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How To Furnish and Decorate On A Budget

Decorating and furnishing a space are two very different things, but they go hand in hand. An analogy that helps me is that your furniture is like the main parts of an outfit (shirt, pants, jacket, etc.) while the decorations are like your accessories. You can over-decorate just like you could over-accessorize, so it’s important to know when to stop. 

Analyze What You Own

Before we begin thinking about buying new things, take a minute to make a physical or mental list of what you already own. It should be pretty obvious, but seeing if there are things you have that can be repainted, upholstered, or turned into something new is a great place to start. Some examples are:

  • Dyeing a couch or chair cover
  • Reupholstering a headboard or ottoman
  • Repainting your nightstand, table, dining chairs, dresser, or other hard furniture

These are also things to keep in mind when buying items. You can always repaint things and change their outer appearance pretty easily.  

Do Some Research

When decorating a space, it’s nice to have an idea of what you’re going for. I recommend heading to Pinterest and creating a few different boards with different aesthetics you like. Pay attention to the colors and textures and take note of what you’d like to replicate in your space. I also recommend physically drawing your space (as best as you can) from a bird’s eye view of where you want furniture. Take measurements of everything so when you’re shopping you know what will fit and what won’t fit in your space. 

Make A List

Based on what you found on Pinterest, make a list of items you want to try and find or recreate and put them into these categories: Furniture, large decor items (wall hangings, rugs, etc.), small decor items, and DIY decor (things you think you could actually make). From there, put a star or circle items you absolutely want that would make the space. These will be items to prioritize. For me, these things are usually furniture and/or large decor items because they make a bigger difference in the space compared to smaller items. 

Set a budget

Setting a budget and sticking to it can be really tricky. If you can, I recommend setting aside your budget amount in cash and only pulling from this when you’re buying items for your space. This has helped prevent overspending in the past.

Thrift First

Now you’re ready to start shopping! To save the most money, head to your local thrift stores to start. They usually have a ton of items that are in good condition and might just need a coat of paint or deep cleaning. I was able to find a coffee table for $10 and a nightstand for $7! There are specific days where furniture will be on sale, so look on the website before you go so you can save as much as possible. If there are flea markets near you, I recommend going to see if you can find anything that could work! Flea markets have a huge selection of vendors. While farmer’s markets are generally food-focused, they sometimes will have smaller vendors who sell home goods. However, these can be pricier since they’re usually handmade and unique items.

CHECK Facebook Marketplace

Next, I recommend looking on Facebook Marketplace for your items. Usually, people are more open to lowering their price here if you can convince them. If you’re looking locally, you might be able to save on shipping by picking up the item yourself. Just be safe and take a friend with you to help! 

Ask Facebook Groups

Similar to the marketplace, there are groups on Facebook specifically for furniture or trading items. The “Buy Nothing” group is one I’m in. Everyone lists items for free/trade and the person who listed it picks who they want to have it. In the “CU Boulder Class of 2022-2025” pages, people often sell furniture at the end of the year or sometimes at the end of the semester. You can always ask and see if anyone has a specific item you’re looking for they’re willing to sell.


I know DIYing isn’t for everyone, but home decor is one of those things that just makes sense to do yourself. Some of my favorite DIY and home decor channels are Lone Fox, Tina Le, XO, MaCenna, and Hermione Chantal. When you can create your own wall art and decor, not only is it something you made, but the cost of materials is going to be a lot less than if you were to buy it. 


IKEA is great for having a wide selection of items for every space. Because these stores are so large, I recommend looking online first to see if the things you want are in stock and if you can ship them to the store for pickup (save money on shipping costs when you can). However, I love a good IKEA trip, so if you can convince a few friends to come along you can make a fun day trip out of it! Their smaller home decor items are reasonably priced for what you’re getting and you’ll most likely find those random decor items that you weren’t able to find elsewhere.

HomeGoods and TJ Maxx

If you still haven’t found the items you want, TJ Maxx and HomeGoods are my last recommendation because they have a very large selection of items for reasonable prices. These stores can get a bit hectic, so if you have the time I recommend taking time to really go through each aisle and see if there’s anything on your lists.

Some of the most important things when redecorating a space are to stick with your budget, work with what you have, and be patient! Space transformations usually don’t happen overnight, and you’ll do a lot of rearranging until you find a layout that flows well for you. Be intentional with your purchases and placement and everything will work out in the end!

Hannah Curran

CU Boulder '22

Hannah is a Junior studying Creative Technology and Design. She is passionate about website development, graphic design, digital art, and of course, writing! Hannah also has her own sticker business, @whoishan!
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