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
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!
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Peace to you right where you are.
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