Low-Cost Interior Decorating Ideas For The Thrifty

Low-Cost Interior Decorating Ideas For The Thrifty


14 minute read

Buying decor for a house or even just a room can easily become an expensive endeavor. However, we are here to tell you that decorating on a budget is possible. Regardless of whether you live in a spacious loft in Beverly Hills or a two-story home in Atlanta, you can create a one-of-a-kind space without breaking the bank with these low-cost interior decorating ideas. The secret is to take a detour from the regular big-box stores and head to your local thrift or second-hand shop. With a little creativity and some patience, you can furnish and decorate a home that looks uniquely yours. To help get you started, we reached out to some of the top bargain shopping and decorating experts. Keep reading for their best tips and tricks for home decorating on a budget.

36 Low-Cost Interior Decorating Ideas for the Thrifty

  1. Start with a Mood Board

Fill your mood board with decorating inspiration and ideas, then keep it in mind when you go thrifting. Once you’re in the midst of the mountains of used goods at a thrift store, it can be challenging to envision how that funky vase could work in your home or where on earth you might put that giant vintage basket. But if you have done your research ahead of time, you are more likely to have an open mind and a creative vision for the unique treasures you will find.

  1. Look for items that can be easily transformed

When you go thrifting, look for items like pottery, vases, baskets, and lamps that you can easily flip using spray paint, or plaster of Paris to give it that new but vintage vibe people often use when styling spaces. These items are great to use as fillers, to add height, and to create dimension in the areas you want to quickly and easily style. Coming up with low-cost interior decorating ideas can be easy as long as you be resourceful. 

  1.  Do not be afraid of germs, stains, and used items

A lot of people worry about buying things second-hand because they are unsure of where an item came from. This is a valid concern, and there are some items you should not buy at thrift stores. However, for the most part, buying second-hand is not any more “germy” than buying retail. That being said, especially in the time of Covid-19, you should always wash or sanitize whatever comes into your home before using it. There are lots of eco-friendly ways to make sure your thrifting treasures don’t bring any unwanted critters or germs into your home — baking soda and vinegar are your best friend.

  1. Balance the old with the new

Mixing modern elements in with old, vintage finds keeps a room feeling fresh, interesting, and ultimately balanced. Tossing an old thrift store find on a more modern piece of furniture creates depth and adds an element of the unexpected.

  1. Put your spin on it

Looking for trendy side tables or dressers? Buy a cheap but solid wood piece and do not be afraid to spruce it up by painting it yourself! Bright colors are always fun. Try a hipster turquoise or red, or you could always go with a timeless black. Old pieces often have sturdy bones.

Interior decorating ideas

  1. Transform an old dresser

Find an old wood dresser, a bit vintage and a bit damaged. Give that dresser a few coats of chalk paint to transform the piece into something beautiful. You can learn how to do this here.

  1. Be open-minded and do not look for anything specific

Try not to look for anything specific because if you are looking for anything specific, you miss a lot of the unique items. Being open-minded and a little bit creative are the first steps towards curating a beautifully decorated home without spending lots of money. It also helps to shop at multiple stores every week since the new inventory is donated daily.

  1. Look for decor items outside of your style

Do not be afraid to be bold and thrift outside of your style. Designing a space to be subtly – or full-on – eclectic adds character and warmth. Not only does it make your space playfully unique, but it also makes shopping for your next vintage addition a lot easier if you are not limiting yourself to one style.

  1. Envision an item in a different Color

If you stumble across an item at a thrift store, say a basket, vase, or cutting board, and you love its shape or design, but you do not like the color or decoration, try to envision it in a different color. Chances are it will make a vast improvement! Drive yourself to the hardware store, pick up some chalk paint, give the item one or two coats, and voila–you have a brand new home decor accessory to love.

  1. Keep your eyes peeled for one-of-a-kind items

Check out the art on the walls–and their frames–for a thrifty way to restyle your home. Know that with a fresh coat of paint or new hardware, you can transform found furniture into a centerpiece.

  1. Decorate with items that make your home look like you have traveled the world

There is nothing better than the look of a well-finished, eclectic home. Even if your design style is soft contemporary or transitional modern, a mid-century bar cart or a French antique console can ground your space and give it a sense of warmth. While shopping for resale items, focus on vintage, architectural salvage, or rich wood antique pieces to give some interest to your home. Your home should look as though you’ve traveled the world even if you have not yet.

  1. Find items that just need a fresh coat of paint

Many things only need a coat of paint or a few embellishments to look great in your home! Have a plan of what you are looking for when thrifting by keeping up with the latest trends on Pinterest. You would be surprised by the furniture and other home decor people get rid of that just needs a little time and love.

  1. Shop for eclectic glassware

Finding essential glassware for a home bar or rec room area has never been easier. Thrift stores are known for their assortment of drinkware. So stock up on mix-and-match pilsner, tumbler, cocktail, highball, and shot glasses as well as wine goblets and pitchers. You can find everything you need to host the next neighborhood gathering. Bonus points for scoring beer glasses from breweries around the world.

  1. Think outside the box

Houseplants are an essential decor element and they can even purify the air in your home. Look beyond the usual pots and make a statement by creating unique DIY planters out of upcycled objects from the thrift store. Try antique teacups for small succulents, vintage ceramics for hearty spider plants, or create a mini-garden in hollowed-out retro electronics.

  1. Use your imagination to create something unique

If you love DIY home projects, old windows can become picture frames or old fireplace covers/screens can be wall art. Use your imagination and you will have endless possibilities. For more traditional decor, you can find vases, lamps, wall art, lighting, pillows and so much more – just be patient – it may take a few trips, but it will be worth it, and your wallet will love you.

  1. Take advantage of spray paint

Do not let the wear and tear of a well-loved piece scare you away. Spray paint can elevate table legs, picture frames, planters, even hardware, and give new life to a vintage favorite. It’s an affordable and effective way to create your cohesive space on a budget.

  1. Incorporate Vintage Books

A great, simple way to add some personality, color, and a touch of real nostalgia to your home is to use a few carefully chosen vintage books. There is a warmth and dimension to classic hard-cover and leather-bound books. If you’re looking for a little fun and a conversation starter, nothing beats vintage versions of the childhood classics (even comic books!) that we all read growing up.

  1. Take your time and search for items you may have overlooked

The secret is to walk slowly, look carefully, and take three laps around the store as you may not see everything on the first or the second lap. Visit frequently, as new items could arrive at any moment. The secret is to mix the old with the new and find high quality for a fraction of the price.

  1. When shopping, go all-in for some repurpose and reinventing

Be on the hunt for quality, well-priced furniture and decor that you can repurpose and reinvent into some fabulous ‘new’, one-of-a-kind statement piece. A dresser becomes a bathroom vanity, a buffet transforms into a media console. An old armoire becomes a bar cabinet. The possibilities for creating truly unique, stylish, and affordable home furnishings are endless. Great low-cost interior decorating ideas begins with creativity.

  1. Repurpose thrifted goods into a functional and artistic lighting

You can shop for just about anything that a cord can run through, like vintage colanders, cute teapots, or even simple glassware, to turn into lights. Repurposing thrifted items are rewarding not just for the affordability, but the sustainability of making use of goods that already exist in the universe.

  1. Do not underestimate the importance of the finishing touches

The old globe, the mid-century photo frame, or the hip 80’s ceramic vase are easily found at your local thrift store. These items can help put your vibe and signature on your space.

  1. Make Paint your new Best Friend

You can paint nearly anything. Yes, even fabric. Paint is cheap, and it is a quick fix. You can get a lot of bang for your buck by painting; you just have to make sure you choose the right paint color. Sometimes you can get lucky and find discounted paint at the Home Depot. Fortunately, if the paint color does not look as wonderful as you expected, you can always re-paint with a new color.  You can re-paint the same item several times when I’m itching for a new look. It is such an inexpensive way to get the look you want. Before trashing an item that you do not like, think, ‘Can I paint this to make it into something I do like?’ If you answered yes, then you can implement this easy frugal decorating idea.

  1. Search through your family’s unused things

Next time you are at a family member’s house, try to check if they will let you root through any of their unused items. If your family or friends are willing to let you have any unused items, take them up on that offer. It is way cheaper to get something for free and then upcycle it than pay for it new.

  1. Reuse before buying something new

A great frugal decorating idea is to try reusing items in a different room. If an item does not have the look that suits the room or your style, try simply repainting it, staining it, or having it function as something else.

You can also check out thrift stores or yard sales for pieces that need a little TLC. You might be able to find old, cheap pieces of furniture and then upcycling them. Furniture can be so expensive, so thrifting for a piece of furniture is a great way to save some serious cash. 

  1. Hang Plates

Plates are an interesting alternative for framed artwork. They can usually be found in antique shops and they can be collected over time. To hang them on the wall, use sleek hangers that adhere to the back of the plates and that are invisible. But before you do that, try to find a layout that you like by first placing the plates on the ground and trying different options.

  1. Paint a Canvas

Making a patterned canvas to display on a wall is quite easy. You can use a cardboard template or, if you prefer something a little more artistic, you can freehand something. Let your talent speak for you. The canvas can then be used as an original decoration for spaces such as a home office, a dining room, a bedroom, or any other space that you think might benefit from its presence.

  1. Make Your Art

Another great way of adding some spark to your home’s interior is to create your art. This way you will make the room feel more personal and intimate and you’ll add something that represents you to the décor. It can be anything you want, even some simple doodles on a piece of paper. 

  1. Be Crafty

But painting and displaying the result on the wall is not the only way in which you can contribute to the creation of a unique décor for your home. You can be crafty in many different ways. For example, you can take a piece of wallpaper that you like and frame it, creating an interesting display for the dining room, office, etc.

  1. Be Natural

If you also want to add some freshness into your home and to bring a piece of nature inside, you can opt for more natural solutions. For example, you can recycle some wood to make a simple but charming storage piece for your mudroom or hallway. It would have a rough look and great character.

  1. Fake Headboards

Not all bedrooms have the space necessary for a headboard. But even if they do, headboards can be quite expensive. But with them, it’s not only about comfort as it is about style and the effect they create in the room. So you can recreate that effect using other methods. For example, you can paint a fake headboard silhouette on the wall.

  1. Display Collections

Sometimes a great way to save some money is to use what you already have. So you can spice up your interior décor by displaying things you have collected over the years. It can be anything from stamps to old coins and books. It’s a great way of including something personal into the décor of a room.

  1. Choose Mirrors

If you have a small home it is not all bad. It is cozier than most large spaces and there are plenty of things you can do to create the impression of a larger space, such as using mirrors. Mirrors are also inexpensive décor solutions and their versatility allows them to be used in any room of the house and almost any space.

  1. Create a Family Gallery

Another way of personalizing a space is to use framed photos. For example, you can create a family gallery by displaying pictures of everyone in the family on a wall in the living room. You can also use the same idea for the dining room or your office to make it feel more inviting and cozy.

  1. Framed Mirrors

Mirrors are extremely versatile. They also come in a variety of shapes, styles, and designs and they can be used to create artistic effects, not only to visually enlarge a space. A beautiful frame can turn a simple mirror into a wonderful display piece.

  1. Mix Patterns

Patterns in general are a way of creating focal points in a room. They are usually used for accent pieces, but they can also be mixed and used extensively in a décor. For example, this bedroom features a multitude of patterns and colors and, even though they are very different, they interact beautifully.

  1. Repurpose Furniture

Sometimes you feel the need to change something about a room’s interior décor. You need to add something fresh and new. But instead of buying new furniture you can repurpose it and get the same feeling of new and unexpected. Don’t be afraid to experiment and to be original.

Takeaway: Low-Cost Interior Decorating Ideas

Who says that interior decoration design is expensive, obviously do not know these low-cost interior design tips. Hopefully, these low-cost interior design tips will help you transform your space without breaking the bank! 

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