Decorate Chic on the Cheap: 9 No-Cost Ideas to Help Now nudges you to think more creatively about your approach to personalizing and beautifying a space. But it also demystifies the process with concrete steps. It just may make your bank account love you. As we tiptoe around my home, you’ll get pep talk from a thrifty soul who has learned more than a few chic yet cheap tricks over the decades.
I’m also sharing shopping resources from my own house since I know I’ll be asked!
Decorate Chic on the Cheap: 9 No-Cost Ideas to Help Now
Why We Need These Ideas
Let’s talk budget. Sweet cozy Moses, it took a fair amount of cash to breathe life back into the neglected and forlorn fixer upper we renovated DIY style and call home! Decorating it became a supreme adventure in frugality. Instead of buying new, I shopped my house.
I’m sure plenty of renovators can relate to a common pattern of events: expensive disasters inside walls and underneath floorboards unexpectedly spring up. Invisible though they be, they take precedence. Paying for repairs inevitably cuts into the decor budget.
You can indeed trust the low cost decorating ideas here since girlfriend has lived it. She also has a doctorate in decorating while student-loan-poor! Before becoming homeowners, we were macaroni-and-cheese-in-debt forever with student loans.
Lean years train your eye, spark creativity, and teach dollar-stretching, chic yet cheap lessons.
This post contains affiliate links which I hope you will use since they won’t cost you a penny extra yet may earn this blog a small commission.
Resources from Our Fixer Upper
Paint color: BENJAMIN MOORE “WHITE”
Just in case you care to know the paint color we coated walls, ceilings, and trim with…see it at bottom left of the infographic above.
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Chic Yet Cheap Decorating Idea No. 1
Choose One Room
No need to trigger an anxiety attack by tackling more than a single room at a time. Is there one space that torments you and is long overdue? Which one space have you wanted to most address?
Chic Yet Cheap Decorating Idea No. 2
Put On a New Mind
Here’s what I have observed over the years. Even though most folks totally understand on an intellectual level the concept of shopping their own home for decor, they struggle behaviorally and emotionally and get big time stuck.
No wonder we become paralyzed! Getting started is truly the biggest hurdle because let’s face it…most of us have excess stuff. It is often spread out across rooms, closets, garages, basements, and storage containers.
Should you not feel empowered, equipped, or in the mood to BEGIN the process of shopping your house, you may need to first put on a new mind. You can also get organized by starting HERE.
You: WHAT THE HECK IS SHE IMPLYING? Fake it til you make it, mindful manifestation yada yada and somehow a CHIC LOOK magically arrives?
Me: Nope. Not faking it. By ‘putting on a new mind,’ I mean leaning into a higher consciousness beyond your current mood, past failures, or lingering doubts. No need to be a slave to the old mind. Putting on a new mind is transformative business! It freshens the slate and shifts you into SWEET MOTHER, LET’S DO THIS like right NOW!
(Feeling more motivated? Because I highly doubt you’ll find this advice inside any of the shelter magazines you leaf through at Target.)
A new mind is golden. With your new mind in place, you can get to gettin’! Shop your stuff and look at your treasures with fresh eyes.
Chic Yet Cheap Decorating Idea No. 3
Clarify Your Design Style
Dig in the archives here if you need inspiration to get started. Pin like a bandit! Consult Pinterest if you like.
Then grab a post-it note and write down the style you’re after. Narrowing down the design style primes the path for the next steps.
Determine Color Scheme
On another post-it note write down the color scheme that sings to you. All white? Moody? Bold? Tranquil greys?
Don’t get distracted thinking about the color of the furniture in the space at this juncture. There are creative ways to incorporate colors that make you feel good.
Chic Yet Cheap Decorating Idea No. 4
Empty the Room
You’ll want to clear everything from the room or at least as much as you can. So empty the space of small furniture, accessories, lamps, and decor so you are able to clearly see the room in its bare state.
Paint if Necessary
Does your plan involve changing the paint color? Now is the perfect time to paint those walls! Check out these stories for paint color inspiration:
Shop my home
Clean Like a Clean Freak
Go ahead and dust, scrub windows, and vacuum that sweet little space as if Ryan Gosling, Suzanne Kasler, and the cast of Downton Abbey is coming over. You will not believe what a difference a deep clean will make to your attitude!
Photograph & Analyze
First, take a photo of that sparkling clean space. Next, analyze the photo and take cues from seeing the room in this medium. You may be surprised by how this method guides you. Is the furniture arrangement in the room balanced? Does your eye travel to a particular focal point, and is it desirable? Is the room too dimly lit?
Are curtains hanging at the proper level? (A quick change could pack a huge punch.) Do the drapes appear too heavy?
How is the wall color working?
Jot Down Specifics
Write down specifics about what you’re less than happy with on another post-it note. Maybe the coffee table seems the wrong scale or the bed should be relocated. Would the space look fresh and airier without the area rug?
Note whether you feel better or worse (on an emotional level) with the room cleared and spare. Do you feel lighter and more at ease? Feel anxious and jittery?
Your emotional response will help to guide the rest of the process.
Decide where the furniture should go to best FUNCTION for your needs. Have a friend with a good eye for such matters? Feel like changing it up? Have fun with this part of the process!
Chic Yet Cheap Decorating Idea No. 5
Time to Shop Home Sweet Home
Shop your house for décor items when you are well-rested and feeling confident. You’ll be making determinations about whether the decor item is what you care to see on a daily basis.
This may be a great time to have a bin or garbage bag at the ready for donations! Find a mix of treasures old and new for the most interesting and personalized result.
A BRIEF PAUSE FOR THIS quiet, peaceful, decidedly different LOVELY chic COTTAGE experience! (I won’t be surprised if you all immediately search FB Marketplace for an old ladder!)
Chic Yet Cheap Decorating Idea No. 6
Consider Hidden Potential
Try to look at the objects you gather from around your home with wonder. Find a piece of really bad art (or good art in a horrible frame) that has been gathering dust and is the right size for your space? Maybe you could give it a little makeover or tweaking.
Chic Yet Cheap Decorating Idea No. 7
Create New Art
Take some artful risks even if your masterpieces were never showcased on the gallery wall in third grade. Creating something original is an honorable, no cost way to inject your unique personality into the space.
Chic Yet Cheap Decorating Idea No. 8
Recycle & Re-purpose
Don’t forget you can steal furniture–not just decor–from other rooms in your home.
An unused bedroom dresser can become a console table or bar. A stack of coffee table books can become a side table.
Chic Yet Cheap Decorating Idea No. 9
Consider 6 No-Cost Decor Options
1. Check Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for FREE items.
2. A branch from the yard in a clear glass jar or vase can create instant organic interest.
3. Experiment with throw pillows you already own; try mixing unexpected color combinations. Discovering ‘chic’ is subjective and YOUR chic need not be your neighbor’s chic.
4. Lazy, no-sew slipcovers were one of my go-to strategies in the lean Ramen noodle days and beyond! A canvas dropcloth, coverlet, quilt, or fabric yardage may hold chic potential on a sofa or chair.
5. There is a fine chance family members or friends have something you need in their cast-offs pile. Ask.
6. If you have magazines lying around, skim for potential art to frame in existing frames you own.
I’m all ears…do share design wisdom to ease the process of making over a room without spending a dime!
I independently selected products in this post—if you buy from one of my links, I may earn a commission.
Peace to you right where you are.
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Great advice here! I love the idea of shopping your own home for items to repurpose and painting everything. You are inspiring, girlfriend!
Hi Holly – yes and especially when it leaves more room in the budget to buy original art by you! 🙂
Ha! I just did this exact thing last week. I took a painting of mine out to be re-matted with white and a thinner, lighter frame a couple of months ago. It had hung in my bedroom but was perfect (with the tweaking) for over my mantel. I removed everything small from the livingroom, dining room and kitchen, and then brought in white, some soft green and some organic bits. I shopped my guest room, office and even my shed to come up with enough to make fresh, light vignettes on the mantel, tv console, coffee table, etc. The only thing bought new were two lovely, soft white jug/vase from Italy. I tried some green cushions on my sofa/loveseat but ended up taking them away. I needed to keep to my neutrals. It is a refreshing change for little money wise.
Mmmmm sounds like wonderful sprucing up. I too just bought a rustic jug I love – it looks wonderful but I need to figure out what to put inside it since it seems a little lonely. 🙂
I love simple cut branches from my garden. They cost nothing and add that little organic touch. Would that suit your rustic jug?
Absolutely. I will post pics of it…it is large, and I’m wondering about white roses a la Pamela Pierce!
Thank you so much for these great ideas I am about to tackle my guest bedroom/office. I will take your suggestion with clearing and cleaning the room first then, I plan to paint my dark colored desk in some shade of white and the walls a light grey. Hopefully I can find some cotton or linen bed coverings at Home Goods or similar stores so it won’t cost me a fortune. Next I need to pull out some books from my over crowded studio into this room so I would shop for some book cases on either Let Go or Craigslist. To complete the room I love the idea of shopping in your own home/garage to furnish other parts of your home!
You are off to the races! You go! You have reminded me that I too need to find some book cases since my collection is overflowing. I struggle with dusty booksso I wonder if I should be thinking of a glass doored cabinet. Here’s to shopping our homes! 🙂
You always have such lovely ideas. Your home is so beautiful. Love your kitchen.
Congrats, you are being featured at Thursday Favorite Things.
Thank you so much, Bev! See you at the party! xox
What a wonderful way to begin my week with your helpful and encouraging post! Your ideas and suggestions are spot on, and so appreciated. Sometimes it’s a little overwhelming looking at those beautiful little squares on Instagram and Pinterest and their perfection. As always, your suggestions are doable, encouraging and beautiful. Thank you! I’m looking forward to incorporating all your suggestions. On a side note; I am keeping your son and family in prayer. I hope his situation is improving ❤️
Thank you so much for the feedback – I appreciate it so much! And the prayers. Oh, please keep us in yours, friend. I’m doing well, but it will likely be a long journey back to health and strength for our son. What a vicious toxin and disease…we are all doing our best and muddling through with faith and BIG LOVE. Sending peace to you right where you are.
So many great decorating ideas to be reminded of! Ditto to all the wonderful lessons the lean years teach us! I absolutely LOVE your original artwork…the moody pieces in your LR & spare bedroom & equally so the light & airy pieces in your kitchen and the one sitting on a bench! That is totally what I’m wanting for our home! One thing I’m learning I like by taking my time to decorate our new home and putting off hanging things on the wall is…I actually love the absence of things on the wall & elsewhere so far! It is very calming and allows the beauty of the structure of the home to shine through even more…the wood, tile, stone, marble, shiplap, calming shades of white paint color, and green plants. I’m also getting rid of most of my smalls (which I’ve had a lot of thru the years) For me @ this point in my life…fewer bigger items pack a better punch! We recently ordered a very large cabinet, large sectional, & even large TV (we are big movie watchers & SEC football fans) for our LR & I’m so loving the look and feel of lesser small stuff & fewer more substantial pieces that, Lord willing, we will keep forever! I’m sure I will add a few more things but am being very choosy! Plus less to clean up, dust, and be distracted by! Ha!
Yer girlfriend here is nodding her head – yes to less smalls! Many of mine are resting in that giant sideboard in our living room! No time to dust all those littles. How nice to be able to simply use the vacuum attachment on tabletops. Thanks so much for the kind words about my art – it’s pure pleasure creating it, and I do love the meditative exercise it is for me. 🙂
Loved this article – thank you showing us how to shop our homes and not just rush to the nearest decor shop. I am doing a spruce up of our living room (very small as we have downsized) and especially interested to know if you painted or stained the drop leaf table in your entryway. I have been checking a lot of second hand sources for one about the same size and switching some “white” furnishings to wood tones. Thanks so much and look forward to many more posts.
So happy to have you here! Oh that little table. One fall morning shortly after moving in, I thought: I need a petite entry table to drop keys at. I went straight to a junky antique mall nearby and saw it immediately in the front for $25. I did nothing at all. The stain has worn off from prior use and age. It has remained in that spot for 5 years so not a bad morning bargain! 🙂
Always love seeing your beautiful home! So much to love. I especially love the little ceramic dog you have on your mantle, your rustic coffee table, & the wonky small table with wheels beside your chair. Of course your original artwork is spectacular …all of them! I absolutely love the video you shared today…where do you find all these wonderfully unique ones?!! The girl reminded me so much of you…her creativity, love of simple life, & her wonderful humor!! My fav thing was how she said “Hi” to everything!! 🙋🏼♀️Thanks for starting my Friday off with a smile!! Happy wkend, friend!
You make me smile and feel ten feet tall. Thank you for the loving kindness, beautiful friend. xox
It sounds great. Thanks for your advice and tips. very helpful thank you. I appreciate your hard work.
Thanks so much for reading.
I do love reading your blogs, You did a great effort for these decorations, Continue inspiring us.
Thanks for visiting.