University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County Home and Community Resources


Your Home and Community
updated August 1, 2002


Decorating on a Budget
submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator

The list of ideas for decorating on a budget is unending. Every day you may come across new ways to use throw-away items or to recycle old pieces. Below is only a partial list of some things you can do at minimal cost to brighten your home.


* Do you have a window or other area of woodwork you wish would disappear? Disguise the area by painting the woodwork the same color as the wall and choosing a window fabric of the same color.

* Fill a window with plants. The view is partially blocked, but light can still enter the room. Make simple shelves by placing brackets along the window edges and attaching supports and shelves.

* Use inexpensive fabrics for window coverings. Gingham and other dressmaker fabrics work well. Try using unbleached muslin or burlap for a country look. Sheets provide a lot of fabric at a reasonable cost.

* Paint that old venetian blind a bright, cheery color. You'll be amazed at the results. To add an extra touch, paint a design on the blind so when it closes the design takes shape.

* Make windows appear larger by extending the window treatment beyond the window area.

* Are ordinary shades too plain for you? Stencil on a design or cover them with fabric. You can even make your own shades using fabrics that coordinate with the room.


* Use area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpet. Many carpet stores sell room-sized remnants at a reasonable price. Such pieces are easy to rotate for more even wear and can be taken with you if you move.

* If you are tired of your carpet color but it is still in good shape, play down the color and emphasize other furnishings.

* Stencil a design on a concrete floor.


* A fresh coat of paint is an inexpensive redo for a wall and can add new life to a room. Try a new color. Choose a color one to two tones lighter than the one you like in the samples -- colors intensify on a large area.

* Paint a design on a wall. It will take the place of pictures or other wall decorations.

* Hide ugly or damaged woodwork by painting it the same color as the wall. Use an enamel paint (latex or oil based) for easy cleaning.

* A wall of shelves can be decorative and add storage space.

* Wallpaper serves many functions. It can add color, pattern and texture, as well as cover cracks and other undesirable features.


* If metal kitchen cabinets look a little shabby, repaint them.

* Hang pots and pans of interesting shapes and colors from a ceiling bracket or pegboard. They add interest to the room and are easy to reach.


* Filing cabinets provide an abundance of storage and may be used in a variety of ways. Use new pieces or buy used ones at office supply stores. Cover them with fabric, wallpaper or a coat of paint to make them more attractive. Use as a single unit or place a board across two cabinets to form a desk.

* Rearrange furniture. Many times a new furniture arrangement will do a lot for a room. Rather than lining up all your furniture against walls, place some pieces out toward the center of the room.

* Restore your present furniture. This can include anything from adding new hardware to refinishing, antiquing or painting.

* Use old trunks. Make a trunk into a seat by adding a cushion. Place a circular piece of glass on top to make a coffee table. Use a trunk as is for an end table, shelf or coffee table.

* Purchase unfinished furniture and add your own finish.

* Make an inexpensive bookshelf from boards separated by bricks, concrete blocks, glass blocks, large covered juice cans or mailing tubes bunched together.

* Making or buying framed furniture with removable cushions makes changing colors easy.

* Make utility spools into fun furniture for a child's room, recreation room or patio. Choose multipurpose furniture to cut down on the number of pieces you need to buy.

* Purchase inexpensive director's chairs for starter pieces, then move them to the patio or den when you add better pieces.


* A few well-chosen accessories show up better than a flood of small things.

* Don't buy every accessory you need at once and don't feel you have to keep them forever. If one becomes damaged, fix it or discard it.

* Make a simple wall hanging from a drapery sample, embroidered piece, tea towel or small rug and hang from a stained dowel.

* Create your own accessory with dried or silk flowers.

* Plants are always attractive and nice for filling empty spaces.

* Use decorative pillows. They can be inexpensive, functional and attractive.

* Use books to add color, texture and design to an area.

* Candles can be simple but decorative.

* Baskets can be decorative in every room of the home. Use them on the wall, under a plant, on a shelf, to store clothes or linens, etc. If you don't care for their neutral color, spray-paint them in vivid enamels.


The information on this site is available for educational purposes and is valid for southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area.

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