Decorating Updates for Less

Refresh your home decor for less with these budget decorating ideas from designers, bloggers, and our editors.

Small Updates that Matter

Accessories do a great job of adding a lot of style without emptying your bank account. Carefully selected items like rugs and artwork can bring your decorating to the next level while still staying within your budget. 

-- Estee Stanley, Designer & Celebrity Stylist

Photo Finish

You can get photos printed for pennies and affordable frames for just a few bucks. Put these two budget finds together to create one fabulous gallery on a plain stretch of wall, such as in a stairwell or in a hallway. 

Style Secrets

Style is caring about how you live and how it looks and putting thought and effort into doring it all with elan. It's that simple. Remember, style doesn't have to be expensive, but it does take thought and time. 

-- Elaine Griffin, designer

See the Potential

Look for the potential of secondhand artwork. A fabulous frame can be liberated from the ugly picture it houses, and an ugly frame can be painted.

-- Beth Hunter,

Paint It

Don't be afraid to paint dull furniture. It's an easy way to update what you have and get like-new pieces without having to make the investment in something truly new.

Mirror, Mirror

Mirrors work wonders in any room. Have one cut to fit a tabletop or an extra-large picture frame (which usually costs less than buying a big mirror).

Go to the next slide to see more bargain ideas from this living room.

What's the secret to great looking style for your home? Watch and learn the tricks to decorating on a budget with these ideas that will make your home look like a million dollars on a shoestring.

One Room, Many Bargains

The mirror isn't the only budget-friendly idea in this living room. Watch and discover more bargain decorating ideas you can use.

Pile of Pillows

I always say pillows make the room! Buy 1 yard of a great fabric, and take it to a dry cleaner who offers alterations. He can sew a simple pillow for you -- cheap.

-- Jenny Komenda,

Outside Inspiration

Decorating with nature is free and fun. Cut an interesting branch from your yard and put it in a vase, or gather stones and display them in a tray.

-- Jenny Johnson, host of New England Dream House

When to Spend

Spending a little more for a sofa or chair is actually budget-smart if it meets these criteria: a timeless neutral color, clean lines, and the right scale for the room.

Memory Lane

Display mementos like the keys from your first house in a shadow box. It's amazing how great even ordinary things look behind glass.

-- Sherry Petersik,

Paint It

It's easier to go bold with color on a piece of furniture than on walls. Pick a color you love, and paint that dresser.

-- Sarah Saucedo,

All Lit Up

Make your own one-of-a-kind lamps. A simple kit costs about $10. Almost anything you can drill a hole through can be a lamp base. I've used ceramic vases, banister rungs, carved wood, and wire baskets.

-- Summer Baltzer, host of Design on a Dime

Expect the Unexpected

For a custom look and an unexpected jolt of color, spray-paint the undersides of glass shelves a bright hue.

Shop Right

The best place to look for quality furniture on a budget is consignment or thrift stores. If the bones are good, you can always update with paint or fabric.

-- Melissa Michaels,

Walls with Flair

Cover walls with secondhand mirrors, baskets, large clocks, and other items that add dimension.

-- Beth Hunter,

Separate Sets

Break up your bedroom set. Bring a bedside table into the living room; use a dresser as a dining room buffet.

-- Shelly Van Rozeboom,

Vacation Mementos

I love to pick up inexpensive drawings from street artists while I'm on vacation. It's nice to have artwork that means something to you personally.

-- Melissa Michaels,

Chair Pizzazz

Painted the same color, mismatched secondhand dining chairs look happy together. Use white for a simple look, or embolden your dining room by painting the chairs a deep, rich color.

Colorful Library

Remove the jackets, then group books by color, standing some upright and stacking others. Shelves will seem more organized and have an artistic, color-blocked look.

-- Erin Gates, stylist and blogger,

Mantel Style

A pair of oversize urns is a foolproof scheme for a mantel. It's easy and a little glam, especially if the urns are a great color.

-- Marcus Hay, stylist,

Pattern Party

Make an easy table runner for your next get-together with assorted paper napkins. Lay out napkins (we used lunch size, but cocktail size would also work) in your desired design, tape the edges together, and flip it over.

New Take on Tables

In place of a predictable coffee table, use two inexpensive side tables. Outline the edges with strips of nailhead trim for a high-end look.

-- Jenny Komenda, designer and blogger,

On a Corbel

A corbel is a clever perch for an accessory. Try painting it a bright color to draw attention to whatever you put on it.

Brighten Your Kitchen

Cheery dish towels are a super inexpensive way to bring a little zing into the kitchen. I always find great towels at World Market and Anthropologie.

-- Gabrielle Blair, blogger,

Greenhouse Effect

Plants are an underappreciated decorating tool. They bring life and color to a room, they're relatively inexpensive, and they're good for you, too.

--Liz Levin, designer,

Memento Display

Have a card you can't bear to throw away? Put it in a frame or -- easier yet -- perch it on a little easel, and you've got art.

-- Gabrielle Blair, blogger,

Double Duty

Thinking about buying a new lamp, pillow, or throw? Don't bring it home unless it will work in at least two rooms.

 -- Janna Lufkin, stylist and blogger,

Woven Wonder

Add one woven or wicker chair to a room. Spray-paint it a great color, and you have both seating and an element of surprise.

-- Julie Holloway, designer and blogger,

Color Blocking

Paint the inside of a cabinet a bright, bold color and fill the shelves with white objects for a striking, graphic display. You can also round up nonwhite items, such as vases and figurines, and give them a few coats of white spray paint.

Mat Trick

An extra-large mat is a simple trick for giving a small photo or piece of art big presence.

-- Gabrielle Blair, blogger,

Pattern Frame-Up

Create an affordable triptych with basic frames and patterned paper. Frame wallpaper remnants or pretty wrapping paper in three frames of the same size, and hang the frames in a row.

Affordable Illumination

They've been around forever, but candle sconces are still brilliant for adding ambience without calling an electrician.

-- Elaine Griffin, interior designer,

Light Up a Lampshade

For a new take on a bulletin board, wrap twine around a lampshade in a crisscross pattern, then tuck in pictures and paper mementos.

-- Julie Holloway, designer and blogger,

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