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5 Tips for Decorating on a Budget

It is easy enough to decorate when money is no object. Even if you aren't good at it yourself, you can always hire an interior designer to help you. But one thing that I am really passionate about is helping my clients see that decorating your home and making it look nice is completely possible even on a limited budget.

One of the things I enjoy helping my clients with the most is helping them figure out how to use what they have and helping them style it so they love it again. Once we determine what is working and not working in a space, then we can come up with a plan to fill in things as needed. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh pair of eyes to think about a new furniture placement or a different way to style shelves and the things you already have can seem new all over again.

Here are a few of my tips for achieving a great look without spending a ton of money.

1. Go vintage. My number one rule for getting the biggest bang for your buck (not to mention getting the look of an authentically collected and interesting home) is to shop vintage. I've said it before but it bears repeating, for the most part older furnishings and accessories are sturdier and more durable because the craftsmanship was so much better instead of being mass produced and machine made. Sure, sometimes this means that the hunt takes a little longer to find just the right piece but the money you save, the aged-patina you'll get and the quality of the pieces you find typically more than make up for the extra effort. There are tons of great local shops in the area (Finds, Emily & Co, Union Camp Collective, and The Little Red Hen to name a few) that have great inventory at even better prices.

My son's room is a great example of where I chose to go vintage. I picked up the mid-century dresser for $150. It is super sturdy quality and all wood and I had it lacquered in a matte navy blue. I also found that tall faux bamboo mirror at Goodwill a few years ago and spray painted it myself.

2. Go high/low. What I mean by this is to incorporate a mix of high-end, great quality pieces with lower-budget chain store finds (think Home Goods and Target). Spend your money on pieces that are classic and will stand the test of tine. A beautiful antique secretary or a comfortable, high-quality couch are worth the splurge. A funky lamp or a bright pillow can easily jazz a place up and if, down the road, you tire of them, you don't have as much guilt letting them go.

Our bedroom is a good example of splurging and saving. The bedside chests are European and vintage but they were one of my biggest splurges. I love them and don't think I will ever tire of them. The lamps on them however are from Home Goods and were under $50/each. Sure, they are a little trendy and I will likely want to replace them down the road but I won't have regret about it when I do since I didn't spend a fortune on them. And for now, I like how they modernize the space a little.

3. Go neutral. Please do not mistake this piece of advice for me not liking color. Color is one of the most important tools in design. But if you are a design novice, tire of things quickly or just generally unsure, .my advice is to go neutral on the big stuff and it will last you longer. Walls and sofas are two perfect examples of things that I recommend going neutral on. You can pull in plenty of color through art, pillows, and accessories and it is much easier to change those things up than to have to repaint everything or purchase a new couch.

Our bedroom is a space that I decided to go heavy on the neutral. I like the ease of white bedding - it can work for all seasons and can easily be updated with new throw pillows.

4. Go green. With plants that is. If you don't have plants in your house you are missing out. First, the planters alone can be a great way to bring in visual interest by adding height, texture, and color. Secondly, plants make a home feel warm, inviting and cared for. Plants can be both low maintenance and low budget so I don't want to hear the "I kill everything I touch" excuse anymore.

I think nearly every room in my house (yes, even the bathrooms!) has at least one plant in it. They just bring so much life to a space. Here's a shot of just two of the plants in our living room that flank our fireplace.

5. Go YOU. If you love it, have confidence that it belongs in your house. Homes should be a reflection of the people who live there and the furnishings and accessories should make the owners happy. Forget the trends, forget what magazines tell you to do, forget what your neighbor does. Your grandmother's traditional furniture CAN mesh with more contemporary furnishings - you just have to own it and embrace it. And if you are struggling, call me. It's my happy place.

I feel like this table exemplifies my style. It is a total mix of periods, styles, colors, textures and high and low. My grandmother's silver and Tiffany glasses mix with Pottery Barn and Anthropologie plates and napkins. It's a hodge podge but it is me.

Any other ideas you have for decorating on a budget?

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