Decor on a Budget (with sources!)

So right now, we're in between homes, and it has me feeling like I'm going a little crazy because sometimes I feel like putting together a home is one of my favorite things to do (projects! painting! anyone else out there relate?). But being without a home to work on doesn't mean I stop thinking / wanting to talk about it! Decorating is maybe one of my favorite things to think about, but another thing I love thinking about is saving money. I think some things (like sturdy furniture pieces that will have a place in your home for a LONG time) are worth splurging on, but for extra decor musts (rugs, light fixtures, etc) I'm here to tell you that you can get some really great stuff that's more affordable than you might think. Let's talk.

Get Realistic!

First of all, I think it's important to get realistic about pricing. When I say my rug budget for an 8'x10' rug is $250, I can set that budget to represent the low end of the spectrum, because I've seen most rugs of that size cost well over $1000 and even on up to $5000. Had I not researched the rug market, I would have looked at a $250 price tag on a large rug and been appalled. See what I mean? Gotta get a good perspective before you begin shopping seriously.

 

Have something in mind.

In our last home, I knew exactly what chandelier I wanted in our dining room. The downside? It was $950. I took the characteristics of my dream chandelier (black iron, strong geometric lines, open bulb look with multiple bulbs) and began to look for something along those characteristic lines from other online vendors, and I found something I was very happy with for $175 plus shipping from China (I think it ended up being $250ish after shipping). And dare I say I liked the eBay find even more than the spendy one!? (Source for our chandelier HERE, on eBay.)

We ended up finding this rug and our nursery rug on Rugs USA (This rug is no longer available, but click the photo to visit their site). They have incredible sales!

We ended up finding this rug and our nursery rug on Rugs USA (This rug is no longer available, but click the photo to visit their site). They have incredible sales!

It's probably gonna take some time to hunt bargains down.

Buying things that are pricier are a lot easier, because they're presented to you in your face. They're the first things you see pinned on Pinterest because usually the product photos are better (when I found the chandelier we bought on ebay, the product photos were taken with a cell phone and then there was a weird striped border put around it. I would never pin that, you know?). It probably took me an additional two months of looking for our dining room light fixture - and so many websites, and so many eBay and Amazon listings. You gotta put in the time, dudes. It's worth it, though! And don't get me started on how long it took me to pick out rugs (we went with Rugs USA because their selection is MASSIVE and their sales are crazy good).

 

Don't forget to show your walls some love.

Art, plants, posters, anything! You can achieve a pretty big impact for a small investment, whether you hunt down some paint by number paintings at an estate sale, or (shameless plug) you download a print from some internet photographer to blow up for a wall in your home. ;) (Check out my shop HERE for options for your walls! At $10 for a digital print, you officially have no excuse to not have something hanging up!)

Photo by Laura Gummerman for A Beautiful Mess. Click through to see my entire Living Room tour from our previous home!

Photo by Laura Gummerman for A Beautiful Mess. Click through to see my entire Living Room tour from our previous home!

Set a budget for each room and know what to splurge and save on!

In our old home, we were spending so much on other parts of our living room that our budget only left about $100-150 ish for an 8'x10' rug! And guys that is NOT a lot of money at all. I had doubts I'd find anything that cheap. But I'm here to tell you that a little creative searching led me to a rag rug we love from Overstock (Link HERE - $129! It's out of stock but you can sign up to find out when it's back). Knowing your limitations and sticking to them feels incredibly rewarding! But you know, if you have a dream rug in mind and it's $800, and your room redecoration budget is like $1200 (in other words, that rug takes up most of it) then you buy that rug, dang it, and you get creative with the cost of the rest of the room! You can find a good couch on Craigslist and have it cleaned, or search antique stores or junk shops for your side tables. All I'm saying is, you make your priorities to splurge on, and that's okay! (Side note - the chandelier above was found on Lamps Plus, but also worth checking Lamps Plus Open Box (where we purchased ours, and it arrived in brand new condition) for even deeper discounts.)

 

GO MEGA BUDGET.

I'd be remiss if I wrote a post on budget decorating and I didn't talk about the value of scouring thrift stores, junk shops and antique malls. Obviously I can't link to sources when it comes to this kind of thing, but mega bargain decorating is of course my favorite! The coffee table above? We found it at a Salvation Army for $5. The large orange lamp to the right of me (it's HUGE and PERFECT) I found at an antique mall for $20. I have a favorite mid-century modern leather chair that we happened to grab from Craiglist for a $15 STEAL. These are the kinds of things you can't link to, and you can't duplicate from a magazine, but that's what makes them the MOST valuable - because they are what makes up your own special and unique style! And instead of letting tales of other people's successful bargain hunting make you feel bummed, let it inspire you to get out there and find something rad of your own, even if it's not what you ever thought you'd look for. I mean, I never set out to the antique mall to find a giant orange-red lamp, (I think that day I went looking for a wooden step stool, which of course I didn't find) but I'm so glad I went!

And I can't believe I'm even giving away my Craigslist bargain search secret, but here goes. If you like mid-century modern furniture and decor, well, never search for the terms "mid-century modern" on Craigslist. If it's labeled as such, then somebody that has it knows the value of what they have and they'll charge you accordingly. That's totally fine if you're looking to find something interesting and pay for it, but if you're looking to find something at a really cheap cost, then try searching for the terms "retro" "60s" etc. Think of the terms your grandparents use when they're describing something as mid-century modern and search for that. ;) I even sometimes search for "vintage" because I think to a lot of people, "vintage" covers a lot of bases. We found a really great MCM vinyl chair set for $10 a chair because they were labeled as "retro chairs" and that was it. Meanwhile, anything labeled "Danish modern" is going to cost you your inheritance, chump. ;)

Just FYI - everything linked in this post was as sincere as it gets! I'm not being sponsored by anybody for this post. This is the real deal, you guys. Happy decor hunting!! And if you have any bargain decorating tips, share below!! xo - Sarah