Cheap decorating tricks

Furnishings, rugs, curtains and accessories all cost a lot when you’re redoing a room or designing a new space. But I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I’m passing on to you. These cheap decorating tricks still make a big impact. I promise.

Layering rugs

1. Layer rugs. This e-design client in San Diego already owned this extra large jute rug. We wanted pattern in the new home she and her husband bought, but buying large area rugs gets very expensive very fast. We saved by rolling out the jute rug to nearly cover the whole room and placing this Ikea rug (for only $200!) in the center for fun graphic neutral. (We’re still waiting on the window treatments for the windows that flank the fireplace.)

Just rugs are typically inexpensive. You can find them on places like Overstock. Go big. Get the size that at least part of your main seating area fits on. If using this trick in the dining room, the rug should be four feet wider and four feet longer than your table to allow room for guests to slide their chairs in and out and still be on the rug. Then pick a smaller, rug to layer on top. I wouldn’t go smaller than 4×6 in the living room and 5×7 in the dining room.

Upholstered ottoman

2. Turn a table into an upholstered ottoman. I have another San Diego client who wanted to update her living room but didn’t want to spend a lot of money at all. An upholstered ottoman is safer for kids (she has three)—no sharp corners—and functions like a table or a seat depending on your entertaining needs. We found this wood coffee table on Craigslist for $50. We’re removing the top and upholstering and tufting, like I did here, in this charcoal linen fabric, then painting the legs and base a glossy black.

3. Customize inexpensive curtains. This might just be my favorite way to save money. If you can operate a sewing machine, you can buy fabric and make your own curtains like I did here. Or buy cheap curtains (Ikea, Target and World Market are some of my favorite sources) and add fun, colorful trim with an iron and Stitch Witchery, like I did here. Take it a step further, and finish the window with a pelmut box.

4. Make your own artwork. Eating up wall space can be costly. Family photos are great, but you probably don’t want to deck every hall with pictures of the kids. There are so many options. I always suggest buying frames at thrift and consignment stores. You can get large frames for a fraction of the cost. If you seek a more modern aesthetic, I love Ikea’s Ribba collection. And if the frame is a bit too big (thanks to the Eurpoean measurements), you can always get creative with a border like I did here.

Other ideas I’ve tried include making your own chalkboard art, using oops paint to create modern paintings and creating crackle art. But the possibilities are endless. Even if you don’t fancy yourself a creative type.

5. Redo furnishings. I always encourage clients to reuse what we can in a space or buy someone else’s cheap castoff and give it a little TLC. One of my clients repainted this console table. I turned this dresser into my media cabinet and painted this buffet for a client’s salon display.

6. Head out for some Goodwill hunting. Hit the thrift stores, consignment shops and flea markets in your area. Look at items for shape, not necessarily color. Anything can be painted. Use these finds to fill shelves, style tables and add a bit of personality to your space.

Tell me: How do you save money when decorating?