it. Sometimes cheap things don’t work out or don’t last as long, and I guess that’s the price you pay. But overall, bargain hunting will still save you money.
Use things that cost more in smaller doses
If there’s something you want to use that costs more, look for how to use it as impactfully as possible in small ways. For instance, since wallpaper costs more than paint, I papered two walls of the mudroom and painted the others, as opposed to using wallpaper on the whole room.
When you select furniture and décor that’s colorful and visually interesting, you can have fewer things in a room and it will still look bright and dynamic. Neutrals and more plain pieces often call for layering, unless you’re going for a truly minimalist look.
Do you have any cheap chic tips of your own? Feel free to share them below!