My Best Affordable Decorating Tips, in One Place!

Palm Leaf Stirrers // Raw Edge Dining Table // Jute Basket // Round Mirror // Brass Lamp // Sheepskin Rug // Ladder // Sisal Rug // Velvet Chair (comes in a ton of other colors too) // Parachute Bedding Set

This post has been in the works for a while but has taken me a shockingly long time to compile as I really wanted to track down great stuff for you… and have a lot to say! Also, when it comes to decorating, there is SO much bad stuff out there! I might sound snobby (sorry, I will at least admit it) but your home should be a place that makes you happy/inspired/soothed (whatever your objective may be)… you spend a lot of time there!

Decorating can be tricky and intimidating but it doesn’t have to be… it may be a challenge but it’s also FUN!

The first thing you want to do is figure out the overall flow of the apartment and where you want the big things to go. This took me forever when I moved into my new apartment and I struggled so much. The living area is pretty big and I wanted it to be conducive to entertaining. Did I want the dining area closer to the kitchen even though I’d probably use it less? How would I position my couches? This is silly but I was stressed! This article was really helpful for me in determining a flow. The next thing is to buy the big, core items first (rugs, dining table, bed, couches) -and then go from there. It can be so tempting to buy art and accent pieces at the beginning but don’t do it!!! Once you see the big stuff in the space, everything changes!

Once you have the big stuff down, I like to add texture wherever possible. Pillows, throw blankets, Moroccan style poufs… I put these sheepskins over the backs of chairs and on either side of my bed. I’m also a big fan of using vertical space where possible. Like adding a ladder to your wall to store throw blankets (or towels in the bathroom, or even magazines). And BOOKS! I have books all over the place. I pile them up as though they were just for decoration. I have friends who go to old bookstores + thrift just to source the perfect color books, but I personally have so many books that I don’t need any help adding to my collection. (I keep them all on two of these bookcases which I love as they look like tall piles of books). And I love coffee table books. I pile them everywhere – on the floor, on my coffee table (duhr), nightstands, etc. You can’t have enough books!

A few resources/lines I love that won’t break the bank:

  • Nate Berkus for Target – his stuff is always good. It’s gender neutral and the quality is great for the price!
  • Rivet – this is Amazon’s mid century furniture line and the pieces are actually really, really strong. They have some cool art, too.
  • eBay – vintage is better – and usually cheaper!!! Almost all of my glassware comes from eBay… and I’ve found a lot of really cool accessories there (think vintage trays, ice buckets, barware, etc.)
  • World Market – love their stuff! It’s a bit more bohemian than my personal style but I have still found a ton of stuff I really love.
  • Parachute Home – affordable(ish) bedding. The quality is really good for the price. I am really particular about art and bedding. I could share some less expensive options but I wouldn’t feel good about it. I personally really love the linen set (in white) it’s elegant but still casual (and looks better rumpled.)

Rugs

I absolutely love Rugs USA!!! I have three of these 8×10 sisal rugs… one in my bedroom, one centered under the dining table, one under the couches and I really like them. They are super soft to walk on, easy to vacuum, and also the same color as Tyrion which is convenient. I love them. I also LOVE Etsy. This shop has the most beautiful rugs from Turkey and they ship surprisingly quickly!!!

Art

Art is the last step and in my opinion the most important (and most fun) part. I have a strict rule against chain store art. I just can’t do it. To be totally honest, I’ve spent more money on my art than my furniture and I know that probably feels crazy to many of you but art is important to me. I am slowly building a little collection and am really proud of it! That being said, you can still boycott chain store art and not spend a ton of money.

  • Wallpaper! You may remember I framed my Hunt Slonem bunny wallpaper. Buy the minimum amount of wallpaper and have it framed. For mine I ended up wanting custom frames (the bright yellow is so fun!) and ended up spending a small fortune on framing but I’m glad I did.
  • Fabrics. Have a fabric or a pattern you adore? Buy a large canvas and stretch your fabric. You can do this with a staple gun.
  • To make very modern (un f*ckupable) art, buy a large canvas and paint it a single color. Extra credit for doing an ombre wash of color.
  • This is totally cheating and something I feel guilty about (it feels akin to illegally downloading music?) but… oh well I am just going to tell you. If you find images you love, do a reverse google image search (upload the image into google images) and find the largest size version of the image. Save that image and upload it into Framebridge and have it printed + framed. Or if you don’t want to “cheat,” find images on a free site like Unsplash. Unsplash’s images are HUGE so you can blow them up quite large. (I really love this – it looks like a Gray Malin photo!)
  • Want original art but on a tight budget? This site sounds amazing. I haven’t used it yet but you can commission an artist to create original art in line with your budget.
  • Buy prints from up and coming and/or local artists! This is where I plug my dear friend Aly’s print shop – they’re gorgeous!
  • Chairish literally JUST launched a gorgeous print shop and it’s packed with cool stuff. I shop at Chairish a lot for vintage finds and really love this lips print + this pair of prints that would look so good together side by side.

Random Other Things:

  • Making a pinboard really helps – to see how everything looks together… and also, to keep track of things you like! Here’s my pinboard from my apartment!
  • Swapping out hardware on cabinets makes a big difference. I swapped out all the silver knobs in my kitchen for these.
  • When looking at less expensive furniture, look at the bones and think about potential! If something isn’t perfect, you can always fix it (for example, I saw a lot of benches on Target where I didn’t like the finish of the legs. You can easily paint those.) For my patio I bought these terrible looking metal black chairs for $25 each. I spray painted them rose gold and voila – they were suddenly fab.

Leave a Comment

Comments

  1. Thank you for your suggestions! I love the items you linked as well, they all have such a similar airy, whimsical vibe. The colour palette is beautiful! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Catherine says 2.28.18

    For free, non-copyright-infringing images, I highly suggest the Library of Congress. It has tons of high res images of all kinds of things – the collection of old maps is particularly great.

  3. Emily says 2.28.18

    This post could not have come at a better time! We just bought our first house and I am looking for all the design inspo. Love that Etsy rug shop – gorgeous!
    xo,
    Em
    http://www.organicallyemily.com

  4. Sarah says 2.28.18

    This is super helpful, Grace! Thanks for linking to all these great resources and sharing your decorating ideas. I particularly love your idea of framing wallpaper!

    Sarah
    http://allindetailsblog.com/

  5. Melissa says 2.28.18

    I have that same rug and it is SO great. Going to grab another one for my bedroom when I move 🙂

    Perfect timing with this post! I’m remodeling the condo I just bought and definitely need new furnishings, but I don’t want to completely run out of $$$. These are great resources–thanks!

  6. Nikki says 2.28.18

    I generally love your blog and appreciate the tips above. However, as a full-time working photographer, I’m disappointing that you’re suggesting people download art from the internet, rather than paying an artist for something they really love.

    As Catherine mentions, you can reach out to the Library of Congress for great images that don’t infringe on copyright. You can also google “royalty free images” to stay within proper bounds of usage.

    • grace at the stripe says 2.28.18

      I hear you and totally understand the feedback. In my case it was older works by dead photographers which were impossible to find (like my Norman Parkinson). I would never download / print art from something that was readily/easily available for purchase… but I understand what you’re saying. I’m sorry!

  7. Em_c_nola says 2.28.18

    Thanks for this! I have been afraid to buy a sisal rug online because I’m afraid it will be too scratchy…thanks for the tried-and-true recommendation!

  8. Sarah Morgan says 2.28.18

    I just ordered these lamps! I love the look and so many of the other lamps i have looked at are ridiculously huge. I am excited to try these! Thanks for the recos- per usual!

  9. KM says 2.28.18

    Looove this post. Would definitely be interested in seeing more like this!

  10. Theodora says 2.28.18

    I love the decorating convos that have been in your FB group, too — they’ve been so helpful! I’m doing an apartment refresh, and MAN is it helping my mental state! Doing little things like changing out the hardware does totally help — and Anthro has some awesome drawer pulls/knobs. I love your art ideas, too. Right now I only have some random whimsical prints I got on Etsy + a Lilly Pulitzer painting I happened to win in a raffle a few years ago but am totally looking to expand.

    • grace at the stripe says 2.28.18

      Right? Those have been so much fun!!!!

      Decorating is the most fun… can’t wait to see how your space turns out! Please post photos to the community page when it’s finished! 😉

  11. Cy says 2.28.18

    We want the tour of your apartment ! This is a tease. Pretty please? Fun post

  12. Cy says 2.28.18

    Love my Sisel rug, from Rugs, USA and it was on sale, a great price! Thanks for the tip

  13. Ellie says 2.28.18

    Love these sources! I haven’t heard of Rivet and it looks awesome!!

    Another easy/affordable print idea is to download from Jenny’s Print Shop. The file is $15 or $20 and you can print whatever size you want and frame. They also retire prints and add prints, so not everyone has the same thing. Plus I love everything Jenny Komenda does.

    • grace at the stripe says 2.28.18

      Thanks Ellie! I LOVE Jenny’s prints – great suggestion! x

      • Ellie says 3.1.18

        Why thank you! I bought the now retired RAINBOW (a photo of the Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs) to print and frame for my husband for our first anniversary in a few weeks. We stayed there during part of our honeymoon and I figured if I print it on paper, it counts 😉

  14. Cy says 2.28.18

    I would also say, etsy is a great resource. After price comparisons on sites like, One Kings Lane, I’ve found identical vintage items for much, much less on etsy. Love eBay too!

  15. Betsy says 3.1.18

    This is great advice! I lived in A LOT of spaces in the 20 years between leaving for college and getting married – I’ve done all of your affordable art suggestions! Except in the days before the internet and Google image search, I went to the National Gallery and took photographs (with my disposable camera) then framed the photos. I’ve also framed more greeting cards than I care to count.

    I also second Rugs USA – such a great resource! I discovered them through a design blog several years ago and have never been disappointed.

    Would love to see more home posts like this – it was fun to read and you did a great job.

  16. Becca says 3.1.18

    This post was perfect! I love when bloggers post affordable items. I sure can’t afford my entire home by PB/Crate & Barrel and more so this is super refreshing.

  17. Ali says 3.20.18

    Hi Grace! Thank you so much for this post! I have been trying to decorate our new home. Please forgive me if you’ve linked these in the past, but I saw your dining chairs in a recent Instagram story. Do you mind telling me which ones they are? That would be wonderful!