Monday, June 13, 2016

Designing on a Budget

As we have been building our new house, I have been thinking a lot about the best way to get the designer look on a budget.  What areas should I spend money and what areas should I be brave and bold in, and what areas should I play it safe in?  There are so many times that I have bought something for my house, and then thought weeks later, “well that was a mistake.”  I am hoping to avoid that as much as I can.  How can we do that?  What are some budget friendly tricks that I have learned in all the many decorating mistakes that I have made that might help me in the journey of putting the new house together?

I thought it might be good to write a few ideas down.  For myself, and I thought you might benefit from them too!

I think when decorating any space it is good to start with a budget. 

It is so important to be realistic about the budget as well.

Do you need new furniture in the space?  If so, the budget will need to be higher? 

I like to start by making a list of what I need for the space with a rough estimate of how much it will cost for each item.

Where should you spend your money?

I think it’s good to put your money into your furniture.  It’s like a good pair of jeans.  You will wear them every day.  With that being said.  Don’t buy furniture that will date itself in 2 years.  Buy neutral furniture and spice it up with fun pillows. 

We had this gray couch for over 8 years and it has seen it’s share of colors, and patterns.

LIving Room 1

(Ok Y’all this is like Circa 2008.  When we first bought this couch and I thought the chair we bought to go with it was awesome.  You know when RED was awesome!!)  This was the very first home we owned in Arkansas in a place where it is cool to say Y’all!!

Living Room

Then as then months went along it was easy to switch out the pillows and add a new color, because my couch was neutral!!

Living Area (3)

Then I changed that paint on that red wall in the back, and went a completely different way with the pillows and decorations, but I kept the couch.

….and then we moved, but the couch came with us:

New house in PA (18 of 35)

This was our rental house in Pennsylvania. Then we moved to our current house in Utah, and once again we brought the couch:

House tour Kitchen and Great Room-0287

and that’s changed too:

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See what you can do with a neutral couch?

Spend your money on good furniture, that has a nice finish, that will last through your children, and can stand the trends!!

It has been so nice to just be able to change the pillows, or the room decor, but never have to worry about making room in the budget for a big piece like a couch.  This couch has been through 3 homes and several different styles; all of which worked.

We did just get this fun new furniture set for our new home.  Navy is the new neutral so I was so excited to find this with the brass nail heads.  It will fit our coastal home style very well.  Which brings me to my next point. 


What is the feel you are going for?

If I wanted a very modern feeling home, this is not the furniture to buy.  Buy pieces that fit the feeling you are going for.  You want modern, you want clean lines.  Do a little research about the style you want, and go with a list of specific elements that you need to fit that specific design. Then you will never have that buyers remorse that I mentioned earlier.

I love coastal, so I know that I am looking for pieces that have the driftwood feel, brass, navy, stripes, beach glass blues, pebbles, chipped wood and paint, glass, or lanterns.  Anything that would remind me of the ocean.  This mirror reminded me of that coastal feel.  I loved that driftwood feeling that it gave me:


What if you need new furniture but it’s not in the budget? 

Well say this couch was older and I wanted new but couldn’t afford it?  I could use my budget for new pillows and fun new throws to just freshen it up.  Our home is coastal so I picked up this fun coastal throw. 


A throw and new pillows can really enhance a couch that you may not love.  I have been doing that for the last few years actually.

Making inexpensive changes like this can enhance things that bother you.  You could also invest in slip covers.

Another great idea is to paint furniture when you can’t buy new!

We recently had our kitchen table repainted and also this buffet.


House tour Kitchen and Great Room-0289


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You can hire people to paint for you.  Which I did in this case because of my neck, but I have always painted furniture myself in the past. 

Here is my favorite paint recipe:

mix 4 T. of plaster of paris with 1/4 C. of Hot Hot Hot water until the plaster is dissolved

then add:

An 8 oz. paint sample from home depot(color of your choice)

then paint by hand with a nice brush

no sanding needed!!

I painted a FREE piano that I got so that it matched our home.  It was also pretty ugly and beaten up, but now I love it.

Thanksgiving 2014-0140

(This was a Christmas time)

When redecorating my sons room, I didn’t have it in my budget to buy a new bed for him.  We had a bed that my sister had given us.  I didn’t really love it so I just took out some metal pieces that were in it that I didn’t like, and then painted it gray; and now I love how it looks in his room.

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Another neutral that I spend my money on is comforters!

I like to buy white and gray comforters.  Then I can just keep them for a really long time and just switch out pillows.  All the boys in my house have gray, the girls have white, and my master is white. 

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Room colors can be switched around easily that way. 

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In fact, I don’t have to buy any new bedding for the new house, but the kids will have new bedroom decorations.

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That saves a lot of money!

The other place that I like to spend my money is on items that I see and love right away!

Something that I know right where I want to put it, and something that is unlike anything I have ever seen before.  Those statement pieces are worth snatching up, and usually are worth the money. I fell in love with this unique table.  Once again it was the fun wood, and I had never seen one like it before.  I have never regretted getting it:


One way that I love saving money is by finding ways to make things myself! 

For Example, I love this Brass Geometric Himmeli Wreath which sells for $185:


It’s one of those show stoppers right.  Like, the I gotta have this right now kinda things. Well, I learned how to make it myself.

You can buy the brass kit to make it for $65 dollars, or you can make it like I did out of cocktail straws for like $5; then spray paint it brass. This is mine:

Saba Winter 2015-0300

(once again at Christmas time)

This is another example:

Easter 2016-0342

I really wanted a succulent planter from a store for $100.  I made mine for $30.  Read more about it here.

There are lots of ways to stay with in your budget by doing DIY.

As you budget for your space make sure you shop online for sales(amazon, and overstock are favs), and even hit your local TJ Maxx and Home Good Stores, they often have the best finds!  If you find something you love, but don’t think you can afford it:

1) Save for it.

2) Shop around and you will probably find something so similar for a much better price. 

3)Never Settle when it’s that one true love

What I mean by that?:

when it’s in the case of that one true love:  If you met your one true love, and then the average guy came along and you settled for him; you would always be thinking about your true love.  That will always be true about your furnishings.  So it’s almost always better to just buy it the first time because you will end up spending more money.  You will settle for something that you hate and go back to the thing you love.  If you can’t afford what you love, and can’t find anything similar enough at a cheaper price, it is worth it to wait and save. Because then you will have bought two things.   UNLESS!! and I mean UNLESS!! this means that your family will go hungry for the next three years while you save for this $10,000 couch you love.  You have to be reasonable about the item too.

The Details there should be room in the budget for the details:

I can usually find the last little tiny finishing details at those little shops.  The little things are the pieces that you don’t want to spend much money on.  They are the things that you will cycle through your house more, but they are the details.  The details are important too!  I don’t spend more than $20 on these items. Like $3-20.  Check your thrift stores, Target,  garage sales, and vintage markets.


I also hit my local thrift stores for old books, or old dishes for styling shelves.

Make sure you don’t forget to budget lighting in there!

Make room for lamps.  Lamps can get expensive.  I like to make sure that I buy matching lamps.  A set of two usually always looks better.  If you don’t have the money for lamps, you can always repurpose by spray painting ones you have?

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If it’s time to replace your overhead lighting too, that is another great place to invest your money.  Those are the details that stay.  Trust me. 

I have had so much fun, and so many headaches picking out the lighting for our new house; but I know the difference it is going to make.  In fact, if you are doing a remodel on a space and need a new light, I encourage you not to go for the boring builder grade.  Save some money somewhere else, and put that money in your lighting.  Buy yourself a fun light!!! It doesn’t have to be through the roof expensive, but it will make all the difference in your space.

Wanna see the ones I am ordering today?



These are the sconces for our breakfast nook, and great room by our fireplace.  See they have brass and stripes; very coastal.  I found them here.

So to recap:

Be BOLD with your lighting!!! Save money for lamps. 

Buy neutral furniture and budget for that.

Buy neutral bedding.

Use pillows and throws to change the look of beds and couches as the years go on.  Don’t buy new bedding or new furniture as often.

Shop Sales!! Hit Thrift Stores

Don’t spend a lot of money on the little detail items.

Learn to DIY

Repurpose when you can

Stay true to your budget

Never Settle when you are in love with something, unless it means you’ll starve Smile

If any of you are working on remodels of rooms of your own and need a little design help visit this great company who can help you design your dream space in about 10 days.  They come up with all the products with the links and sources you would need to buy them.  It looks like a pretty cook way to have someone help you with the design process if you are a little bit nervous about it yourself.  Check them out at:

Laurel and Wolf and their great designers also have a few tips for mastering your Decor Budget:

Decor Budget


Kathy@mishmashmom said...

Thanks for the great tips! Can't wait to see your new space!

Kathy@mishmashmom said...

Thanks for the great tips! Can't wait to see your new space!

Jaron said...

Great tips! So fun to see your couch in different houses and your DIY projects! Can't wait to see the finished Valleyview Abode!

Darrin & Jen said...

I love love love your new couch! What store is it from?

Brandi Bradley said...

I think you gave some great advice. I agree that going with bigger neutrals and adding smaller decorative pieces can go a long way. Simple things like that can really make a big difference and adds a personal touch. You have a beautiful home, and I may steal some of your ideas to put into my own home!

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