We’ve all been there. You scour the Internet, local papers, and real estate listings until you find that diamond in the rough: an apartment or house that fits your budget and is in the right spot. These bargains usually mean there’s a drawback; the place is closet-sized, needs some serious renovation, or has a design style that dates back to a previous era. That’s okay, though, because you get to live where you want and how you want without getting a second (or third) job.
You also don’t want your interior design efforts to require that second (or third) job, so it’s DIY with the decorating. Which is no problem and might actually turn out to be fun! Just follow these great tips and ideas for DIY home decor on the cheap no matter what your budget or style of home.
Paint and Sandpaper are your Best Friends
A coat of good primer followed by two coats of good-quality interior paint will solve most cosmetic problems with your walls -hiding scratches, stains and other defects while the colour choice changes the whole feel of the room.
Op shops! Head to your second-hand store and look for cheap furniture, accessories, and other things that just need a little love. A bit of elbow-grease with the sandpaper will take layers of grime and old paint off just about anything and a few minutes with a can of spray paint in the backyard will magically create a new-looking piece.
DIY Home Decor and Illusions
Optical illusions and other trickery are your best friends when taking a home from “blah” to “yeah” with DIY home decor, without spending a fortune.
Windows: If your windows are small and grimy (common in sub-grade apartments and older homes) you can’t always afford to replace them or enlarge them. Instead, go floor-to-ceiling with elegant curtains from a department store like Target or Spotlight. Look for clearance items! This trick also works in rooms that lack windows altogether – hang an elegant window treatment anyway, and everyone will think there’s a nice big window hidden beneath.
Genius tip for a windowless room: Put a soft light fixture behind the drapes to cement the illusion of a window letting in sunlight.
Furniture: Old, worn furniture makes any home look faded and grubby. If you can’t afford new furniture, the answer is simple: A couch cover. When fitted properly, they make your couch look brand new. You can buy cheap covers at the store, but you can also use an old set of bed sheets. Just remove the couch cushions and drape the flat sheet over the couch so the hem matches up with the bottom of the couch, and tuck into place. Put the cushions back and drape the fitted sheet over all the cushions, tucking it in neatly. Then use the pillowcases to cover the arms of the couch. With some patience this will give your couch a whole new look without any money spent at all!
Accessories are a Superpower
People tend to concentrate on the big-ticket items, but one of the easiest ways to score DIY points is to leave the big projects alone and concentrate on the little things – your accessories.
Pillows and cushions. New cushions don’t need to be expensive and their bright, popping colours will make any room look fresh and new.
Lamps. Table and floor lamps can be inexpensive if purchased during a sale, and light is the most powerful thing you can add to any room. A space that feels small and dark can be made light and fresh with a lick of paint and a few strategically-placed lamps form your local store.
Wall art. You’ve got light and colour pops from your cushions – now draw the eye up. Beautiful art doesn’t have to break the bank and is a great way to reflect your personality while brightening up your walls. If you’re looking for inspiration, check our collection of over 16,000 affordable art prints.
Strategies for Tough Houses
Some homes are easier to spruce up than others. What happens when your home dates back to the 1960s (and not the good part) and no amount of colour popping or illusions are going to save it?
Steer into it. If your home’s basic design is so deep and entrenched nothing short of a gut renovation will solve it, the best thing you can do is go with it. Make the wood panelling and vinyl floor part of your design and look for ways to make it fresh and fun instead of old and tired. Shop for vintage items at op shops, and look at old photos to see how people decorated in that inexplicable time period when your home was the height of fashion design.
You shouldn’t have to spend a fortune to get a home that looks and feels stylish and beautiful. You just need a design plan with some new ideas and a quirky sense of humour!