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Home Decor

Cheap Chic: Quadruple Header

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:

Living Room

Before
After. With a pug, of course.

Hallway

Before
After

Mudroom

Before
After

Guest Bedroom

Before
After

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.

Buy secondhand

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.

Go bold

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!

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Cheap Chic: Home Office Makeover

After being itinerant for most of my adult life, I recently bought my first house. Now, as part of the landed gentry, I wear a pocket watch on a gold chain and say things befitting my station, like “hitherto” and “befitting my station.” I also have a mortgage, which means I have no money to decorate said house. Which is a problem, since I moved here without so much as a roll of paper towels. (I meant it about being itinerant—I’ve basically been living out of suitcases for the past few years.)

I love home décor and am so excited to finally have a place of my own to play with, but I’m also going to be taking the furnishing/decorating process slowly and finding every deal I can along the way. In that spirit, I thought you might like to see what I’ve done with the first room in the house, and how I’ve cut costs.

Behold the home office before (as furnished by the previous owners):

And after:

The paint is Deep Breath by Behr, purchased from Home Depot. Home Depot has great sales on paint, so I waited until they were offering a rebate. I was a little nervous about going with such a dark color since it was difficult to tell from my test swatch how it would turn out, but I’m thrilled with the result.

It’s a decadent, deep marine blue, which changes throughout the day and reflects light naturally. I liked the pale blue the previous owners had on the ceiling, so I didn’t have to do a thing there. The moldings were already painted white, but I touched them and the folding door up a bit with leftover paint.

Since I work from home, and also have no social life, my desk is where I spend all my time.

With this desk and chair (purchased off Wayfair, on sale and with a coupon), and the addition of a roll-out keyboard tray from Amazon, I finally have a comfortable amount of space for me and my dog, and an ergonomic setup that doesn’t turn me into Quasimodo as I type. Bonus: the desk drawers double as file cabinets, so I didn’t have to buy anything extra to keep paperwork in. I added a rug underfoot (purchased from Overstock, again, on sale and with a coupon), which ties the colors of the room together gorgeously and gives my pug a place to camp when he’s not in my lap.

I would have preferred Persian silk.

I wanted an extra seat in the room for a break from the desk, and this pink and gold lady is so fabulous that I almost feel rude sitting on her.

I got her for a great price off the Facebook Marketplace. I rounded out the reading nook with a side table purchased off Craigslist, which had seen better days, but came together nicely with some wood glue and some paint (also purchased with a rebate).

On top I keep two of my favorite (okay, and only) antiques. The book, which I got at a book fair in New York, dates to 1908 and has gorgeous full-color illustrations inside, along with an introduction instructing boys to be nice and help their dim sisters understand Shakespeare. The playing cards I got for a swindle at a flea market. They were released in 1897 for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and all the face cards are lovely paintings of historic British royals.

The mirror over the chair is from Craigslist, and the picture (like most of the art in the room) was bought on clearance at Art.com. I knew that I wanted something else in this corner, so to highlight the height of the room’s ceiling, I decided to Put A Bird On It. I got these little decorative birds and a basic wire cage at the craft store, painted the cage gold, and hung it with some ribbon I already had.

As you can see by the pictures over my desk, I got rather carried away with the Putting A Bird On It.

And here I’d like to share with you something valuable I learned during this whole process. Are you listening? Okay.

PICTURE FRAMES COST. SO. MUCH. MONEY.

The frames cost way more than the prints. Since I couldn’t get a picture sent to me pre-framed without driving a Brinks truck to Art.com’s headquarters, I sourced my frames from thrift stores instead.

This required a lot of roaming around thrift stores with a tape measure, looking for frames in the right size and color, but the prices were so much cheaper (often just $1 per frame) that it was worth it. Oh, and most of those frames are not meant to be opened and reused by non-professional-framer civilians. But as long as you’re willing to do some hammering and prying and gluing, you can find a way. They look nice from the front, and outer beauty is what counts, right?

Meet my light fixture, Siobhan.

We are in love and we are registered at Macy’s. This chandelier was definitely the splurge piece in the room. I saw it on Anthropologie’s website and pined over it like a war widow for six months before finally giving in (though with a coupon and a cash back deal, of course). But it’s gorgeous and so unique, and I could never have DIYed an adequate substitute on my own. Cutting costs on the rest of the room allowed me to splurge here on a piece that I really wanted.

For storage, I bought this chest of drawers off Craigslist along with the side table. It was in sorry shape when I got it, dirty and broken down—with an actual bird’s nest inside. Even my desire to Put A Bird On It has its limits. But I cleaned, painted, and refinished it, and it’s now a great place to store my printer and office supplies.

I finished off the room with some knick-knacks. The peach-scented Bath & Body Works candle was a gift, but otherwise, everything came from thrift and antique stores and cost between 50 cents and $6. Same for the antique jadeite plates on the wall, to which I attached candles to make sconces.

A nighttime view

I’m thrilled to finally have my own workspace, and in the fleeting moments when I lift my bleary eyes from bathing in the computer’s rays, it’s nice for them to have pretty things to look at. Let me know if you’re interested in seeing more home/DIY blogs as I keep working on the house!

A list of art prints in the room, for those curious:

The French Window at Nice, Late 1919: Henri Matisse

Roseate Spoonbill: John James Audubon

Walk in the Park: Laila Shawa

Roseate Parakeet: Edward Lear

Lavacourt Sunset: Claude Monet

The Somnambulist: John Armstrong

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