3 Step Guide to Decorating on a Budget

Not our actual bedroom, but it’s pretty

Decorating is Expensive

I’ve always been a fan of those room makeover shows, in fact, I can still remember staying up late one summer and watching a “Trading Spaces” marathon with Humble Mom.

I’ve always loved decorating, and now that Humble Timothy and I are homeowners, I have this overwhelming desire to decorate our house.  The problem:  We’re a young, married couple, living on a single income. We don’t have a $1,000.00 to decorate each room!

1. Setting your Decorating Budget

A great way to control your spending is to include “decorating” in your monthly budget.  Humbly Timothy and I allocate about $100 towards decorating each month.

$100 a month may not seem like a lot of money to decorate with, but the important thing to remember is that it’s progress!  Every month I get to pick out something and our room gets a little bit closer to looking the way I want it to.

One of the biggest hurdles I face when keeping to our budget is…. ( I say “I face” because Humble Timothy doesn’t care much about decorating) is dealing with my uncontrollable urge to get things done.  Once I started something, I need to finish it ASAP!  Humble Timothy calls it “Now Syndrome.”

I have to repress this urge otherwise I’m going to blow my budget in 1 trip to Target, I love that store.  We can’t afford to decorate all at once, that’s why we made a budget in the first place.  If I decorated our bedroom all at once, I’d either have to dip into one of our savings accounts or put all my purchases on a credit card, something Humbleville definitely doesn’t sponsor.

So basically, if you can’t afford it, don’t finance it.  Rather, budget for it.  Do I want my bedroom decorated?  Yes.  Do I want to go into debt to do it?  Nope!

2. Understanding the “Buyer’s High”

Budgeting your decorating, rather than financing it, gives you time to appreciate each individual purchase.  When you purchase something nice, you just feel good.

I’m not sure what this emotion is called, so I’m going to call it the “buyer’s high.”   The buyer’s high is temporary, lasting only while the purchase is new and exciting to you.

Let’s use the decorations in my bedroom as an example.  About 6 months ago we bought end tables to match the rest of our bedroom furniture.  I was thrilled to get them, but now, I’ve gotten used to them so I’m not as thrilled when I see them.  Same goes for the ceiling fan we bought 2 months later… And I’m sure the same will happen for the new palm tree we bought this weekend.

Buyer’s high is normal.  Obviously you’re not going to be as excited about something months down the road as you were the day you got it.  Seeking the buyer’s high will only leave you disappointed and your finances exhausted.

Understanding how the buyer’s high works will help you learn the benefits of budgeting your purchases over a period of time, rather than financing them all at once.

3. Maximizing your Money

Whether you’re dorm room student living off of college scholarships and grants, or a soon-to-be parent renovating an old guest room into a nursery, learning to stretch your money is imperative when decorating on a budget!  What items are going to be first on your shopping list?  Remember, you have a strict budget that means you have to limit your shopping to the most important items, but how do you choose what items are more important?

For us, it’s easy to determine what decorations/improvements are most important.  We just simply decide what purchases would make the biggest difference while keeping within our meager budget.

Here are some of the affordable decorations/changes that have made the biggest differences in our home:

  • Paint:  It’s really amazing what a few gallons of paint will do to change the look of a room!
  • Refinish Fixtures:  No need to buy a new chandelier, see how we refinished ours.
  • Curtains:  I didn’t think they would matter so much, but they really finish a room.
  • Bedding:  Your bed is the focal point of the bedroom, might as well make it look good!
  • Area Rugs:  They don’t have to be expensive!  Check out the area rug we bought for $25!

Do you have a budget set aside for home decorating or improvements?  What are the first things on your shopping/to do lists?  What items have made the biggest difference in your home?