Top Five Budget Decor Rules

I hate using that word “rules.”  How about “guidelines?”  Guidelines is gentler, but too long for a post title.
Want me to get to the point?
Okay, okay.

In my infinite budget decorating wisdom (ahem), I have decided to share with you the top five TOP SECRET “rules” that I follow when beautifying my home for the tiniest of price tags.  I’ve learned these guidelines over time, from various sources, and after a LOT of trial and error, I finally figured out that they work.

dp_lighting (Home Goods)


  1. 1.  Be Patient.  This might be the rule I struggle the most with.  I’m all about instant gratification, so it’s hard not to run to Home Goods and pick out new lamps just about five minutes after I’ve decided that I NEED them.  If I reign myself in, stop and think, take a few deep cleansing breaths, I can usually either wait for an awesome deal, or come up with an alternative.


img30m  (Pottery Barn)


    1. (Pottery Barn)
    2. 2.  Think Outside of the Barn.  Pottery Barn, that is.  Or whatever insanely expensive store it is that appears in your dreams.  Those stores don’t own the patent on style.  Go to Target or Walmart and find your style for less.  Or better yet, scour the thrift stores and flea markets and find the piece you’re dreaming about.  Just remember to refer to Rule #1.


  1. 3.  Pay For Function.  What should you pay good money for?  In my humble opinion, your couch, that’s what.  Those pieces you use and abuse every day should be the best you can afford.  Or…shop Craig’s List and buy something that was the best someone else could afford before they got tired of it.


  1. 4.  Make Your Storage Stylish. 

five 001You gotta have storage, so why not make it cute?  We use this toy box for a coffee table.  It’s been repainted and embellished with wood appliques to better fit the style of the family room.   Inside are magazines, blankets for snuggling, and ALL of that Wii equipment.

five 002This old Pepsi crate sits on top.  I found this at a flea market for $7.  (The PB ones above are $24 each!)  What a great place to store remotes and small books.  The stuff stored in the coffee table is much easier to access without a lot of separate knick-knacks on top.

five 003 These fabric covered file boxes store construction paper in the DINING ROOM.  Yep, you read that right.  It’s right under the WINE.  If you’re a parent, you KNOW the reason why it’s good to keep the wine near the craft supplies.

  1. 5.  Use Your Scraps.  Don’t worry, I’m not advocating that you hoard a disgusting amount of trash and end up on that reality show everyone’s talking about.  But…

more five 002Wood scraps make great lettered signs.

more five 001
Fabric scraps mistreat windows.

more five 003And paper scraps embellish candles.   I totally stole this idea from my friend Amanda, at Imperfectly Beautiful.
What are the “RULES” you follow when decorating your home?

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41 thoughts on “Top Five Budget Decor Rules

  1. you and I share a few rules in common!!! I love to use scraps…and I had to say…I breathed a sigh of relief with the wind and the craft supplies being partnered at your house too!!! lol

  2. I so, so agree with the patient rule. I’m usually pretty good about it but yesterday I screwed up and bought a bedding set that I don’t love. It was on clearance and I can’t return it. I’ve been looking for a while and happened upon it and just gave in and now I regret it.

  3. Patience is definitely a difficult one for me. I don’t even know if I can call them rules, but here are the tips that I am slowly learning work for me:

    1. Don’t buy it until you need it.
    Case in point: I’m currently redecorating our living room. Then I will move on to our master bedroom. Mid-LR redo, I started buying stuff for the MB. Now I’m taking it back because my thought process is changing as I revamp the rest of the house. (And guess who’s returning a bunch of merchandise this weekend? To the Barn no less!)

    2. If it doesn’t scream, “Buy me buy me buymebuymebuyme!” don’t buy it.
    I’ve had this rule for YEARS and I’ve used it for everything from everyday clothing, to home decor, I even applied it during our wedding planning. If I don’t run over to the shelf, grab it, and hold onto it for dear life, it ain’t coming home with me!

  4. Kimm, you hit the nail on the head girl and i agree about using the term “guidelines” instead of rules. In my opinion, there are no rules when it comes to decorating. What works for one person, may not work for someone else. Decorating is so subjective in taste.
    Thanks for a great post Kimm!

  5. I think all your rules hit the nail on the head!
    I love your comment on PB…they don’t own style. I do cut out snippets from their catalog though and post on my inspiration board to keep in mind what it is I am trying to accomplish. Sometimes I can lose tract especially when I lose site of rule #1…patience. Love you rules!
    How is that new sewing machine? If you need an easy project that uses good scraps check out my post today…sew simple! Happy Thursday!

  6. LOVE this! Great “guidelines” and you hit the nail on the pottery barn head. I am designing my kids’ new playroom around pb, but at a completely different price point. Let you know how it turns out! Thanks for the great post.

  7. I’m pretty good with patience, and it’s paid off. Though it’s taken longer to put my house together than it would had I been able to go out and buy it all at once, it’s evolved better doing it over the course of time. And I’ve never gotten bored.

    We scrimped and saved and bought the best sofa we could buy, and we’ve never regretted it. We still have that crescent shaped sofa (our first expensive piece), it still looks good eleven years later (hard to believe I know), and we still love it.

    Vintage spools are so great for a lot of things. I used them for years for various decorating needs.

  8. Great tips!

    I’m very impatient too, and it ends up costing me a bundle!

    I have one of those soda crates in my shed that my son found a couple of years ago, I’m gonna have to dig it out now!

  9. Great tips. I’m moving from an old house into a beautiful new apartment next week and trying to refurbish some of my old furniture to look new. What a difference fitted slip covers and new throw pillows can make!

  10. The thing that I do for every client that I work with is to buy cheap lamps, (ie. $20 set of four lamps at Walmart) and then replace the shades with beautiful ones. I believe that the shade matters most. I always keep my eye open for interesting shades on clearance and I keep a little stash in my closet. Beautiful lighting can really make a room.

  11. great idea to use pottery barn as a guide only!!! when I was a few years younger and dumber, I purchased several items from them ranging from a kid’s play tea set to living room furniture and the common theme was overpriced, cheaply made, shoddy construction. I never buy from them anymore, as I can look through their catalog and find amazingly similar looks at far more reasonable prices elsewhere!

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