Paint: The Frugal Decorator's Best Friend

If home improvements seem too expensive to tackle, have no fear: decorating doesn't have to break the bank. In fact, improving a room in your home can cost as little as a few dollars or a few hundred dollars, depending on the extent of your needs. Recently, I proved my own point by decorating my baby's nursery using a few cans of paint, cast-off furniture, sale curtains, and a new-to-me rocker. Here's how I tackled an entire room for a little over $100.

Paint the Walls

One of the biggest bang-for-your-buck projects in a room decoration is throwing a little paint on the walls. Fresh paint alone can make a room feel fresher, even in the same color. But if you really want the wow factor, painting the room a new color can make an amazing impact.

In fact, with the right paint effect, you can even make the room appear larger. That's what happened in my baby's room; the color blocking treatment that my hubby applied to the accent wall made the small space feel so much bigger (you can see the finished product in the picture above). Painting the entire room only cost $56: $25 for the white ceiling/molding/accent paint; $25 for the light green used on all three walls and on some of the color blocks; and $6 for small sample-sized cans of paint for the other color block colors.

One tip on making the room look bigger: if you prefer one color, go with a lighter color. Light colors give the illusion of space and dark colors make a room feel cozier.

Paint Furniture

The next frugal decorating tip is to paint cast-off furniture. I got a small desk and a hamper for free from my mother, and I painted both. The now white desk will serve as a changing table once I get a changing pad, and the space beneath the desk (you know, where your legs should go) is the perfect size for the cute little pastel green hamper. All I have left to do is add some cute knobs or paint some a complementary color, and for under $10, I have a changing table and hamper that both add a lot to the room.

Seek Out Frugal Accessories

Finally, when the big things are complete, it's fun to add accessories to any room. But oftentimes, those little knick knacks can really add up. This is where shopping sales, scouring internet deals, and seeking out frugal finds at thrift store and garage sales can really lend a hand to the budget.

For me, the baby's room needed a glider and ottoman, and I found a perfect set for $45 through Craigslist. I also found curtains on sale for $6 per panel at Sears. I'm also reusing some picture frames, but I'll paint them white to match a lot of the furniture. Finally, I will receive a crib as a gift at my baby shower, and my grandma is making me a baby quilt. My one wish-list item left is a bookcase (and books), and I hope to find one at a garage sale or on Craigslist soon.

So that's it: how to tackle decorating an entire room for under $200. Please share your own frugal decorating ideas below – we love to hear about your creativity!

Photo Source: Christa's nursery, color-blocking technique.

Anonymous's picture

femmefrugality wrote:

Mon, 06/04/2012 - 15:11 Comment #: 1

I had a landlord one time that allowed the renter to paint. It was a huge selling point...when I had to sell the lease to someone else, that was THE selling point.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Mon, 06/04/2012 - 20:43 Comment #: 2

FF, we had a landlord who allowed the same thing as long as we painted it back to white when we moved. We opted to live with the white because we didn't plan to be there for a long time, but many of the neighbors had beautifully decorated apartments!

Anonymous's picture

jackie wrote:

Sun, 09/16/2012 - 12:26 Comment #: 3

Great idea - paint is so easy to apply and re-apply - you can change the mood of your rooms in no time

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Mon, 09/17/2012 - 16:04 Comment #: 4

Jackie, I love your decorating site -- you certainly use paint to the best of its ability!

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