November 12, 2014

Tips for Decorating a Room on a Budget

I'm like a kid at Christmas you guys, we now have three new bedrooms up at the cabin that are all waiting to be decorated!  It's a super fun project that I can't wait to take on, but let's be realistic, decorating three full bedrooms can drain a wallet pretty quickly.  At least now we have a plan for each room, and I thought I'd start with a few details in the Knots Room.

When you don't have a big budget to work with, I find it helps to focus on a few items that will make a big impact. The biggest impact you can make quickly, I think, is in window treatments, so we started by giving these boring pull down shades the adios.

I had leftover white sheers at my house, so I brought them up and paired them with dark bronze curtain rods and textured woven shades.  Both were hung up higher and wider than the actual window so that they didn't take away from any of the view or light.  It makes the window look a whole lot more substantial. 
(In progress tool pile on the bed)
 The space is a little tighter on this wall, but the window now looks so much more finished.

Speaking of finished, the next biggest impact I think that you can make in a room is wall art.  The most affordable way to put art on the walls? Make it yourself! I love the way this set of sailor knot illustrations that I made turned out. 

I wanted these prints to have depth and texture, as well as feel uniform and crisp, so I had them printed on canvas by Tiny Prints.  There's nothing worse than uploading your art for print and then crossing your fingers that it will turn out right, but thankfully these turned out exactly how I wanted them to. One less thing for this Type A'er to obsess about.

The set of three coordinating pieces is a nice way to fill up a long space, (i.e. the dreaded 'above the couch' and 'above the bed' dead walls!) Although looking at my set now in pictures I might spread them out just a bit more.

My third tip for decorating on a budget is to apply a punch of color.  You don't need a lot of quantity of items, if you have bold, bright items that really fill up a space visually.  My plan is to make a punch with coral, navy and white pillows on the bed like these from my mood board.

Unfortunately, even though I felt like I couldn't go anywhere this past spring and summer without tripping over coastal inspired home decor, the season has past and it's now impossible to find.  Which leads me to tip #4- if you're going for a particular look or color scheme, wait for the right season and stock up.  I remember back in my first home I would always buy home decor in the fall, as that's when I found the biggest selection and lowest prices on the rust, caramel and brown colors that filled my home at the time.  That means I may have to be patient with the cabin decor and wait until next spring and summer when the beachy items and styles hit the shelves again.  (Not a strong suit of mine, but worth the wait.)

In the mean time, another tip for decorating on a budget is to work with what you have.  The bed in this room came with an old, glossy, gold head board that looked cheap and worn.

Spray paint is often one of the cheapest tools to make a big change in a room.  It took us about 7 light and even coats of oil rubbed bronze to transform our eyesore.

Who said those old plywood window valences weren't good for something?

 And now it looks aged and classy. 

We also dug through a bunch of old decor items to see what we could make work in this room.  Now admittedly, this "make it work" technique is a lot easier for us as we try to achieve an antique and well-lived vibe, and would be much harder for a modern or mid century approach. But even I was surprised with some of the old, antique items that we had laying around that actually work in this setting.  (I'm talking to you Wooden Fish.)

This oil lantern came with the cabin, and is a great example of decor that can look good but also provide functionality.  I know where right where to go if the cabin ever loses power and we're sitting in the dark.  A favorite snapshot of my parents as teenagers in a weathered frame completes the rustic look.

So the rest of the room was sort of coming together, but I was still left with this pretty boring blank wall on the left. 

The lamp and night stand in the corner helps a bit to bring height.  I love the rustic, old base of this lamp that came with the cabin.  I'm not sure that I'll keep the shade, but to replace it I'll have to find a new one with this height, or even taller.

To help fill my blank space, I went with one of my favorite tips for decorating on a budget, decorate with items that aren't traditionally decor.   I found a pair of old, wooden pullies that we had in the garage and some rope.  They were pretty heavy, so I removed a pair of old brass hooks I found in the closet to hang them.  It's not perfect, but it's gives an old an vintage feel, and it certainly works with the knots vibe.  I'll bring up some different rope to add to it on my next trip.

So here we are.  Definitely not done yet, but for very little money we've made a pretty big impact in the room.

And it's certainly better than where we started, no?


  1. First. Like your blog. I have only just found it but great work. I have gone back to look at all you have done with the house and cabin. So much fun and good ideas! Thanks! So in return I just wanted to perhaps give you an idea in return. The curvy boxes that were on top of the windows and which you used for support when spray painting. You might be able to use them as a bookracks? If you spraypaint them white (or the colour of your choosing) and turn them upside down and mount them on a wall. You will be able to put books in them. A way of reuse and really cheap because you already have the material. Anyway. Looking forward to see what you do next.

    1. What a great idea! The cornices are pretty flimsy, but perhaps I can reinforce them with something so that they would be strong enough to hold books. Thanks!