Decorating your home can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re just starting out or starting over. Whether you’ve just moved into your first apartment, bought your first house, or are revamping your current space, decor decisions can be daunting. However, with some planning, creativity, and budget-friendly solutions, you can create a beautiful, functional home that reflects your personal style.

Define Your Style

Before buying any furniture or decor, it’s important to identify your preferred decor style. Consider what draws you to certain spaces and what you envision for your new home. Here are some popular style options to get you thinking:

Minimalist: Focused on simplicity, decluttering, and neutral colors. Minimalist decor uses clean lines, plenty of white space, and multipurpose, functional pieces. Great for small spaces.

Bohemian: Relaxed and free-spirited style with an eclectic mix of patterns, textures, and vibrant colors. Features items from different eras and cultures. Bohemian decor embraces imperfection.

Modern: Sleek and contemporary, incorporating neutral colors, geometric shapes, and asymmetric, unconventional designs. Focuses on function and forward-thinking.

Rustic: Natural materials and textures like wood, stone, and metal. Earthy color palette. Casual, cozy, and inspired by nature. Distressed or imperfections embraced.

Traditional: Classic elegance and refinement, reminiscent of past eras. Symmetrical furniture arrangements, rich colors like navy and burgundy, and ornate details. Timeless and sophisticated.

Eclectic: A playful, quirky mix of styles, eras, colors, textures, and cultural influences. Layered, collected look that doesn’t adhere to one decorating style. Celebrates your personality.

Once you’ve narrowed down the style(s) that appeal to you, it will help guide your decorating decisions moving forward. Don’t be afraid to mix and match elements from different styles too. The goal is creating a space that feels uniquely you.

Define Your Vision with Mood Boards

Mood boards are collages mixing images, fabrics, colors, and textures that represent your vision for a space. A mood board helps you hone in on the look and feel you want before purchasing any items.

To create a mood board:

  • Gather magazine clippings, photos from websites like Pinterest and Instagram, paint color swatches, and fabric samples that catch your eye.
  • Organize and arrange them on a poster board in a visually appealing way.
  • Look for common themes like colors, textures, styles etc and make sure they represent your intended style.
  • Addyour own drawings or clippings of furniture or decor you already own and want to use.
  • Use this as a guide for all your decorating decisions to achieve a cohesive look.

Mood boards can be done for an entire room, specific areas like a gallery wall, or even separate boards for color schemes, furniture styles, etc. They keep you focused and help prevent impulsive purchases that don’t fit your vision.

Choose a Color Scheme

Color has a huge impact on the overall look and feel of a space. Follow these tips when selecting a color scheme:

  • Stick to 3-5 core colors for cohesion. One dominant color, one or two supporting neutral colors, and pops of accent colors work well.
  • Consider the size of the room and how much natural light it gets. Bold, dramatic colors suit bigger, well-lit spaces while soft neutrals are better for small, dark rooms.
  • Identify the purpose of the room and choose colors that enhance it. For example, cool blues and greens promote relaxation in a bedroom while warm reds and oranges create energy in a gym.
  • Look at color palettes online or at paint stores. Seeing swatches together helps you identify colors that coordinate well.
  • Purchase paint samples to test colors on your actual walls before fully committing. Colors look different in real life than on a computer screen.
  • Anchor your scheme with timeless neutral hues like white, beige, gray for flexibility. Then layer in accent colors through decor items which are easier to swap out.

Follow your preferences but also consider the light and purpose of the room. The right color scheme makes the space feel pulled together.

Select Multipurpose Furniture

When first establishing your home, opt for multifunctional furniture that saves space and serves several needs. Some flexible options include:

  • Ottomans: Provide extra seating and open up to reveal hidden storage. Can also be used as tables, foot rests or coffee tables.
  • Futons: Convert from a sofa to a bed for overnight guests. Great for small living spaces or kid’s rooms.
  • Daybeds: Include a trundle bed underneath which can roll out at night. Allows for two sleeping spaces without sacrificing living area.
  • Murphy beds: Fold-down beds that tuck away into closets or cabinets to appear invisible. Another space-saving sleeping solution.
  • Dining benches: Fit extra seating for meals and often have storage built into the base for dining accessories.
  • Entryway benches: Provide seating for putting on shoes while storing shoes or other items inside.
  • Side tables: Select models with shelves to hold books and table lamps to serve as nightstands too.
  • Bar carts: In addition to holding barware, use as kitchen or bathroom storage by adding baskets. Easily moved around.
  • Ladder shelves: Lean against wall vertically to act as space-saving bookcases or horizontally to display decor.

Multipurpose furniture maximizes functionality in any size living space. Focus on fewer high-quality, versatile pieces rather than many single-use items.

Shop Secondhand Stores

Secondhand and thrift stores are home decor treasure troves for bargain prices. You can find quality, unique pieces at a fraction of standard retail pricing. Here are some tips for thrifting home decor:

  • Check secondhand stores in wealthy neighborhoods. They tend to get higher-end donated furniture and decor items.
  • Search for pieces that offer flexibility like neutral colored sofas or classic wooden chairs. These mix well with various styles.
  • Examine items closely for damage prior to purchasing. Light wear adds character but make sure structure is intact.
  • Watch for vintage or antique finds. Classic decor items lend a unique flair and increase in value.
  • Measure furniture to ensure it fits your space prior to buying. Stores rarely allow returns.
  • Seek out inexpensive blank canvases and paint or reupholster them in a style you love.
  • Look for high quality construction in solid wood pieces made to last over cheap furniture.

With a little hunting, secondhand shops can provide most anything for your home at a reasonable price.

Upcycle Existing Pieces

If you have furniture or decor items that no longer suit your style, put in some DIY effort prior to replacing them. With a little creativity, you can upcycle pieces you already own by altering them. Some easy upcycling projects include:

Furniture Makeovers

  • Paint, stain, or use decorative wood appliques to update the style
  • Replace dated hardware like handles or knobs with more modern ones
  • Cut pieces of wood to heighten table legs and give a new silhouette
  • Adjust proportions by sawing legs to make an item shorter or removing feet for a sleeker shape

Fabric Updates

  • Use removable slipcovers, new upholstery, or even sheets for a fresh fabric look
  • Add decorative trim, pom poms, or iron-on vinyl to basic throw pillows
  • Dye faded fabric using tea-staining, avocado dip, or fabric specific dyes

Repurposed Items

  • Convert a dresser into a TV console, side table into plant stand, or crib into daybed
  • Make a light fixture from items like wire baskets, colored glass, driftwood, or paper globes
  • Turn ladders, wooden crates, and books into wall mounted shelving

Before replacing something, explore ways you can update what you already own. Upcycling saves money and keeps furniture out of landfills.

Seek Quality Over Quantity

When first establishing a home, the sheer number of items needed can be overwhelming. The impulse is to run out and buy affordable versions of everything immediately. However, this often results in a mismatch of inexpensive items that quickly fall apart and need replacing again soon after.

Instead, make quality a priority in those items that see the most use:

  • Sofa – Since it’s the central furniture piece and used daily, invest in solid construction with a sturdy frame, quality upholstery, and comfortable shape.
  • Mattress – You spend a third of your life sleeping so buy the best mattress you can afford. It’s worth the investment for proper spinal support and durability.
  • Cookware – Good pots and pans distribute heat evenly and last longer. High quality means better cooking results too.
  • Dinnerware – Dishes and drinkware used multiple times a day should be sturdy, durable, and dishwasher safe.
  • Outdoor furniture – Look for weather resistant materials like powder-coated metals, teak wood, or UV-protected plastics since outdoor pieces face the elements.

For secondary items utilized less often, inexpensive options work fine. Mixing a few splurge pieces with more budget-friendly decor creates balance.

Display Art Creatively

You don’t need an art collection to incorporate eye-catching artwork. Use these creative, budget-friendly ideas:

  • Hang a clothing line across a wall and use clothespins to clip up postcards, photos, mementos, and kids’ art.
  • Make a memo board with burlap, cork, chalkboard paint, or pegboard to tack up photos, to-do lists, or good news.
  • Buy affordable poster prints from artists on sites like Society6 and display in basic black frames.
  • Create an accent wall with a bold wallpaper print or use washi tape to form fun patterns.
  • Arrange a gallery wall collage-style with a cluster of same-sized frames holding mirrors, prints, album covers, or book pages.
  • Display collections like plants, bottles, baskets, or colorful glassware on shelves in place of wall art.
  • Use removable wall decals to create stylish designs, inspirational quotes, or monograms on plain walls.

It’s easy to make a creative statement without heavily investing. Change it up as your tastes evolve.

Take Advantage of Multipurpose Spaces

When working with a smaller home, take advantage of every inch by utilizing spaces for multiple needs:

  • Expand work zones into living areas with a computer desk tucked in a corner or print station set up in dining room.
  • Let entryways multitask as drop zones for keys, mail, and leftovers coming in the door. Use benches, hooks, baskets to organize.
  • Use curtains or room dividers to delineate workspace or sleeping areas within main living zones during the day.
  • Turn open under stair spaces into reading nooks, play areas, or storage closets.
  • Convert outdoor areas like patios, balconies, and porches into additional living spaces with seating, lighting, and plants.
  • Install banquettes or built-in benches with storage in kitchens and dining rooms to maximize seating.
  • Repurpose the area under bathroom sinks or behind doors as narrow shelving for extra storage.

Take advantage of the flexible functionality of every area in your home, no matter how small. Minor tweaks make rooms work double duty.

Incorporate Greenery

In addition to brightening up living spaces, houseplants offer major decorating potential. Get creative with greenery:

  • Use climbing plants like ivy or philodendron to cover empty walls with natural texture.
  • Set matching pots along a windowsill or down a shelf for rhythmic impact.
  • Let trailing vines hang from hanging planters, tall plant stands, or high shelves.
  • Place small succulents together on a platter, cake stand, or wreath form as a centerpiece.
  • Display air plants en masse in a wall hanging terrarium, mounted vertical garden, or glass bowl.
  • Alternate plants with artwork, decorative objects, and books on shelf displays.
  • Use large statement plants like fiddle leaf figs or monstera as room dividers or corner accents.

Plants instantly boost mood and style. Don’t be afraid to combine many shapes, sizes, and types of greenery throughout your home.

Prioritize Natural Lighting

Natural light greatly impacts the feel of a space. Here are some budget-friendly ways to maximize daylight:

  • Strategically place mirrors to reflect and amplify incoming sunlight.
  • Switch out heavy drapes for lightweight sheers or roll-up shades to allow light through.
  • Paint walls white or light colors to prevent absorbtion and brighten up spaces.
  • Clean windows regularly and keep them obstruction-free to let light flow in.
  • Supplement with energy-efficient LED bulbs to reduce shadowy areas.
  • Add mirrors or reflective surfaces to kitchens and bathrooms where direct light is limited.
  • Position furniture near windows and pull away from walls to prevent blocking natural light.
  • Place plants and artwork where they catch rays of light streaming in through windows.

More than any decor elements, abundant natural light gives rooms a fresh, vibrant feel. Maximize sunlight where you can.

Buy Essentials in Bulk

Items used daily like paper goods, cleaning supplies, and food staples are handy to keep stocked up. Buying in bulk allows you to:

  • Save money by buying larger quantities at reduced unit pricing
  • Make fewer trips to restock basic necessities
  • Always have essentials like toilet paper, tissues, and laundry detergent on hand
  • Prepare for hosting guests by keeping extra snacks and beverages
  • Take advantage of sales on non-perishable foods to stock up
  • Reduce packaging waste that comes with individually wrapped items

When buying in bulk:

  • Measure storage space first to ensure you have room to store large packages
  • Split large packages into smaller bins to use portions while keeping rest sealed
  • Buy perishable foods only in amounts you can realistically use before expiration
  • Partner with roommates or neighbors to split bulk packages and save even more

Keeping everyday basics well-stocked removes small frustrations and adds convenience.

Choose Low Maintenance Decor

When you’re busy setting up a new home, reduced upkeep is key for decorative pieces. Opt for:

  • Artificial plants and flowers which don’t require sunlight, water, or trimming
  • Furniture and materials like metal, stone, and hard plastics that are impervious to spills and scratches
  • Fade-resistant rugs and fabrics that stand up to sunlight without bleaching
  • Solid surfaces like quartz or granite countertops that resist staining
  • Blackout or bamboo shades that block light so window dressings stay dust-free longer
  • Washable fabrics on upholstered pieces and slipcovered cushions
  • Furniture with protective finishes or sturdy, easy to clean leather
  • Flooring like wood-look vinyl planks that emulate natural materials without the maintenance
  • Wall accents like decals, ceramic tiles, or laminate panels that only need occasional wiping

Choosing low maintenance materials and fabrics when decorating keeps your home looking fresh with minimal effort.

Set a Decorating Budget

Creating a home decor budget prevents overspending as you put together your new space. Be sure to factor in:

  • Large furniture pieces needed like sofas, beds, dining sets
  • Area rugs, window treatments, and flooring if upgrading
  • Expected costs for smaller items like throw pillows, decor, kitchenware
  • Tools for installation like drills, paint supplies, lumber for DIY projects
  • Delivery fees for large furniture either for shipping or rental trucks
  • Personnel fees if hiring interior designers, decorators, or contractors
  • Supply a 10-15% buffer for incidental purchases that pop up

Ideally keep home decor costs under 5% of your annual income. Having an amount to work within challenges you to be creative in sourcing budget-friendly pieces.

Mix High and Low Price Points

The key to looking pulled together on a budget is combining new lower cost items with a few higher quality splurges in key areas:

Big Ticket Splurges

  • Sofa – durable, comfortable for lounging
  • Mattress – support and comfort for good sleep
  • Desk and office chair – functional if working from home

Mid-Range Small Accents

  • Area rugs – durable and sets room tone
  • Lighting – makes space feel bright and modern
  • Decorative throw pillows – easy way to incorporate color

Affordable Basics

  • Furniture from discount retailers or secondhand shops
  • Generic brand kitchen, bath, and cleaning supplies
  • Sheets, towels, small appliances from big box stores

Making just a few intentional investment pieces go further with budget decor blended around them. Don’t spread yourself thin trying to buy luxury all around.

Take it Slow

It can be tempting to want your new living space fully decorated immediately. However, designing a home is a process. Moving too fast often results in expensive impulse buys that don’t fit the space or your style. Have patience and let your rooms evolve gradually for a collected look:

  • Start with major furniture like sofas, beds, and dining sets that anchor the room’s function
  • Incorporate practical elements like window treatments and area rugs next
  • Add decorative accessories slowly over time as you find pieces you love
  • Investigate options thoroughly and watch for sales or deals on bigger purchases
  • Focus on one room at a time to keep the process manageable
  • Change up accent pieces seasonally to refresh the look

By building your home decor over time, you can stick to your budget, evaluate pieces, and allow your style to emerge. The end result will reflect you.

Make It