When you’re trying to save, you end up doing a lot at home more often–meals, dates, movies, entertaining, etc–and it’s easy to get sick of your surroundings. I didn’t decorate for about a year when I first moved into my apartment, because, well, I couldn’t afford it. It wasn’t until I had to production design the space for a couple different short films shot there that I really got resourceful about decorating frugally. There are so many little things you can do to improve your place that end up making a huge difference. Here are some cheap home makeover ideas for a few. (And none of the DIYs are very complicated, trust me.)
How To Do a Cheap Home Makeover for Under $100…
ADD NEW WALL ART
There’s nothing like totally blank walls to make a home feel unfinished. Even if you have a lot of hanging art, sometimes it helps rotate or rearrange them every once in awhile: simple and free. If you’re in need of something to warm up your walls, Art.com, ParimaStudio, Society6, 20×200, and Etsy are great online resources for affordable art. There are also so many lovely free downloadable pieces from artists online. I think these pretty botanical prints by Jennifer Olmstead would be perfect in a kitchen. I also love this Hemingway hand-lettered quote print from Oh My Deer for only $12. (And the sentiment is perfect for this column). My favorite wall covering, though, might be an inspiration clustering of vintage photos or postcards. I picked up a stack from an antique store for 10-25 cents each, but you could also use your own photos, maps, and paper scraps for a more personal touch. It’s easy to put up and switch up, and always makes a place feel more inviting with a nostalgic charm.
BECAUSE FRAMING CAN GET PRICEY…
Try some alternatives. Washi tape can be just as clean and cute a way to post art, especially if you don’t want to put holes in the wall. This towel hanger DIY, made by simply bending a brass rod, would also be a pretty way to display pictures with clamp paper clips. A wooden pant hanger will also do the trick.
BRING IN SOME GREEN
The easiest way to make a place feel fresher is to have a little bit of plant life. Herbs are a cost-effective way to cut grocery costs. Bulbs are easy to force indoors (and especially lovely for spring). And as a Los Angeles resident and chronic plant killer, I’m partial to succulents and cacti. All are fairly inexpensive. Cute alternatives to expensive pots are old bottles, crushed cans, and a paper bag cover over the plastic pot from the store.
LIGHTEN IT UP
Another simple change that makes a HUGE difference in a room is lighting. When I bought a cheap lamp at Ikea once that emitted gloriously soft light, it changed my entire opinion of a room. This ombre pendant light DIY makes a whopping statement for only $15 in supplies.
INVEST IN NEW COVERINGS
Updating a slipcover or duvet cover can change a whole room without forcing you to buy entirely new things. On a smaller scale, you can add texture and color with a happy rug and a new pillow pattern. (That rug is sold out now, but I also love this guy.)
PAINT SOME STUFF
I love Alix’s room makeover from last week, showing how easily a vibrant coat of paint can kick up all the details in a space. But don’t limit yourself to walls. Colored doors are full of charm, and quick dip-dye style paint can freshen up anything from chair legs to spatulas. I also love these simple color-block desk space DIYs.
REARRANGE + RESTYLE
The ultimate rule of make-do-and-mend: use what you have. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with furniture positions, but some of the most interesting interiors have repurposed pieces, so don’t be afraid to get weird with it. In a super tidy space, try a chair as a nightstand. Don’t use your ironing board much? It might be a perfect space-efficient plant table.
OTHER TIPS FOR DECORATING ON THE CHEAP:
- Clean up! The #1 tip for feeling more stylish while saving applies to your home, too. If you get rid of the things you don’t love, your space is immediately transformed. And then, make it sparkle.
- Cruise flea markets and garage sales for furniture, and don’t be afraid to offer a lower price than what’s asked–most of the time, sellers expect that.
- Learn a little about styling composition. HGTV’s Emily Henderson always has great tips and commentary on making everyday stuff look really pretty simply by arranging it a certain way. Case in point: how to style a nightstand.
- Know that it’s not about the brand. Most of the time, the interior design that gets posted and pinned and admired is great not because of the stuff itself, but the creative way that it’s used. Sure, we all want a Smeg refrigerator, but it looks SO much better with plants on top.
- For more cool DIYs, do check out Creature Comforts’ Home & Craft section here. There’s even a table!
What are your own decorating ideas and tips? I’d love to hear…
Lauren Johnson is a filmmaker/producer living in West Hollywood who enjoys a great foreign thriller, leisure beers, and non-primary colors. She also writes the blog LOCONCEPTS.