Whether you’re an unfortunate casualty of the economy or trying to decorate on a summer job’s income, re-styling a room on a budget is always a challenge. Yes, there’s IKEA, but I must disclose this now: I’ve never set foot in an Ikea and never plan to.
So what’s the best way to get a fresh, stylish home without shelling out too much dough?
Read on to find out!
It will take a day or two of your time – and definitely burn major calories – but painting a room instantly “finishes” it. Even if you don’t have the will to paint all four walls, pick two that are adjacent, go interior decorator, and make them bold accent walls. A gallon of flat paint costs less than $30 at Benjamin Moore – that’s plenty to coat a bedroom or living room.
This sounds obvious enough: Places like Pottery Barn discount items at the end of the season. The season, however, is key here. A store’s “end of season” usually means “middle of the season” to the average consumer. Case in point: Bed Bath & Beyond put patio furniture on sale in July. Hello, patio furniture holds its own through October! Pick out what you want now. Watch the prices for a few months. Bam! That Williams-Sonoma summer grill is all yours, with sunshine to spare.
Again, most likely obvious, but ideal for three reasons: 1. People sell basically brand-new furniture pieces; 2. You can find something available in your neighborhood, especially for large pieces, ridding you of overpriced delivery fees (Even IKEA’s is $80 in Manhattan.); 3. You will find either that Pottery Barn couch you’ve been eyeing but can’t afford until now OR something totally unique, which brings me to my next point…
Your mom probably dragged you to at least one during a family vacation, but at age 24, I realize their appeal. These days you’ll most likely find a piece at IKEA prices, BUT actual furniture, in that it’s made with solid wood, sturdy fabric, metal or brass knobs, etc. Plus, a small scratch will only give it antique charm and you definitely won’t feel like you have the same coffee table as everyone else.
Raid Grandma’s House
In my case, I have a grandma who has everything, including extra furniture. But most grandparents have been around long enough they’ve acquired quite a few duplicates and extras. In other words, they’ll let you have something if you claim you need it and they don’t. Even simple pieces like toasters, coffeemakers, and pillows (all of which I found at my grandma’s house) save a few dollars here and there! On top of that, they probably aren’t the cheapest ones at the store, which are the ones you’d be looking at anyway! Now I just need to find that Le Creuset buried in the attic.
I have a travel bug and one of my favorite things to do is splurge on home decorating while abroad; I love art and enjoy buying art from local artists in the various places I’ve visited. Now, at home, I have artwork and sculptures from all over the world, including Italy, France, Croatia, England, Mexico and the U.S. It definitely beats the socks off the Salvador Dali print everyone has in their college dorm room. So on your next trip, instead of picking up cheesy souvenirs at every corner, save up for a truly memorable painting, ceramic dish or one-of-a-kind professional photograph.
And this is just a peek at the list of techniques I’ve used to redesign various apartments on college, grad school, and first-job budgets. But I’m sure there are endless, creative ways you’ve tried to! Tell us your favorites here!
– STEPHANIE CAIN