When many of us think of frugal living, the last thing to cross our minds is home decor. But it doesn’t have to be as big of a budget buster as many of us make it out to be. And since a frugal lifestyle means more staying at home, I have no problem with this, or having friends over instead of going out to eat or to the bars — you are going to want to LOVE your house. Not the size, the number of bedrooms, or the extremely overpriced furniture, but the warmth it brings you.
If your walls are bare or you only have functional pieces that have no aesthetic appeal whatsoever, frugal living can feel like a trap sometimes. Unless you are a minimalist. If your home has quirks to it, cater to them. Don’t try to hide them, disguise them, or cover them up. They will only frustrate you or cause you more money.
But doesn’t decorating cost money? ‘I have nothing beautiful in my house.’ ‘There are so many new things I want to add.’ ‘How can I afford to decorate my house, when I can’t afford gas to make it to work?’ We’ve heard it all and some of us have been there with you.
And I am here to tell you there are so many ways to add love and warmth to your home with decor and furnishings.
First, I would probably recommend downsizing but lezzz be honest no one is going to do that. But I say downsize because the smaller your house is, the less space you have to find furniture, wall hangings, paintings, trinkets for, also meaning less money you need to spend. Oh the benefits of living in less than 600 sq ft. But I know that’s not realistic for most families — and what can I say — we only have two grown adults, two massive dogs, and a couple cats thrown in there. And I know kids are different but we’ll probably build a treehouse for our kids to sleep in before we move out of this house. Just kidding! Well kind-of-maybe-not. #earthymama
But let’s talk about some real shit that will actually get you the beautiful home you have always dreamed of. Because if you hate those damn curtains in your living room, tear that shit down! It’s only hurting your mental state. Unless you have a peeping Tom, then by all means, duck tape and garbage bag those windows shut.
That Curb Side Hustle
My favorite of all frugal bad ass tips. Get your shitty clothing ready, cuz we’re goin dumpster diving!
Never, I mean never, pass up a good deal on the side of the road. We have found dressers, bed frames, scrap wood, planting pots, and garden tools for FREE.
Free as in I-didn’t-have-to-break-out-my-two-year-old’s-piggy-bank to afford it.
And condition isn’t really the concern. The bones of anything need to be solid. Like drop a brick on that shit solid. But the varnish, the veneer, the paint, chipped corners, that doesn’t matter.
You can do that! You get to make it look beautiful. Turn a dresser into a kitchen island. A bookshelf into open shelving. Or maybe find an old headboard you can paint BRIGHT PINK for your little one.
The possibilities of upcycling are endless. Old chains can be turned into a Chinese Rain Chain. Broken glass can become a new bird bath or table top.
Just remember to NEVER pass up a good curb deal. I don’t care if your in-laws are with you, your friend from the city is with you. Tell them to move over cuz you got a deal!
Thrift Store Pimpin
If you know me at all, you know I love my thrift stores. Our entire house has decor from the thrift stores. My clothing and some of The Beard’s clothing are from the thrift store. Men apparently don’t donate their clothing like women do. But he did score a pair of Carhart pants for $5. That was the ultimate find. Usually, he doesn’t get too excited when I make him go shopping with me, but he was so excited about that find.
If you need something, you can probably find it at a secondhand shop. Like when The Beard triumphed over a 1998 f150 with a brand new engine for $900! That’s what I’m talking about. Never underestimate the value of a work horse. We need something to haul all our curbside finds around.
I’ve found antique globes, baskets-on-baskets, African masks, copper cups, picture frames, candle holders, throw pillows and blankets for pennies on the dollar.
I love a good hand-me-down. I remember growing up and hating getting ‘seconds.’ I wanted ‘firsts!’ But now I understand that seconds are totally awesome, and free, and way more environmentally friendly. However, I do have to say just because someone wants to give me something, doesn’t mean I will take it. Sometimes, it’s just garbage or not really my style. Like silver rhinestones are not my jam. I’d have to pass.
People are always downsizing, moving, redecorating, or decluttering. Their perfectly used goods can make your house look like a million bucks. So when Betty, your neighbor, tells you she has a box of things she is getting rid of — you better take her a glass of wine and go through her entire house because who knows? Maybe she is willing to part with more than she intended.
Never again will I envy being the youngest child. I will gladly take all those seconds.
Garage + Estate Sales
So yes, I love my thrift stores but I also have the biggest secret in my back pocket. And you want to know what it is? It’s THE BEARD. He is like the negotiation king. Say I see this beautiful antique dresser for $80, The Beard has no problem telling the seller that we will take it for $10. Sometimes we have to work to a middle ground, but we NEVER pay full price. One of The Beard’s cardinal rules. And yes, sometimes I have hid in the car while he does his thing cuz I’m so embarrassed but love him for it. Hey! It’s more money in our pockets.
He even got me a genuine leather couch (in rough condition but still totally functional) for $10!!!!!!! That is called magic my friends. Or that massive dream catcher by my desk he bought at a garage sale for $1.
Or when he got live edge cherry slabs for FREE that I turned into shelves.
The key to garage sales and estate sales is negotiation.
There are so many places you can find cheap or free home decor, but it might just take a little love and time to make things beautiful again.
Dig through every garbage pile, dumpster, and anything else you can find. The good stuff is at the bottom.
Dressers may need some sanding and staining. Picture frames may need some paint. Or curtains may need to be sewn out of bed sheets. But the more creative you can let your mind be, the easier it is to use what you have or find.
It isn’t about what you see. It’s about transforming a piece. A beautiful home doesn’t take stacks-on-stacks of money. Sometimes, that is true like when you own a 5,500 sq ft house. I can’t even fathom decorating that much house. But, most of the time, you can decorate your house on a beans and rice kind of budget.
Where do you find your hidden gems of home decor?