Written by: Kemba Howell, Owner and Interior Designer at Devoted Style Décor
So you've purchased your first (or second, or third) house and after the cost of closing, moving and transferring utilities, you aren't left with a huge budget to decorate. You are not alone. Fortunately, similar to the title of the old HGTV show, you can design on a dime. On a real dime. Not an HGTV dime. There are a number of ways to decorate on a limited budget. You don't need a significant amount of money to make your new house feel like a home. Below are 5 ways you can get started transforming your home.
A coat of paint can make a world of difference! Whether it's a complete room, an accent wall, a painted piece of furniture or a focal point; a new coat of paint can transform your space. Below, these old dated built-ins in the den are as beautiful as new installations after receiving a few coats of paint and new hardware. (The drawers were still being painted.) A fresh coat of paint and some new hardware were all this space needed to look and feel like new.
1. Check around your new home to see if there are any leftover cans of paint you can used. Prior homeowner's and builders sometimes leaves excess paint in storage areas throughout the home.
2. When painting, be sure to check the type of painted recommended for the surface you are painting prior to purchasing and starting your transformation.
You can find items in great condition on the secondhand market. In some cases, you may pay 10% - 25% of the retail price. Check sites online like Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, and OfferUp; as well as your local garage sales and thrift stores. Thrifting tip: I typically search for “moving sale” when browsing online sites. Why?... Because as people move, they are getting rid of items that cannot fit or do not go with the design aesthetic of their new home. Since they do not want to take these items, they have a limited time to sell them and they price this items low to move quickly or are open to negotiation. During my last move I posted ads on FB Marketplace and Nextdoor advertising items for free because I either did not have space for it, or it was packed from the last move and never unpacked the entire time I was in that house. I clearly did not need it and did not want to bring it with me again. The desk I am currently using while writing this blog post was purchased on Nextdoor. It is still currently still sold in store for $500+ tax. I paid $100. Over 80% off retail price! Whatever your budget, you can find items for a fraction of the price to fit your needs.
Here are a few more items found online.
This Hunter 5-blade ceiling fan include remote was purchased for $30. Yes, $30! It is in great condition and works perfectly well. I needed a ceiling fan for the living room and instead of purchasing a new fan which would cost anywhere from $80 - $200, I found a secondhand name brand fan.
The $30 ceiling fan!! Isn't she a beauty?
This Queen bed in the guest room is a West Elem headboard and bed frame, and a Sealy Serta "oh so comfortable" platform mattress and bunkie board. Don't google "Sealy Serta Oh So Comfortable mattress". LOL! That's just how I describe this bed. I slept in it for 2 weeks while I was updating the bathroom and it was Oh So Comfortable. The total cost was 30% of the actual price if purchased new.
This Mongstad mirror was less than 50% of the Ikea price and is in perfect condition. I'm probably on Nextdoor looking for more great finds.
3. Rearrange/reuse your furniture and décor/artwork
The TV stand/storage unit in the kids room in your old home is now a shelving unit in your new home office. The dresser from your guest room in the old house can be re-purposed as a console table in the formal dining room. The nightstand from your bedroom can serve as an end table in the living room. It's your space. It's your décor. Place these items wherever you choose in the locations that work best for you.
The guest room in this house is smaller than my prior house. I could only comfortably fit one nightstand in the room. So what did I do with the other nightstand? Stick it in the closet?
I did initially stick it in the closet. LOL! But... I needed an end table in the living room and re-purposed the other nightstand as an end table. This saved spending money because I did not purchase an end table to complete the space. (The Buddha planter was purchased at Home Goods)
4. DIY donated or inexpensive items
Don’t automatically dismiss that old beat up dresser your aunt has offered you for your new home. With some elbow grease and a can of paint or stain, you can turn it into the perfect piece for your space. Clean... sand... paint... seal... new hardware. New dresser! You can DIY donated, thrifted and free items. People often give away old furniture because it's easier to give it away than figuring out how to dispose of it. Look for these free (or deeply discounted items) on the sites/locations mentioned above under the secondhand section.
Checkout this dresser makeover by Bella Vita Vintage.
Source: Instagram - @bellavintagedecor
5. Reimagine Your Space
Just because the originally builder decided the room in the front of the house should be the dining room doesn't mean you have to take their recommendation. I didn't. When I viewed my current home I knew my living room furniture wouldn't fit in the space designated as the living room. I decided the space they designated as the living room would better serve me as the dining room, and the dining space was the perfect living space. Instead of trying to find furniture to make the designated living space work, I re-imagined the spaces. So…. A swap out of the light fixtures and the space works for what I need. I did not have to purchase new furniture to fit into these rooms
This space below was designated as the living room. Note the ceiling fan.
I removed the ceiling fan (re-used it in another room) and added a chandelier. Now the space serves as the dining room.
Here's the living room before I replaced the chandelier. I do eat dinner on the couch often, but the chandelier still had to go.
Living Room After - Chandelier replaced with secondhand ceiling fan found on Nextdoor. The chandelier was sold on Facebook Marketplace for $20. That offset the cost of the $30 ceiling fan, and I have an updated light fixture for a total cost of $10.
These are a few of the techniques you can use to get started decorating your new home. I challenge you to use as many of these as you can to start your decorating process. Come back and comment below, and let me know what you were able to accomplish and how much you were able to save. If you have done one of the 5 above, which one(s) have you tried?
If you need help deciding where to begin, check out the e-design services that are available.