five ways to save money while decorating

I love decorating but I do not like spending a lot of money to decorate. I am very aware that there are many more important things that I could be doing with my time, but decorating is my hobby and it makes me feel good. Sitting in a well designed room just feels better. Well designed and expensive don’t necessarily have to go hand in hand. Sometimes I get stuck in finishing a project because of the cost to get my idea out of my head and into reality. (My imagination believes that I have unlimited income.) But that’s when I have to get a little creative and come up with other solutions rather than buying a particular piece of art for $500. Not going to happen.

This is not a perfectly curated group of pictures. I did not take time to style everything for these next few photos. This is real life. Who has time for that? In fact, if you look hard enough you’ll see I didn’t even dust for these pictures. Ha! And just so we’re clear, in case you haven’t noticed (wink) I am not a professional blogger with professional photos. All my photos have been taken on my handy-dandy iPhone.

So, without further ado, here are some ways that I decorate without spending a lot, if any, money.

1. Tree Branches – Step one: Go out in your yard and pick up sticks. Step two: Put them in a vase that you have hidden away in a cabinet. Voila! You have a large, free, natural “flower” arrangement. Plus, you did some yard cleaning up in the process. Added bonus: the “flower” arrangement isn’t made out of fake flowers that usually look like they should have just stayed at Hobby Lobby where they belong. I have 3 different vases in 3 rooms of my home that are filled with sticks and I love them. In one of them, I spray painted all the sticks white. It’s such an easy way to get a large-scale piece in your space as well.


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We painted over dark brick which instantly made the room feel brighter and up to date, added the mantle that we made ourselves. The art is something I have had for years. And would you look at that, there’s some branches. There used to be another picture layered on the mantle as well, but one of the dogs jumped up there and knocked it off. It’s a good thing they’re cute.
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It doesn’t have to be branches, pinecones work well too. I baked mine in the oven to make sure no bugs came inside with them.

2. Re-Use Old Art – If you are like me, you’ve made some pretty weird style choices when it comes to some of the pictures that you have picked out to hang in your home. Two words: fat chefs. Paint is your best friend. If you don’t like it anymore, paint over it. If it is framed art, print something from your computer or paint the glass with chalkboard paint. Hang empty frames in a grouping. Get creative. If you don’t like the outcome, paint over it again. Who says you can’t? It’s your house, your rules, your art. You do you!

3. Thrift Stores, Garage Sales and Craigslist – Seriously. I am not a bargain hunter, I do not enjoy that. However, my mom is the biggest bargain hunter you will ever meet. Put her anywhere in the world and she will find a thrift store, a Wal-Mart and a Ross. Every now and then I will get a wild hair and go thrifting or stop by a few garage sales. (I mostly drive really slow past a garage sale and try to see if they have anything worth stopping for.) I usually spend all of my time in the furniture and home goods department in a thrift store. But there are so many cheap treasures to be found if you take the time and browse. This will help exercise your creativity as well. Can I paint this a different color? Is there another use for this? Side note: Always be cautious when going to someone else’s home and for Craigslist finds, meet in a public place.

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The gold frame is one I found at a thrift store (it was mauve at the time but a quick coat of paint fixed it right up). The print at the top is a watercolor that I painted with some inspiration from Pinterest. I just stuck in a frame I already had. The white frame I found at Pier 1 several years ago, turns out Instagram pictures fit perfectly in it.

4. Re-paint Your Walls – This one takes time and a little bit of money. If you start the base of your room with good color and woodwork, then you don’t need to fill it up with as much stuff. Your walls can be completely bare and your home can still look wonderful if you have the right colors going on. If you’re going this route, be sure that you have some contrast. I am a sucker for white walls but the white walls are so your pieces will pop. No pieces, no pop. If you have white woodwork and a darker wall color, you don’t necessarily need a lot on your walls to pop, because the contrast of your woodwork and your wall color is already popping.

5. Re-arrange Your Furniture – Please please please! If you have a fireplace, please have your seating at least half-way focus around your fireplace. I have seen way too many rooms where people point their sofa in the opposite direction so that it will be more comfortable to watch TV. Move the TV, for the love of Pete! If you have an open layout, pull your furniture in from the walls. Your couch does not have to be touching a wall. You will probably feel better about the room once you give your furniture some breathing room.

Before you go…here’s my two cents (whether you want it or not) on how decorating can relate to modest living. The huge bonus in re-using old art and scouring thrift stores and garage sales – you aren’t spending a lot of money and you are helping cut down on waste. I follow Humans of New York on Instagram and I love to read their stories. One day a few weeks ago (maybe a few months ago, time sort of runs together these days), they posted a picture of a man with a flip phone. Come on! It’s 2015. That is what I thought until I read his statement. I don’t remember it word for word but it read something like this: I don’t need a new phone. This one still works. He explained his thought was that we are using up all of the earth’s resources to produce products that we don’t need. People throwing away their iPhone 5 for the iPhone 5s. Then throwing away the 5s a few months later for the iPhone 6 and you get the idea. It’s simple but hit me right in my gut. I try to recycle all of our plastic bottles and cardboard boxes, etc. That’s all well and good, however, if there is always a demand for more stuff and we are throwing away our good stuff for newer good stuff, how is that being environmentally friendly? I guess there is more to “going green” than recycling plastic bottles. Sometimes that means you don’t get to Google “how to reduce my carbon footprint” from the newest device, sitting in your newest car, carrying one of your 100 newest purses. A little food for thought.



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