Monday, November 30, 2009

Ways to Save: Decorating on the Cheap

When we got married, we had little money. We had both been in college for several years just before we got married. And before that, my husband had lived as a missionary for 5 years, making pretty much nothing. Not having much forced us to learn how to live simply and also how to stretch every dollar as far as possible. At first I found it discouraging, but soon it became a challenge and I loved seeing how much I could save on whatever I bought. However, I also soon discovered that it's much harder to save on some items; there just aren't a lot of ways to get them for cheap.

From the beginning, one thing that we both weren't willing to spend lots of money on was home decor items. The problem with this is that we are also both pretty picky about what we use to decorate. We know what we like and so not just anything goes. That meant two things happened- we got creative in finding ways to decorate inexpensively and...we just didn't have much for a long time! Honestly, it looked rather bare bones (and still does in a couple of spots!).

However, over time, we did find some ways to decorate and fix up our house inexpensively. Here are a few of the things we've done:

Did you ever know that nice mirrors are rather expensive? Well, they are. We had been looking for one to put in our living room for quite a while when one day we were at the outlets and spotted some really nice ones in one of the store's window-front display. The sale signs plastered on them drew us inside and we eagerly checked them out. Much to our disappointment, they still were above what we really wanted to pay. However, my husband noticed one had a chip in the frame and knew that if we hung it so that the chipped part was at the top, you'd never notice it. So he asked if they would give us a discount on it. Without batting an eye, the manager agreed to give us another percentage off. I don't remember anymore exactly how much we saved, but it was somewhere between 50-75% if I recall correctly.

Moral of the story: Don't be scared to ask for discounts if something is slightly damaged. We've discovered that often the manager will be more than glad to give you one.

Don't you just love these? We needed a sort of room divider to put in our spare bedroom which also is a storage spot for us and struggled to find something that would work. I'm not sure what inspired this idea but I think it may have come from something I saw in This Olde House magazine. Vince simply got some old shutters for about $10 at Habitat Restore, painted them and then fastened them together with hinges and tada! We have a beautiful room divider! (Let me just say they look WAY nicer in real life. The picture shows the paint as more shiny than it is and in real life you can see all the bumps and nicks that give it character.)

Moral of the Story: Be creative and make your own item.

This little stand used to be hideous with it's dark brown wood stain. But a couple coats of paint later and it is perfect for our nursery. In fact, most of the furniture that is in our nursery was's such an easy way to get matching furniture!

Moral of the Story: Have a piece of furniture you hate because of it's color/stain? Paint it! You'll be amazed at the transformation.

We got two lights like this at a yard sale for $5 total. They were both barely used and the lady that was selling them was just glad to get rid of them. We were pretty excited to find them because we had just bought our house and it's a fixer-upper that we are working on as we have time. Several of the light fixtures that were in our house were horrid and desperately needed replaced. While these fixtures probably weren't what we would have bought if we had gone to get lights, we still liked them and for that price couldn't pass them up. New ones like this cost around $50, just to give you an idea of the savings we experienced.

Moral of the story: Yard sales are excellent places to look for items, whether it is light fixtures or wall hangings. If you keep your eyes open, you often can find some great treasures!

Wall hangings can be SO expensive! But we've gotten almost all of ours for 1/2 price. Here's how. Our local Christian store occasionally puts their wall hangings on sale 50% off and they also send out mailers that have 50% coupons in them. They have a nice selection of pictures and wall art, many of them by P. Graham Dunn. We have also gotten a few from other stores when they have them on sale for 50% or more.

Moral of the Story: Use coupons and sales to buy things to decorate your home inexpensively.

I used to collect tea cups when I was younger. I had sort of forgotten about it until I was going through some of my storage boxes one day and came across them. I'm not really a tea cups kind of girl anymore but decided to keep the nicest ones. I had been racking my brain for ideas of what to put on the shelves above my kitchen sink and when I was trying to decide what to do with my tea cups I got this idea. I'm not totally satisfied with it, but it works for now and is a simple way to display the tea cups.

Moral of the Story: Be creative and use what you have. Look at what you have lying around your house and try to find creative new ways to use those items.

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration! Do you have any money saving decorating ideas or have you blogged about this subject? Maybe you have a story about something you got for a little bit of nothing. Feel free to leave a comment and/or links. I'd love to get more ideas!

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