Decorating For Cheap

February 1, 2018

When Pat and I got to the fun part of our home renovation (decorating) we had already gone well over our budgeted amount for the house. I didn’t want to start spending Joe’s college savings (that we hadn’t even started) on lamps, rugs, or that cute, ceramic elephant thing I sincerely believed I needed. Sometimes being an adult is annoying.

Home decor can really make a house sing, but at what cost? All the pretty things usually don’t have any function. Like why doesn’t that $30 geometric orb have at least a bottle opener under it? Or how come these faux succulents don’t at least have hidden storage?  Alas, I channeled my inner resourcefulness and found ways to use what we already had or created ways to save some decorating dinero. 

And I’ve come to the realization that even IF Pat and I strike gold I still won’t be able to bring myself to pay full price for things in my home that serve no function. So, this will forever be how I go about making a house a home. Thrift, thrift, thrift.


I could scream the word from mountain tops. Paint and repaint everything you want to make new. Paint is crazy cheap compared to buying new “stuff”. We went through a 4 month phase where we were both covered in paint pretty much morning, noon, and night. Wake up, paint. Get off work, paint. It’s a wonder Joe didn’t come out covered in the stuff. We even included family in our paint party! My dad graciously came to town to paint all of our interior walls and it seriously felt like a different house afterwards. Our home came with nasty, wooden cabinets from the early 90’s that I couldn’t wait to get my already paint-covered hands on. After the cabinets were transformed, I took all the decorative crap I wanted to make new and threw it in the backyard. Then, I attacked it with spray paint. I got serious with the spray paint. I took clocks apart, unscrewed picture frames, and emptied vases to coat all those puppies with new, shiny, white paint. Brand new things in a matter of minutes.

2. Goodwill


I have gotten so much decor for our home from Goodwill. Seriously, it is rare that I don’t leave with a box(es) full of stuff and spend less than an Andrew Jackson. When I go, I always keep paint in mind. See above. Everything has potential if you can imagine it a different color. That $1 nasty, red vase in the corner? Paint it white! Those ugly, brown $2 frames? Paint them silver or gold! Plus, if you are going for a vintage look of anything, old people (I assume) are always dropping off treasures. Last week, I found 6 antique champagne glasses for 50 cents each. 50 cents?! Google antique champagne glasses and you can imagine my excitement. The furniture is dirt cheap, too, if you happen to have a baby daddy who likes to repurpose things. I could go on for days on all the things we’ve found at this mecca of cheap.

3. Pillows

If you are like me, you have old, couch pillows from your college days that you passed out on, drooled through, or rubbed your eyeliner all over. You know the ones? They are square and really uncomfortable, but they look nice and are super trendy right now. Shiny, new, decorative pillows are stupid expensive and those old pillows hold so many memories I can’t remember. I could not and can not come to terms with paying $40+ for a black and white pillow that says, “Hello, Sunshine”. More like “Hello, Idiot”, you could have bought new shoes or paid your water bill. So, I attempted to make my old pillows, new. I tried buying fabric and making pillowcases myself, which if you are decent at sewing, is a great way to combat buying new pillows. I am not even remotely a good sewer, even though it should run in my blood. I think I’ve sewn on a button in my entire existence and it’s one and done for me. I youtube’d no-sew pillows and succeeded, for a hot minute. They looked decent enough, but my dogs are total jerks and were constantly untying them, showing my nasty pillows. I found some on Amazon for $7 dollars, but they were covered in dog dirt a week into it and fell apart with all the washing I put them through. I finally achieved pillow nirvana at the online H&M store. Talk about trendy, cheap stuff! I was in frugal heaven. I got 3 new pillowcases for under $15 and they look fabulous, hold up to the dog challenge, and make it through the wash.

4. Couches

If you have dogs/animals of any sort, then your furniture is doomed from the get-go. We looked at fancy couches, but that would have been such a joke. Wanna throw $1000 in the trash? Me neither. So, I have two words for you. Big. Lots. We found our current couch there for under a grand and it has worn well with having 2 rambunctious, human dogs. They have big sales, too, usually on Sundays where they offer 20% off anything in store.

5. Closed Furniture

Before we had Joe, Pat made lots of furniture for our home that had open shelving. Open shelving is the new black of decorating. Once Joe became mobile, open shelving became a swift pain in the ass. Anything that was on a shelf that he could reach was compromised. So, I persuaded Pat to replace some of our open furniture with closed. It has been such a smart switch because as Joe gets older, we acquire more baby crap. I hate baby crap. I’m not even sure Joe likes it all that much. He’d much rather be entertained pushing our barstools around the house. So anyway, all the closed, extra storage now hides most of Joe’s toys when he isn’t sort of using them.

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