Tips for decorating on a tight budget

IT is no secret that interior design can be expensive to incorporate into your home budget – even if you are only looking at redecorating a single room, the costs can add up quickly.

Do you want to buy carpeting or install hardwood to cover the floors? What paint colour will you choose? How much of it will you need to cover the space? Are you going to buy new furniture? What about new light fixtures and other accessories? Do not forget about wall hangings and décor.

The idea of having to purchase all these items is overwhelming. When trying to do it all on a limited budget, it seems insurmountable, right? Not once you have learned our secrets.

Plan before you begin
While proper planning is essential for any home improvement project, its necessity increases tenfold when you are working on a tight budget.

After all, no one wants to find themselves in a situation where they have found the perfect couch only to discover that they do not have enough money in their account or that the non-refundable corner cabinet they have ordered online will not fit into the space.

Doing a little legwork beforehand will drastically cut down on the likelihood of encountering an unpleasant surprise along the way. First, find your design inspiration. Look at magazines and the internet to figure out what style you would like to emulate in your design.

Then, break the project down into its components – flooring, furniture, paint, accessories, and décor. Browse stores to get a solid idea on how much the components will cost. Be sure to take into account any associated costs like hiring handymen.

Once you have a price point in mind, take a look at your finances. Be honest about how much you have available for spending. If that amount falls short of your project price point, set aside a manageable amount of money each week until you reach your goal. It may take longer than charging purchases on a credit card, but you will thank yourself later.

Repurpose what you already have
There is no denying that repurposing your old design elements will not be as exciting as waiting for all new pieces to arrive from the store.

But, with a little bit of elbow grease and an investment in free time, it is possible to totally transform the look of almost any component of your interior design. Plus, it will allow you to save money for must-have purchases later on.

Look around your existing space and think of outside the box ways to repurpose items that you are currently using. Do you really need all new kitchen cabinets or can you just get them refaced? Are there hardwood floors underneath the current carpeting? Can you freshen up your old bedroom suit by giving it a new coat of paint?

As you begin to get a feel for what you can repurpose, do your research. Chances are that you will be able to find DIY guides for most of the projects.

Be sure to study the guides thoroughly before starting a project and continue to consult it as you go. Ask a handy friend or family member to provide guidance, if possible.

Anchor the room with furniture
Working under a budget is often about prioritising spending. When you are working with limited resources, you have to spend money where you will get the most bang for your buck. In interior design, that means allocating a large portion of your budget towards purchasing quality furniture.

Furniture is a wise place to spend your money because it will likely last for years. Unlike paint colours that will fall out of style or accessories that will lose their luster after a few years of wear in tear good furniture could last for decades.

It also serves the dual purpose defining a room with just a glance. Once you have a solid bedroom suit for your sleeping space or a sofa and chair set for your living room, half the work is done.

You will only have to add small touches to pull the room together, rather than trying to create a cohesive space with a bunch of décor items and no center to tie them together.

Shop second hand
Finishing your own wood is nice in theory, but sometimes it is just not feasible. You could be trying to decorate a tiny apartment where there is not enough space for such work or you could have a hectic schedule filled with work, family obligations, and social engagements.

Whatever the case, if you need to stay on budget while buying ready-made furniture, do not be afraid to shop second hand.

Get to know your local thrift store. Figure out what days they accept new inventory and get there early to scope out every inch of the place. Shop online for auctions or freecycle ventures.

Spend your weekends combing yard sales and flea markets. Ask around to see if your family and friends have anything that they are not using. Keep an eye out for going-out-of-business sales and pay special attention to the curbs of your neighbourhood on your local trash day.

When shopping for second hand items, quality is more important than style, which can always be altered. Inspect every inch of the piece for structural quality.

You can always cover a sofa with a slip cover, give a rusted mirror a new coat of paint, or buy a different lamp shade to help your find fit better with your interior design.

Go bold with colour
It is time to let you in on one of interior design’s biggest secrets: Colour is cheap. In contrast to other interior design elements, paint costs just pennies on the dollar. Accessories like throw pillows cost even less.

Infuse a high-end look into your space by filling it with colour. Before you take the plunge with paint, be sure you have picked a colour you love. Pick up a few free palettes from your local home improvement store.

Once you have narrowed it down to a few choices, you can pick up samples of each. Paint small squares of each sample colour on each wall of the room see which one you like best. Check on the samples over the course of a few days to see how the colours react to varying amounts of daylight.

A note on choosing colours: The folks recommend using the 60-30-10 Rule when selecting shades for your interior. It states that roughly 60 percent – think walls – of the space should be filled by a dominant, more neutral colour.

Then, the next 30 percent of the space should go to a secondary colour. The final 10 percent should be decorated in a bolder accent colour.

Do not decorate everything at once
One of the biggest interior design mistakes you can make, especially when trying to save money, is to take on too many redesigning projects at once.

New homeowners in particular tend to fall into the trap of wanting to redo the décor of every room from top to bottom. While it may be tempting to be able to feel like you have completely finished decorating, your wallet will appreciate if you go at a slower pace.

The best advice we can give is to live in a space before making any massive changes to the interior. As you begin to use the room, you will get a better feel for its quirks.

Replacing old kitchen cabinets the minute you move in will seem like a waste if, six months later, you find yourself wishing you had taken the time to redesign the layout first. Again, this is all about prioritising.

Pick the room in your home that needs the most help and start there. In the meantime, make the others livable, even if they are not picture-perfect. Then, when you have had a little time to let your budget recuperate, move onto next big project. – freshome.com.

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