Cheap Decorating: Three Simple Hacks for Style on a Dime
Going for an affordable little spruce up? Not wanting to spend an entire weekend sanding down Grandma's old bureau? Here are three easy and cheap decorating ideas to add unexpected sass and style.
Hide a multitude of sins with the tablecloth of your choice.
Whatever you decorating style, there's a tablecloth to match. Damask for formal, sarongs for a more Bohemian twist, vintage embroidered pieces for the shabby chic approach and many other styles can be accomplished affordably. Even if you dish out full price, it'll still be less than paying big bucks for an expensive table. And you don't need a floor length cloth. Just one that goes half to three quarters of the way down the table legs will be enough to take the eye away from chewed up or chipped wood completely.
Our kitchen table is of a wood color and design that on its own looks quite dated. The formica covered top has kept that part of the table darker than the more weathered legs. But it's sturdy, has two removable inserts for larger sit down events and best of all, it was free. My parents bought this when I was in primary school and it's the main table I grew up with. My emotional attachment to this table ended some time ago and it's nearly been given away more than once. But you know what? I'm hard pressed to find a new one this sturdy.
My answer to the dated looking doldrums? A tablecloth. When I feel like formal holiday damask, that's what comes out of the linen closet. Rustic? I have a woodsy plaid one that occasionally makes an appearance. Most of the time though, I have a selection of hand stamped Persian style cloths I picked up at various souks in the Middle East over the years. I love them. They have tons of color and strike a reasonable balance between casual and dressy. What can I say? That tribal look just works for me.
The point however, is that you can really cheap it out with a tightwad spray paint makeover on nearly any dining or accent table you manage to pick up off the street corner on trash day. To come completely clean, I've even used up-ended cardboard and metal footlockers this way to put a statue or other accent piece on. Just snag an affordable covering or make one from a unique fabric remnant. Even if you don't sew, you can fringe the ends a half inch or so all the way around with a simple seam ripper from the notions department at your local chain department store.
When it comes to mouthwash, think outside the bottle.
This one sort of came to me by complete accident. A short while ago, we decided one night to move the wireless online TV watching upstairs. We were tired, but not ready to fall asleep and the dog was getting antsy. Since she calms down if we allow her a few minutes on the bed with us, it seemed like a win-win all the way around. The wine bottle, stopper and our goblets made their way up with us as well. Before we fell asleep, I moved the glasses and wine bottle to the nearest safe zone – the counter top in the master bathroom.
To make a short story long, I was wishing for some sort of classier looking reusable bathroom cup the next morning when I spied my empty wine glass. Thinking I'd won the same free ticket on the easy train as when I made my bar soap discovery, I poured in some mouthwash and gave it the old toss and slosh. On my way down to the sink bowl, I spied the bottle of wine with the glass topped stopper in it. Hmmnn . . . . you know, it looked kind of neat. Would this be another opportunity to turn garbage into gold and find myself a new use for old wine bottles?
In the end, I decided to go with my port wine decanter. It came with a three piece set we picked up for cheap in Europe. While I use the brandy ones for various things, I have to usually dig deep for a use for the tall thin one normally considered appropriate for port. (or so I've been told) So, once I've emptied the pomegranate liquor out on our next alternative martini night, it'll be making its way to our bathroom counter along with an extra wine glass or two. If this doesn't fit your taste, you could always go with the wine bottle idea or any other type of alternative container and cup combo that fits your particular style. Canning jar and enamel cup for the rustic look, colored bottle normally used for vinegar or bulk oil storage, paired with an interesting high ball glass . . . you get the idea. The idea here is to use what you have on hand to provide an element of the unexpected.
Create your own edible still life display with a classic bowl of fruit.
Actually, it could be vegetables too. Anything organic that you'll eventually eat is game. On our kitchen table I usually keep a huge round cobalt blue glass bowl I got years ago at Ikea. When the table is smaller, or I have extra fruit I want to put out on the counter, I have a smaller pedestal one in the same shade I've been known to use as well. Crystal, cut glass, wood, woven grass baskets, thrift store pottery finds and many other things can be used. Just make sure it looks reasonably nice and load it up. My personal favorite frugal combo is green apples, oranges or clementines and a bunch or two of bananas. Other seasonal items can be used as well. Peaches, grapes, avocados, acorn squash and cherries have all made the cut at one time or another at our house.
I think there are several reasons this works. First, who doesn't remember the still life assignments from art class? Natural light and organic elements always make for a winning combo. Also, a full fruit bowl just screams “abundance”. You feel it, you kids feel it and your guests feel it. So if you're looking to downsize and live with less, this is a great way to have the feel of “lots” without having lots of stuff. Last but not least, people feel at home when they can grab a little something to snack on that's clearly out for communal consumption, but isn't a fussy party food. It sort of sends a statement that hospitality is built into your lifestyle in a seamless and relaxed way. When an old friend stops by out of the blue, make your way to the fruit bowl with some bread, cheese and a bottle of wine. You'll have a relaxing lunch that's low on prep and high on quality catch up time.
Need a few other cheap decorating ideas? We have several resource articles right here on Wise Bread. Check out Sarah's posts on living room decorating and stocking the perfect love nest, Andrea's article on frugal painting or Joann's interesting post on decorating with industrial samples. A few others you might find of note?
- Affordable kitchen, bath and loft decorating ideas, including how to make a cheap DIY pot rack.
- Cheap decorating ideas for small spaces, sprucing up old crap or decorating on a dime.
- Using unexpected elements such as industrial shelving, extra coffee mugs and bandanas.
- How to have Campari art on the cheap.
Got another great decorating idea for figuring out frugal? Share the love in the comment section below.