Decorating & Design

May 6, 2011

Readers’ Top Budget Decorating Tips

Decorating with a budget doesn’t mean you have to forego style. Achieving a cheap-chic look has been seen in numerous houses we’ve featured, like that of style editor Michael Penney’s former apartment and current home, but isn’t always easy to achieve. To help you get the look you’re after, our House & Home Facebook fans and Twitter followers share their affordable decorating ideas:

Create Your Own Art

1. Frame Everyday Finds

Instead of spending hundreds on art, create your own for a truly personalized touch. Michelle Darwin (@michelledarwin) recommends framing illustrated postcards in Ikea frames, and hanging them in clusters or propping them on a shelf for an easy-to-change look. Teresa Smedley (@4Tstyles) likes saving calendars for this purpose, too, while Denise Georgiou-Newell (@DeeDeeNewell) suggests using textured or patterned paper. Fabric is another alternative.

2. Bring The Outdoors In

Facebook fan Jennifer Perdicaris-Kennedy finds (free) items in nature and brings them indoors, including pine cones, cedar cuttings and pussy willows. Found objects from simple strolls along the beach can help create a pretty vignette or canvas art collection, as well.

3. Upgrade Kids’ Art From The Fridge

Jennifer also says, “I try to incorporate my kids’ school art — nothin’ like a little noodle art with a piece of pottery or candle grouping […] to give style and personality to any decor!”

4. Paint On A Blank Canvas

Do you have various colours in a room but nothing holding them together? June Gurnsey Hodsdon, one of our Facebook fans, says, “Make an abstract canvas with the colours that “clash” in the room to make it come together. You only need one element like this to make it work!”

5. Use Your Skills

Vonda-Marie Owens and Alex Cobbe both use their personal talents to make their art — Vonda-Marie sketches and paints, and blogger Alex Cobbe cross-stitches fun designs and uses paint for more unusual art pieces. Even if you don’t consider yourself a particularly crafty person, you’ll find lots of easy DIY art ideas in our Online TV section.

Paint, Paint, Paint

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll likely hear it again — paint is one of the handiest weapons a designer has. As Facebook fan Morgan Cox put it, “Paint is cheap and changes everything!”

1. Revive Old Furniture & Accessories

“I updated my picture frames from gold to black with spray paint, [and] changed the colour of the mattes to white by rolling white paint on them,” says Karen Johnston Zobel, one of our Facebook fans. Karen also gave life to an old trunk she had with a new coat of paint, turning it into her daughter’s coffee table. Facebook fan Shelly DeVous recommends this as well. Dip-dyed furniture is a big trend right now, too.

2. Coat Walls, Trim & Floors

Changing the colour of your walls is much simpler than changing all of your furniture, plus, don’t forget your trim. Facebook fan Alicia Smith recommends painting walls, too. In a recent Twitter chat (#DesignTV), editor Suzanne Dimma recommended painting wood floors white as the look is very popular. “Paint over them if they get chipped up,” she says. Use Montreal designer Scott Yetman’s floor painting tips. Stencilled flooring is another option.

Find Second-Hand Pieces

Wherever you get second-hand furniture, the key is making it your own. Anne Davis (@ddreamsbyanne) suggests giving flea market finds a new coat of paint and changing hardware to suit your purpose. Things like cutting the legs on a dining table can easily create a coffee table.

1. Regularly Visit Thrift Stores & Flea Markets

Hidden gems at these places are quickly snatched up, so check often. Dayka Robinson (@daykarobinson) suggests visiting flea markets and thrift stores, adding, “If you make a plan and are flexible, you can create a beautiful home with character that looks magazine ready! The key is knowing when to save and when to splurge.”

2. Look On The Web

Alicia Smith recommends checking sites like Craigslist and Kijiji, which are often filled with great deals. Act fast, though — the good items don’t usually stay up for long.

3. Keep Your Eyes Open Everywhere

Whether it’s your weekly garbage day or you’re passing by a dumpster, taking notice to items left on the curb or hanging out of the bin can help you find new pieces of furniture that can be restored using paint or new upholstery.

4. Don’t Dismiss Big Box Stores

Make mass-produced items your own by adding trim, crown moulding and paint, suggests Anne Tidman-Hinchliffe. Donna Guilbault also likes big box stores because, she says, “If you have a good eye, you can renovate on the cheap and then dress it up with accessories!” In a recent H&H online TV episode, for instance, an Ikea table was covered in wallpaper for a truly custom look.

5. Look For Sales & Exhibitions

Julie Snowdon (@SnowJules) attends a local university’s fine arts exhibition every year. “It’s a great way to find fabulous and cheap original artwork,” she explains. Anne Tidman-Hinchliffe finds patience will help: “More times than not, what you like will go on sale.” And don’t dismiss the scratch and dent area of some furniture stores as, “lots of times what is wrong with the item is minor.”

Recycle Goods

1. Try Small Sewing Projects

Erin Snow makes use of vintage doilies by turning them into small pillows and and lavendar sachets, and Anne Davis (@ddreamsbyanne) cuts up old throws and sweaters to make new cushion covers, lampshades and table runners.

2. Rewire A Broken Lamp

Jessica, one of our Facebook fans,  bought a broken lamp, switched the electrical units, and painted it white. Design editor Cameron MacNeil has done this before, too, to create very glam lamps.

Visit our Budget-Chic Decorating Guide for more ideas, and share your wallet friendly ideas in the comment section below. Plus, be sure to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and interact in the Forums so we can include your thoughts in future web articles!