7 Steps for styling a room on a minimal budget

7 Steps for styling a room on a minimal budget

Ever since I can remember i’ve had a love affair with interior design, which to a large extent I have my parents to thank for (thanks guys).

As a kid, they’d take me along on these epic DIY adventures – We’d go to paint shops, tile shops, plant nurseries, garden shows, furniture stores, building supply stores, kitchen expos, the list goes on. Basically, if it was DIY related in any shape or form we’d be there!

I’d find myself walking through the isles of these stores, imagining my home growing up, what it would look like, what it would feel like. I got so excited by what could be, I got hooked.

This early obsession wasn’t without it’s troubles however..

There was the time I dug up my friend’s mum’s perfectly good garden and ‘redecorated it’, the time I lost a friend to boredom as I played ‘changing rooms’ and spent the day tidying her room, or the time my 6-year-old self stole an ornament from an antique store because I thought it would look great in my bright purple bedroom… thankfully overtime i’ve learnt to hold myself back, well just.

Roll the clock forward to 2017, and I land in Europe. I’m moving around, going from Workaway to Housesit, to Airbnb and i’m missing that itch – the itch to make something, dress a room, and be in something I helped create.

So to help with the itch, instead of being my 6-year-old self and gunning ahead I asked the owners of these homes I was staying in “can I decorate one room in your house using the items you have?”, not expecting many people to abide, surprisingly they did!

A lot of these homes were beautiful but they lacked a little aesthetic attention, which I knew I could give them with a little time and freedom.

So off I went, digging into cupboards, attics, drawers, rearranging, moving and organising. The results I was pleasantly surprised with!

Above are some examples of spaces I decorated during this time, mostly with items either found in the homes themselves or that I made. It really goes to show it doesn’t take a lot of money to create something beautiful. To see more of the before & afters you can view on my Instagram here.

Taking learnings from my own experiences and to help you with your own interior adventures, here are my 7 steps for styling a space on a minimal budget:

1. Pick a room:

  • Pick one room in your house that you’d like to redecorate.
  • Take ‘before’ photos (Something I wish I’d done more of to demonstrate progress)
  • Now clear it out. Take items away and strip it back to its bare bones. You don’t have to remove all items (i.e. larger items like a couch or a bed) but removing smaller items will help to give you a neutral space.
  • Now that you’ve done this step, take a breath and sit in the space, give yourself a chance to connect with it again.
  • Move on to step number 2.

2. Define your vision for the space:

  • While you’re in the room get a pen and write down your answers to these questions:
  • What does the room feel like now, and why?
  • Why do you want to change it?
  • What do you want the room to feel like?
  • What will it be used for?
  • What style do you like? (You can use a Pinterest board to help with this – If you’re into a bit of boho style, here is an example of my own Pinterest vision board.

3. Write a list:

  • Review your vision for the room and channel this into a list of things you’d like to have in your room, such as a shelf for books, a desk for writing, or a cosy nook to read in.
  • As you’re writing your list think what things can you utilise that you already own? (point 4 will help with this).
  • Remember keep it simple, you don’t need 15 cushions or 20 candles and you can always build on it later.

4. Utilise what you have:

  • Now that you have a clear space, a vision, and a list of the things you’d like it’s time to refine your list.
  • Review everything on your list and have a look around your home to see if there’s anything you already own that you can utilise, instead of buying new.
  • These are the cushions, throws, candles, frames, lamps, books and artwork that you’ve placed into drawers, behind the couch and in the spare wardrobes over the years.
  • Can these be repurposed? Can these complement the look you’re going for?
  • You’d be amazed at how an old item can look completely new in a new space, or reinvigorated with a coat of paint.

5. Set a budget:

  • Now that you have a list, it’s time to create a budget.
  • For each item on your list put this into a spreadsheet, and give it an allocated amount. Doing this will give you an overall estimated cost, which you can refine if you find those 10 candles mean you’re going over your budget.
  • Think carefully about your budget, how much can you realistically afford? And If you do plan on buying any big-ticket items on credit, set yourself up a payment plan to make sure you can realistically pay it off before you swipe your card.
  • Have this number finalised before you go any further.  

6. Do your research:

  • For bigger-ticket items like electricals and furniture you want to do your research
  • Have a look online to see what’s out there, identify the products you like the look of and  take a look at the reviews, who’s selling it and at what price.
  • Update your budget for these line-items once you know the price, and you know where you’re going to get them from.
  • For more artful objects like paintings, candles, antiques, frames etc have a think about the stores you like, and check-in with your vision board  to ensure they align to the look you’re going for.

6. Go shopping:

  • Now that you have your budget and you know what items you’re going to buy, it’s time to go shop!
  • Big ticket items should be the first on your list, and more artful objects can be discovered as you go.
  • Second-hand artful objects can be great finds! Check out your local second-hand stores, or online stores like Ebay, Gumtree and Trademe.
  • For DIY supplies like paint, wood, and fabrics check out your local supply store and don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. 9 times out of 10 they’ll be more than happy to make you a discounted offer.
  • Be patient. You may want to buy everything all at once, but by having this mindset you’ll likely make rushed decisions, buy more than you can afford, and items you don’t love. Take it slow.

7. The fun part, putting it all together!

  • Now that you have your items, it’s time for the fun part.
  • Start with the big items – the furniture, the rugs, the shelves etc, and set up the room the way you want it to be.
  • Now have some fun, lay out all the smaller items in a space nearby and have a play. Dress the couch, set up the shelf, take photos, and experiment.
  • Refer back to your vision board, and have fun!
  • It’ll be trial and error but it’s all part of the experience, when you’re finished you’ll have a beautiful space to enjoy.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and have found some useful tips to decorate your own space on a minimal budget.

THE LADDER GIRL