11 Ideas for Designing on a Budget

Check out these chic-on-the-cheap decorating tips.

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This home office was made over with furniture already on hand.

Think your design ambitions are bigger than your budget? Think again.

Here are 11 ways to achieve the look you want

1. Paint
Though painting is the cheapest investment you can make, it’s also the one with the most dramatic result. Go ahead and put some color on those walls for a fresh — and inexpensive — new look.

2. Do It Yourself
The biggest budget buster is hiring others to do things you could do. Consider what you'll save by taking on some relatively simple projects: painting, tiling, installing a new floor, sewing curtain panels or throw pillows — whatever you feel up to trying.

3. Call in Family and Friends
You may not have a wad of cash or a lot of home-improvement know-how, but you have other resources that can help get your decorating project off the ground: the people you know. Call on a group of relatives, friends and neighbors who can supply the muscle to rip down wall paneling, roll on paint or assemble a room of flat-packed furniture. Just don’t forget to feed them lunch.

4. Shop Secondhand Stores
Thrift stores, consignment shops, church rummage sales, online auction sites, estate sales and even salvage yards offer a bounty of discount decorating booty. Look for furniture with solid construction and classic lines that new upholstery or paint will bring back to life.

5. Look for Less-Than-Perfect Merchandise
You may be able to snag super deals on slightly damaged items, floor models and seconds (such as towels from a dye lot that was slightly off), so be sure to check stores’ "as is" areas or to ask the manager about fire-sale items. Chances are, no one but you will be any the wiser, and you’ll save big bucks.

6. Save With Stock Items
Custom framing, sewing, upholstering and other skilled labor can add a bundle to the bottom line. Instead, stick with stock items whenever you can: Buy off-the-shelf frames and mats, and trim non-valuable art prints to fit them. Buy standard blinds that are a bit larger than your windows and mount them outside the frames. Snap up stock cabinets and finish them with moldings for a custom look. Order that sofa in a neutral, ready-to-ship fabric and use the money you save to splurge on colorful throw pillows.

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