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5 Ways to Decorate on a Budget

I’m not sure about where you live, but I know that in The Bay Area, it seems as though it not only matters how cute you or your home look, but you get an extra gold star if you purchased your look at the most fashionable or on-trend stores like Anthropologie or Serena & Lilly. Hear me when I say that it is totally ok if you love that piece and you have the budget to splurge on it…but I hope you will also hear me when I tell you that you can definitely curate gorgeous home decor on a budget. Creating a home with a thrift store budget can be just as welcoming and much more unique!

When I was living in New York pursuing my career as a professional dancer, I was definitely not worrying about a cute apartment while I hopped from sublet to sublet, living in someone else’s furnishings. I learned a ton about saving money during my “starving artist” days. I lived on savings, so I could audition all day, cleaned the dance studio in exchange for free classes, and I certainly never purchased anything at full price unless I absolutely had to.

All that to say, I know some tricks of the trade for saving money, and even though I am not living that starving artist life anymore, I would venture to guess that we all want our buck to go further, no-matter our financial circumstance. Take a look at some of my top tips for home decor on a budget.

1. Amazon Products With “Damaged Packaging”

Did you know that there are lots of products on Amazon that that have been opened, returned brand new and are then sold at a discounted price because of “damaged packaging?” I have ordered multiple items this way, and have not been disappointed! I saved $30 on a gorgeous wall sconce because the box had been opened and the plastic bag inside was taped closed. All of the contents had been safely repackaged, all hardware was in original packaging, and the product was clearly unused. It was selling for $80 new and I bought it for $50…new.

Discounted Amazon light fixture
Saved $30 on this fixture I’ve had my eye on because the box had been previously opened

The best part is that these items are coming straight from the Amazon warehouse, and if there were to be something wrong with them, you could easily return the product, no questions asked. Just look for the info below your “add to cart” option and you might get lucky. This is not available for all items, so jump on it when you find it!

2. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist & Thrifting

If you don’t use these sites regularly, it seems they have a major connotation of being “scammy.” Craigslist was founded in San Francisco, so people here really do use it for legitimate purchases/sales, despite the bad rap. Obviously, use common sense and if someone is asking you to wire them money for their sick uncle overseas, #justsayno. However, I recently sold my car that was in perfect condition, a rug that was pristine and many other things when Chris and I were consolidating our belongings. There are lots of great finds on both Craigslist and also Facebook Marketplace, that people are selling because they simply don’t want it anymore, not because it is junk. The benefit of Facebook Marketplace is that at least you can see the Facebook profile connected to their message, not just an email address.

Although it needs a facelift (I’m thinking antique gold), I found this vintage mirror for $55 on facebook marketplace just yesterday!

Thrifting is a similar concept, which I think is more widely accepted (although not widely practiced). Especially in America, we are such a consumer society where things are just constantly rolling into stores fresh out of the factories. Why not breathe new life into once loved items that will make your home unique, rather than cookie cutter. Side note: the beginning of the year is a great time for thrifting since everyone is trying to start fresh in a new year and declutter!

3. “Honey” Browser Add On

As someone who loves discounts, I hate leaving that little box empty at checkout that says Enter Promo Code Here. It is like a challenge that makes me want to scour the internet for discount codes because I know they must be out there. A couple of years ago I stumbled across the browser add on, Honey, which does this for you at every online purchase checkout. If there are discount codes available, it finds them and adds them to your purchases. If there aren’t discounts available, you often still receive Honey Gold, which eventually earns you gift cards to a retailer of your choice. It is literally like free money coming into your bank account when you were ready to pay the original purchase price and then find out you don’t have to.

Honey browser ad-on screenshot

4. Patience is Seriously a Virtue

I know, I know. If you get the urge to do something, you want to do it NOW! At least that’s how I am. But if you are truly creating home decor on a budget, there are so many things you can do for little or no money if you have patience. Do you want a new houseplant? Get a cutting or a propagated plant from a friend and wait for it to grow. Do you want to store rubbing alcohol and other bathroom supplies in cute amber apothecary bottles? Wait until you (or a friend) finishes a bottle of kombucha and take the label off. In a society of instant gratification, this isn’t second nature to most of us and is often difficult, but it can be so rewarding.

Medicine cabinet with recycled amber bottles.
Recycled amber bottles and a spray painted band aid box make the medicine cabinet look more organized.

5. Shop Your Home

Unless you got serious about Mari Kondo a couple of years ago, we all have so much stuff in our home; far more than we even realize. You may be so used to seeing something daily, that you look right past it and don’t even notice it anymore. Shop your own home and move things around! Place things in different rooms. Find new ways to display vases, artwork or knick knacks that make you notice them with fresh eyes. Suddenly one shelf may actually look decluttered and another nook will feel like you finally gave it some TLC.

Shelf decorated on a budget with household items like books, candles, and plants.
I restyle these shelves often for a fresh feel in our living room. This monstera was propagated and it has taken off!

Decorating and feeling good about your home absolutely does not need to break the bank. In fact, I personally enjoy something more if I didn’t have to spend a lot of money on it. (Is that weird?) Think outside the box and don’t let creating home decor on a budget limit you!

For other ‘big impact, small budget’ projects, check out my post on how to apply frosted window film to make your glass cabinets functional!

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