Decorating on a Budget: 14 Designer-Loved Hacks That Only *Look* Expensive

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Kelsey Clark

Fill 1Created with Sketch.

Published on February 19, 2022

No matter how big our decor budgets get, we will always love a good savings hack. There’s something universally satisfying about DIYing that CB2-worthy vase or scoring an original mid-century Cesca chair for $50. The thrill of the deal has been, and always will be, priceless.

With that, we offer you our favorite designer tips and tricks for decorating on a budget. From shopping your own home and DIY wallpaper to upcycling old furniture and harnessing the power of Facebook Marketplace, we have more than a few tricks up our sleeves for staying on-style and on-budget.

Ahead, Havenly lead designer Kelsey Fischer shares her tried-and-true hacks that only *look* expensive.

1. Shop vintage and second-hand

Decorating on a budget

This is the oldest trick in the budget decor book, for good reason. Not only is shopping vintage budget-conscious (and fun!), it’s more sustainable than buying new. Scour Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, local antique stores, and even estate or garage sales for thrifted gold, from artwork and rugs to furniture and decor. Bonus: no waiting for (delayed) deliveries.

2. Skip expensive wallpaper and go DIY

Decorating on a budget

You don’t need us to tell you how expensive wallpaper can be — you’ve likely lived it. Save money by creating your own print using paint and a stencil, as seen in this stunning bedroom. Plus, going the stencil route saves you a lot of headache when you’re ready for a new look (removing wallpaper isn’t for the faint of heart).

3. Create a collected gallery wall

Decorating on a budget

Rather than buying brand-new artwork and knick-knacks for a gallery wall, shop your own home! Anything can be fodder for wall decor with a little curation. Hang postcards, tarot cards, records, collected knick-knacks from trips, plants — basically anything that holds special meaning. Just remember: edit and curate!

4. Embrace minimalism

Decorating on a budget

Don’t have a lot of decor to your name just yet? Embrace the less is more philosophy and call it minimalism. It’s easier to stretch a budget with less to worry about in your space, and let’s face it — the look is timeless and stylish.

5. Say it with us: table linens

Decorating on a budget

Never underestimate the power of a good old fashioned table linen. If you hate the style or finish of an older piece, opt for a clean table cloth to give it a fresh look and add some romantic texture (bonus points if it’s vintage!).

6. Color block your books

Decorating on a budget

Color-blocking your book collection is an easy way to add an element of curation to your display. Plus, it’s a great complement to an otherwise minimalist design style — who doesn’t love a pop of color that doubles as a mini art installation?

7. Upcycle furniture and knick-knacks

Decorating on a budget

From furniture to mason jars, you can repurpose existing items in your home to cut costs and add character. If you hate the finish on an old wood table, take a class at the YouTube School of Design and try your hand at re-staining. If an old dresser is in desperate need of a makeover, give it a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. In the kitchen, save jars, kombucha bottles, and the like for food storage and bud vases. The list goes on…

8. Rethink your ladder

Decorating on a budget

In that same vein, don’t toss that wooden ladder gathering dust in your garage — give it a second life as a book, towel, or blanket display. Treat it as an art project and give it a good sanding, stain, and seal, or paint it a crisp white for a Scandinavian look. It’s the perfect rustic addition to a bathroom, kids room, or living room.

9. Create your own wall art

Decorating on a budget

Not to discredit abstract artists, but you can easily try your hand at this perfectly imperfect art style to cut costs. Whether it’s line art, watercolor, or a bold geometric piece, some art supplies, high-quality paper, and an IKEA frame can go a long way. Plus, it’s as fun as it is therapeutic.

10. Get creative with paint

Decorating on a budget

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: paint is powerful. If your home needs a facelift but you’re not in the position to buy new furniture or renovate your kitchen, head to the hardware store. Pro tip: use paint to highlight an architectural feature you love, including window trim, doors, cabinetry, fireplace mantels, and the like.

11. Say it with us: greenery

Yes, you can literally grow your own decor. Skip the expensive plant boutiques, hit up a local greenhouse, and stock up on statement plants and windowsill dwellers alike. Plus, once they’re thriving in your space, you can easily fill up bud vases and jars with plant cuttings.

12. Invest in cute storage

Decorating on a budget

With the amount of chic products on the market these days, your storage can 100% double as decor. Invest in some cute woven baskets, decorative bowls, wire bins, and ceramic canisters to stow toys, electrical cords, extra blankets, toiletries, and pantry essentials. Simple and sleek. 

13. Buy versatile patio furniture

Decorating on a budget

Honestly, patio furniture has come a long way. If you invest in the right outdoor pieces for spring and summer (we’re talking pretty rattan, iron, and jute pieces), you can easily bring a chair or two indoors for the winter. The same concept applies to outdoor decor like lanterns and side tables. Pro tip: shop the outdoor section during the off-season to save even more!

14. DIY drapery

Decorating on a budget

Let us preface this by saying that this DIY requires some sewing chops — we love a project, but you can’t beat beautiful, polished drapery. But if you can hack it, you can save some serious money by crafting your own curtains. We suggest starting with a high-quality cotton, or linen fabric, measuring everything 10-plus times, and pairing them with quality hardware. 

From budget hacks to perfecting room flow, our designers are chock-full of expert tips. Check out our design packages to work with a design pro one-on-one. 

Words by Kelsey Clark