Cutting corners when decorating on a budget can be a tricky affair. You don’t want to accidentally skimp in the wrong places—better to spend a little more on a couch that won’t fall apart in a year or two, and spring for a wool rug that doesn’t ignite in full if you look at it the wrong way. But somewhere, somehow, you’ll need to skimp. Designers, who are often catering to folks decorating on a budget, have some of the best tips for cutting costs without compromising quality. Here are some of our favorites.
Choose Natural-Fiber Area Rugs
While a high-quality area rug can be a great investment, it can also be an incredibly expensive one—which is one reason so many designers spring for natural-fiber rugs when they need large-scale coverage. (This 100 percent jute number from World Market is just $370 for a 9′ x 12′ and it looks quite luxe.)
Match Fancy Paint Colors
Rather than spring for a $300 bucket of paint (which is tempting, because the colors can be exceptional), designer Casey Kenyon recommends trying a Benjamin Moore match of one you’ve fallen in love with (they even have an app, Color Capture, that will help you snatch a color you see and love in the world). “By saving a few dollars [on paint],” designer Sabrina Soto says, “you can splurge on new accent pieces to complement your freshly colored walls!”
Paint Inexpensive Wood Furniture
If Bunny Williams thinks it’s a good idea, you might as well consider doing so yourself. Matte finishes will look sculptural, while high-gloss can make a statement.
Speed Patina (When You Can’t Splurge on Antiques)
While we don’t advocate for faux-aging your walls or wood furniture to look “shabby-chic,” we do admit to sometimes speeding up the real work that nature can do—especially on natural materials like brass, copper, terra-cotta, and more.
Use Found Natural Objects as Accents
“Taking a walk through the woods and collecting interesting things like bark, tree stumps, stones, and botanicals to press can yield striking results,” Liess says, by the same logic that flowers always brighten up a room.
Buy Thrift Store Art
“Hunt for vintage art at places like Etsy, eBay, Chairish, and in thrift stores,” Liess recommends. We recommend hunting for them the way professional designers do and then giving them a more elevated look with these spiffing-up tips.
Or Put Your Kids to Work
“Expose your children to the world of abstract art and let them have fun with paint in colors you’d like to see in your home,” Liess says. “En masse, [their art] can feel bold and sophisticated.”
Two Words: Bamboo Blinds
When all you need is to filter the light (dapple: check), rather than block it out entirely, pick up a set of bamboo roller blinds from the hardware store. They’ll give your room a beachy feel—and cost far less than any other window treatment possibly could.
Know When to DIY
“Clients always think custom-made is more expensive,” Soto says, “That’s not always the case. I’ve made everything from neon serving trays to sofas for much less than the price you would pay at a boutique.” In case you’re not sure what you should attempt yourself, here’s our guide to knowing when to call on a pro.