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4 Ways to Decorate on a Budget

Updated on May 10, 2015
janikon profile image

I'm a thirty-something writer who lives in downtown Toronto. I've been an online writer for over seven years, focusing on health trends.

By Nick Keppol from Brooklyn, planet rock (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Nick Keppol from Brooklyn, planet rock (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

There is nothing more disappointing than moving into a new space and not having the money to decorate it to your design standards. We are accustomed to seeing our television counterparts live in eclectically decorated lofts or refurbished old homes. Our biggest mistake is believing you need a lot of money to achieve these polished looks when all you really need is a little imagination and some elbow grease. There is nothing you can buy from Urban Barn or Anthropologie you cannot build, make or mimic yourself for hundreds of dollars cheaper and not scrimp on your design dream or break your bank. We do not have the luxury of being thrifty with our money nor do we see the need to own the most expensive pieces for our home when we can create something that is tailored to our exact need. Keep your finger on the trigger of your glue gun because we are living in the age of the D.I.Y generation. | Source

Tools You'll Need

  • finishing nails
  • hammer
  • staple gun
  • level

By Mrs Scarborough (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Mrs Scarborough (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

1. Personalized Art

When decorating on a budget even your walls can seem like an unattainable task. We have been taught to focus on the furniture placement and installing the electronic comforts you need to feel comfortable (i.e. an internet connection and a Netflix account) but our walls are usually left bare. A space could be beautifully decorated and furniture placement functional but without the suitable wall coverings the space screams 'unfinished'. Whereas we cannot all afford to decorate with paintings, murals or tapestries like our YouTube counterparts but there is a cost-effective way of filling your walls with personalized art.

  1. Stretched Canvases: This a really cost-effective way of decorating a large space without spending a lot of money. When my friends moved into their first apartment they had a housewarming party where they had guests paint designs on a large stretched canvas. In the end the art that was created was really interesting, completely unique to their space while only costing them around $45.

    If you are looking for something a little more simple I would suggest choosing an accent colour you like and painting the canvas a solid colour. This creates a great focal point in a room and gives an area of interest over a couch, bed or buffet. There is a general belief art needs to be a framed photograph, oil painting or something you might see in your grandmothers home but art can be whatever you want it to be.
  2. Wrapping Paper/Wallpaper: Wrapping paper is not what it use to be and I'm not talking about the stuff you find in a box at the end of a Dollar Store aisle. You can find some pretty interesting and creative wrapping paper designs in art stores, hobby shops and home decor shops. You'll need a couple of frames of various sizes, cut the wallpaper/wrapping paper to size and viola you have very distinct pattern art you can hang around your apartment. I have two beautiful framed pieces in my living room that receive quite a few compliments when friends and family come over.
  3. Fabric: Instead of stretched canvas, why not try stretching fabric over a canvas framework. You can use something like an old t-shirt you no longer wear or take a trip to a fabric store and find something that fits you design plan. This creates a great conversation piece in the room and looks expensive but doesn't cost much more than $35.


Tools You'll Need

  • spray paint
  • painters tape
  • sandpaper*
  • damp rag

*make sure to always give all your pieces a light sanding and wipe down before painting them to ensure the paint adheres.

2. Repurpose & Repaint

Garage sales are treasure troves of items that are just crying out for a fresh coat of paint or to be repurposed with new life. There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to scouring garage sales, flea markets and antique shops for tired treasures to liven up your space.

  1. Mirrors: Do you have an old mirror you simply do not use anymore or you bought it for the frame rather than the actual reflective quality? With a little bit of chalkboard spray paint you can create a great message board for your kitchen, office or dorm room. Finish the frame off with a bold colour that stands out in your space and you've got a great piece.
  2. Ceramic / Glass Vases: If you have been watching any television shows lately and have taken note of the set dressing or flipped through any design magazine you'll notice bold pastel coloured decorative vases are very in. For something you can get from the dollar store and make yourself it's shocking to me they retail for upwards to $150. With a little bit of painters tape and a can of spray paint you can have a few of these vases for under $25.
  3. Small Bookshelves: These with a new coat of paint and some TLC can become a very interesting and functional side table. Always remember to choose a paint colour that does not clash with your furniture but does get lost in your space.

Your imagination is the limit when it comes to repurposing or repainting any treasure but you should always go in with an idea of what you need. Make sure you plan out how much you are planning to spend on each project to keep from overspending.


Items You'll Need

  • pebbles
  • rocks
  • marbles
  • glass containers
  • rope, burlap or string to bind the candles together
  • plates
  • spray paint (if you choose to paint the plates)

3. Candles

The most interesting thing about candles is they have a transformative quality for any room. They are able to instantly create a mood in any space when lit and cast the most interesting shadows on the wall. Bunching different sized candles together on shelves or as centre pieces on your coffee or dining room table is a really inexpensive way to create focal points. There are a few ways you can display candles without having the wax damage your surfaces.

  • glass containers
  • colourful plates that create a bold base
  • large shallow bowls (add rocks or marbles around where the bowl angles)
  • inexpensive lanterns

4. Repurpose Old Furniture

There is nothing more important than feeling at home in your space and creating something you are truly proud of.


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Getting harder and harder to craft and fabricate on a budget.

    • torrilynn profile image


      4 years ago

      great ideas and tips. and nice photos by the way. thanks for the hub.

    • janikon profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Canada

      @lilyfly you're truly a good friend a lovely person. I wish that was my home but I haven't quite perfected the look.

    • lilyfly profile image

      Lillian K. Staats 

      4 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska

      Janikon- lovely! So, I shouldn't let you know I'm sleeping on a mattress and put towels over my windows!

      If those are pics of your place- It's amazing! love yaz, QT! lily


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