5 Tips For Decorating For Cheap!

For the past year and a half my husband has been travelling out of the country a lot for work.   The kids and I have tried to join him on many of these trips staying in hotels and with new friends.  No matter how crazy his work schedule gets, we’ve always tried to make “staying together as a family” a priority.  With the year ahead bringing even more travelling, my husband decided it was time to get a condo close to where he works.  In order to make this new home affordable I knew my budget for furnishings and decor would be limited!  I knew this would be the perfect project to incorporate some of the tips I’ve learned.  Many of these tips have saved me HUNDREDS of dollars!

Here are my top 5 “Decorating for Cheap” Tips!

Tip #1- Research your style.

Before I start decorating/renovating a room I look at decorating magazines, on pinterest and in my favourite store catalogues to start figuring out the “look and feel” I want from the space. For example, I keep a close eye on these best outdoor daybeds  to see when they’re restocked so I can get my hands on one. I don’t necessarily commit to any exact pieces of furniture (be it an outdoor heater) or decor,  (although sometimes I find something I want to dupicate exactly!) I just choose a general “feel” I am aiming to achieve in the space.


Doing this really helps me stay on track when I am choosing furniture, paint and pieces to fill the room. I can ask myself “does this go with the feel I am trying to achieve for the room?” This helps me to make more clear decisions with the pieces I choose.


Tip #2 – Trust your instincts!

It’s so easy to second guess and over think decorating decisions.  How will this look?  Is it the right size? Does the colour really match?  If you are out shopping or thrifting and something catches your eye, it’s usually for a reason.  I can’t tell you the amount of times I have been drawn to a piece, second guessed myself, then later regretted it and went back for it and it was gone!  Most stores have really good return policies, so just be sure to keep your receipts!  If you change your mind about an item you can always return it!  Sometimes you just need to see something in your space to know if it will really work!  I have purchased pieces that I was so certain of in the store but when I brought it home, it totally didn’t work!  Other times I’ve been drawn to a piece but had no idea where I could use it- yet once I brought it home I found the perfect place for it!  Many times it will just be trial and error!

If something catches your eye, trust yourself and go for it!!



Tip #3- Always shop second hand/ discount first!

When I’m looking to decorate a room I make a list of the larger furniture pieces I need first and check craigslist, kijiji, yard sales, thrift shops, and discount stores for them!  I have always found almost everything big on my  list at one of second hand/ discount sources.  Once you have all of your thrift/discount pieces purchased you can go out and fill in the rest of what you need from your favourite retail store!  You will save TONS of money doing this!  Yes, it takes more time.  It’s a lot of research and shopping around but it can be soooooo worth it!!  You will have the potential to save hundreds to thousands of dollars doing this!!  YES I said THOUSANDS! 🙂

Take this table for example.

I saw this table in the Restoration Hardware Catalogue and fell in love with it!!  I knew I wanted to achieve this look but could not afford to purchase this table! This table from Restoration Hardware retails for $1495.00


I shopped around at thrift stores and found a table for $50! I used an extra can of white trim paint I already had at home and bought an $8 can of Grey stain for the top. This project cost me $58 in total. I love the way it turned out!

This is the table I scored at a thrift shop for $50.


After painting, sanding and restaining, the total cost for this table was $58.  That’s a savings of $1437.00!!!

Not too shabby right?

Tip #4- Splurge on the right things!

While I always try to shop for my big items (furniture, mirrors, frames, artwork) at thrift shops and yard sales, there are some items I feel are worth splurging on (and you will have the budget to do it with all of the cash you save on thrifting your larger items! 🙂 )

#1 Throw Pillows- I LOVE pillows!

I think they are the finishing touch in both a living room and bedroom!


Pillows are what makes the space feel cozy and inviting and are the perfect way to incorporate an accent colour.




Really great pillows can be a bit pricey, but in my opinion they are worth the splurge!

#2 Curtains- Having the right curtains in a space is essential!  Curtains frame the room and  really ground your entire “look”.  The curtains are what draw your eye up and out into the the entire space. While you “can” find beautiful curtains at a thrift shop or yard sale, they are more difficult to find than furniture.  If you can get them second hand- that’s a GREAT find!  But if you can’t,  it’s totally worth it to splurge on ones you really love at your favourite home goods store!


Curtains are the “eyebrows” of the room!  Like bad eyebrows, bad curtains can totally throw off the entire vibe of your space! 😉

Tip #5- Get Your Hands Dirty And Paint!

In past blog posts (You can read more here: http://http://cleanlifehappywife.com/2015/04/03/its-not-the-colour-that-counts/  I have mentioned my love for painting things (especially painting things white!) This is THE MOST transformational decorating tip!!  If you are willing to paint items, you will be able to save yourself loads of money and create some really unique and spectacular pieces for your home! Following Tip #1  “Research Your Style” will help you with this!  As long as you know the style you like and the general “feel” you are trying to achieve in the room, you can keep your eye out for pieces that compliment that style. They don’t have to be the perfect colour, because you can easily change that!  As long as the look and feel of the piece is something you love, toss it in your trunk, stop off at your local paint store and get to work! 🙂

I saw these lamps that I really loved on the Neena’s Lighting website.  I loved how big and chunky they were and of course I loved that they were white! But, they were a bit pricey for my liking at $271.40 each!


I found these lamps at a thrift shop for $6 each and then I bought the lamp shades for $9.99.  As you can see, they were pretty ugly as is, but I knew I liked the shape and size of the lamps.


A few coats of spray paint later, a new lamp shade and this is how they turned out!



I actually like them even better than the original ones I saw!  $6 for the lamp, $4.88 for the spray paint and $9.99 for the lamp shade brings the grand total for these lamps to $18.43 each!  The ones I saw online were $271.40.  That makes a total savings of $252.97!!!  Another thrifting project WELL worth the savings!

I faithfully use these 5 tips when I am decorating and have had great success keeping within my budget, yet achieving a final result that looks like I broke the bank! Using these cheap tricks helps to keep decorating fun and eliminates the stress and financial burden of overspending!

Shop like a pauper- live like a queen! 😉

Share some of your thrift/bargain finds! I would love to see them!

Happy thrifting!

XO, Pam







6 thoughts on “5 Tips For Decorating For Cheap!

  1. That is awesome, Pam! You always have such great tips! But you are also REALLY good at thrift shopping. You have such a good eye for it and have the ability to see the ugly item as what it could be. Thise lamps looks amazing!!!

  2. Great tips Pam! You’re style is beautiful and how you keep things so white and pristine with young kids, I will never know! You are a decorating guru and I am in awe!

    1. Awe thanks Leah!! If you notice, I rarely use white “fabric” in my decorating! It if’s not Leather, plastic, or wood, I usually stay away from it! It must be able to take some good many wiping from sticky little fingers! 🙂 Thank you for reading! XO, Pam

  3. Having rented this beautiful space recently, I can honestly say I can’t believe what I just read. Thrift stores?? DIY projects? Really? WOW!! It looks like it’s out of a magazine! My husband and I kept saying over and over again, “What an amazing decorator!!!” and texting pictures to our family, “Can you believe we get to stay HERE?!?”

    Thanks for the great tips! (Now can you come and decorate our place?)

    P.S. I was directed to this blog because of World Vision’s share on FB of your most recent blog post. How scary!! We are praising God you and your daughter are okay. Thanks for the important reminder to treat each day as a gift.

    1. Sara, Hopefully next time you are in town we I can take you to some of the AMAZING thrift stores in Nashville!! 🙂 You may want to rent a moving van!! hahaha Thank you for your kind words!

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