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Easy, Budget-Friendly Decorating Ideas

Jayme has been an online writer for over six years. She is an artist, blogger, and freelancer. She often writes about DIY home projects.

Floor to ceiling wall mural using acrylics and painters tape. Cost? $5!

Floor to ceiling wall mural using acrylics and painters tape. Cost? $5!

A Few Wallet-Friendly Ways to Alter a Room

Do you have a room in your house that needs a little refreshing? Perhaps a room that makes you cringe when you turn the light on (or one you deliberately hide from company by swearing that it is inhabited by monsters)? Have you ever looked at ideas for redecorating and found that a site offers a "friendly budget" of $10,000 when you have a mere $20?

If so, don't despair. There are ways to temporarily (and even permanently) juice up a room without having to take out a loan during these hard economic times. The internet is full of creative ideas for turning everyday objects into artistic accessories for any room. If you are slightly crafty, have at least a few dollars to spend and plenty of junk lying around, you can accomplish an amazing transformation with just a little work.

These ideas might not turn your home into a magazine-worthy showplace. They can offer you a comfortable, affordable change while you are waiting for good times and winning lottery tickets.

In this article, you'll find tips for:

  • Painting different parts of your home other than the walls;
  • Up-cycling fabric in new and interesting ways;
  • Salvaging abandoned items and turning them into secondhand treasures;
  • Finding cheap ways to spruce up a space with dollar store décor; and
  • Filling out rooms with easy-to-grow, but still lovely, plants and herbs.
Metallic craft  paint sponged over base coat

Metallic craft paint sponged over base coat

Get Creative When Painting Walls and Furniture

First of all, consider the walls. Paint is expensive but can be the best overall investment if you are looking for an obvious change or hoping to rejuvenate shabby walls. If your walls are already painted a color you like, you might consider buying a small can of paint to use as an accent color rather than repainting the whole room.

Simply painting one wall of a room a bold color can change a room dramatically, as can painting trimwork so that it pops. Another option is to use stencils or painter's tape to create a pleasing design.

Simple geometric shapes such as stripes or squares can look nice in any room. A strong color can make the design a focal point, whereas using a color close to the wall color can create the illusion of relief.

Sponging a new color over existing paint can be a great money-friendly option as well. Try using a metallic paint similar to the base color to give the illusion of fancy wallpaper. Play with paint samples to see what you like.

If you decide to skip painting the walls, consider painting some of the other items in the room. Almost all furniture and accessories can be painted:

  • Moldings and trims
  • Chairs
  • Lamps
  • Picture frames
  • Side tables
  • Shelves
  • Wooden or metal trim on upholstered furniture
  • Outlet covers
  • Ceiling fan blades

Never underestimate the power of spray paint. Once, when I couldn't afford new mini-blinds to match my brown and black living room, I took leftover black spray paint I had in the garage and painted the mauve mini-blinds. The difference was amazing.

I simply cleaned the blinds very well then hung them outside to be painted. They looked so clean and shiny. I finished them off by sewing simple valences to hang over them, and they received many compliments.

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Read More From Dengarden

Curtains repurposed from sheets

Curtains repurposed from sheets

Free Fabric for Home Decorating

If you are looking to sew for your home, be sure to tell friends and family that you are willing to take any fabric scraps or unwanted linens. Many people simply give these away or throw them in the trash. You can use those:

  • Clothes
  • Old curtains
  • Sheets
  • Comforters
  • Pillow forms
  • Sewing scraps
  • Blankets

Sewing Project Ideas for the Home

If you have a sewing machine and like to sew, you can easily add fresh touches to a room. I have a simple Brother sewing machine that I love. It was very affordable and is easy to use. If your budget allows, I strongly suggest a sewing machine, as it can save you a lot of money and time in the long run.

Here are some things to do with fabric:

  • Dress up your windows by making your own curtains. This requires fabric, patience, and accurate measurements. Search for curtain patterns that will fit your windows, and calculate how much it will cost. The simplest curtains to make are plain panels with a rod pocket at the top. These are easy even for novice sewers.
  • A thrifty option is to re-purpose or "up-cycle" fabric from sheets for curtains. In a bedroom, this helps to coordinate the windows and bedding. Also, don't hesitate to search secondhand stores for curtains or fabric.
  • It isn't uncommon to find like-new linens in secondhand stores, usually donated by people who redecorate often or who received unwanted items for gifts. Be sure to check fabric for holes and mildew stains before buying. Use excess fabric to make throw matching pillows.
  • While you are browsing the secondhand stores, look for fabric remnants that might coordinate with your room. These can be used for a number of accent touches. Don't just look in the fabric and linen sections.
  • Browse through clothing as well. Larger items of clothing can be taken apart at the seams to provide material for a number of projects. I once found a brand new shirt that yielded enough fabric to create an entire baby layette. The print was exactly what I needed, and the material was butter-soft.

De-Clutter Your Closet

Go through your own closet as well. Do you have any clothes that have great prints and colors, but don't fit well? Were you going to throw them out? Consider re-purposing them for the house.

Shirts can be turned into throw pillows to dress up a bed or lonely sofa. Use a variety of similar prints and colors to create visual interest. Don't just make square pillows-circles and rectangles are interesting too.

Skirts, sometimes with little or no sewing, can be transformed into new lampshade covers or skirting for free-standing sinks. Flowing skirts such as 'broomstick' skirts can be cut down to make window valences.

When you start dissecting clothing, be careful to follow the seams to save as much cloth as possible. Don't forget to open the sleeves to see if they provide enough for small pillows. If not, don't discount the idea of sewing smaller squares or strips together to create patterned fronts for pillows. If you are really bold, consider making a small quilt for the sofa back.

Other uses for fabric are unlimited. It can be used as matting behind pictures, pasted to the wall as a decorative panel or faux headboard, hemmed to create exciting runners for dressers and tables, and stretched in wooden embroidery hoops for wall art. Some useful but pretty ideas could be

  • Potholders
  • Appliance cozies
  • Cloth napkins
  • Cloth doilies
  • Sachets
  • Curtain tie-backs
  • Plastic bag dispensers

While we are in this department, don't overlook sewing notions. Buttons, either purchased or removed from old clothing, can be used to decorate many items. Uses for buttons, if you like the homey look they provide, can include:

  • Gluing to decorative boxes
  • Gluing to picture frames
  • Gluing to chair backs
  • Adding to wall plaques
  • Gluing to round bowls and vases
  • Adding to walls or doors themselves for a bold mural

They are also easy to sew to cushions and pillows for bright spots of color or to create tufting. They come in all sizes and colors and are a cheap way to bring texture into a room.

Fringe, ruffles, lace, cording, and tassels can also be sumptuous but have fallen slightly out of favor in the era of sleek, modern décor. Still, the occasional ruffle or lace trim over a mirror, or silky tassel tie-back for a curtain can liven up a drab corner nicely, if you like.

$30 motorcycle themed bathroom. Salvaged shelf to hold husband's collectibles.

$30 motorcycle themed bathroom. Salvaged shelf to hold husband's collectibles.

Salvaging Abandoned Items to Create Unique Touches to a Home

Salvaging abandoned items is another way to add some unique touches to a house. People sometimes leave furniture and décor items on the curb for anyone to pick up. Maybe someone you know has some unused stuff they no longer want. Interesting items could include:

  • Candle holders
  • Wooden chairs
  • Shelves
  • Vases
  • Tables
  • Wall hangings
  • Picture frames
  • Mirrors
  • Lamps
  • Decorative brackets

With a little work and some creative painting, someone else's junk could easily become your most interesting conversation piece.

Reclaimed conchos become wall art.

Reclaimed conchos become wall art.

Scouring Thrift Stores for Secondhand Treasures

When you are in the thrift stores, look around at some of the furnishings and home décor items. Some can be had for only cents and may look like they are worth even less. Look at the piece closely.

Do you like the idea of that wooden peacock wall plaque, but hate the garish chipped coloring? Remember that almost anything can be cleaned and painted.

Many items seem hopeless and outdated, but can be turned into modern, unique décor with just a little time and love. Consider painting the peacock solid black for a sleek silhouette effect.

Other than thrift stores, flea-market and yard-sale finds can include:

  • tables,
  • chairs,
  • ottomans,
  • plant stands,
  • nightstands,
  • flower pots,
  • mirrors,
  • lamps,
  • magazine holders, and much more.

Discarded picture frames can be restored with little expense. A friend of mine loves to purchase cheap gold dollar store frames at yard sales and turn them into faux pewter. She does this by painting the frames flat black, then rubbing silver acrylic craft paint over the texturing with a dry paper towel.

It costs little and afterward, she arranges the frames into geometric configurations with black and white photos. The effect is very elegant.

Find Inspiration With Dollar Store Décor

While we are on the subject of dollar stores, be sure to check out a few for decently priced décor items. As with thrift stores, remember to look beyond what you see.

A seemingly plain wooden shelf can be painted or covered in paper. (or with fabric if you are good with glue)

Metal lawn art can be altered to make intriguing centerpieces. Plain lamps can have