Bargain hunting is my specialty. I’m always on a tight budget so I have to be frugal with all my purchases, especially when it comes to home decor. There is also something fun about going on a treasure hunt and seeing what you can create with your finds. If you are like me and love to make your house a home, and add special touches on the cheap, allow me to introduce my tips and tricks to you.
What’s Your Style?
The first step for you to think about what style you trying to achieve. Is there a theme you want to incorporate? Modern, bohemian, western, seashore, or vintage, for instance? Do you want your decor to revolve around a color scheme? What items do you need to complete your look? Look up ideas and find inspiration on Pinterest. Create boards for every room or nook you want to tackle. Find what you gravitate towards (you may see a pattern in your “pins”) and what you can see yourself being happy with if you’re lounging on the couch looking around the room. Once you have a grasp of the direction you are going in, you are ready to start shopping!
Where Should You Shop?
Garage and estate sales are my main go-to for anything and everything.
You can find reasonably priced items and once you’ve been to a few, you will understand what standard prices are for certain items and which ones you can try to bargain lower. People who are having garage sales want to clean house so they are more willing to work with you on price. The more you buy, the better the discount they often give.
If you’re looking for picture frames, every single garage sale has some. Think outside of the box. If you like the design of a wood frame but hate the color, you can paint it with some acrylic paints which you can get for under $2 at your local craft store. Or you can sand down some paint on it for a weathered look which is popular right now. They turn out great and no one will know the difference. You can get a variety of about 6-8 frames and do a photo collage on a wall and print your own photos for under $2. You can also get fabric or fabric tape and wrap the frame in those elements. There are always kitchen items too if you want to display some pretty glasses or a decorative bowl or plate. Most have artwork or mirrors, vases, and ceramic keepsake type of items.
Estate sales, in particular, are perfect for furniture. If you’re on the lookout for chairs, dressers, or tables, those are the best places to stop. I like to make a list of everything I need or want so when I go to the garage sales I can hone in on what I’m looking for instead of trying to remember it all at each sale. One added benefit you can feel good about is that you are actually shopping local!
My next go-to is any kind of thrift shop.
Every town has thrift shops of varying sizes and selection. Some even support a larger organization. We have one in our area that gives all proceeds to a women’s shelter, and another that gives proceeds to a teen after school program so I tend to check those out first. Visit the big ones like Goodwill and the little ones too. The little ones tend to have more unique items, and the bigger ones obviously have more variety. I have found tons of home decor items at these thrift stores. There are usually rows of artwork, frames, planters, faux plants, kitchen items, pillows, curtains, bulletin boards, small keepsake items and more. You can also find a fun lampshade to jazz up an old lamp and add a colorful or fun accent to a room. In addition, you can decorate with a variety of vases on a shelf or windowsill. All the prices are reasonable and the best part is you are up-cycling by re-purposing things instead of it going in a landfill.
If you like to decorate the walls with photographs or art, you have several options that are affordable. For a child’s room, you can find a kid’s book that you love the artwork in (again, garage sales or thrift shops will get you a book for under $2), and cut out the photos and frame them. Do you see a $2 pattern here? You can also take a calendar and frame those pictures for another fun collage. Buy it when they are halfway through the year and marked way down. Another idea is to use photos you have taken and get them printed either as a print, poster or a canvas. This way you are adding a personal touch and you can show off your photography skills. You can also purchase postcards and frame those in a 3-slot frame for a cohesive look. Another affordable book idea is to find some used books you like (it can be vintage books, a certain color scheme, or your favorite titles) and use those as decor on shelves. And remember there are Lysol wipes, dish soap, bleach and laundry detergent to clean and disinfect any used items and make them like new.
Facebook Marketplace is another source if you’re looking for a specific item that is near you. Many people also post their garage sale announcements on here so use that to see what is coming up in the area.
If used items aren’t your forte, IKEA is a favorite stop of mine. They have very reasonable decorative items, bedding, shower curtains and other bath items, kitchen items, and so much more. One of my favorite features of the store is all the room layouts they have so you can get inspiration for your own spaces. Plan to spend at least two hours there. Marshall’s and Home Goods also have affordable and stylish options for decor.
If you want to give a room a fresh, new look, you can always paint. Did you know that most hardware stores sell returned paints for a fraction of the cost? They are perfectly good paints so search regularly to find a color you love and go to town!
Best Decor Advice I Was Given
One of the best pieces of advice I got from a home decorating show was to invest in things that are multi-purpose. If you are going to get an ottoman or coffee table, make sure it has storage. I also learned to take another look at what you currently have and try to see if you can re-purpose it somehow in your house. Either moving it to another room, giving it a different function (kitchen bowl becomes decorative bowl or vice versa), or figuring out a way to change it to make it work. Keep in mind also that mirrors make a room look bigger. So invest in a pretty mirror to expand your space.
DIY projects are all the rage and if you’re crafty, the possibilities are endless. You would be surprised by what you can do with a staple gun, super glue, fabric, paint, a needle and thread, and a fabulous product called Modge Podge that does wonders for home crafting projects. YouTube ideas and get crafting!
Remember to have fun with the process. You don’t have to dive into every room at once. Take your time and wait for the perfect finds. Allow your finds to reflect your style and personality, and complete your newly and fabulously decorated home.
Jennifer spends time with her son, her parrot, writing, Netflix, art, and hikes are among her favorites. She has a career in marketing as well is a personal assistant, and founder of Lark Designs.