To say you’ve been spending a lot more time at home this year would be an understatement. Naturally, you’ve probably had the urge to feather your nest more than usual, whether that’s with cheerful artwork or an extra houseplant (or six).
But how can you make your house feel more like home while still sticking to your budget? We asked home experts for unexpected ways to save on home decor this year. Here are 17 of their best tips.
1. Grow plants from clippings
Save some green on your greenery with plants that grow from clippings, suggests Jordana Saunders, a licensed real estate salesperson at Triplemint in New York City. “Philodendrons make great decor additions because they grow from clippings, which means you can get multiple plants from one,” she says. “They thrive in water, they don’t require soil, they grow quickly, and they are very easy to keep alive indoors. They look beautiful in a glass or ceramic vase.”
2. Find a planter at the dollar store
A few decorative ceramic pots from garden centers can easily ring up to $100. Instead, Tina Huffman, a designer and home and garden blogger at Greenhouse Studio, suggests buying inexpensive wastebaskets at the dollar store to use as house plant pots. Drill a hole in the bottom (or take a hammer to a nail and poke) for drainage and put a thrift store salad plate under it, she says. If you want to take it one step further, you can paint them.
3. Use dried botanicals
Buying fresh flowers every week might not be practical. But, one trick home decor and interiors expert Adele Beiny swears by is using dried florals or botanicals. Sites like Bloomist sell dried stems, including a variety of palm leaves, lavender, and other fun florals that you can place in pretty vases. Many local florists are now offering dried flower arrangements that last for months, Beiny says.
4. Switch out hardware on your furniture
“An easy trick I’ve always loved doing is buying dressers or larger pieces from less expensive retailers like IKEA or Allmodern.com and changing the hardware,” Beiny says. Home improvement stores carry a fun variety of hardware, she says, and CB2has great knobs, handles, and pulls. “A simple drawer handle change transforms the look of a piece for very little time and money,” she dishes.
5. Shop estate sales
Check your local paper for estate sales in your area, suggests Keira Schultz, owner and principal designer at KSDesigns in Flagstaff, Arizona. Some are even offered online, she says. Here are some tips to shop estate sales like a pro. (Hint: You can negotiate).
6. Shop thrift stores, too
It seems we are entering the golden age of thrift shopping, which means your local Goodwill or thrift shop is a great source for artwork, candles holders, and ceramics, says Schultz. “I have found many vintage-looking framed art pieces that give a gallery wall an eclectic boho feel,” she says. Plus, most thrifted furniture is already assembled, so you won’t have to sweat over any confusing instructions. Here are the six best things renters can score at thrift shops.
7. Skip framing
“Unframed canvas art looks beautiful and makes a statement, and you don’t need to pay for framing,” says Saunders. Large posters can also be ordered and printed online for under $50. “The key here is to make sure it’s large enough to actually fill the wall and mounted in a way that looks intentional,” she says. For example, hay clips are rustic and chic and a great way to avoid framing costs, she says.
8. Invest in vertical shelving
Instead of buying more decor, neatly showcase what you already own by purchasing some sleek vertical shelving, suggests Saunders. “The shelving becomes the art piece, with artfully arranged books, planters and vases.”
9. Decorate with souvenirs
With travel mostly on hold for the time being, now is a good time to bring some of your favorite vacation memories into your home. Try framing postcards, suggests Sara Rathner, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet. The next time you do travel, be on the lookout for local artwork at street festivals or interesting trinkets from locally owned shops, she suggests.
10. Keep an eye on the curb
Sometimes, perfectly fine furniture is left outside for the taking, Rathner says. “A few years ago I found two wood end tables with gold accents that just needed the bases nailed back on, and they’ve been decorating my living room ever since,” she says. Curbsides in college towns are goldmines, especially at move-out time, she says.
11. Shop at the end of the season
Even if a particular product isn’t very seasonal—like a vase—many retailers offer sales at the end of the season to make room for new merchandise that is coming in, says savings and shopping expert Andrea Woroch. “But you can definitely expect the biggest savings on those seasonal decor items such as outdoor lanterns or patio rugs during Labor Day/end of summer, where you can snag up to 60 percent off,” she says.
12. Shop secondhand marketplaces
There are so many great local marketplaces where you can browse endless secondhand deals, Woroch says. Places like Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp are great places to look for home decor, especially as people scale back on garage sales amid the Coronavirus, she says. “When buying through these sites, you have more power to negotiate, too, so don’t be afraid to haggle if you feel the price is a little high,” she advises.
13. Ask about floor models
At the changing of seasons, retailers are often willing to sell items off the floor at deeply discounted rates, says Claudia Steer, CEO of Rentid, a home design service for renters. Once it’s safe to do so, you should also shop the outlets, she suggests. Many stores, including CB2, West Elm, even Restoration Hardware have outlets, Steer says.
14. Add bold accents to your bedding
Re-doing your bed can get pricey when you factor in the cost of a new duvet cover, sheets, pillows, and decorative pillows. Instead of going all out, try adding colorful accessories, suggests Karin Sun, textile designer and founder of Crane & Canopy. Even one statement texture throw pillow or a bright throw on neutral bedding can help achieve a fresh look in your bedroom, she says.
15. Give your furniture a second life
“Reupholster existing furniture for a new look,” suggests Highlyann Krasnow, founder and creative director of The Design High. But to keep this affordable, you’ll need some upholstering DIY prowess, or you could try this sneaky fabric trick.
16. Pinpoint your focal wall
And draw attention to it, suggests Abby Skwiat with Abigail Hayden Interior Design.Every room has a focal wall, whether it’s the TV wall in a family room or the wall the bed is up against in the bedroom. Give it some personality, Skiway suggests, by painting it an accent color or applying wallpaper. By focusing and investing on just one wall, you can add a lot of character to your space, she says.
17. Call in your books
Buy hardback books, new or used. Then, scrap the dust jackets and stack them on a table or a shelf, Skiway says. You get an instant curated look, plus always having something to read nearby.
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