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DIY Projects - Prudent Home Decorating

Updated on May 15, 2019

The prudent aesthetic is about investing in the right items and projects to make your vision come to life. We’ve found these seven principles can be universally applied to any household on any budget. Use these guidelines as a jumping-off point to decide what to keep, what to buy, and what to DIY.


Perhaps it’s a family heirloom like your great-grandfather’s clock, or maybe it’s a couch you don’t love but can’t afford to replace. Take a look at what you have to start with and build up from there. There’s no piece you can’t incorporate into your current style with a little creative thinking.

This blue couch had been lived in and loved, but once a kid came into the picture, it proved too small for the whole family to snuggle on. In fact, with the whole house feeling too small, they transformed their breakfast nook into a guest room. When the priorities for this family’s space changed, they shuffled the furniture as well, ending up with a room both useful and comfortable.


Often a simple re-imagining of a room’s layout is all you need. Sometimes you’ll find that one object (a bar cart) can serve a whole new purpose (voilà, an end table!), or that an area rug from the bedroom can give your living room new life.

For those lucky enough to live in a warm climate year-round, outdoor space acts as an extra room in a home; albeit a more finicky one. For families that spend a significant amount of time outdoors, investing in patio furniture that is both beautiful and sturdy against the elements (even if it’s just wind, dust, and the occasional sprinkle) is a logical choice. These handwoven rattan chairs may have cost more up front, but they’ve proven worthy of the investment years later.


Every now and then you need to go all-out for that one item you love—say a vintage kilim rug, a statement chandelier, or a piece of quality artwork. Save your pennies for those pieces you know you and your family will treasure for lifetimes to come.

This painting was paid for over the course of seven years through the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s rental and sales gallery, where artworks are professionally curated and then offered on a rent-to-own basis. For a young couple just starting out, this painting, which cost thousands of dollars and took years to purchase, deserves a perch in the heart of their home.


There are great deals to be had on high-design items. The trick is mixing and matching, so your home doesn’t look like the store catalog. When you choose the right inexpensive pieces to complement your thrifts, gifts, and splurges, no one will ever know the difference.

An Ikea lampshade and nightstand look positively in-place when complemented with hand-sewn pillow shams and handmade children’s drawings. Keep everything full yet coordinated (turning mismatched books so the white pages face out is a great designer trick for un-cluttering space).


The prudent home is meant to be lived in, which means comfort is key. A family doesn’t want a couch so stiff it prevents snuggles, or a tablecloth so delicate no one is allowed to eat on it. Know which items your family will use frequently—which rugs will get the most wear, which bedspread will be jumped on, which tables will get covered in crayon—and choose pieces that can withstand the wear.

Princess Cheese may be a rugged street nugget, but she still needs a soft place to lay her head. This sturdy couch gives her a perfect view of any potential intruders with upholstery that handle dirty paws.


Think about how your family celebrates special moments and everyday occasions throughout the year and design your home to adjust easily and inexpensively for those events. If you like to cook and throw dinner parties, your kitchen and dining area are a spending priority. Indulge in extra seating areas and stock up on serving platters. What kind of family are you—do you cozy up on the couch and watch movies? Do you have a collection you love to share with guests? Do you need a quiet spot to paint? Arrange your furniture around the way that you live with purpose and prudence.

A dining room is often the one space that manages to stay orderly and welcoming (unless the table doubles as your desk), while the kitchen usually manages to stay a mess. Make an effort to keep one clear surface, while adding a few well-thought-out accents like extra seating means you will always be ready to entertain a group of friends or gather for an intimate family meal.


Sometimes it feels like it’s their world, and you just live in it. Now you are out to build a home that meets everyone’s needs. Agreeing with your partner on décor you both are comfortable with or agreeing to create separate spaces within your home to express yourselves are equally good solutions. Then there’s making sure the kids have room to grow too . . . combining the two.

This loft living room/dining room is masculine enough for Grant but whimsical enough for our managing editor, Colleen. The dark walls, vibrant couch, and romantic touches (like black-and-white photography and hanging dried florals) reveal the blend of hearts and styles that make this space a home.


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