It's easy to get overexcited in perfectly-merchandised décor stores: The shelves are neatly packed with color-coded pillows, decorative boxes, throw blankets, and flickering candles with scents that make us want to own each one. As you wander around the elegant leather sofas and perfectly styled vignettes, you might find yourself daydreaming about what your space could look like if you brought it all home—collections of vintage pottery, stacks of coffee table books, and more. But there are ways to style your home without breaking the bank: And interior designers know the best tricks. Rather than succumbing to the irresistible appeal of our favorite décor stores, keep it economically savvy while designing your home to the max.
Below, learn interior design tips for affordable room décor to upgrade your space and say goodbye to splurging.
Save on Indoor Plants
"Don't bother splurging on indoor plants, because you may end up heartbroken," says interior designer Katherine Carter. "I'm not saying don't buy them, but don't import olive trees from Italy unless you are royalty—chances are you will be disappointed." Carter notes that many species of plants won't thrive in an indoor setting, so instead of choosing more expensive types, find plants on a budget. "A great option that won't break your bank account (and give you peace of mind when your beloved fig tree starts to wilt) is to purchase from Home Depot. They will offer a return, even if the plant is literally a stump. Just remember to keep your receipt," she says.
Change Small Elements, Not the Entirety
If you're growing tired of your current designs, pick a few small elements to make a change. For example, when your bedding starts to feel tired, don't splurge on a whole new duvet and sheet set—just add a few throws to completely refresh the vibe. The right throw blankets can make a room feel like an entirely different space, and you'll be surprised by how much you can save while indulging in a brand-new design.
Don't Splurge on Bath Towels
Skip the designer brands in favor of plush towels that won't break the bank. "I buy all of my bath towels at Target," says interior designer Max Humphrey. "They're $15 each and super soft. I have a closet full of them and can afford to restock if I have guests staying for the weekend. I'm convinced they're the same exact 'Egyptian cotton' towels that high-end bath companies sell for three times the price."
When you're getting drawn in by the brand-new furniture at your favorite décor store, take a step back to think of what you already have. It's likely that the perfect piece for the space you're styling is already in your home—it's just not being used for the same purpose. By placing it in a different area, you can save on new items and refresh your space with pieces you already love.
Skip Expensive Décor for Living Style
"I used to go all-out finding little decorative objects that cost a fortune and ended up in the junk drawer," says Humphrey. "Now I just buy houseplants if I need to fill a corner of a room or the surface of a table. You can get a lot of bang for your buck, and they look great in any style of home."
Don't Forget the Rug
Rugs are notorious for being some of the most expensive types of home décor, but you don't have to break the bank to find the perfect piece for your space. Rather than shopping at designer stores (or even buying rugs brand-new at brick-and-mortar shops), browse rug outlets online to find beautiful textiles waiting for a new home. Stores like Target, Apt 2B, and even Urban Outfitters are popular choices for their discounted rugs with vibrant, unique patterns.
Switch Décor Stores
"Whether you buy small accessories at HomeGoods or Target (both great options!), these pieces don't need to be expensive to add that 'lived-in' feel," says L.A.-based interior designer Amy Elbaum. "This is an area of design where it is important to just buy what catches your eye. That way, you can easily move around small accessories to continue to give your space a fresh look."
Find Baskets on a Budget
It can seem surprising, but time and time again, storage baskets cost more than we'd hope. Similar to rugs, lightly-used baskets can usually be found at local stores or antique malls—so the next time you're eyeballing that woven masterpiece at a designer store, stop by the thrift shop (or even Target and Homegoods) to find the perfect storage solution for your favorite items.
Grow Your Own Décor
If you're a plant parent to some beautiful greenery, propagate plants that you already have to use as décor throughout your home. Rather than spending money on new species, take a few cuttings from your favorite mature plants to create new growth. Many types can grow to maturity in a relatively short time, but even if it takes a few months to develop a new plant, part of the fun is the accomplished feeling when your new blooms take root.
Liven up Your Furniture
Instead of dreaming about new furniture when you're getting tired of your design, try livening up your current pieces with new accents. If your living room feels a bit bare, buy a few affordable throw blankets and pillows to spruce up your sofa. Mix and match different styles for a refreshed feeling that gives your space new life without stressing your wallet.
Decorate Affordable Nurseries in Style
"No need to splurge on your baby's new nursery bedding, since they won't stay a bambino forever," says Carter, who notes that organic crib bedding is now available from affordable brands. "Purchase bedding from economical places like Land of Nod or Pottery Barn Kids, and don't forget to check out Etsy. There are hundreds of baby bedding shops on Etsy that are one-of-a-kind, which will also give your nursery a non-cookie-cutter look."
Design With What You Have
One of the best tips we've learned from interior designers is to style your space with things you already have: Whether it's a collection of books, antique photographs, or small decorative items, often a space only needs a bit of rearranging to feel brand-new. Give your rooms a fresh face by switching up the décor and pulling out your favorite items to display front and center.
Thrift a Gallery Wall
"There's a misconception that just because a piece of art costs a lot of money, it's automatically better than an inexpensive piece," says Humphrey. "For me, it's all about buying stuff that is meaningful, regardless of the price tag. All of the artwork on the gallery wall at my last apartment was either found at thrift stores or cutouts from magazines, vintage book covers, or old vinyl records I had framed. The assortment is what made it special, and I didn't spend more than $50 on a single piece."
Dry Decorative Plant Leaves
We're big fans of dried eucalyptus and other lush leaves, but fresh and faux leaves alike can be pricey when you're looking for a bundle. Instead of buying them already dried, try your hand at drying your own eucalyptus and fresh plants to use as décor in your home. Like propagating plants, the fun is in the project—and you'll be proud that your space is styled with something that's all your own.
Some species of plants dry out better than others, so once you've chosen the one you'd like to decorate with, learn the best methods for drying specific types of leaves to make beautiful displays throughout your home.
Rethink the Throw Pillows
"Pillows are a great way to transform a space to follow the seasons or the trends," says Chicago-based designer Donna Mondi. Interior designers love to change up their décor often, and pillows are an easy way to keep up with the seasons: "Treat throw pillows like you do your coats, shoes, and scarves—seasonally," says Elbaum. "Decorative pillows can be found at great prices, and can easily be changed out to coordinate with the time of year. Think faux fur and velvets in the winter, and bright prints and light linens in the summer."
Mix-Match Kitchen Sets
A kitchen set with character doesn't have to be purchased all-in-one at the same time: In fact, a great way to add personality to your kitchen is to mix and match pieces from various sets that work together. This is a great opportunity to showcase your family favorites, or to curate a collection over time with individual pieces you love. As long as they're of the same relative size, a mix-matched kitchen set can fit together for a unique look that expresses your style.
Skip the Designer Lighting
Lighting can get expensive. Whether you're looking for statement pendant lights for the dining area or even a few table lamps to brighten your living room, designer fixtures are often out of the budget. But thankfully, there are plenty of options for attractive lights of all different styles. Browse stores like IKEA for pendant light and lamp covers—from boho to modern, traditional, or minimalistic—that can upgrade your space on a dime. Swap out old covers for pieces with a flair of your new style.
DIY a Living Room Bar Cart
"Why waste money on a bar cart when you can just use the top of a credenza in your living room or a shelf on a bookcase?" says Humphrey. "Clear off some space, buy a cool tray, and arrange your booze (or fancy lemon soda) right on top. It's decorative, casual, and you can use the extra money to buy some vintage glassware." For Mondi, this rule applies not only to your bar cart, but also to the accessories it contains. "To mimic the bar-cart look while keeping splurging to a minimum, mix in a few more affordable vintage items," she says. "Antique markets are full of gorgeous cocktail sets at fantastic prices. You can also raid your grandmother's china cabinet."
Upgrade Your Storage
Are your daily necessities piled into drawers or arranged in mismatched bins? Whether it's your bathroom toiletries, clothing accessories, or even your favorite kitchen items, upgrading your storage for smaller things you use regularly can make a bold change in the feel of your space. In this bathroom, cotton balls and Q-tips are removed from their original packaging to create an attractive display on the counter (and save space under the cabinets). Find a set of glass storage containers to organize your necessities in style.
Stray From Expensive Wallpaper
Like lighting and rugs, wallpaper can become pricey when you're looking at designer styles—but there are plenty of affordable options for wallpaper that can bring vibrance to your space. Removable wallpaper is also a great choice for adding a few pope of personality on a budget (and it's especially helpful for apartment dwellers). Whether you opt for permanent or temporary styles, look for patterns with colors that complement the décor in the room's overall design.