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Helpful Hints for Decorating on a Budget

Decorating on a budget is a challenge, but design is now something everyone can enjoy, thanks to the ever-growing DIY movement. Kate here, and I remember a time before design shows empowered the masses to take projects into their own hands. Not to mention, there was a time when retailers such as IKEA weren’t in as many cities, and a time when online shopping didn’t easily connect design enthusiasts with amazing products at the click of the keypad. In other words, these days we’re lucky to be enjoying a design climate where decorating on a budget is easy to do, and today I’m sharing a few of my favorite affordable design tips. Here goes…

Embrace Budget Buys

An essential element of decorating on a budget is having a few reliable go-to sources for affordable, stylish pieces. My main go-to retailer is CB2. And no, this isn’t a sponsored post! I love this brand’s mix of sleek, modern, interesting items, shown by the finds in the photo below (such as the Slab Marble Coffee Table).

Marble coffee table from CB2


While there’s no denying that CB2’s furniture is chic, I really enjoy their smaller decor items. Over the course of the last few months, I’ve bought four of these Hoth Candle Holders, and I use them to hold flowers on my dining room table, as well as to illuminate my outdoor dining table:

The Hoth Candle Holder from CB2

Speaking of the outdoors, this is one area of the home that I always seem to be upgrading. Which can be expensive! That’s why I’m always looking for ways to add style on a budget when it comes to garden and patio finds. This image of my backyard pretty much sums it up. The large planters are from Home Depot (I painted them grey), the pillow is from Lowe’s, the green table is a Tuesday Morning piece that I spray painted chartreuse, and the matching pot is a sale item from Jo-Ann Fabrics. See more (including where I picked up the super affordable lounge chair) in my outdoor lounge design post!

Create an outdoor lounge

Another retailer whose items fill my home is IKEA. When it comes to modern furniture and decor on a budget, it’s hard to beat these prices for the quality you get in return. I currently have my eye on this FADO table lamp with a spherical glass shade:

Spherical table lamp from IKEA

My outdoor dining table and chairs are also from IKEA. In fact, I just purchased the chairs last month, and I couldn’t be happier with them. Read more about my outdoor space, including the modern planter you see below, in this post.

Turquoise planter enlivens an an outdoor seating area

Another one of my favorite go-to spots for stylish decor: Target. When I needed a dash of yellow for my bedding, I found four vibrant pillowcases on sale at this beloved retail chain for a few dollars apiece. The white blanket is also from Target:

1980s interior design

Having a collection of budget-friendly stores at the ready makes it easy to fill your home with wonderful things. Then as your budget allows, you can collect high-end pieces one at a time. But there’s no need to stare at empty space in the meantime!

Shop Retro

When you’re willing to buy used items, such as retro pieces, a new world of design opens up. Laura from A Beautiful Mess received a set of lockers from fellow blogger Elsie, and with a coat of pink paint, she customized them for her stylish art room:

Vintage lockers in a modern art room

That’s the beauty of used finds. With a little TLC, they’re given a stunning second life. Where can you shop used? Try retro boutiques, second-hand stores (such as Goodwill), garage sales, antique malls, estate sales, and antique festivals, as well as online sources such as Etsy and eBay. I picked up this collection of neon fruit at Texas Antique Weekend, which is actually a two-week “event” that consists of various festivals each spring and fall. Read more about my festival adventure here.

Neon fruit from the 1960s

I snapped the photo below at Texas Antique Weekend, and you can see how many treasures line the path in this portion of the festival. But this is just the tip of the iceberg – the fun stretches out for miles. Talk about having your pick of amazing decor!

Painted chairs and other treasures at Excess Field

Yes, there are items at antique festivals, antique malls and resale shops that are expensive. But there are also definite bargains to be found! In fact, often as a festival or garage sale goes on, prices drop. After all, the last thing a vendor wants to do is have to pack up all of the items he or she was hoping to unload.

Warrenton antique festival finds-001

The same is true of antique malls and resale shops. The longer an item is for sale, the more likely it is that the vendor will drop the price. Plus, there are always treasures to be uncovered at second-hand stores such as Goodwill. Below we see a retro fish figurine I picked up at Texas Antique Weekend. See how I transformed it into a neon geo statement piece here.

Fish figurine before shot

Not only is buying retro great in terms of the budget, it’s the perfect way to find conversation pieces for your home. Everyone loves a fun decor item with a story! Below we see an ’80s spice rack that I’m converting to a display shelf for tiny decor. I found this piece at an antique mall, the same place I discovered the Working Girl mug (yes, it’s from one of my favorite ’80s movies).

Antique mall finds from the 1980s

Shopping used/retro is a wonderful way to find unique pieces at affordable prices. Plus, there’s something about the thrill of the hunt that can’t be denied. It’s enough to inspire me to wake up early on a Saturday morning and hit garage sales!

Be a DIY-er

I couldn’t finish today’s post without shining the spotlight on the current DIY craze (that shows no signs of stopping). Why DIY? Because you can literally make something for nothing. And show a little bit of creativity in the process! Below we see a DIY Hanging Vase with Neon Cording, which I created with a glass vase and some affordable neon paracord.

DIY neon hanging vase

Upcycling is one popular DIY strategy, as it breathes new life into “old” items. This DIY Succulent Planter is one of my favorite DIY projects of all time. Before it was a planter, this piece was a votive candle holder!

DIY succulent project

As we saw earlier in the post, I’m a big fan of creating DIY projects for the outdoors. Attractive modern pots can be very expensive. That’s why I love buying clean-lined terracotta pieces and giving them a makeover with a coat of paint. This DIY Modern Planter project help me get through the dreary weeks of winter and look forward to spring:

Colorful succulent planter

Wall hangings are easy to make, and they provide you with an array of affordable textured wall art possibilities! I made this Modern DIY Wall Hanging with nothing more than a copper pipe and some yarn. It’s now the centerpiece of my dining room:

DIY yarn wall hanging

Once you really start embracing a DIY mentality, you’ll find that it becomes second nature to get creative with simple, affordable solutions for design dilemmas. One such dilemma: I purchased a large plant to top my office shelf, but the planter of my dreams just wasn’t in the budget. So I took a piece of cork contact paper and wrapped it around the pot to create a modern cylinder, as shown below. You can see more photos of my retro-modern home office tour here:

Organized shelving in a home office

Thanks for letting me share some of my favorite budget-friendly design tips and projects. By seeking out trusted affordable brands, shopping retro and getting creative with DIY projects, a little bit of money can go a long way!

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