Greetings from Boston on this super wet Memorial Day Weekend. Below is an actual Dear Laurel letter from a kind reader. She’s fallen on some hard times and needs help with some economical decorating ideas.
Here’s what she said:
Throwing this out there in case you might be looking for inspiration for a blog post.
I Need Economical Decorating Ideas. I Mean, Decorating Advice For REALLY Broke Girls.
As in really NO money.
My situation is that my spouse of 16 years came home from work one day. No warning whatsoever; and announced that he was leaving me and our two girls, ages 12 and 9.
Yes. Pig. No, wait. Pigs are sweet creatures. This one is… well, never mind, I’m sure that you understand.
I’m 48 and have been a stay-at-home mom since our eldest was born.
So, we sold the house, but right now, without a job, I need to be super careful.
I’ve been in the process of furnishing a condo on next to nothing.
The living room, which is nearly finished, has cost me a whopping $755.
Please don’t ask, but a friend of a friend knows an older couple who needed to unload their good quality Sherrill sofa and two chairs. And now, they’re mine; however, the fabric is not my taste at all.
The sofa is a pink-ish floral tapestry, and the chairs are just plain pink. And it’s all pretty faded. It isn’t what I would have chosen, but I’m working with it because I have no other choice.
Plus, the walls are a pinkish taupe, and the landlord had just painted them and won’t re-paint them. So actually, it all sort of works in a dusty but dated way.
I know what you’re thinking, Laurel.
You think I should’ve had a plan, but can I just say that I’m not thinking too clearly these days?
However, before I go any further, please let us know what to prioritize and cost-cutting ideas.
Plus, are there any great resources that we might not know about?
And are there any other tips for getting an expensive look on a shoestring budget?
For instance, should I do plain, boring curtains or a print of some kind?
If I get a print to pull paint color from, which one? a chair, bed set, curtains, rug?
Can I even find multiple print-type items that will work together?
Do I need to stick with one print and then do everything else plain? I’m trying to keep it bright and cheerful because I need all of the good cheer I can scrape up.
I feel for you and can relate to all of it. However, if you need some support, I very much recommend the blog, Chump Lady.
Aside from that, getting decent home furnishings for nothing or next-to-nothing takes time.
There are a ton of great ideas and resources I’m not going to list.
There’s also Facebook Marketplace which I didn’t see included in that article. I think most of us know that one by now.
However, I also wrote a post about little-known ways to score free or nearly free furniture.
My favorite budget-conscious trick for upholstered furniture is custom slip-covers.
This old post has gobs of great slipcover ideas.
Please read this post about cost-saving home decor tricks.
One of my favorite sources for slipcovers is the Slipcover Maker. I’m sure that her prices are reasonable. However, I’m not sure if she can make a slipcover long-distance unless you can give her a pattern. It might depend on the piece.
DIYSlipcovers say that they can do custom slipcovers from photos and measurements. They’re on Etsy and have great reviews, so I guess it’s worth a try.
Another terrific one of my favorite economical decorating ideas is to take cheap, ready-made drapes and add trim to them. And in so doing, make them look custom and expensive.
Actually, I did an entire post on the topic of how to make budget curtains look expensive.
(all of the information and ideas are different from what you’re about to see.)
You can do this, even if you don’t sew with stitch witchery. It’s an iron-on adhesive. I’ve seen tutorials out there that explain how to create all sorts of things without sewing.
However, there are also other products on the market for no-sew curtains and other soft furnishings.
Please check reviews and other information. Also, if anyone has had great success using no-sew adhesives or tapes, please let us know what works and what doesn’t work as well.
Please click on any image for more information.
Unless you’re knowledgeable and talented, I wouldn’t attempt to do this because the tutorials for slipcovers and curtains are usually dreadful.
I would’ve made the corner key a little smaller, is all. But I love this idea. The tutorial is in the link above.
A few years ago, I was considering this design (below) for my old bedroom.
The design is with ribbon trim.
In this case, the top is actually a little valance so that the shade can go down or up.
A couple of years ago, I showed a similar image to a client I was helping with her kitchen, and she found a source to have them made!
At this point, let’s touch on some of Katie’s questions regarding decorating advice and my best tips.
Anyone who’s read my blog for more than a few weeks probably has figured out that an overriding theme is the room itself. The architecture. The proverbial “bones.” We were just discussing that in last Wednesday’s post.
But, what if it’s a rental and we can’t change the bones?
And what if all we can afford is a plain boring box painted a color that looks very much like the color of – never mind.
In other words, if you have a paint color that you can’t stand, use other colors closely related to it; or ones that complement it.
However, if you really can’t stand the color and can’t make it work. Perhaps try asking again if you can paint the walls a lovely, soft white.
Please be careful.
Cheap drapes with a cheap print are not that easy to find. However, there are some stylish designs on Overstock.
Plus, this is another favorite post that discusses how to mix and match fabrics successfully.
One of my favorite tricks is the use of throw pillows to get a rich look without spending a fortune.
Frequently, that is where I would splurge with my clients and myself. And, it is very much worth it.
Please check out this post about throw pillows.
We’ve talked a few times about great sources on Etsy to get designer fabric pillow covers for relatively little money.
And despite being able to get bargains with used furniture, these days there’s a lot of furniture that’s DIRT CHEAP, and it’s not bad-looking. Some of it is gorgeous!
My favorite sources for cheap-but-great-looking besides Overstock are:
One Kings Lane – I guess we all know that by now. And yes, some things on OKL are very pricey, but they also have a lot of affordable furniture. For example, they have great prices on some of their accent tables.
World Market – Has an interesting selection of some interesting imported pieces.
AND a company that has taken off in the last few years in the home furnishings realm is
my beloved Tarzhay, aka Target
Please also check out the following posts that also have some excellent economical decorating ideas.
And also this post: Cost Saving Home Decor Tricks
Oh my, there are a ton of Memorial Day Weekend Sales.
More info on the HOT SALES PAGES.
And below, I made a widget with some affordable furniture that I think looks much more expensive than it is.