Top 10 Budget Decorating Ideas
Below are my top ten tips for decorating and designing on a budget.
1. Draw up a financial budget add 15% to 20% padding to accommodate surprises (which always do happen).
2. Determine what it is you need by room sofa, chairs, tables, bed, accessories etc.
3. Perform home inventory at times one only has to shop within their own home to find hidden (aka forgotten treasures). Ask friends and family if they have some items they no longer want that can be used in the decorating project.
4. Find local consignment stores such as United Way, Salvation Army and privately owned ones- get well acquainted with the layout and selection. Its really easy to tell which ones are treasure troves by the quality of the furniture and accessories. In Tampa my favorite is the Salvation Army on MacDill (near the Beef o Brady’s). The best thing you can do is get friendly with the staff at these stores they will act as your personal shoppers. They will call you when an item comes in that meets your requirements. Also make a habit of visiting the stores a couple of times a week if you don’t not only will you miss new items that come in but you will miss out on the random discount calls which are time sensitive.
5. Don’t buy anything just because its cheap. Cheap is not good. Value is what home owners should be seeking. Buying things because they are cheap but not needed is a quick way to blow a budget.
6. Decide on the items/tasks you can do. When I work with clients I ask them to detail their skill sets. Can they sew? Can they use power tools? Are they crafty? Since money is tight homeowners on a budget need to minimize costs by doing a lot of the work themselves. One of our clients’ needed a sofa (as well as many other furniture and decor pieces) for her new apartment. Her budget was under $900. We determined the best use of her budget was to buy quality used furniture. In the end, we found her a sleeper sofa ($50) that had very ugly pastel upholstery (and that’s being nice). Aside from the ugly upholstery the sofa was in nearly new condition. The homeowner created a lovely neutral colored slip-cover for the couch that transformed it from horrible to fashionable. She knew how to sew and that helped. Total for the couch and fabric $150; labor $0 because she did the work. If she wasn’t able to sew we would have recommended off-the-shelf slipcovers (which are inexpensive) since the couch was a standard size.
7. When a bargain isn’t a bargain. A perfect example of that is buying a couch that is not in very good condition but its inexpensive however the homeowner fails to take into consideration both the short-term and long-term costs. The short-term costs include the costs of getting said couch into the condition the homeowner wants since it is rare to find the exact sofa you are looking for in the second hand market and that usually entails slip-covering or re-upholstery. Either way the homeowner would be paying a professional between $800 to $3000 making that couch an expensive purchase. In the long-term a cheap sofa may have weak coils and deteriorating internal structures which means that it wont last long and the homeowner will need to spend more money for a new couch to replace the old worn out couch.
8. Be smart. Decorating on a budget doesn’t always mean buying used it’s all about buying smart. Don’t automatically think you cant afford new in today’s competitive home furnishings market homeowners can purchase new sofas for under $400 at Ashley’s or Rooms To Go. Some homeowners are also surprised to find amazing deals at high-end stores such as Ethan Allen. The key is to know what you need to purchase, what your budget is, and then dedicate the time to find what you need the bargains will come. Your primary job is to be ready to take advantage of any deals that might just “pop-up” and you can do that by being thoroughly prepared.
9. A current client of mine is on a tight budget and her condo was empty. She needed furniture but didn’t want to spend thousands right away. She knew that the more time she had to shop around the better the deals. So she rented furniture for two months until she found the pieces she needed at prices all well within her budget.
10. Become creative and learn how to see the potential beauty in items this one skill is critical for those homeowners who are working within a tight budget. A pair of old wood doors can be seen as trash or to the truly creative they quickly become the basis for a coffee table or joined together and painted retro colors they become an interesting wall art panel.
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