15 Budget Decorating Secrets

Check out design insiders’ favorite ways to save.

  • Supply the Storage Yourself

    No matter how well your place is decorated, organization is key to showing off your great designs. Building a desk, shelves or closet doors is an inexpensive way to get your clutter out of sight.

  • Build a Headboard

    Headboards are the perfect combination of form and function and can be created out of about every imaginable material, including hardwood with wrought-iron inlays, illuminated acrylic and fabric panels. Create a dramatic focal point in your bedroom by building one yourself. A headboard grounds the space and sets the tone for the entire decor.

  • Assign Furnishings to Double Duty

    Save money and conquer a small space by having everything serve a dual purpose. Make or buy ottomans with built-in storage, for example. For this loft, the designers created couches from twin mattresses, and they function as seating and a place where guests can sleep.

  • Divide and Conquer Efficiently

    Break down big space by creating zones inexpensively with dividers or artwork.

  • Improve the Lighting

    A fantastic design is pointless if you can’t see it, and lighting is a cost-effective way to transform dark, cave-like rooms into warm inviting spaces. Update an old lamp with a new lampshade and some spray paint, and if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can go with hanging cylinder pendants like the ones created for this romantic bedroom.

  • Sew Your Own

    Save big by sewing your own pillows, window treatments and bedding.

  • Become a Rug Maker

    Buy smaller versions of a rug you like and put them together to form one big rug. Or ask to see the remnants at the carpet store and see whether any of them will work as is.

  • Find Your Hidden Canvases

    See past boring closet doors to the fresh, clean canvases crying out for decoration. For this bedroom makeover, old mirror doors were turned around and fabric was added to the backs for a soft, stylish alternative. You could also transform surfaces like this with modern artwork.

  • Put the Ceiling to Work

    Don’t forget the \"fifth wall\". Paint the ceiling, add beams or install a fun light fixture that continues the design upward. It’s a great, inexpensive way to get more design mileage out of a room.

  • Dig Deep for Details

    Go the distance to find great bargains at a hotel liquidator, a thrift store, an estate sale or a garage sale. Affordable furniture is out there — it just takes some hunting to find the perfect bargain pieces for your home.

  • Spiff Up Old Pieces

    Update worn furniture by repairing broken hinges, refreshing the paint and adding new hardware.

  • Embellish Generic Pieces

    Take run-of-the-mill prefab furniture to the next level without spending much money. Add molding to a cabinet or piping and a rattan shade to a generic table to make them look like family heirlooms.

  • Buy Some Extra Space on the Cheap

    Make low ceilings look higher by placing furniture vertically so that the eye follows the line up. And make windows look taller by mounting draperies high on the wall.

  • Keep It Simple With a Theme

    Designing a room around a destination can be a lot of fun, but good design demands restraint. So if you’re looking to save on decor, a theme may be the way to go — it demands a simple approach, like the one taken with this nautical-inspired family room.

  • Skip the Big Retailers

    Instead of going to a large retail chain for accessories, head to Little Italy or Chinatown for more authentic and affordable options.

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