9 Cost-Effective Interior Design Tips

Decorating your home could easily end up costing tens of thousands of dollars (or more), but you don’t have to spend that kind of money to create comfortable, aesthetically pleasing living spaces. If you’re willing to put in a little time, effort and creativity, it’s possible to decorate your entire home on a reasonable budget. To help get you started, here are nine tips for cost-effective interior design.

1. First, Declutter

A tidy room always looks better than a cluttered one. Getting rid of excessive clutter around the house is an inexpensive first step when it comes to cost-effective interior design. And it can make you a surprising stash of cash if you hold a yard sale or put items for sale on Craigslist. Be sure to advertise on Facebook to draw plenty of potential buyers. (How to Increase Yard Sale Profits has more tips.)

After getting rid of things you don’t need, organize what’s left. Small investments in storage go a long way toward achieving tidy living spaces: Try using wicker boxes for storing magazines, an oversized bottle for collecting spare change, a vintage wall-mounted mailbox to keep track of important letters, boxes or zippered bags for under-the-bed storage, and a felted wool basket for managing pet toys.

2. DIY Storage

For larger storage needs, consider doing it yourself. Thanks to websites like Pinterest and Houzz, it’s easy to search for storage ideas and even building plans – for everything from spice racks and bathroom drawer dividers, to built-in bookcases and a king-sized bed frame with storage. If you don’t have the right tool for a building project, ask a friend or neighbor if you can borrow it (and be sure to give it back!), rent it from your local home improvement store or, if you think you’re going to do multiple DIY projects, make the investment and buy your own.

3. DIY Headboard

Headboards can set you back a surprising amount of money – especially if you need them in multiple bedrooms. Making your own can be a relatively easy and affordable DIY project. For a different approach, try using a pair of reclaimed doors, mismatched wooden planks, a set of weathered shutters, corrugated tin cut into an interesting shape, or a reclaimed store sign, courtesy of your local antique shop or flea market.

4. Double-Duty Furniture

Another way to control clutter and save on space is to find furniture that does double duty. Some ideas include ottomans with built-in storage, television stands that keep components and DVDs out of sight behind closed doors, daybeds with trundles for guests, and free-standing bookcases that act as room dividers.

5. Shop Etsy

Etsy and other peer-to-peer e-commerce websites that sell handmade and vintage items can be a great place to score inexpensive items that will give your living spaces added pop. Find stained glass wall sconces, rustic coat racks, reclaimed wood end tables, unique throw pillows, screen-printed shower curtains, hand-painted drawer pulls and many other items to revive every room in your home.

6. Enhance the Lighting

Good lighting can transform an ordinary room into something special, and you don’t always need to buy expensive new lamps and fixtures to get there. If you’re on a tight budget, try spicing up an out-of-date lamp with a new shade, creating a warm glow for your patio with punched-tin lanterns (see Pinterest for DIY ideas) or adding a dimmer switch to an existing fixture (consult with a qualified electrician before doing so). You can also find interesting pieces on Etsy and at your local flea markets – just be sure to check the wiring on older pieces before using them at home.

7. Focus on One Wall

If you don’t have room in your budget to paint, tile or paper an entire room, try putting your money into one wall to brighten the entire space. Adding a textured wallpaper on one wall in a bedroom, for example, can add warmth to the space without costing a lot of money. Or you could add a backsplash just behind the stove, tile an accent wall in the shower, hang a large tapestry or other focal art piece on one living room wall or paint a wall in the kids’ playroom with chalkboard paint.

8. Rejuvenate Old Furniture

Chances are, you have old furniture sitting around your house (or your parents’ home) that could be updated. If not, it’s possible to find great bargains on just about anything home-related by visiting thrift stores, estate sales, antique shops, yard sales and online peer-to-peer markets like eBay. Rather than spending a lot of money to buy a new outdoor patio set, for example, find a used dining room table set and treat it with a weatherproofing sealant. Update worn furniture inexpensively by fixing broken hinges, adding new hardware and refinishing with a fresh coat of paint.

9. Embellish Basic Pieces

You can improve the appearance of ordinary, inexpensive furniture by adding stylish embellishments. Spruce up plain bookshelves, for example, by adding crown molding across the top. Or spiff up plain cabinet doors by adding a carved panel, a stencil, glass tiles or an unexpected cabinet pull or knob.

The Bottom Line

Interior design doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re even a little handy, you might enjoy some of these DIY projects, which can really stretch your decorating budget – and websites like Pinterest make it easy to find ideas and building plans. (For other changes to think about, see 8 Energy-Efficient Home Designs.)