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Unleash Your Creativity: 10 Budget-Friendly Tips for Designing Your Dream Space

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

I have been so excited about our new home that we have been settling into these past few months! It is a little more on the outskirts of the city life and it has been quite the

process of making it home, all while welcoming our 3rd sweet baby boy into our world!

My hands and heart are full and while I am putting my interior design projects on hold for the time being, it has been the season to dig in our roots at home and find creative ways to update our new home that is both cost efficient and timeless. My goal for this home was to simplify the decor and minimize the amount of stuff we have in our home, especially with having 3 little ones. I have been selling things and purging so much, that I only want the necessities left and be creative using what we have and find second hand items that together create a simple and timeless look that will be loved by our family in the years to come. It seems as though every year I am constantly sifting and fine-tuning everything from my home, to my wardrobe, and all storage areas to make life a little easier, making room for more quality time with our family. It definitely doesn't happen over night and the process can feel a bit overwhelming at times! So, to make this process a little more enjoyable, I put a plan together and assessed what I was going to purge, what I needed, and how I was going to get creative with the pieces I already had or needed to purchase, all within a budget.

First, we painted the whole house inside and out, and we redid the entry with a new front door, new tile, and we also took down the wall to the closet to make all open, with the hopes that one day we will install a built-in mudroom. We also took down a brick fireplace that took up a huge potion of the center of the living room because I wanted to put the sofa there to divide the room. For the bathrooms, we switched out the faucets, hardware, mirror and light fixtures. Then it was time for decorating! When it comes to decorating, I found that you don't need a whole lot, and you certainly don't need to break the bank. My budget was $6k for all the finishes and furnishings needed, and I was amazed at how I was able to cover every room, all while using what I already had or maybe some second-hand items to fill up the spaces we didn't have previously in our old home. Its a bit of a different process than buying everything brand new, but it was all so worth it and here's what I would tell anyone who is wanting to design on a budget...

1. Stick to a plan for budget & design

The important part about spending on a budget is knowing your budget and what you will be spending it on. Setting an actual number as a goal will help you feel more comfortable investing in those fewer items that you will want to keep for a long time, all while setting a limit. Whenever I start a project, I will usually start by looking for ideas on Pinterest and then I will assemble a board of pictures that are similar in style and color palette. Then I will plan out my rooms according to budget and build the design off one or 2 inspiration pieces to then build the whole room. Sometimes those inspiration pieces will be the more expensive item in the room, then I know I can spend less on the other items, because in the end, the budget will all balance out. Then, I usually like to sit on the idea for about a month or so to make sure that's direction I want to take, and when I feel ready, I will make the bigger purchase first and then get creative on the items that I will spend less on (like art, accessories, etc). I also only search for good quality pieces, knowing that they will be worth my money and will stand the test of time having 3 little boys around. But, I have one rule only... I must love it! This helps me feel confident in my design plan and also on my budget spending.

2. Don’t spend all your money on the big items

I know what you're thinking.... but sofas and cabinets and rugs cost money...What else do we have money for....right??? This is why point number 1 is so important, so that you can spend on what you love and save on other pieces. To give you a glimpse, the most expensive item in my living room is my $400 sectional sofa. I found it on Marketplace and it's originally from Ikea but you would never know it with how comfortable, durable and how well it holds its shape! We brought it from our old house but instead of buying a new $2000 sofa that I don't currently need, I decided to spend that money on helping making the room feel complete! There's nothing harder to look at all day than an empty room except a sofa that was way too expensive that took up the whole budget! There are ways around buying the larger pieces for less which brings me to my next point...

3. Buy 2nd hand or thrift

Even designers buy thrifted goods, especially vintage! If you are going for a designers look or not, don't dismiss buying 2nd hand! I have gone to Goodwill so many times and have often come back with a vase, candle holder, a basket... something! But, going back to point number one again, you must love it! Buying second hand, especially from places like Goodwill can make it easy to come back with way too many items, but if you plan ahead and go into it knowing what you're looking for, you'll be less tempted to buy excess. Another example of buying second hand is buying off of Facebook Marketplace! I am constantly in search of items for less instead of spending on newer more expensive pieces from places like West Elm, Pottery Barn etc. While I do like to visit those stores occasionally (if ever), I have found that I can get creative like refinishing a cabinet I found for $80 instead of buying a new one for $1500. It looks more authentic and gives it the timeless and organic look that I love!

4. Assess what you have, love and want to get rid of

Use what you have for accessories… glass jars, dried florals, baskets, trays, candles… and move things around if you need to, but try to purge in the process! Sometimes Pinterest or people I follow on Instagram will give me ideas for how to style a space, particularly counter spaces or little corners! I try to follow people who have a similar taste who like to use simple and minimal decor so that I can learn from them and find things around my house that I see in their pictures too! One thing I like to do when I'm about to decorate is to set aside an hour and to use a good portion of that hour taking out everything I have, setting it in one little area and after I'm done setting out what I'm going to use, I sell the rest! I am someone who LOVES to collect vases, but over the past few years, I have bought less and less because I am discovering my love for minimalism and found I don't need all those vases anymore. So I will get rid of what I don't need, and then use what's left, which are always pieces that I love that are both beautiful and functional! I have found that the purging process is especially important so that I don't end up with a cluttered space, or cluttered storage for that matter!

5. Decorate functionally

When I "love" something, it usually means it's beautiful and functional, like mentioned previously. I have learned over the years that if I'm going to own anything, I want to make sure it serves a purpose AND is pleasing to the eye. Typically I like to decorate first with the functional items, and then add a vase or another type of accessory after. Baskets, shelves, books, and trays are great functional decorations that not only help organize but also can help fill up the space so you don't need to spend more money on other "fillers" which brings me to the next point...

6. Decorate with fewer and proportionate items

Keep your spaces clutter free and minimize costs with focusing on main pieces and minimally decorate around those proportionately! Sometimes it can be easy to fill up surface areas with clutter and spend money on knick knacks you don't need. It's better to have 1 larger plant in the corner than 3 little ones, and one or 2 larger vases than 5 little ones that would probably add up to the same cost or less!

7. Leave some white space

This is not just a minimalism thing... but don't be afraid to leave some white space! You will know when a space feels empty, just like how you will know when a space feels too crammed. It might take a couple weeks to feel out what is needed, but you can free up your space and your budget by not filling up every wall. What always helps me is to create a focal point, and then minimally decorate around that to enhance the focal point, not take away from it.

8. Use wall space for storage

Using hooks, shelves, baskets on walls, etc. are great ways to decorate your walls if they need something. These can also serve as great focal points or support other focal points in a room without being too costly or distracting. Entryways, hallways, kids' spaces, offices and even bathrooms are great rooms for hanging things including racks or sometimes even wall baskets for fun and functionality! They are usually inexpensive and can help save you from buying expensive artwork or other items that wouldn't be as functional.

9. Use paint for accents

I am a white-wall lover and will always be, BUT there's a little place in my heart for painted accents from time to time! I'm not talking about a bright blue wall, or even a fully-painted accent wall necessarily, (although I'm not opposed to some darker accent walls). What I am talking about is using paint to bring warmth to a room, whether that be painting the doors or a vanity a different color, or painting a pattern on a wall instead of using wallpaper, or even painting half of a wall in a kid's bedroom! Paint is an inexpensive way to elevate a space and make it feel warmer and cozier.

10. Forage for greenery & florals

The last and definitely best part about decorating is adding life to it all with greenery and florals! Depending on the space, I will usually decide if I want something large or small, something full or sparce, something that's just greenery or with some flowers added to the mix. Although I do love a good trip for some Trader Joe's flowers, I have found a new love for foraging from my backyard (and front) for adding some statement pieces that could never be bought elsewhere! It's definitely the cost efficient route and to me, it just brings such a unique spin to a room! No more silk flowers or artificial florals! You can leave the greenery or florals in a vase with water, and many times without water! Dried florals and greenery look especially beautiful during the cooler months and mimic the fall and winter seasons perfectly! Bringing the outdoors by foraging are not only cost effective but also help boost your mood and your space!

In my opinion, the best and most satisfying part about designing is accomplishing a vision while minimizing costs so that we can spend money on more experiences rather than things! I believe it's actually more creative to think outside the box (or rather inside the home) to decorate our homes, whether it's by using what we already have, buying thrifted goods, or investing in those fewer high-ticketed items that spark joy for us. It's all about enjoying the process and see what we are actually capable of when a challenge arises. As a result, we are left feeling even more satisfied with the result because of the thoughtfulness and intentionality put towards our home. My hope is that you feel equipped, encouraged and inspired to begin decorating your home no matter what your budget is! Check out how I completed this room for under $4k, all from either buying second-hand or newly purchased, all with links below!

If you are needing ideas on how to decorate and where to shop, check out our LikeToKnowIt page here where I share pieces of our home and other great finds! Or if you are you an Amazon shopper looking for good deals and wanting to find things for your home, you can shop our Amazon storefront here! Need help putting all your ideas together? Schedule a consultation with us today!

May your home be filled with love, joy and laughter, and your life be one that is so fulfilled and overflowing!

'Til next time,

~ Kristina

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