Let's face it, we don't all have huge budgets for making our homes cozy and beautiful.
I've been home with my kids for almost sixteen years and for many of those years, Dean's income was the only one. Don't get me wrong, he has a great job. But raising a family of five in the city can be expensive, so often there simply wasn't much money left over for making our house look pretty. But because I love home so much and having a home that is both welcoming and pretty is so important to me, we figured out how to make it stylish little by little.
8 Ways to Make Your Home Look Stylish on a Budget
These ideas don't need to be implemented all at once. They can be teased in one or two at a time. At first glance they may not seem like much, but each one can have a great impact on its own. Eventually you will find that you do indeed have a stylish home!
1. Grocery Store Flowers
For years I told Dean NOT to buy me flowers. I felt like they were such a waste. They just died in a week anyway, so why spend the money?
But then I realized that a small bunch of flowers could be bought at the grocery store for less than $10 and could last for two weeks if I changed or topped up the water.
I also discovered how much joy fresh flowers bring me!
Poor Dean. After about fifteen years of me saying NOT to buy flowers, I now constantly remind him to pick some up while he's out. Good thing he loves me so much!
2. Hang Curtains High and Wide
No matter where you live you likely need curtains. Be it for light blocking, privacy or even just for looks, curtains are pretty standard house necessities.
Well they can also add a lot of style to your decor – even the cheap ones – when hung the right way.
Instead of hanging the curtain rod tight to the window frame, try hanging your curtains “high and wide”. Mount the curtain rod as high as you can, so your curtains gently kiss the floor when hung. Also get a rod that's large enough to extend about six inches past the window frame.
Of course when a small budget is an issue curtains can seem expensive. But if you just get creative you can still have stylish windows. Try using drop cloths or sheets hung with curtain ring clips, or use piping painted black as a curtain rods. No one will know the difference!
3. Classic Neutral Paint
Some of the biggest decorating regrets come in the form of paint. Choosing a color that's super trendy is fine IF you're willing to paint again when the trend is over. By using a neutral backdrop, your home will look much more stylish for much longer.
Remember to bring home color samples or large swatches to look at in your house, in your lighting. Paint NEVER looks the same in your home as it does at the store, so NEVER choose a color at the store!
I'm always amazed at what a fresh coat of paint can do. And when you stick to a classic neutral, you can't go wrong.
4. Area Rugs
(affiliate) Moroccan Trellis Rug, Rugs USA
It's true, buying area rugs can be expensive. But it doesn't have to be.
A few years ago when white shag area rugs were so popular, I wanted one but wasn't willing to pay the price tag that most of them were selling for. So I looked and looked for one that was less costly.
Part of the issue was that I needed at least an 8 foot by 10 foot rug to fit our space correctly. And by correctly I mean that all of the front legs of the furniture at least had to be on the rug. None of that floating-the-rug-in-the-middle-of-the-room-with-nothing-but-the-coffee-table-on-it nonsense! (Learn more about proper rug sizing in our how to decorate handbook – Cozy and Beautiful.)
Eventually I found one at Home Depot for hundreds less than everywhere else and we used that rug till it was trash!
So be patient and shop around, check big box stores, online shops and even kijiji and craigslist. And don't buy a rug that's too small for your space!
5. Update the Lampshades
If you have lamps and can't or don't want to replace them – let's face it some lamps can be really expensive – try replacing the lampshades.
Maybe when you bought your lamps, curvy shades with piping or fringe were the ‘IN' thing. You can update you lamps very easily with some newer shades that are more of a drum shape.
Trust me you will notice a difference!
6. Vignettes Instead of Tchotchkes Everywhere
There is nothing wrong with a collection. Or even tchotchkes for that matter.
But when you start to clutter up every surface in your home with things, it's no longer stylish. It's just clutter.
Try creating vignettes instead.
Don't know how, check out this post on how to create vignettes.
7. Use Matching Containers for Open Storage
Maybe you can't afford those built-ins just yet and you're making due with regular shelves. That doesn't mean they have to look ugly.
If you're buying storage containers anyway, you might as well buy matching ones. Baskets, boxes and crates can all be placed together to create a cohesive and stylish open storage solution in just about any room.
8. Replace Hardware
Little by little we've replaced the hardware at our house.
First it was the kitchen cupboard knobs and pulls. Then we replaced the old hinges and cheapo knobs on our exterior doors. And recently we've just about got all the interior knobs and hinges updated.
It may seem like a small thing, but it really makes me smile to have the old faded and worn two tone chrome hardware replaced with much more elegant oil-rubbed bronze.
This is one of those things you can purchase even one at a time. Hinge and door knob manufacturers tend to carry the same product in big box stores for years and years so getting matches or at least very similar pieces over time shouldn't be an issue.
So there are eight ways to make your home look stylish on a budget. Can you think of some more?