15 Home Decorating Ideas for Under $5

by Janey Osterlind on 18 May 2011 7 comments
Photo: nasrulekram

I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to change up my home décor — whether it be to change with the seasons, for an upcoming holiday, or just an overall update. Constant change, though, can get expensive. So to keep the cost low while also keeping my inner decorating diva satisfied, I’ve come up with my top 25 decorating ideas for under $5. (See also: 25 Great Gifts for $5 or Less)

Great Hang-Ups

Using some items you probably already have around the house and a few inexpensive dollar-store items can yield some spectacular wall art. Try these ideas to spruce up the walls.

1. Floating Invisible Bookshelf

Use old books and some L-brackets to create a floating shelf for vases or, well, other books.

2. Cork Wreath

I’ve covered this one before in 10 Ways to Reuse Common Household Items, but wreaths are easy DIY decorations that yield maximum style for minimum cost. All you need are wine corks and a foam wreath from a craft store. Or, as an alternative, try this ultra-cute paper wreath.

3. Garland

Use holiday cards or some of your favorite photos, some ribbon, and clothespins to create a decorative garland.

4. Plates or Records

Hang visually interesting plates or several vinyl records on your wall using adhesive disc plate hangers.

Keep It Natural

The beauty of using natural materials to decorate your home is that the materials are free and plentiful! Try collecting some items from nature and pairing them with inexpensive items to change up your decor.

5. Pinecone Centerpiece

Fill three jars, vases, or hurricanes with pinecones in the winter. Arrange in the center of your table for a beautiful, seasonal centerpiece.

6. Shell Bookends

Pick up two large shells on your next beach vacation (if you’re lucky enough to take one!) to use as beachy bookends. Tun, whelk, or conch (yes, I know they’re rare) work best for this.

7. Seashell Soap Dish

Make a simple soap dish a piece of art by affixing a large clam or scallop shell (the dish portion) to a smaller shell (the base).

8. Natural Wall Art

Make a statement wall hanging by suspending a piece of driftwood or birch branch from the wall. Screw drywall screws into the wood, wrap picture hanging wire around the screws, and suspend from wall hooks.

9. Dried Grass Centerpiece

Fill an assortment of vases or glasses with dried grass purchased from your local craft store. Tie each bundle with a ribbon and arrange vases on a mantle or use several down the center of a dining table.

Picture This

I love using picture frames to decorate the walls in my home, and I often pick up inexpensive frames from garage sales or the dollar store. You don't need to put just family photos in your frames, though — try thinking outside the box with some of these ideas.

10. Letter Art

In recent years, it has become popular to make art out of a series of photos of objects that look like letters of the alphabet, spelling out a word or name. Try snapping your own series to spell out your last name and proudly displaying the results on your wall. Print the photos inexpensively using Shutterfly or Snapfish.

11. Earring Organizer

Similar to the shadowbox idea above, use a picture frame (minus the glass) to display earrings as artwork. Stick flat-head pushpins into the back of the frame and use those to string picture wire or fishing wire horizontally across. Hang the frame and then hang earrings from the wire.

12. Word Art

I thought a gift I received from a friend years ago was ingenious as well as inexpensive. She simply printed off the definition of the word “Grace,” highlighted and bolded the word, and framed it for me. Try doing the same with a meaningful word or phrase, like “peace,” “believe,” or one of your favorite quotes. Or, as an alternative, frame one of the pages of a favorite book (I would frame the first page of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, for example).

13. Shadowbox

Pick up a cheap photo frame from a dollar store or thrift store and toss the glass. Hang the picture on your wall and use it to frame something with some texture to add visual interest to an otherwise dull wall. Try framing dried flowers or some meaningful mementos from a trip, like a few photos, plane tickets, and cardboard coasters from a bar or restaurant you visited.

14. Wallpaper Art

Frame a wallpaper sample or fabric remnant. Try framing multiple pieces of the same pattern, with patterns facing different directions in each frame.

15. Good Fortune, Good Art

Ever get a fortune in your fortune cookie that you think is incredibly clever or speaks to you? Try framing the tiny scrap of paper. Putting a mat and frame around such a small object creates a more dramatic effect.

What do you all think? Any ideas you’re going to try here, or any decorating ideas for under $5 you’d add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Guest's picture
Suzanne Favreau

I especially love the word art idea; it's fabulous!

Guest's picture
Rita

We check out three pieces of art from our local library every three months. You can renew them for up to 9 months total. Right now we have a Van Gogh, a Renoir, and a Seurat!

Meg Favreau's picture

Wow, I've never heard of that -- your library lets you check out framed art? So cool!

Guest's picture

My mom loves pine cone ceterpieces. To spruce hers up (no pun intended), she uses decorative ribon or gauzy material in between the pine cone layers. Once she added glass beads to an especially tightly packed vase of pine cones. It was beautiful.

My favorite inexpensive decorating tip is framing book covers. Some of the hard cover books I've picked up over the years have truly great cover art. I frame them using inexpensive frames from thirft stores or the dollar store, and hang them on my white apartment walls (how I *wish* we could paint, ah well) for a bit of color.

Mikey Rox's picture

The floating invisible bookshelf is fantastic! Thanks for sharing that.

Guest's picture
Kathleen

Old maps or maps from atlases, especially if they're ancestry themed, make cool art!

Guest's picture
Patty

I just framed a grouping of coordinated scrapbook papers...in 12"x12" plain black frames. Looks impressive for less than a dollar per sheet. Illustrated children's books make nice art for kiddos.