Home Lifestyle Decorating on a Budget – How we did it

Decorating on a Budget – How we did it

by Bethany
decorating on a budget

As you may have heard we bought a home, renovated it and are finally moved in…well we aren’t going to talk about the garage yet. I am an artist and designer, and while I now teach it, I still have the need to create a space worth looking at. Since we have started this FI journey, my budget for such non-essentials is, well, non-existent. So here are some of my hacks to decorating on a budget. Whether you just moved or have your in-laws coming in for the holidays I hope you find my tips and tricks useful.

Decorating on a budget – Screw Framing

Framing is an overpriced market that loves to rope you in with a 30% off a custom frame coupon. Often, even with this discount you are looking at dropping hundreds on the counter.  That is right folks, for some velvet hot glued to cardboard and some trim with glass you are looking at around $200 minimum.

Do I still hang work? OF COURSE! I want to be inspired and live in a creative space. As an artist, my own work and my friends traded work can be funky sizes making the traditional frames not work.

Thankfully, the modern industrial vibe is still going strong and I have two solutions for decorating on a budget, which look pretty great.

Decorating on a budget – Modern Decorating Ideas

  1. The Metal and Magnet: Purchase a long piece of metal, typically in the building section of Home Depot or Lowes. Here is an example with holes so you can easily screw it into the wall.  Then, pick up a can of spray paint that works with metal and spray them down. The automotive spray paint works great and will stick like a son of a gun. Lastly I ordered some heavy duty magnets from Amazon  and now have a interchangeable line of work to change out.
  2. The Binder Clip and Tack: By far the easiest and most chic solution. You will have to go to Target, so hold fast to your wallets and FI mindset and stay focused! Purchase some metallic or wood push pins and metallic binder clips. Simple, easy and interchangeable. Here is a link to an online option for those not willing to risk their will power.
  3. The String and Clips: If you have a rustic or country chic vibe in your home this could be a great option. Purchase some twine, clothes pins or binder clips and a decorative tac/nail. If you do not already have the materials you can purchase a pre-made one for about the same price at Target.

Ok…You can Frame Grandma

Ok, so you made a little gallery wall, it is interchangeable (saves money) and you did it for about $15-$20. If you are like me you will probably still have one or two pieces that need frames.

  • IKEA is your best option for affordable standard sized frames. You can get frames anywhere from $2.99- $8.99. Compare this to a Jo-Ann’s where they start at about $10 for a 4×6 frame
  • I know it sounded like I just poo-pooed Jo-Ann’s, however you can get a deal there if you combine coupons. Jo-Anns will send a 40% off any one item coupon AND a 40% off frames coupon every 2-3 months. (You just have to wait and watch for it). This might be a more secure option if you are framing a family heirloom or photos that need archival backing to keep from deteriorating.
  • Hang your frames with command strips. This will avoid holes in your walls which can be costly later. I am a HUGE fan of these devices. They make hooks that hold up to 16 pounds!

The Mover’s Discounts

Moving and renovating was a pain in my tush most of the time, but at least I could look forward to all the mover’s discounts. When you move, go online to the post office and change your address. Pay the $1.00 to have your mail forwarded and it will pay off.

They send you via e-mail, text and snail mail a butt load of coupons! From Bed Bath and Beyond to Wayfair and even Lowe’s you will get $20 off or 20% off your purchase. Most coupons in a cash value can be stacked with a percentage value. We utilized these for blinds, a washer and dryer, and lighting. Our big ticket items that we needed (yes needed…I know some of you can live like cave dwellers…but I have not reached that enlightenment in my FI journey yet).

Additionally, if you change your address for voter registration online they will send you another packet of coupons which you can stack. In this bundle I even was lucky enough to score a 10% off Amazon purchase.

Lastly, before you order ANYTHING online always google a coupon for the store to see if you can get a little bit off the total. Retailmenot.com is a great source for this too. You can also try a mobile app to save you a few bucks.

Ya, but what can I do on a Saturday Afternoon??

Lastly, here is a list of some quick and easy updates that will put that spit and shine in your home while not breaking the bank. Who doesn’t enjoy decorating on a budget?!

  • Change or add cabinet hardware. Choose a sleek and minimal design that will not go out of style…even if the owl knobs are calling your name.
  • Paint your trim. Doing paint touch ups especially around the windows where the light comes in will allow the house to feel open and cleaner. Do this on the inside and exterior of your home
  • Replace the house numbers. Run to Lowe’s or order on Amazon the newer Helvetica font numbers. It immediately adds curb appeal.
  • House Plants! Adding some life can help with air quality and your state of mind. Try to choose some simple and easy to care for plants to start. Watch out for the toxic ones if you have fur babies…or real babies for that matter. HisFI really got into carnivorous plants recently so we have a Pitcher Plant that hangs in the window.
  • Use your own art work or your kids to decorate with.
  • Make your own candles using some old mugs. You can order a bag of Soy Wax and some wicks on amazon pretty cheap. Use your own essential oils  and mugs or jars. Great gift idea too!
  • Change all your light bulbs to LED to save energy.  You can even find some LED Edison bulbs.

Final Thoughts

That is all for now! In the future we plan to have some posts on decorating on a budget, including how to save on painting and ceilings.

Let me know some of your decorating on a budget tips or things you have done to make your house a home.

Thanks all!

Some of the links provided are affiliate links where we receive a small commission should you purchase something through them.


Kathleen Zietz November 1, 2017 - 10:57 am

Alright as someone who works in custom framing I have to stand up for my industry at least a little bit. Now if you’re framing a readily accessible print that you can get a hold of easily go for the cheap framing it’s fine. But if you have anything of value either monetary or sentimental there is a reason to custom frame. Half of my job is conservation which is why our materials are expensive. Regular clear glass isn’t that expensive the uv protected glass that stops fading is. There’s a huge difference in the condition of the artwork from things framed twenty years ago. I’ve taken apart enough old frame jobs to see just what damage non acid free mats can do. Acid burning it really is a thing. The other thing people don’t realize is that matting is there first and foremost to protect the art. Art that is pushed up against the glass can have issues when water condenses on the glass and when the glass gets hot when in direct sunlight. I’ve had to try and peel enough artwork off glass to see the damage it does. If you don’t want matting I can use spacer bars to hold the art off of the glass as well. I guarantee that cardboard and hot glue goes no where near your art. Instead it’s acid-free alpha-cellulose mats and and acid free foam core used as backing boards. For object mounts we use high quality silicone combined with linen hinging tape to keep acid from touching anything. Everything we do is around making sure someone else can take it apart with no damage to the art. If you have rippled art or photos that won’t lay flat we can vacuum mount them to keep them flat and sturdy. Having dealt with my own ikea frames I will say that a custom frame will hold up better. They have better joints that are usually a lot solider. Which is great if you move a lot. Usually if you want a better deal go to a small local shop. I’ve worked in large corporate shops and they do over charge you counting on drawing you in with huge sales. In comparison the Mom and Pop I now work for is much cheaper with a better selection. Also keep in mind if you do a gallery wall that a framer can always switch out the art for you. Most framers will also use an existing frame if you bring us one. Which is a great time to use that cool one you found at Goodwill. Also reframing artwork from cheap finds can update it and make it fit with your home. I’ve seen some really cool things from estate sales. The same thing with inherited pieces that you love because it was great grandmas but it looks odd with the rest of your house. We do this for people working with interior designers all the time. This was your friendly Framing PSA. Sorry for being obnoxious.

Bethany McCamish November 2, 2017 - 8:36 pm

Thank you for your input. I know my sarcastic tone can sound as though I threw the industry in the gutter,but I can see the value in it for family heirlooms or the off chance you own a noted artist. I am aiming the post at home owners who want to create a space that is inspiring without breaking the bank. Thank you for the insight on framers using frames from the thrift stores. All great points and insight.


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