20 Low-Cost Decorating Ideas
Canvas the Area
Hang canvases painted with interior latex paint to brighten blank walls. Think big: The canvases should fill the wall.
Create a Side Table
Stack modular storage units (from $22, amazon.com) to make a stepped side table with surfaces for displays and lighting. Create miniature still lifes in the cubbies, or stack reading material that you’re going to get to...someday.
Plates in unexpected colors make a fresh wall arrangement. Vary hues (within a family), sizes, textures. Put the most dramatic plate toward the center (lay out the plates first to experiment); attach wire plate hangers and hang plates on picture nails.
Lighten Up With Wicker
Inexpensive wicker that looks as if it belongs outdoors changes the mood of any room. Put chairs in a sunny corner of their own or mix them with your upholstered pieces.
Make Your Own Art
Even photocopied art looks sophisticated when it floats between two pieces of glass in Umbra’s Document Frames (from $13, umbra.com). The wall color shows through the glass, creating the illusion of a custom mat.
A variation on the idea: Make use of mittens missing their mates. Cut felt to fit the backing of the frame ($24 each, mtsframes.com), then use craft glue to adhere the felt. Center the mitten on the felt and glue it down; let dry overnight.
Use shells and other beach bounty to warm up a kitchen, an entryway, or a stairwell by creating a rustic, relaxed display.
Add interest to a store-bought lamp shade with the help of ribbon, glue, and an eye chart. (Print one for free online, then have it enlarged at a copy center.)
Fake a Headboard
An easy paint project: Create a trompe l’oeil headboard. Cost: about $20 and zero floor space. For how-tos, see Paint a Faux Headboard.
Hang a Gallery of Photos
Mine your albums for your best shots (pick a theme: weddings, birthday parties, vacations) and put them in identical frames. Hang in a tight grid or a long line—you can’t go wrong if you stick to a geometric arrangement.
Reflect Your Style
Define a space—here, a foyer—with a mirror that adds both drama and light. This one is a hand-me-down dressed up with one coat of spray paint.
Bring in Shades of Colors
Colored lamp shades can make a bold statement. Limit the colors to one per room, and select other lamp shades in neutral tones, such as parchment and white.
Stack Your Books
Piled books draw the eye. If shelves aren’t high enough or deep enough to accommodate oversize books, stack them on a flat surface, such as a bench or an end table.
Candles look best when massed, particularly on a spacious surface, like a coffee table; the larger the surface, the larger the candles should be. Group four or five pillars of different heights (same color) in glass containers.
No matter the season, your bedroom will look springlike year-round with floral sheets or pillowcases paired with crisp white linens. Pick patterns with white backgrounds to keep florals harmonious. Drape bedside tables with vintage floral tablecloths or white matelassé runners.
Bring the Outdoors In
Lend an entryway an earthy vibe with a coatrack made from found materials. Using polyurethane-based glue (such as Gorilla glue), attach a stone to the end of a wooden drawer knob, then screw each knob into a plank of wood.
Rickety seating can be given a second life as a bedside table. If there’s a hole in the caning, place a tray on the chair to hold an alarm clock, a reading lamp, etc.
Pump Up the Color
Perk up a dull room with vibrant hits of a color like green. Though this space is accessorized generously with the shade (starting with the big burst in the rug), even something as subtle as green blossoms can add pop.
Showcase a Collection
In the months when your fireplace goes unlit, use it to display a collection of vases or other objects. Gather similar pieces, staying in a simple palette, in a variety of heights and shapes.
Amplify Your Space
Tight spaces expand and rooms seem roomier when you prop up a large mirror (at least three-fourths as tall as the wall). It’s a classic interior decorator’s trick to create instant―if not real―square footage.