10 Thrifty Decorating Ideas for the budget conscious creative!

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Someday, I’m going to save up a truckload of Benjamins and re-do a room all at one time. That’s my ultimate dream. But right now, I’ve got to make sure that the swim team dues are paid up and my boys get to Scout Camp.  I want them to have opportunities that’ll help shape them into burly, outdoorsmen who swim the English Channel on the side. #nowthatsapicture

So for now, I’m living life on the wild side and decorating on the cheap.  It’s cool. And fun. If you’re in the boat with me, you know what I mean.

Here are a few ways I’ve turned ch-ch-ching into ch-ch-CHEAP – decorating, that is.

When you are a creative, it's frustrating not being able to do whatever you want with your home. Here are 10 thrifty ways to decorate if you are a budget conscious creative - or just plain budget conscious!



1. Paint an Unexpected Accent Wall

Ok. I think I’ve mentioned this about thirteen times already, but it bears repeating. Paint is obviously one of the most recognized budget decorating ideas on the planet. But don’t think you have to just do something boring and paint the wall a solid color. That’s so 2014, right?

Instead, paint some fun stripes… or better yet, paint some Stenciled Stripes.

Gold Desk on Wall

Or grab a sharpie and make your wall stand out with almost zero dollars.


There is no end to what you can do with paint.  I’ve even seen gorgeous walls with colorful brush-strokes or outlines of horses. Grab a sharpie and let your imagination run bonkers!

2. Slip Cover Sofas

So, I have this sofa that has been gnawed on by my furry friend, HotShot, so my next obvious plan will be to slip cover it.  I seriously cannot afford a new couch right now, but it won’t be nearly as expensive to either buy or make a slipcover for it.  I’ll probably have to make one because the back cushions are attached.

geometric heart wall art-12

Yeah.  I thought that was a fantastic decision because my other couch, which had loose cushions, was a big plaything for my boys.  They would pull all the cushions off the couch and make a big pillow fort/mattress on the floor.  Not that that wasn’t super fun for them, I just would lose a few marbles every time I had to pick them up.  Live and learn, my friends.  Live and learn.

3. Make Curtains from inexpensive Muslin

So, I’m actually working on this project right now.  I’m slowly sewing curtains from a bolt of Muslin I bought at Joann’s about a year ago.  I used my 40% off coupon and got about 18 yeards for around $25.  Can’t beat that.  The only problem I foresee with this tip is that you actually have to buckle down and make them.

I’d love to do something like Julia did, but I’m not sure if my patience {or my artistic flair} is up to the task. Wowzers-on-a-stick.  Aren’t they simply breath-taking?


You did read that part about where I bought the Muslin a over a year ago, right? Here’s hoping I just get them hemmed.

4. Paint Wooden Tchatchkies or Plastic Animals with Metallic Spray Paint

I love Spray Paint.  It’s like painting with angel wings instead of brushes.  You can take any old, ugly wooden or ceramic piece and give it new life with some Metallic Gold Spray Paint.  So next time your at the GoodWill and wonder why anybody in their right mind would buy that silly little ceramic skunk, snatch that sucker up and run home to your miraculous can of glorious spray paint. (I should buy stock in that gold paint.)


Even skunks can be glamorous. #youknowimright

5. Shop for Coffee Table Books at the Thrift Store

Every professionally styled room has some big art books, right?  You definitely don’t have to pay full price for them, though.  Every time I’m at the Goodwill or used bookstore, I see several large artsy books that would make great additions to a coffee table.  Grab 2 or 3 if you can and then you can rotate them out for variety.


You’ll be the Emily Henderson of Coffee Tables in no time flat.  (I didn’t get that book at the Goodwill, but man…it was worth it!)

I wish I could just be that little soldier lamp so I could soak up some of whatever Emily smokes. #smokingisreallyreallybadforyouitsjustafigureofspeech

6. Learn how to make your own Pillow Covers.

I actually can’t own decorative cushions.  HotShot seems to think they are gourmet chew toys.  But if I could, I’d totally use this tutorial from my friend Courtenay and make my own.


Bonus Tip: Always be on the lookout for feather pillows on sale or at the thrift store so you can get real feather inserts for cheap.

And every time I’m at TJ Maxx or the thrift store and see feather pillows, I melt a little inside.  It doesn’t matter what they look like on the outside.  Just grab them so you can use them as inserts. Have you ever priced feather inserts? GEEZ.  (But these aren’t too bad. Especially if you don’t want to run all over creation searching for them!)

Someday, I’ll be able to buy them all up and have a room full of feather throw pillows and nothing else.  Until then, I’ll make do with some extra slobbery kisses and lots of wagging tails to make up it. 

7. Make Roman Shades from Mini Blinds

Okay.  I love Roman Shades, but have you ever priced them?  I mean, the supplies alone don’t scream cheap, so having them custom made is borderline ridiculous.  BUT… you can use an super cheap mini-blind to make them and they are fabulous!  I did one for my bathroom (sorry.  lame blogger has no photos)  But JamieLynn has a fantastic tutorial right here.


Go check it out and get your Roman Shade on!

8. Make Your Own Lampshades for Yard Sale Lamps

Everyone knows yard sales are a great way to find deals on accessories.. especially lamps. I bought some UGLY, 1970 lamps from our church yard sale and gave them a quick update with, yes… spray paint.  But I also make a flirty and fun lampshade to really make them sizzle.


Don’t let the crazy fabric choice I make you run screaming.   Yes, I actually had someone tell me they didn’t like the fabric, and I’m totally ok with that.  Blog for a while and you’ll grow some think skin. #therearesomerudepeopleoutthere

Now that I have some perspective, that fabric does look a little bit like boiled Easter Eggs gone wrong, Volume 2.  I’d actually like to redo them, I think. Maybe something a little more geometric. You can obviously pick something that rocks with your decor and make these funky lampshades for yourself.

Here’s the tutorial.  It’s really very easy to do.

9. Update Cheap Crates with a Fun and Funky Design

I love using wooden crates to coral stuff.  I have a ton of them holding our library of books, college dorm style.  And I have three that I’ve funked up with some Chalky Finish Paint in a geometric triangle pattern.


You can get wooden crates at Michael’s for almost nothing, especially if you grab your coupons.  FYI, they take them from your smartphone, so if you forget to print them, just pull it up on your phone from the weekly ad. Score.

10. Make Your Own Cornices instead of buying expensive curtains.

I love curtains, but sometimes I don’t.  Mainly because I feel like I have to make them, but we all know that’s so not true.  You can make them out of twin sheets or, here’s a thought… buy them.

But curtains aren’t the only option.  I love the sleek look of wooden cornices.  I actually found mine at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, but you could totally make your own for practically nothing.  Peanuts even.

family room updates april 2015-7

If you want a more decorative design, just make a pattern out of craft paper and trace it on the board…. kinda like how I did when I altered the plans for my Porch swing.

Honestly, I love decorating on the cheap because it forces my brain to dig deep and swim in the waters of unexpected creativity.  Do I sometimes wish I had a box of cash to hire Emily to fly in an wave her magic wand?  I’d be in flaming pants if I said no, but all in all, it’s really so much fun to do it bit by bit in my very own way.

I'm living life on the wild side and decorating on the cheap. It's cool. And fun. If you're in the boat with me, you know what I mean. Here are a few ways I've turned ch-ch-ching into ch-ch-CHEAP - decorating, that is.

Do you have any other creative ideas for decorating on the cheap?  Leave me your tips below in the comments!

For more budget decorating ideas, check out these articles!

Do you want to create a beautiful home but money is tight? Here are 10 great tips for How to Decorate on a Tight Budget. You can make a beautiful home on a small budget.How on earth do you decorate when you have NO talent for it? Umm... you don't need talent. Just follow these tips on how to decorate from theboldabode.com.





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  1. Fun ideas! Once I finish buying stuff for the neverending bathroom makeover, I’m going to be all out of money and needing some ideas like this :). And, yes….throw pillows. Sigh. The Beagle doesn’t chew them, but she does spend a lot of time arranging them just to her liking and then flopping her stinky hound dog self down on them and staying put until they’re totally shapeless.

    1. Thanks so much, Gretchen! Aren’t puppies so funny sometimes?

  2. I love the fact that you find it challenging to decorate on the cheap. I love it, too! To me, it’s the thrill of the hunt! It does force your brain to think deeper and craftier. I am a regular at our local good will and I’ve found no end of great bargains there! Keep it up! I love your ideas and your articles. Thanks!!

    1. Thank you so much, BJ! It is really fun to be creative and think of really different ways to decorate on a budget!


  3. Hi! I’m Gwen, too. You don’t run in to many of us. I love it! I pinned you to home inspiration! I buy pillow covers from Hobby Lobby. With the discount, they are about $4. A pillow can change a room!

  4. Bonjour Ms.Gwen! Your ideas are simply delightful? They are definitely inspiring?I would have to say that (even though you did not mention it) your heart banner across your fireplace(last picture) is my favourite? I absolutely love how you included your dog HotShot into your blog!?? You have a lovely unique name, do not let anyone else tell you otherwise? Looking forward to reading your other posts☺ Well I must be going…Au revoir! -Juls?

    1. Thanks so much, Juls! I appreciate your kind words so much… and so does HotShot!



  5. Love your ideas AND your sense of humor. I was seriously LOL’ing at the same time I was OOOH-ing and AAAHHH-ing. Thanks!

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