Few things feel as good as having a beautiful and well-organized home. An aesthetically pleasing environment is good for your mind, body, and soul. You can’t have peace of mind if you’re surrounded by clutter. You might be risking your physical health if your space isn’t clean. The artful arrangement of elements in a room can make your soul sing. If you are considering redecorating or making home improvements in the near future but need to keep expenses low, these tips will help you achieve maximum style and functionality while minimizing the impact on your wallet.
1. Do-It-Yourself. This little phrase can strike terror in the hearts of people who don’t consider themselves handy, experienced, or particularly talented with home improvement or decorating projects. Take a deep breath and relax. No one is suggesting you take on a large-scale endeavor that ought to be left to professionals, but don’t underestimate yourself. There are many things you can do that you might not think you can. Tiling a bathroom, replacing hardware in a sink, installing an organizational system in a closet, or making custom window cornices are just a few examples of projects that beginners can manage with remarkable success, not to mention tremendous personal satisfaction. There is an abundance of resources available to help guide you, i.e. free classes at your hardware store, books (free at the library!), TV shows, online tutorials, and more.
2. Paint. Painting is relatively easy and inexpensive, and interior decorators agree that painting provides the most dramatic results for the least amount of effort and money. Invest in paint; you cannot get a better return on your decorating dollar.
3. Always check online for coupons. Nearly every store has online coupons these days. Even if you’ve forgotten about coupons until you’re already standing in the checkout line, grab your smartphone and do a quick search online. Many stores can scan coupon barcodes right from your phone, resulting in substantial savings!
4. Trade services. If you’re an accountant, offer your carpenter client to prepare his tax return at no charge in exchange for custom shelves in your bedroom. If you’re a hairdresser and have a customer who is a florist, offer your styling services in exchange for a beautiful floral arrangement. Most people love to trade services because it’s a win-win for everyone.
5. Don’t discount the discount stores. Places you’d never think of for designer-quality items now carry an impressive selection at extremely competitive prices. Check out Target, Walmart, Kirkland’s, Overstock.com, Ollie’s, and Big Lots. You may be pleasantly surprised to find what you can easily afford.
6. Go on a second-hand treasure hunt. Spend some time at flea markets, yard sales, thrift shops, and on Craigslist.org (many items are free on Craigslist). Check to see if your area has a Habitat for Humanity store (“ReStore”), which are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell a multitude of items at unbelievably low prices.
7. Have a party! Invite your friends and family over for a landscaping party, or a patio or porch party, or a painting or paneling party. Good folks will work for hotdogs, lemonade, and the pleasure of your company.
8. Use off-the-shelf items rather than custom-built items. Recently I went to have a canvas painting framed. I looked at custom frames, which were pricey even though they were on sale for 50% off. When I balked at the price, the salesperson showed me ready-made frames (also 50% off). I found one that was identical to one of the custom frames I was considering but it was one-third of the price.
9. Make your own stuff (or call in favors from someone who can). Throw pillows are extremely simple to make or re-cover. There are no-sew blankets and even curtains you can make in a jiffy. Paint a picture or sculpt a simple vase. Photography is an easy, low-cost way to add beauty to your home and anyone can do it. Take your own pictures and frame them!
10. Rearrange stuff you already have. We recently purchased a vacation home in the mountains. I bought only a few things to decorate it. The rest came from stuff we already had around the house and garage, but those items took on new life in their new space. We were able to create gorgeously decorated rooms with these recycled pieces.
Have fun. Be patient. Ask for help along the way and above all, express yourself! Your home should be a reflection of the best of you. Be proud that you are putting your own energy into creating a comfortable and inviting living space. You deserve a beautiful, functional, and peaceful home for yourself and those you love. Best wishes on your adventures in decorating and home improvement!