When you are faced with the challenge of completely redecorating a room on a budget, it can be hard deciding where to start. Maybe you just purchased your first home (congratulations by the way!) and are starting fresh! Or you’ve come to realize that your current decor doesn’t suit your personal style. Those builder grade colours aren’t giving you much inspiration though.
You’ve checked out Pinterest and Houzz and saved ideas to your heart’s content. You’ve taken my Find Your Style guide and narrowed down your style preference. Now is the point where I want you to sit down and look at your finances. What is your budget? How much can you spend on each room?
Splurge Worthy Items
There are items you should splurge on and items that can take a back seat in quality. Anything that you will use repeatedly on a daily basis needs to be of good quality so you aren’t replacing it every two years. Which sucks. And ends up being as expensive if not more in the long run. That’s not even taking the waste factor into consideration. If your situation allows for it, then these are some areas to splurge.
Invest in a great sofa to stand the test of time. Make sure the fabric on it is easy to clean. Check out different styles to see which best fits your space and lifestyle; do you need a sectional or a couch and loveseat? Does a patterned fabric work for you or will you need something that can wipe down easily when juice boxes get spilled? Pick a colour or pattern that you love and fits your design style. Even if it’s trendy, as long as you love the pattern, you won’t get tired of it. And it makes a great statement about who you are.
Appliances will also go into this category, mostly because they tend to be splurge items anyways. Whether it is a fridge, stove, freezer, dishwasher, washer or dryer, make sure it’s what works best for your needs. There are so many different add on options available. It’s a good idea to write a list of your must-have features so you don’t get overwhelmed while out looking. Check out a few different sizes and style to determine what works right for you and for your budget.
Art is very personal, a piece may speak to you, but not to your spouse. Or you may love the fluid colours in a painting, but your guests aren’t as drawn to it. You know what? That’s fine! Make a conversation about it! I feel that every home should have one artwork splurge among all the cheap canvas prints. They give more life to a room. You can find second-hand ones for good deals too!
Area rugs can also be considered art, but for your floor. Not only do they look gorgeous, but they help to anchor a space and create zones in large rooms. They come in a variety of patterns and fibres so make sure to get one that suits your lifestyle needs. Since they also get trodden on daily make sure you get one that will be durable and stand up to foot traffic. Stain-resistance is also important for family homes or if you have pets.
Middle Ground Items
Some splurge items can fit into the middle range; a good quality product at a good price. A lot of items from both the splurge and the budget-friendly sections can fit here too. It really all depends on what your comfortable spending, and deem to be valuable. Here are some medium- budget items to consider.
Tables are a medium splurge level. You want something that will stand up to wear and tear instead of scratching within five days of being home. An exception is if your table is distressed already, but then you still want it to be stable and durable. Avoid sharp corners if you have kiddos running around at home, it’s just not worth it. Wood tables are great, we love that we can refinish ours if we want. But glass and metal ones look really sleek too. Just make sure they are stable, and not wobbly.
Lighting is the key to setting the mood in a room. You need adequate lighting for reading at night, watching tv, or doing homework. It’s a good idea to invest in proper window coverings, LED light bulbs, and some table lamps. Having a few floor lamps, table lamps in addition to your ceiling light gives you more options for how much light you want, depending on what you’re doing. Adequate lighting eases the strain on your eyes so you have fewer headaches, and it can boost your mood during long winter evenings.
Window coverings are very functional, not just decorative. Proper blinds give you more sunlight control. They also block a percentage of UV rays which will keep your furniture from fading, and your home from being too hot or cold. They also come in a variety of colours and patterns for you to decorate your windows with. I like to splurge on blinds that mount to the window and go thrifty with inexpensive accent drapery.
LED bulbs are the best! You can get them in different levels of colour warmth for a more natural light. They are the most energy-efficient light source on the market and better for the environment than incandescent or CFL bulbs. You’ll get great light emission, and save some money on your power bills by changing out your old bulbs. Look for rebates from your power company too, I purchased most of our when a rebate program was on and ended up paying only $1/bulb!
Decorative objects such as throw pillows, picture frames, candles, and ornaments are the glitter of a room and don’t need to be splurged on. Yes, they may wear out quicker, but chances are that these items will be the first ones you switch out as your decor style evolves too.
Less is More
By using bigger decorative items instead of sets of small items, you will still get the look you are going for, but without the clutter. Grab one large vase instead of three mini vases. Or if you come across a set of decorative items, grab the largest size. Chances are that the one large decorative piece is less expensive than the cost of three pieces to get the same impact.
You can make your own inexpensive decorations too using dollar store items, and a little spray paint. Pick up a few plastic animal toys or plastic containers, spray paint them a solid white, and voila! You have chic accent decorations for a bookshelf on a dime-budget! There are tons of dollar store tutorials out there that turn out great. You can read how I made a barnwood headboard using dollar store supplies in this post.
Paint is a tough one, and here’s why. I like to invest in a good quality paint, like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams. Why? They last longer. I have tried a few paint brands and you get what you pay for. If you have kids at home, invest in good paint. Crayons and scuff marks will clean off easier, it’s less likely to chip when a toy is rammed into the wall, and the colour fastness lasts longer. Seriously! Cheap paint will fade quickly so you end up having to repaint sooner. Also, quality paints go on smoother so you have less splatter and waste, therefore needing to use less.
If you can’t afford top quality paint, I get it! Go to your hardware store next. It’s still relatively good paint. Sometimes there’s even a clearance or returned paint area where you can get it for cheaper because they mixed a colour wrong. Just be ready to do touch ups more often. These are also good if you like to change-up your wall colour fairly often. Make sure you are sticking to the same type of paint (water-based or oil) as what’s already on your walls; most now are acrylic (latex) water-based paints but older homes may still be oil.
I highly recommend sitting down with a pen and paper (or excel spreadsheet) and writing down your budget. Seeing it written in front of you will help you keep your limit in mind as you make purchases. It’s always more intimidating when you are looking at a full budget amount and the costs associated with a completely new design. Lump sums are harder spend than over time purchases that blend into our monthly budgets. Which is why it’s important to invest wisely. Delegate a percentage of your budget to furniture right off the hop. I recommend the following guideline:
- 60% of your budget is for furniture and splurge items like tables and area rugs.
- 30% on mid-range items such as lighting, window coverings, large wall decor, and paint. If you aren’t planning to paint, I would invest in good quality pillows that won’t flatten as quickly.
- The remaining 10% is for decorative accents, including throw pillows, bookends, toss blankets, and vases.
Don’t Go For Broke
Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does pay off to have a space that is comfortable for you! The important thing is to decide what your budget will allow for and stick to it so you aren’t paying for it years later when you no longer have the same pieces. You don’t have to go for broke when styling your space! I don’t want you to resent your space every time you step foot through the door. I want you to love it, and let it love you back. Positive vibes, and positive bank accounts!
Enjoy the decorating makeover! Have fun with it and with discovering what fits and doesn’t fit your new-found style. Updating regularly as pieces wear out or feel tired keeps you from having to spend a lump sum to redo things all at once. And it’s fun to add to a room over time with fun pieces that catch your eye as you find them.
Does this help you as you plan a room overhaul? What other areas do you need guidance with? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear your opinion!