Paint a piece of furniture that needs freshening up.
A new color can make a dramatic difference. Head to a home store or local paint shop and ask where they keep cans of paints that customers didn’t end up taking, or ones that have been returned due to incorrect color choices. You can walk away with an entire gallon for a quarter of the price.
Paint one wall.
Use a color you love that you aren't daring enough to use in an entire room.
Scout unexpected places for furniture deals.
If a hotel, restaurant, or even a Laundromat is going out of business, ask if they have anything they'd like to get rid of. Think light fixtures, tables, chairs, and other unique finds.
Ask about coupons.
When visiting home or department stores known for offering regular coupons, ask a cashier if they have any coupons that you can use.
Stock up on basic tools.
If you have tools on hand, you can take on easy decorating projects yourself. Buy a staple gun, staples, hammer, nails in at least three sizes, tape measure, leveling device, a power drill (worth saving up for), screwdriver (flat head and Phillips), sandpaper, paint brushes, rollers, paint stick (those are usually free at the paint store), and a jar of Mod Podge.
Update window treatments.
Slight alterations to curtains can transform an entire room. Add a thick red border to creamy white drapes; paint a wooden curtain rod a bright color.
Add new fixtures and update hardware.
If you can install fixtures yourself—a new pendant light for the dining room, a new faucet in the kitchen, lighting over the sink—you can easily make a positive change on the cheap. Swap out hardware on furniture and cabinetry.
Create your own wall art.
Turn favorite photos into great wall hangings. Enlarge and print out favorite photos; frame leftover fabric, wallpaper, or wrapping paper.