Now that I actually have a home decorating budget…haha… I’ve been trying to make the absolute most out of it. I know we all try to stretch that lovely dollar when it comes to our homes and families, and decorating can oftentimes take a back burner.
I say that it doesn’t have to. I know you know that, what with the huge surge in thrifting and repurposing over the past few years. I can hardly even shop at a Goodwill anymore because the ones around here have gotten wise to our methods and jacked their prices up. I go into my local store looking for furniture-ish stuff and there might be a little desk for $60. Now this is the kind of desk that needs a TON of love and updating. I know five years ago that rinky dink, paint-peeling piece of junk would have been, like, 5 bucks.
Every. Dollar. Counts. #amiright?
So when money is being spent on kids’ sports to keep them fit (and worn-out) and on Chiropractors to keep mom’s pinched nerve from making her into a demon-spawn, what do you do? You want a beautiful home to rival the West Elm catalog, but geez… isn’t eating SO much more important?
I believe eating is more important that decorating, but having a home that lifts you up when you walk through the door is almost as important. You come home from a long day at work, you should feel happy when you throw your bags in the corner and plop down for some dinner. Or if you spend most of your time at home like I do, you should feel easy-breezy while chasing toddlers or telecommuting. It does something to your spirit to be surrounded by loveliness. Don’t you agree?
And loveliness need not cost an arm an a leg, right? I mean… that $12,000 black velvet sofa is GORGEOUS, but COME ON. (Now if you have a budget that allows a $12,000 sofa, then that is seriously OK. Don’t feel guilty. We all have different budgets and I totally get that. #nojudgementhere #maybeonedaythatwillbemybudget)
So the question is, how to make the most of your decorating budget?
I’ve put together some ideas that I’ve had and used and want to do to help inspire and encourage you to take “home decor” out of the “wants” column and move it over into the “this is a part of my life” column.
Begin to think long term.
If you are in your forever home, thinking long term comes easier than if you are renting. But even if you are in a transitional space, you can still think about the future. When considering big purchases, think about where you’ll be in 5 years.
Will you be having children? Will your children be grown? Will you be welcoming grandchildren into the mix. Thinking about the changes that the future might hold can help inform your decisions right now. It can help you figure out the functionality you may need so you have a plan as life unfolds.
Yes, unexpected things always happen, but long range thinking can come in handy when planning a space. It helps you to make better informed choices rather than just running out and buying stuff to suit your needs for the present.
Consider your stage in life.
When you plan a room or want to make updates, think about where you are in life. If you have young children who are learning how to hold their cups and are throwing screaming fits about washing the sticky jelly off their pudgy little fingers, that white chenille sofa might not be the best idea. Or that white rug. Yes. I’m talking from experience.
No matter how pretty it is, and how much you think you can keep it clean, STOP. In two months you’ll be banging your head on the floor wondering why the heck you ever thought a white rug was a good idea. When the kids are grown and you’ve talked your husband out of any more dogs that eat socks and throw up on the closest carpeted surface, i.e. the white rug, maybe then will be a good time to go for it.
A big part of making the most of your home decorating budget is just making wise decisions. Be Solomon and don’t cut your hair when it comes to making wise choices with your budget!
Do your research.
When we bought our new couch, I spent hours and hours online reading reviews and checking out all the specs. I researched what made a couch sturdy and what to look for in the construction. I ordered samples from several companies who sold the style I liked and took my time before I made a decision. I went with Joybird because their reviews were strong (albeit not perfect – which I think is good. I like to see real people writing the reviews. If you see nothing but glowing reports, buyer beware! It’s probable that they are just publishing the best or even just paid reviews. Look for the signs!
Joybird seemed to have the most of what I wanted, and I felt good about my purchase. To read more about the process and to see what I chose, just read this post.
When purchasing large ticket items, buy quality that will last a long time.
I know it’s tempting to run to Ikea and just grab the cutest couch there. But let’s face it… Ikea’s priority is price. Design is also very important, I think, but I know I shop there for the low cost and not necessarily the quality. I’m not saying that I won’t buy from Ikea again… In fact, I am looking at a media console there because I chose to spend a lot on my new sectional. It’s all about balance.
But I know I need to keep the couch for A LONG TIME. If I spend less on the media cabinet, then I need to know that it might need updating or fixing or stabilizing down the road… a lot sooner than if I had bought a solid wood piece from someone like Joybird.
It’s important to prioritize and figure out where the most important place is to spend your money. For me, that is seating. Everything else can come and go without much worry about cost. But knowing that I have a quality sofa that is nap-worthy and will last gives me peace of mind!
Declutter your home. A more minimalistic approach frees up space and makes your home look more like a magazine.
Decluttering seems to be ALL the rage. I’ve been doing it for 15 years…ever since I first found FlyLady. If you ever sit down and look through a Pottery Barn or West Elm Catalog, take note. Where is the clutter? It’s not there. It might be behind the camera, but you won’t find it there in that meticulously staged photograph.
If you don’t have any money to spend, start tossing stuff. Toss so much stuff, the kids and dog think they’re next. Get rid of paper and junk and furniture. Heavens to Betsy, I’ve still have too much furniture in my house. Too many side tables and chairs will dwarf a room and make it feel tight and breathless. Let your home breathe by getting rid of all the excess.
I’m sure you’ve heard of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, right? There is some truth to it. I’ve lived it and can attest to the value to letting stuff go and truly loving what you keep.
In fact, I would push you down this road before you even think about redecorating anything. A home that can breath is inviting and restful!
Make every dollar count.
Obviously, right? That’s really what you want to know, I’m sure. How to stretch those dollars in new and exciting ways, huh?
1. Use Cash.
Putting furniture on credit is going to cost you so much more after paying the interest. I know how it feels to just want to make over a room and have all new stuff. I know that feeling when you are standing there looking at that new car and your adrenaline starts to rush and you just HAVE to have it because you deserve it and you work hard and you haven’t ever had the chance to pick out your very own because you’ve always had hand-me-downs.
It can be the same with sofas. That desire wells up inside and it’s like a race-car driving the Indy 500 takes over. There’s no stopping it.
But if you save the money and just use cash, it will be much better for you financially in the long run. That might mean waiting a few more months, but it WILL be worth it.
We had this couch for seven years and it was destroyed by small children and a giant dog. Even though I sat on every stinkin’ sofa within our city limits and thought this was the right one, it was uncomfortable and we hated it. But I forced myself to wait until I had saved up enough to make a better and more informed choice. It wasn’t easy, but it’s paid off in aces and spades and clubs and diamonds. I know part of my success this time around is that it wasn’t my first time at the couch-buying rodeo. So be kind to yourself if (or when) you make mistakes. Time and experience will be on your side.
And for this purchase, I used cash, and it feels awesome to be sitting on pretty on a couch that is fully paid for!
Which leads me to…
2. Sell your old stuff to make a few bucks.
I know this might come as a “duh” moment, but for me, I’ve always hated selling stuff. I’ve never had a yard sale, and I can’t stand the thought of craigslist. It creeps me out to think of strangers coming to my house to see my furniture. In fact, several times, we’ve just put stuff out in our front yard with a “FREE” sign on it. I’ve been happy to gift my stuff to a home that needs it! (unless a neighbor takes it and sells it in a garage sale. That just happened and I was just a little bit annoyed. But them I remembered that I gifted it and released it. It was now theirs to do what they wished. That’s maturity, folks.)
But just a few weeks ago, I decided to give my local consignment store a go. They do take 50% but that’s 50% more than I would have gotten had I given it to the Goodwill. (Though I do still give lots of stuff to the Goodwill). I’m only going to take un-banged up, nice looking stuff to sell. I mean, I’m sure they wouldn’t have wanted my couch turned doggy chew toy. Not front widow merchandise display there, yo.
Another option I’ve seen is to post your stuff on Facebook and see if any of your local friends need it. At least that way, you might know the people coming to pick up your stuff. Hopefully, you’re not friends with any axe murderers. Yikers.
3. Be very careful with DIY’ing.
I make lots and lots of our home decor. I love doing it and usually it saves us some money. But not ALL the time. This is where you have to watch it like a hungry hawk on a juice diet. Material costs can soar past what you might have paid for something if you aren’t careful. So do some research before you decide you want to add a nice accent wall to your Foyer. There may be cheaper ways to create an accent wall. Or build that table.
For example, if your carpet is nasty and you don’t have the cash to drop on a new shag, just rip it out and paint the sub-floor. My house is on a slab, and I ripped up the carpet in my office and painted it white. It’s amazing. I know when we sell, we’ll probably put down something new, but for me it works and I love it. It was relatively inexpensive process since we did it all ourselves. Not putting down new carpet or wood saved us hundreds of dollars!
If you are really pinching your pennies, be sure to weigh all the pros and cons when it comes to DIY.
4. Paint with neutral colors.
Ack. I never thought I’d say that! When I started this blog, it was a bit of a reaction to the Pottery Barn Catalog back when they first started painting everything beige. Now, I’m still not a fan of beige, but whites and grays are fantabulous.
And now that I have a few white rooms, I can change things up like wall art and accent pillows without breaking the bank. And I can have fun colored furniture, like my new sectional sofa. Even though it is a dark teal, it is both a color and a neutral. It’s amazing.
5. Use your money to purchase some tools.
One of the best investments that I have made is in some tools. Without my ginormous miter saw, I wouldn’t have been able to do this Geometric Cedar Accent Wall in the foyer. If I had hired that out because I didn’t have the right saw, it would have seriously broken the bank. But by saving my money to invest in the saw, I was able to do that project and have used it several more times since.
Now, if I do crown molding downstairs or add some more planked wall accents, I don’t have to buy anything but materials to make it happen. You don’t have to start with a giant miter saw like mine, you can start with some basics.
- Good Power Drill
- A good, sturdy, powerful drill is a must. I use mine ALL the time. It’s a total life saver.
- Corner Cat Finish Sander
- It took me a while to figure out I needed a mouse sander. I would try to hand sand everything. But now, it’s SO much easier and sanding jobs not only are more thorough, they go so much faster!
- Saw Horses
- My dad actually gifted me a couple of saw-horses for Christmas one year. I was kinda on the fence about them until I got them home. Lo and freaking behold, but did I love them. I use them all the time with a piece of plywood to raise my painting projects up off the ground. I use them to saw stuff, too. They really are a lifesaver! They are light and easy to move in and out of the garage.
- Cordless Nail Gun
- Boy, oh, boy! I love my cordless nail gun. I’ve used it to install faux board and batten in my office, install trim in the foyer, and to stabilize wood projects like my DIY Pendant light. I couldn’t imagine having to nail in all those little brad nails anymore. It’s not that expensive, and you can use it for so many different things. If you are doing any trim work at all, it’s a MUST have!
- Circular Saw
- I’ve only used my circular saw a couple of times, but I’m glad to have it on hand. If I need to make a quick cut, sometimes it’s easier to pull it out instead of my big miter saw. Especially if I have my sawhorses already set up!
- Stud Finder
- I couldn’t live without my stud finder. I actually just used it today to hand a Color Cord pendant in my family room. Granted, there wasn’t a stud where I need one, but knowing that, I was able to use an anchor to hang my light instead of just guessing and being wrong-o.
- This is not a tool I really thought I would ever need. I bought it to use to disassemble some pallets a-WAY long time ago. I built this porch swing with my pallets. I love, love, love this swing, but it’s the only thing I ever used pallets for. But that’s really another story in itself! Since then, I’ve used my crowbar for countless projects including ripping up the carpet in my office. I would never have been able to get all the carpet tacks out of the concrete without it. It was a lifesaver!
- Right Angle Electric Screwdriver
- This little electric right angle screwdriver has been really handy to have around. It’s helped us hang and remove several things, most recently, the rubbermaid wall organization system in our garage. If you have a tight corner that you need to navigate, this little driver does the job. It goes places a regular screw driver just can’t.
- Cricut Vinyl Cutting Machine
- Oh, man. Having a cutting machine changed my life. I don’t use it all the time, but when I need to cut letters and shapes and other fun stuff, having this Cricut is a God-send. It does have a learning curve, but Cricut has a ton of support and tutorial videos on their site to see you through. Now they have the Cricut Air which has the bluetooth already built in. AWESOME!
- Baby Lock Sewing Machine
- I adore my Baby Lock. I’ve had it for 10 years and it’s been amazing. It’s a pretty basic one that I got for a great price since it was a display model. If you want to get a decent sewing machine, Baby Lock is a great brand. Mine has an automatic needle threader…GAME CHANGER. I don’t sew as much now as I did when I had little ones, but it’s so nice to have a great machine when I do.
Decorating your home doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
With some insight and wise decisions, you can make your budget tow the line for you! I’ve spent very little decorating my home and the only major purchase I’ve really made was our sectional. Other than that, it’s all been DIY and thoughtful choices that have made it a place where we feel comfortable and at home. Of course, I have more I want to do and I’m always itching to change things up!
That’s a creative personality for you, right?
What other ways do you use to make the most of your home decorating budget?
Let me know down in the comments below!