Decorating on a budget

Many of us will have a tight budget to work with when decorating a new home. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to create a strong look and a cosy feel for cheap or free.

Key considerations

When decorating on a budget, you may not have the funds to alter every detail, so the key is to consider your largest spaces. The most important area is actually the floor and a big deep-pile rug in black, white, or a bold colour is a way of bringing an instant fresh look to a room. On the walls, don’t be afraid to play with scale. Choose artwork or some kind of feature piece that’s much bigger than you think it ought to be this will bring impact and focus to your décor scheme. Working on a budget, look for big quirky pieces of art, and things like ornate mirrors and vintage advertising on Freecycle and at reclamation yards.

Shabby Chic

Shabby chic has been around for a while, but it’s still a beautiful, stylish, and by nature, cheap way of bringing freshness to an interior. Shabby chic is normally based on a white-on-white or beige-on-beige colour scheme. A classic way of achieving  this is simply to paint old wooden furniture white, this is something that works to great instant effect and is very cheap to do. Combine with light coloured curtains and accent with voile or muslin. You can incorporate unusual things you already have as accent pieces such as teapots and vases as decoration, as well as picking up secondhand and free items. 


With the right lighting, you can redecorate without actually doing any decorating. If you’ve decided to go for shabby chic, you're on to a winner, as mismatched standard lamps and lampshades will fit this look perfectly. However, you can still make a “lighting redecorate” work for clean contemporary interiors and more traditional styles. The key is to think “low down” so we’re talking 3-4 table-height lamps added to a room. Light coming from lower down gives a much more atmospheric, relaxing and un-oppressive feel in comparison with ceiling lights. If you’re handy you can link them up to one switch so that they act as your room’s primary lighting. Adding mirrors to a room is also a big help with lighting; one large mirror is stunning, and several small mirrors can be used to interesting visual effect.

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