Ten Steps for Decorating on a Budget

Whether you’re just starting out or starting over in your home, the goal is to get the decorating look you want on a budget so you opt to do it yourself. Great idea! There are so many resources for you to choose from and a lot of times it’s just knowing where to go, what to buy, and how to DIY it.

Let’s start with the essential furniture needed for your home. These items are must haves and should be considered first when decorating your home. 

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Get to Know your Decorator Styles

The furniture and decor you choose will most likely determine the decorating style you tend to lean to. Take a look at this free design tool that you can play with to get ideas for your rooms and see what types of furniture you like.

Take a look at some of the different styles that are most common today. 

Mid-Century Modern

Mid-Century Modern

Mid-century modern refers to a style that incorporates clean lines, simplicity, and natural shapes. These styles were popular from 1933 to 1965. Particularly in the 50’s. Scandinavian design was very influential during this period. Materials like molded plastic, plywood, and aluminum were used to create pieces.

Industrial Style


The Industrial era took place 1760 to 1840 and is the influence for today’s industrial style. Design pieces today incorporate the look of steel, wood and brick that mimic machines, iron production, steam and water power used during that era. You can also see these styles reflected in Steam Punk.

Farmhouse Kitchen


Farmhouse decor has become popular lately. The use of distressed woods, linens, tin, and simple designs play into this style. I characterize it as a cross between country and cottage with a bit of shabby chic (more romantic look)  and Primitive (more rustic look) thrown in.

You can find some Farmhouse design ideas on a budget here!

Urban Modern

Urban Modern

This look gets it’s vibe mostly taken from lofts in the major cities. Urban modern has more of cosmopolitan flare with a mixture of minimalist modern, chic, ethnic heirlooms, and creative design. Pieces tend to be large with a low profile lines. This style became popular at the beginning of the 21st century.

Boho Style


Boho (short for Bohemian) decor is a more eclectic and carefree style. Using a lot of textiles that embrace creativity, patterns and vibrant colors, especially those with red or purple tones. It is a comfortable approach to decorating using low to the ground interesting pieces with lots of texture.

These definitely enhance the interior design styles I grew up with:

  1. Traditional
  2. Contemporary
  3. Transitional

Once you have decided on a style you like then you can start working with these:


1. Pick your colors. 

Your colors are important to set the feel of the room. Take a look at the art of color theory post to get an idea of what colors you want to choose for your rooms. There’s great information in there that will help you pick the right colors.

Painting your rooms before you move anything in is the easiest but even if you are doing a redesign, you should start with color if you are changing it.

When it comes to paint, I choose the middle of the line paint. If you purchase cheap paint, you will most likely need more than if you go with the next level up. Choose a paint and primer to save. Ask the clerk what they recommend for good coverage. 

2. Furniture Choices

Start with major pieces of furniture for each room. Stay true to your style and find what works for you.  These items should make up the majority of your budget. That doesn’t mean they have to be expensive. 

The major pieces you are going to need are:

Couch (depending on the size of your room you may need a loveseat that matches)

Coffee table

TV and Console

Bed and Bed Frame


Kitchen Table and Chairs

Keep in mind size when you are making these purchases. You want the proper scale for each room. Too big and you are limited in what else you can get. Too small will mean you will need more to fill the room. 

For pieces that are fabric or bedding, purchase them at a local reputable furniture store. Watch for sales. Check online as well. Sing up for Rakuten and get cash back on those high dollar purchases. 

The other pieces can be found in all different kinds of places such as flea markets, antique shops, thrift stores, consignment shops, garage sales, Facebook Marketplace, family and friends, and more. These are definitely the places to look when decorating on a budget!

With a little DIY you can get pieces that may need a refurbishing or painting at a really good deal. For example, I purchased an oak table with 2 leaves and 4 chairs in really good condition but they just needed to be refinished. One weekend and I had a beautiful, like new, set. See how I refinished it here.

3. Pick your accent furniture pieces

These are the side tables, nightstands, shelves, desk and chairs. Be sure to check sizes before purchasing. These pieces should also be functional. 

4. Choose your rugs

Pick rugs for the rooms as needed. Rugs can be expensive so utilize places like TJMax, Home Goods, At Home, or Tuesday Morning. Buy new. Used rugs can come with all sorts of things you don’t want in your home.

5. Pick Lighting 

For rooms that don’t have ceiling lights or inadequate lighting, you want to choose the right kind of lighting for the purpose and feel of the room. For example, in the living room you need more ambient or soft lighting. The kitchen will need bright light and task lighting for the counter tops. 

For lamps, you can make your own with kits or get them from a second hand store. Just be sure to check the cord and do not purchase any that have cords in need of repair. 

Use the right bulb in them as well for the purpose you need. Check the displays at the hardware stores to see which bulb will be best for your  room.

6. Wall decor

Decorating your walls can be fun and your creative DIY skills can be used here as well. Pinterest is  a good source to find things that you can make to match your decor style. 

Check out the post on Inspirational Wall Art for some more ideas.

Upcycling is also a lot of fun and saves things from being tossed. There are several Facebook groups you can join to get ideas. 

7. Decorating Shelves

This you can do with things you already have. No need to go purchase things. Even if you find you need to add something, go to thrift stores and find inexpensive items that you can dress up yourself. 

Check out the post on how to decorate your shelves for some ideas.

8. Accent Colors

Use of an accent color in decorating is sometimes noted as being a “Pop” of color. Such as if your walls are gray, then you can choose a bright yellow accent to brighten the room. 

Choose things like pillows, throws, flowers, and even curtains to bring in color. 

9. Keep it clean and clutter free

Have you ever entered a room and thought there’s just too much stuff in here? It makes you uneasy and uncomfortable. Take a minimalist approach to decorating. The “less is best” approach. 

If your furniture pieces are big, then don’t overwhelm the room with a lot of other stuff. 

10. Have enough Seating. 

This one is often overlooked. It’s not hard to come up with some additional seating if you think about this when you are decorating your room. 

A few extra folding chairs can come in handy when guests arrive unexpectedly. Or when choosing some of your smaller accent pieces you can get something that can also serve as a seat if needed. There are storage cubes that can easily be used for seating as well.

I hope you find these steps helpful when you go to decorate your home on a budget.

Remember to have fun and pick things that speak to you. Keep true to your style and it will bring you joy. Make your home be your sanctuary and where you look forward to being at the end of a long day!

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