So earlier this week on Instagram I posted the following photo and shared that I would be revealing my top tips for budget home decor and decorating your space without breaking the bank.
It was a sneak peak of a corner of my living room and it featured my newest decor items: My bowl accent chair and coordinating accent pillow (both from target)! Since moving to my studio, it was important for me to make my first solo apartment my own. Some of my friends and classmates are comfortable with a bare bones apartment, but since home is so far away (~3000 miles to be exact) it’s important that I create a home away from home out here in LA. Okay so on to the money saving tips… Here’s what I do to save money when decorating:
#1: CHECK OUT THE BACK TO SCHOOL/ DORM ESSENTIALS AISLES!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Target and Walmart and if you’re like me you can find yourself roaming the aisles with a cart filled with more than what you needed. When I go to these stores, I try my absolute hardest to not buy things I don’t need. But even though I’m not spending I ALWAYS browse the home aisles. Since back to school started my local Target and Walmart started stocking a bunch of dorm decor items.
When I was applying to college all the major home stores had dorm items in the same 3 color schemes: pink/magenta, green and blue. A few weeks ago, I was browsing Target and they had much more mature color options like cream, gray, and items with gold accents… aka my color scheme! But the key was I didn’t buy stuff right away. As back to school season is slowly ending and stores are ready to start putting out their fall/ halloween/ thanksgiving stock out, the back to school items are slowly going on sale. I was able to pick out this bowl chair and I found a cute gray decor pillow to match. And guess what?! Both were on clearance. I don’t think the pillow was part of the dorm room items but the chair definitely was.
I was hesitant at first because it reminded me of the dorm room furniture me and my friends had in college and I didn’t want my apartment to look like a dorm room suite. However, the pillow on top makes it more mature. Plus I plan on painting the legs cold to match my DIY gold & marble tables I made when I first moved in.
The dorm section also has more affordable options for things like storage bins, ottomans, lamps, desk accessories, shelving, and items to hang on the wall. Definitely check out the dorm section and also don’t forget to stop by the clearance and sale aisles as well.
Every once in a while I get a random flower delivery and it warms my soul deeply. But during the in between moments I still love having flowers on my coffee table. I know what you’re thinking… flowers are expensive, but I usually get mine from Trader Joe’s. They go for $2.99 and some of their deluxe bouquets are $3.99. My Trader Joe’s flowers always last at least one week and this one in the photo below has been going strong for even longer. $3×4 weeks is $12 a month for fresh flowers. Depending on your budget that may still be pricey so perhaps save it for when you’re entertaining or maybe just once a month. Either way, check out Trader Joe’s whenever you need a pick me up bouquet.
If you don’t want real flowers, you can find cheap fake flowers at stores like Michael’s (go online and make sure you screenshot the weekly coupon to use in-store), TJ Maxx, wholesale flower/ decor shops (If you’re in LA check out the flower district in DTLA), or even the dollar store. You can make a faux bouquet for about $10 or less and it never dies! Whether they’re real or fake, flowers are a perfect way to brighten up a space and just make the room feel fresh and airy.
Also a quick tip but IKEA has glass vases for literal cents. I also save vases from bouquets I receive, and I also save candle jars to repurpose them.
#3: DECLUTTER & CHANGE YOUR LAYOUT
I know this is not a real decor item, but you’d be surprised how much a little decluttering can help. My walk-in closet doesn’t have a door so whenever guests use the bathroom they can have a peak at my clutter and mess. I finally built up the strength to organize my closet. I got shelving for my shoes (on sale courtesy of… Target) and a sheer curtain panels for less than $5 from Big Lots to divide the space. I also got fabric cubes from Big Lots (they’re cheaper here than at Target) for my shelves to hold my extra hair products and workout clothes.
Since I’ve decluttered I feel like my closet is a new space and I don’t feel self conscious when guests see it. It was also a great way to repurpose items that may have been hiding and I found new ways to organize and store my items.
If you’re low on funds but looking to redecorate, I’d definitely start by rearranging a few things and switching up your layout and also removing the clutter. You’d be surprised by how much a good cleanup and reorganizing session can improve how you feel about your space.
So many people asked me where I get my furniture and honestly Craigslist has been my best friend. I ABSOLUTELY HATE assembling furniture especially IKEA items, so before I head to IKEA, I always search Craigslist. I live in a city that has a bunch of students and young professionals so I have found great deals from students or young adults moving to start a new job or something. The best part is the furniture is cheaper than what I’d pay at IKEA and it’s pre-assembled. My car doesn’t always fit the larger items but everyone was always nice enough to remove a few screws so I can transport the item in pieces. Trust me, rescrewing a few screws is much better than dealing with the IKEA instruction manual. As always be careful with Craigslist. Always bring someone with you if you can, don’t enter anyone’s home, and ask to meet during the day in public well lit spaces. If it feels shady, trust your gut and just move on. No deals are worth your safety.
Also, I regularly check Craigslist for a few CB2 pieces I have been eyeing (there is no way I’m paying full price for those). I found a few sellers but the item was either too worn or not cheap enough for me. I told myself that the peekaboo desk is mine if I can find someone selling one for super cheap. I ALWAYS check Craigslist by searching the site for the brand and model of the items I’m looking for. That’s how I found my VITTSJO shelf and coffee table for WAY less than retail.
Craigslist is also a good idea if you love DIY. I don’t feel as bad spray painting and repurposing furniture that I bought for way less than retail value.
#5: TJ MAXX/ HOMEGOODS/ ROSS/ BIG LOTS/ MARSHALLS
I have a few of these around me in LA so whenever I’m driving if I have extra time I always stop by to look (especially when I’m in the nicer areas!). I don’t always buy when I go, but by going often to check their stock I have a good idea as to what is available at these stores so when I need something I don’t need to shop around and I already know where to go. I am also familiar with a lot of prices of items that I am eyeing so if I see it elsewhere I know whether or not I’m getting a good deal. When I lived in NY, I knew exactly when my TJ Maxx got their shipments so I could always get the good stuff. Now that I’m in LA and I have less time and money to shop, so I don’t keep track of their shipments but I still try to take a look when I’m in the neighborhood.
#6: SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS
Listen people return policies exist for a reason. I am the QUEEN of returning things and I am unashamed. I do not have a problem getting my money back for things that don’t work for me or my home. Keep your receipts and know store policies. Many stores will take back things that have been opened so if you tried it and used it and hated it you usually have at least 2 weeks to bring it back. Of course this doesn’t apply to everything. And if worst comes to worst you can always resell on Craigslist. If you’re a student you can post in your class Facebook group or something to sell to your classmates.
I know this is a long post but I wanted to share a few of my money saving tips. When my friends come over they always question how much I’m spending to decorate but to their surprise I get a lot of things for super cheap. A little bit of patience, creativity, and a bit of luck with finding the sales has made my studio feeling less like a box and more like a home.
Interested in seeing what else I’ve been up to in my #StudioToHome journey? Check out my other home decor posts!