Decorating on a Budget: Finding Your Style Frugally

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Decorating on a Budget: Keep Your Style Without Destroying Your Pocketbook

In our house, we only decorate on a budget. Almost all of our furniture pieces are hand-me-downs. The only exceptions are our beds and cribs which we got brand new on sale, and our dining room table, which we purchased brand-new at a thrift store for incredibly cheap. We’re pros at decorating on a budget.

I wouldn’t say our place has a defined style, though. It’s more of a “whatever people give us because they’re not using it anymore” kind of vibe. My sibling, on the other hand, has the style-on-a-budget thing down. For today’s post, I’ll be featuring some of their pieces, and how they furnished their apartment without dropping a huge wad of cash.

How They Do Decorating on a Budget

My sibling has style. They have classy pieces.  They have matching pieces. There’s enough eclectic that their apartment is an interesting place to hang out, but not so eclectic that it screams, “I don’t care because I have young children who are going to mess it all up, anyways!” (Like mine.) We sat down and talked about where each piece came from, and I started noticing some emerging themes.  You can apply the same practices to get your place looking stylish without giving up your frugality.

Decorating on a Budget: Style via garage sales.

Go to Garage Sales

This beige, faux-suede chair has three friends just like it, along with an accompanying table (complete with leaves!)  It looks like they got it at someplace way nicer than Home Goods (which I love,) but in reality the whole set was picked up at a garage sale.


Decorating on a Budget: Style via Flea Markets

The two-headed turtle is something I picked up for them while I was in Mexico.

Go to Flea Markets

See how nicely the wood on the lamp matches the wood on that chair?  This one also has a partner, and was picked up completely independently of the dining room set at a flea market. Flea markets are one of their favorite options, as their schedules are predictable, and they have a large selection of all kinds of interesting home products at generally reasonable prices. You’re pretty much bound to find a steal if you look in the right booths.


Decorating on a budget: Style via hand me downs.

Selectively Accept Hand-Me-Downs

They keep style up and price low by accepting hand-me-downs, but only when they match their current needs. This super comfortable couch compliments the dark wood tones in their apartment, and was something a friend’s aunt happened to be giving away at just the right moment.


Decorating on a Budget: Style via DIY

Get it Free, and DIY it Up

This Pepsi machine used to be in our mom’s office. They were trying to figure out how to dispose of it, when she said, “My kid will take it!”  She knows her children well enough to know that my sibling would take a vintage pop machine any day of the week.

 You may also like: I’m Not Above Scavenging

It’s also going to be a DIY project. It will possibly see a coat of paint. It already keeps pop cold, but someday it will cease dispensing Pepsi. Instead, you’ll be able to get tonic, soda water, and/or ginger ale for your 50 cents. I’m hoping the charge will be removed when that happens, but who am I to kill an entrepreneurial pursuit?


Decorating on a Budget: Style via birthday lists

Hold Out for Birthdays

This cast iron cookware was a high ticket item, but one they really wanted. Rather than saving up or splurging, they waited until their birthday. This is a bit of a tradition in our family. We know people are going to buy something for us anyways, and we know they’re going to ask us for ideas on what to buy us. So we delay gratification, putting our wants on a birthday list. If the item is incredibly expensive, we’ll all pitch in to make it happen.  We all get to stay on budget, and the birthday boy or girl doesn’t have to spend a cent on the few luxuries they actually want.

Why this specific piece? The color matched other ceramic cookware in the kitchen.


That’s how they’ve done up their fab pad without spending a lot of money.  How do you handle decorating on a budget?


I got back on Facebook this week, and my numbers are low due to the newness of it.  Help me out and give me a “like”?


23 thoughts on “Decorating on a Budget: Finding Your Style Frugally

  1. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies

    All really great suggestions. The other thing that we try to do is evaluate not just how to find furniture and decor, but to ask why. Do we really need artwork on every wall? Do we really need knickknacks on every end table? Not buying is the best money-saving tip I’ve ever learned. Sadly, it took almost three decades of life for that “well, duh” moment to strike.

  2. Chonce

    Great tips. I scored some awesome end table lamps for my living room at a garage sale over the summer and I’m getting more into DIY when it comes to decorating my house for the upcoming holiday season. Decor can be so expenses so sometimes it best and much more fun to just DIY!

  3. middle class

    We don’t mind spending on furniture and decorating but we’re selective. We’d rather have a few good pieces than a lot of cheap stuff. Craigslist and garage sales can actually be a good source of quality furniture and decor. We also do buy a few things from IKEA or Target (on sale). I definitely you can decorate with taste if you have some patience.

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Agreed. We will probably upgrade after our kids are out of the tear everything apart stage, but use the same methods you talk about.

      And you have a site! Is this new, or was I just completely clueless???

  4. Mel

    The Pepsi machine is super cool! I had a roommate in school who picked up 90% of our furniture at Goodwill for about $50 and bought 2 gallons of flat black. Even though the chairs didn’t match at all, since we painted everything the same color, it actually looked really cool.

  5. RAnn

    Let’s see, I’m sitting in my den. The walls are decorated with picturs of my kids, in cheap frames. I’m at a desk my father-in-law made and which my father re-finished. The computer was new when we bought it. My daugher is at the table, which a friend gave away. We are both sitting on chairs we bought at office depot. The sofa was new but isn’t expensive. There is a Turkish rug on the floor that I inherited. The rocking chair was given to me when my oldest was a baby. The TV stand was from Wal-Mart. There is a table that was in my parents’ first house when they bought it. My dad refinished it.

    My living/dining room has a sofa and loveseat I spent a lot of money on, 25 years ago, and end tables and a coffee table I also spent good money on. The armoire also is a nice piece I bought. There is a toy box I bought because it sort of matched the furniture, and I needed a place for toys, and it doubles as a bench if I need seating. Two more inhertied Turkish rugs and an inherited dining room set round out the room.

    1. Femme Frugality

      Love it! I need to find a way to inherit some Turkish rugs… They’re beautiful! And smart job buying quality when you bought new. If you can get stuff that truly lasts it can be so worth it.

  6. Esther @ Moneynuggets

    Great tips. Thank you for sharing. I really like the Pepsi machine. Your mum know her kids indeed. I particularly like the idea of taking what matches your current needs not just taking everything because it is cheap or free.

    I am actually planning to decorate our property for renting out, these tips will really come handy and help me save some money.

  7. kay ~ the barefoot minimalist

    I love it when other people admit to this. Thanks Femme! Great post! 🙂 We once furnished our house for under $100 by going to garage sales all summer long. We had just gotten back from a cross country trip after selling our house and needed to start over. Okay, wait, not the whole house. Our beds were bought at a store, but it was BIG LOTS, and was less that $700 for 3 full sized mattress sets and frames, so does that count? Anyhoo, I’d have to say that garage sale haul was my favorite of all time. As you know firsthand, if you’re really selective, you can end up with really beautiful stuff! And the best part is, it’s so easy to get things cheap at garage sales. People are almost always willing to dicker! 🙂

    1. Femme Frugality

      Truth! I’ve found that if you go later in the day, stuff might be a little more picked over, but people are willing to almost give it away. Got some free patio chairs once that way.

  8. giulia

    Absolutely agree with this post, internet and diy helps a lot when you are on a budget and if you have or work with kids, diy decorating projects makes all happy!!!

  9. Hayley @ Disease Called Debt

    I think many people worry that by buying second hand goods from thrift stores, they’re not going to get the look that they really want in their home, but this post has proved the opposite! I love the way your sibling has gone about creating a home for herself by carefully selecting furniture and accessories that they love. By the way, the pepsi machine is fab!

    1. Femme Frugality

      True. The only thing I wouldn’t pick up at a garage sale or off craigslist is upholstery. Those I get from people I know. Bedbugs and ticks are not worth it! But for everything else a keen eye can really make it happen! Initially was a little jealous over the Pepsi machine. :p

  10. Shannyn @ Frugal Beautiful

    Garage sales and flea markets are great ways to keep costs down while still having style in your place! Especially garage sales of people who have nice things to begin with. The Pepsi machine looks like it will be a cool project!

    1. Femme Frugality

      Oh, yes. If you can go to fancy neighborhoods you can find some great stuff. And estate sales. I’m excited about the Pepsi machine project, too! I’ll have to update once that comes into fruition.


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