How to Decorate on a Tiny Budget

Today I am going to share with you some of my tips for decorating on a small tiny almost nonexistent budget. As some of you may know, my husband and I are both students and are determined to graduate without any debt so we keep the budget tight. When we moved into our little home I was bursting with ideas for how I could decorate it. I wanted so badly to make the whole house look like a house tour on Apartment Therapy. The problem was that decorating costs money, and I couldn’t help but get a little bit discouraged at first. I realized after a few months that it would come together but I had to be patient. After living here for a while I finally feel like it is a home, it showcases my personal tastes and style, and I have resisted my urges to spend whole paychecks at west elm (so far!) So without further ado, here are my tips:

1. Look at what you already have. Spend an afternoon gathering small decor items (linens, throw pillows, picture frames, lamps, knick knacks) from their various closets and hiding places. After it’s all in one general area try thinking about where you could put them. Rearrange. Spray paint things to give them new life. I do this every six months or so and I always find items I forgot I ever had.

2. Get Creative. Can’t afford to buy all the pretty prints you love? There is an easier way to get some color on your walls. Find old maps or illustrations from books to put in frames. Thrift stores are your friend for finding these. You can also take advantage of all the great free prints there are online, for example these pretty state prints from Jenna of q.a. design. You can have them printed on nice paper at a printing store for a few bucks and you’ve got yourself some art.

3. Repurpose. A curtain is not just a curtain and a bed sheet is not just a bed sheet! Linens are my favorite because you can collect them for really good prices and use them for a million different things. A fabric shower curtain can be used as a bedspread, (just cut the ring part off and hem) a pretty bed sheet can be used as a tablecloth, or to make curtains and throw pillows out of. You get the idea. Think outside the box.

4. Mix and match furniture. Ask family and friends if they have any furniture they want to get rid of- chances are they do and hand-me-downs are awesome. Also, great furniture is just waiting to be found at garage sales and thrift stores. You can furnish your whole house for super cheap if you are patient and you know where to look. If you have a mix of furniture styles you can tie them together with the same color paint or stain.

5. Shop smart. If you have a color scheme in mind, take color swatches or fabric samples with you when you shop so you can tell whether something matches before you bring it home. Look for sales. These days it is so easy to find out whether you can get an item for a better price. Shop around online and at your local stores before making purchases big or small. If you are at craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s you can pull up a weekly coupon on your smartphone to get 40% or 50% on your purchases (regularly priced items.) Also, my favorite way to save money- if I like something I will put it on hold and think about it for a day. If I am still inclined to buy it the next day, I’ll go back. Lots of times I realize I don’t really need it.

6. Make it personal. The most important thing is that you feel at home. Maybe it won’t look like a picture out of a magazine. You are a real person so that’s okay. Display reminders of your life with photos, collections, musical instruments or whatever it is that you love. Doing this will keep it unique and make it somewhere you want to be.


If you enjoyed this post, make sure to check out these similar budget posts:

How to Vacation on a Budget
How to Plan Now for Less Stressful, Happy Holidays!
Party On! (Without Breaking the Bank)

  • KCoake

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Our Pinteresting Family

    Great tips! I love to mix and match furniture…I realize I do it to be budget friendly but I actually like it better than buying a set of something. :) Megan

  • Just Jaime

    Great tips!

  • Sarah Carletti

    Your blog is beautiful! I love your ideas. The entire month of August I’m having an August Adventure into Saving Money Tips and Frugal Recipes. I’d love to see some of your ideas there. I’m at Thanks! Sarah

  • shopannies

    awesome tip that is what we are on with college dorms and this is very welcome

    come see us at

  • Beja {Howdy-Honey}

    We must be on the same wavelength. Yesterday, I dug through all my closets, the garage, and I found what I could to create a wall gallery.

    I created two projects from stuff I already had!

    I am so thrilled that you are encouraging women to do the same!!! We all want that high-end look, but we do NOT want the high end debt. Great tips!!!

  • Bridget

    Great ideas! I like your enthusiasm!

  • Jessica

    Great tips, girls! My hubby and I are on a super-tight budget, especially since he can’t do overtime until November, maybe even December (he was doing 16 hours overtime a week). So with our income almost cut in half and baby #1 due in January, there’s pretty much no room non-necessities. I feel a new sense of decorating freedom after reading your post! Thank you so much!

  • Aimee –

    Great ideas and fabulous picture! I couldn’t agree more!!! Pretty doesn’t have to break you!!! Thanks for sharing at my party! XO, Aimee