STL Life

How to Decorate a Home on a Budget

Categories: Buying a New Home, Uncategorized | Posted: September 24, 2010

Decorate a room on a budget. All it takes is a bit of creative thinking and some elbow grease to create an inexpensive but lively decorating job. Ellen Wortham, ASID, of JE Design Group, LLC, offers some tips on how to decorate on a budget. Ellen’s interior design expertise is utilized in many ways at Payne Family Homes to help Payne achieve their mission to craft distinctive homes built to stand the test of time.  Here is Ellen’s advice…

When starting with new construction you have a lot of material selections to make.  Of course everyone wants it all and it becomes a dilemma as to how to prioritize upgrades on your wish list…

Tip #1:  Always consider structural selections first. Ceiling heights, tray ceilings, bay windows, walk-outs, service doors, etc … these are not easy or inexpensive changes to make down the road.  The “wow factor” of architecture alone can make a huge impression.

Tip #2:  When making exterior material selections consider the “life” of each item.  Brick and stone will always be on the house.  This would be a wise upgrade if necessary.  Roof and siding colors are only changed as maintenance dictates.  Consider “classic” material selections that will stand the test of time and not an immediate clue to tell the age of your home.

Tip #3:  Don’t discount natural light.  It is inexpensive and a beautiful highlight to your home.   There are a few spaces in hallways or lower levels where it becomes necessary to add artificial light, so pay close attention to “shadowing”.

Tip #4:  Minimize flooring changes.  Multiple floors can make a big house look small.  When making a flooring change in an open area, blend the colors (i.e.  carpet and tile).  A doorway is a natural transition point to make a flooring change.

Tip #5:  Choose cabinetry wisely… you can always embellish the counters, backsplash, and hardware later.

How do I furnish my new home with limited decorating dollars?

Tip #1:  Paint!  Paint is the biggest bang for your buck.  Paint is an inexpensive finish and a do-it-yourself item.  Most people limit the paint to walls, but don’t forget your ceiling.  Consider it “the fifth wall”.  White ceilings can often visually lower a ceiling.  If you want to “heighten” your ceiling, go a couple shades lighter than the wall.  This will eliminate the high contrast horizontal line where the wall and ceiling meet.  The biggest fear I hear among my clients when choosing paint colors is “oh, that’s too dark…!”  Always go a shade or so darker than what you think you want in order to get the look you are expecting.  Typically this is the 3rd-5th color on the paint swatch.  Also, if you are in doubt don’t be afraid to hire a professional to help you pick the colors.  This will save you money because you will only have to paint once!  The paint tip also extends to furniture, lighting and accessories.   Updating the finish on basics and adding a few new items can go a long way in updating the look of your home.

Tip #2:  Edit your existing items.  Take inventory of what you have and what will help you achieve the look you want.  If it does not… consider repurposing or donating.  Also take a “less is more approach”.  The trend today is simplicity through clean and simple lines.  This goes for furniture and accessories.  When accessorizing, go with fewer and bigger items, as these create more of a focal point and impact.

Tip #3:  When shopping for furnishings for your home, don’t take things at face value.  For example, if you find pillows you really like, build your bedding ensemble from that by adding additional prints or solids to coordinate.  You do not have to purchase the entire set… in fact, “mixing it up” creates more of a custom look.

Tip #4:  Add architecture where there is none.  Adding millwork can enhance a space and give a room personality.  Often times people will try to add furnishings and accessories to a room trying to fill a void.  Crown molding, baseboards and wainscoting can accomplish what furnishings cannot.  Extra hint:  Beware of chair rails!  They can divide a room in half.  Opt for a chair rail height at about 60” off of the floor.  Then, following through with paint on walls and ceiling in high contrast can create a lot of drama in a space.

So, have no fear, you can decorate your new home on a very limited budget. For additional ideas, feel free to visit JE Design Group at From everyone at Payne Family Homes and JE Design Group, Happy Decorating!




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