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Tasteful Budget Decorating

By on January 10, 2007

A beautifully decorated home doesn’t need to contain entirely high priced and brand new items. Many interior decorating accents and solutions can be either handmade projects or purchased secondhand. You can combine and mix styles, without looking cheap.

Some of the most interesting and unusual decor pieces can be found at thrift stores, garage sales, discount stores, flea markets, estate sales, and even already in your home. It’s decor that is entirely new that is common, uninteresting, and lacking charm and character. With a little creativity and imagination you can create a stylish, high end look for less.

Mixing Low End with High End

You can combine new and old elements to blend colors and textures. It adds depth and character. Decide the mood you want for the room. To have a feeling of cohesiveness and harmony, don’t select more than five shades for your color palette. Your decor selections should fall into these shades, and will allow you to plan your design.

Your anchor pieces are a starting point. They serve as focal points. This includes items such as an inspirational piece, rug, couch, and window dressings. Some of your larger pieces can be the more high end items, and some of your accessories can provide detail and be lower end.

Using neutral wall color allows you to introduce a larger variety of colors, textures, and patterns in the room. For example, you can combine stripes, solids, and plaid as long as they are in the same color values. Sticking to three different patterns prevents the eyes from being overwhelmed. Additional embellishments create balance and rhythm in the room, and pull it all together. Rule of thumb is to keep it simple when mixing high end and low end decor.

Fabulous Finds

Each person has their own favorite decor solutions they admire. There are some additonal decorative details that can work in almost any style of home. Keep in mind many accessories are more visually appealing when grouped, and that everything doesn’t need to be “matchy matchy”. One example, dishes don’t have to be a complete set. You can mix and match if the colors are the same.

Here are some easy to score accessories that add flair:

Single crystal candlesticks look beautious in a grouping or staggered on a mantle.
Hang a lovely arrangement of small mirrors. Use french ribbon to hang them for added texture and color.
Tschotkes can fit it in anywhere. These make great little conversation pieces.
Chandelier crystal prisms can be added to light fixtures.
Tassels added to furniture handles, as drape tiebacks, and tied around hanging bath towels.
Baskets are especially lovely to organize linen closets or as mail organizers.
Glass dishes and compotes can easily be incorporated into any home. Can be used as candy dishes and candle holders.
Kitchenware such as vintage butter churns, linens, cannisters, cookie jars, ice crushers, graters, and cookie cutters add charm to kitchens.
Vases can look wonderful empty or filled.
Shelves are a wonderful way to display your possessions without taking up a lot of space.

Reuse and Recycle

Many secondhand items can be creatively transformed into treasures, or used for added interest. A little work and creativity can bring them from “Scare to Flair”. If you’re someone that likes to change your decor often or is looking for an inexpensive way to give your decor pizzazz, secondhand items are an inexpensive way to accomplish this. It’s great for apartments and cottages too.

Consider the following design ideas:

Collect items such as vintage valentines, greeting cards, menus, vintage magazine advertisements, and handkerchiefs to frame.
Faux finish older styled furniture. (ie. crackled or distressed)
Utilize vintage containers such as tins and glass containers for homemade candles.
Use vintage sheets for crocheted rugs
Retro tableclothes can be made into chic pillows or curtains.
Old game pieces can be made into crafty accessories.
Vintage drawer pulls replacing new.
Switch plates and outlet covers.
Old Matchbook covers can be used to decorate frames or look nice in a glass bowl

Comfort Retreat

Emotions play a large part in decor. It’s not just color, layering, and furnishings such as, fresh paint, toss pillows, throws, and wallpaper borders that makes a home feel well designed. The atmosphere and ambience play a large part, and give a home its signature. The use of scent, lighting, sounds, and natural elements provide depth to a home.

You can bring nature inside by adding houseplants or kitchen herbs, floral arrangements, a water element such as a fountain, and candle scents. Interesting rocks, pebbles, and pods and pinecones can fill a bowl or look lovely on a mantle. By all means let the sun shine into your home. If the weather is nice, open the windows and let the fresh air in.

One of the most important aspects when decorating your home is to be certain your rooms are functional. You want a welcoming room. Part of creating comfort in a room is how your furniture is positioned. Try to create conversation areas. If your decor is too formal, it will make your friends and family feel uncomfortable. Relaxation and comfort in a room is far more luxurious than fine furnishings and costly components.

Lastly, use decor items you like. You can’t go wrong if you’re surrounded by decor you enjoy.


  1. Bumplett

    2/18/2007 at 12:56 am

    I really enjoyed reading this one 🙂

    I’ve got a mix matched house by all accounts – different shades of wood go well together – and I’m not limited to one “style” of furniture – so I’m always keeping my eyes open at the local thrift store 🙂

  2. Marie78

    2/18/2007 at 3:44 am

    My apartment would definitely be considered a hodge podge of hand me down styles. I try to group like things, and arrange my home to be appealing to the eye. I have a more “country” or “traditional” look than modern. You just gave me the best idea, I am going to frame a very beautiful handkerchief that my sister gave me from a trip to New Orleans a few years ago. I have it safely tugged away in my dresser drawer, but it would be perfect as a piece of art in my bedroom, the colors would match perfectly. Off to find a second hand frame 🙂

  3. mom23boys

    2/18/2007 at 6:33 pm

    I love vintage and am often on the look out for vintage items. DH and I often visit estate sales during the summer season hoping to find some good deals. My decor in my kitchen is roosters and they are all vintage. I haven’t purchased a single one of them new.

    I guess you would say I have a little new and a little old in my home. It just depends on what room you are standing in.

  4. Maggi

    2/19/2007 at 12:06 pm

    Mine are mostly garage sale finds. Some of it is from family members. My kitchen is a country look, my living room is more modern, the computer room has dh’s war plane pictures and trucks and on my side I have teddy bears, and music boxes. Thats a very mixmatched room.
    Our bedroom is a romantic hideaway. lol
    With candles, lace and soft sheets with a down comforter.

  5. Darling Diva

    2/19/2007 at 2:18 pm

    I think that reusing and recycling are an essential part of decorating. My living room chairs old vintage whicker that was dreadfully GREY (that is the white paint that was so old and discoloured)These I purchased for 5 bucks each and have repainted twice …recovered the seats 3 different times with my ever changing decor. Originally for my front deck they turned out so well they made it to my living room and have been there ever since (about 3 years). Everytime I consider retiring them I just repaint and recover them instead…they are so comfy.
    I love my thrift finds. Whether the local goodwill, garage sale or by the side of the road (some one else’s trash is definately my treasure)
    Thanks for your article …it reafirms what I have always known …style is determined not by $$$ but by imagination.
    That I have abundance of.

    keep up the frugal good work
    Darling Diva

  6. Tina

    2/19/2007 at 5:09 pm

    I Love your Blog site…….its filled with Lots of things I love. Saving Money, cooking and family. My Home is filled with things I’ve made or things loved ones have made, great yard sale and auction finds and some ebay items I have lucked up on. I never pay full price for anything because if I get tired of something I havent lost anything, I just pass it on and keep the land fields cleaner and my friends homes get different things that way!

    You have inspired me to start a blog site soon!


  7. emily_hope

    2/20/2007 at 10:11 pm

    Good article. I am into the ‘country’ look. We just moved into our home a little over 2 years ago and the decor is still sparse, but I am working on it. I told myself I was only going to have things I love in my house. So, I am being very picky about what I bring home.

  8. Pat

    6/16/2007 at 9:05 pm

    This article was a good one. Your ideas inspired me to no end.


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  10. Matt

    2/1/2008 at 8:40 am

    Thrift stores are endless if you take the time to find them. Here in St. Louis we have everything from simple thrift shops, goodwills, Salvation army, and even stores that reclaim windows, old lights, trim, and everything else out of houses that are being tore down, all at a fraction of the cost. My best solution was to find them and then come up with a plan on how to hit the most of them on my lunch break.

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