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Favorite Frugal Decorating Tip

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      Tell us about something you did to decorate your home that saved you some money.  There are tons of creative people out there and for those of us who may not be so creative, your talents shared would be much appreciated.


        Last Fall I took a walk in our local state park and gathered pinecones. I then purchased an inexpensive wreath form and some sale ribbon. With my trusty gluegun I was able to make a nice wreath for over the sofa.  


          Of course, shopping at garage sales and thrift stores with a little elbow grease is the best way to decorate. (And a healthy dose of imagination) Here’s One of the many ways I’ve decorated on a budget:
          I have very little living space: (I live in a single wide mobile home, need I say more?) and am on a very limited budget so I use my imagination. The nuts who designed my mobile home put my washer & dryer in my hallway, so I have nowhere to store or sort my dirty laundry. I came up with a great solution. I built a laundry sorting area out of those square metal cubes that lock together. I built mine 5 cubes high x 3 cubes wide. (each cube is 14 inches wide) This leaves 22 inches for walking space which is plenty for me! (Christopher Lowell says we only need 18 inches of walkway space) The open grid of the cubes allows for any damp clothes to dry, and I can sort by the type of clothes and their color. For socks and undies I used plastic baskets I got at the dollar store. (kind of like drawers) You could even thread a pole or dowel through the top cube and hang a shower curtain over the front to hide your laundry. And the best part of this set up is: You can make the cube formation any way you’d like: over your washer & dryer & next to them, and/or across from them as mine are. Before this I had a pile of never ending laundry in my hallway, Now I have a neat, organized laundry station! I don’t need to dig for the right colors to wash, they are already sorted and ready to go! This saves me all kinds of time. Boy! I sure wish I had this set up when I was raising my 4 children!
          Here is a URL for a picture of the cubes I used
          It’s the “Safeco Wire Cubes”. But I got mine at the Thrift store and Costco. They come in many colors including stainless steal. One more note: To keep the area looking best, Unless you have a large laundry area, for the front curtain, use a color that matches your wall, this will make the area “blend in” For example, if the wall is white, use a white sheet, fabric or shower curtain to cover the front, This way it won’t stand out & will make the space look larger. If you’re doing this in a laundry room a small print would look nice.


            My daughter wanted a princess room, so I did a search and found a great site that had patterns for do it yourself wall murals, and articles with ideas on ways to make your own accessories like picture frames, chalkboards, etc.

            The room looks great and we spent less than $100 redoing it because we coordinated the mural and accessories with bedding she already had.

            The url to the princess room is and you can go from there to see the other articles.


              I have done a lot with bed sheets.  I am a big Ralph Lauren fan and really like his sheets, etc…  

              One pattern in particular finally became available at places like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and even RL Outlet stores.  I bought six King-size flat sheets in this pattern.  I now have drapes for 3 windows, a duvet cover, and even a couple of pillow covers made of this fabric.  

              What would have normally amounted to many $100’s in regular full retail prices, I was able to get about 6 flat sheets for less than $100.  A little imagination and a friend who could sew made my room look great!  

              Also, I have a few really nice white linen tableclothes that I found in antique shops that were VERY cheap….  Not a thing wrong with the fabric, so now when I entertain, I really can make things look very nice!

              It really pays to shop around and consider how to turn a simple object into something really spectacular.


                I shop at thrift stores to find items for my home, but my favorite decorating tip is to look for fabrics at the thrift stores in places you wouldn’t think of.  I will use a beautiful(but out of style) skirt to make a pair of curtains or a pillow, or a tablecloth for a small round table (with a contrasting fabric for the top).  I’ve made pillows from shirts, it actually adds designer detail to have buttons running down the front, and a button up pillow allows you to wash the cover if there is a spill.  I always go to the thrift store before I hit the fabric stores for large pieces of fabric for curtains or tableclothes.  I constantly find beautiful sheets or blankets, or even actual curtains that I redesign to make my own desired curtains.  I have also used curtains to make slipcovers for couches, chairs, and dining room chairs.  The heavy curtains make great durable fabric for slip covers.  And you can use grippy shelf liner or rug holder under your slip cover to keep it from sliding around.  I always try to look at the item as a piece of fabric instead of a shirt or a skirt.  I just love the idea of redesign since it saves money, is creative and recycles.


                  I have a great idea for fabric from the thrift stores! Look at long prom dresses…especially ones with a lot of fabric or bows to them. Check them well, for spots, but a lot of these are in satin,lace,etc. Think of the wonderful pillows, chair covers, placemats, napkins, etc. that you could make from this! This is just another way of thinking “out of the box” and being able to think of a new use for a lot of fabric, at a very resonable price!


                    I love the idea of using sheets and even thrift-shop clothing items to decorate with.  Saw a great article on this type of thing.  

                    The decorator had used a plaid theme.  The plaids didn’t match, but were the same basic tones (red, green, white, a little bit of blue).  She made curtains of one plaid, pillows of two other plaids, and accessorized by gluing plaid fabrics on things like the waste basket, lamp shades, etc.  

                    Table runner, placemats etc. were bought at a dollar store.

                    The whole effect was very pleasing (and not as “busy-looking” as one might expect)…it made for a cozy reading corner or den.


                      Another thing I have done to save money is to save boxes as I buy things and use them for storage in other areas of my home.  I just decoupage them with paper or fabric to match the room they will go in.  I have found beautiful wrapping paper at the dollar tree and I just use watered down school glue to adhere it and then go over the top too.  Even better protection is given if you go over the final product with varnish.  I have used the big diaper boxes from Costco as toy boxes so that the various rooms don’t look so cluttered.  I cover them with adult appropriate paper that matches the decor of the room.  I  put up shelves in my craft room and put all my supplies in different boxes that I have saved.  A round grits container is perfect for pens, shoe boxes are perfect for odds and ends, the boxes that paper came in are perfect for other papers.  I also printed labels using my computer and glued them right on too.


                        Hi, I’m fairly new to this forum, but have a money-saving site of my own, where I occasionally post home decor ideas also.  One of my favorites (which totally transforms every kitchen) is painting countertops.  I’m not sure how many characters this reply box allows, but full instructions are at

                        The final look is amazing and most kitchens can be done for under $100 (much less if you shop frugally for the paint!).


                           I’ve moved five times in the past 10 years, due to life and job changes. My way of saving money is called “use what you have decorating.” I’ve had the same bedroom drapes and comforter for four of the five places I’ve lived. Sometimes I use my old things in a new way. For instance, I had inherited some painted china plates that my Mom had stuck in the back of her china cabinent. You couldn’t even see ’em there! I hung them up in the bathroom, of all places! But they made pretty wall decorations and the steam and humidity doesn’t affect china plates. A cedar chest became a behind-the-sofa table. Old kitchen items — utensils, dishes, pot lids and knicknacks — were placed on top of the kitchen cabinents in one home, where the cabinets didn’t go all the way to the ceiling. They made a cute display. My nightstand began life as a microwave oven stand back in the 1980s, when microwaves were HUGE; its big table surface provides lots of room for my lamp, alarm clock, glasses and books. An antique dresser from a third bedroom has been in two large bathrooms, used for storing towels and cosmetics. The curtains in one house has been made into valances for windows elsewhere. I’m not above dumpster diving, either: I have scrounged stereo speakers, plant stands, shelves, lamps, a Martha Stewart shower curtain, large baskets and chairs from apartment dumpsters. (Everything was in perfect condition. Can’t believe my neighbors threw all this good stuff away!) If you “think outside the box” you can come up with new uses for the things you already own or items you find — and you can’t beat the price; it’s all free!


                            I like the 'use what you have' idea too.  I've found that if you stay within coordinating colors in all your rooms, you can move your accessories around from room to room and have a new look.  I always tell people if you don't like the way my house looks, come back in a month and everything will be different. My husband started teasing me because I move things around so much. He would say, yeah, that makes all the difference.  So now when I get on one of my kicks of moving things around in the shelves in the family room I tell him I'm making all the difference.
                            A good source for things is thrift shops. If you go often, its amazing what you can find.  I have gotten nice quilts for $20, really nice decorative items that are in perfect condition.  Some days I find nothing and other times I hit the jackpot. 
                            My latest thing is to use decorative tins to store things in the pantry.  I have a Salvation Army near my house that always seems to have lots of metal tins for 70 cents a piece.  I have found a lot that go with my Tuscan decorating scheme.  I thought instead of putting them on top of a cabinet for decoration, I would actually  use them for storage. The larger ones can be used for coffee, cookies, pasta, etc.   I have gotten compliments on how nice my pantry looks.  One woman told me she won't let anybody see inside her cabinets and that mine look so nice.  haha I didn't tell her I'm a regular shopper at Salvation Army. 
                            Another tip for pantries- turn all the boxes and containers so that you see the front of them, like in a grocery store.  It's called facing the product.  It really does look neater although it may take up a little more room.  Also, the shelf organizers that look like little stairsteps for storing spices are really nice if you use a lot of spices and herbs.  Put them in alphabetical order and you'll be able to find what you need in a second.


                              Good tip about staying in same color scheme.  Hadn't thought about that, but we've kept neutral walls so that we can bring in color in the objects rather than the walls.  After awhile no matter what color the wall is, you get tired of it.  With neutral colors you don't since the wall doesn't stand out.

                              You've got a lot of good advice to share as is evidenced by your other posts.  Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us.  There are almost 17,000 subscribers to the forum, so you're a real blessing!


                                Be careful not to become packrats. You need to remember that everytime you bring something “new” into your home something old has to go.

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