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How to Create an Elegant Home on Less

It doesn’t really matter how much money I have or don’t have, I’m always going to want my elegant and sophisticated style to show through on the best prices I can find. Being frugal isn’t about being cheap or dirt poor. It’s about spending whatever money you DO have, wisely, so that you can have the life you want…on less. I lived rich on $18k/year for several years and I still live frugal today, even though I made over $23k last month alone.

I’ve always liked quality, brand name items, and I’ve always found creative ways of getting what I want, cheaper than the off brand junk. I believe that you can have what you want on ANY income and this website is all about showing you how.

When it comes to my home, it’s no different. An elegant home without spending a fortune is easy for me. Here’s how to do it…

You don't have to spend a fortune to get the look you want, and I prove it with real examples! Here's how to create an elegant home on less than you thought.

How to Create an Elegant Home on Less

Get crafty

Pinterest is chock-full of home décor ideas. In fact, I spend a lot of time pinning things I like on my home décor board. That and my organizing board are my two favorite boards, and it shows. I pin a LOT of pictures to them each day. If you want to check out the boards, here’s my home and decorating ideas board and here’s my organization obsession board.

Pinterest is a great place to find décor ideas using simple things from thrift stores too! Many of these projects are things even those of us who are not super crafty can do, yet they really add a nice touch when you are done and look like you bought it at an upscale home interior shop.

When figuring out the home décor that you’re looking for, first really think about the style that you’re going for. Are you more of a water color person or a photograph person? Do you prefer color or black and white? Do you like more of a traditional look? Perhaps more modern? Here’s a great article on how to identify your own unique decorating style.

Once you determine your sense of style and the vision that you have for your home, then you can start looking for art and crafts that match that vision.

Art work in your home doesn’t have to come from a gallery. If you’re looking for framed pieces, you can create the work that you’re looking to have in your home. A few brush strokes on canvas can become a more contemporary art piece. Black and white enlarged prints from your favorite vacation can be transformed into your newest picture. Framing your own art (using a store bought frame or one you’ve created) can be a super inexpensive and fun way to decorate your home.

When looking on Pinterest or using other home décor resources, aim for one or two crafty ideas per room. Look for the kinds of things that you see in magazines…vases with décor inside, decorative bowls, etc. Then get the supplies that you need and get started.

But before you begin your project, take a look at home stores near you for the kinds of things that you’re looking to create. You may find that discounted décor stores can provide the same look that you’re aiming to create at a lower cost than you’ll spend on the materials.

Here’s one example of just that. I decorated my fireplace with things I found largely at discount stores and even things I collected from my own backyard for FREE.

Shop yard sales, thrift stores, and second hand stores

You really would be amazed at the nice things people get rid of. I have found some items that could have cost hundreds of dollars when they were bought in the store. Not to mention, many yard sales where you can really find some gems.

As mentioned earlier, before you head to a sale or thrift store, be sure that you have a vision in mind of the room that you’re looking to create. Take a picture of the space on your phone, so that you can always visualize it when in the store. Otherwise, you’ll find lots of great buys and make lots of purchases…then get home and find that none of them match one another, or the image that you have in your mind.

When shopping for values, going to neighborhood yard and garage sales will provide you with a greater number of shopping options in a small amount of time. In my experience as a reseller, I always go to the richer neighborhoods first. They tend to have nicer quality items and 95% of the time, they have reasonable price tags as well. Total score!

Thrift and second hand stores can also provide great savings on things that people donated due to redecoration or simply didn’t want anymore.

Another kind of store to try, are discounted stores like Ross or Tuesday Morning, which are my favs. You can find great home decoration pieces, even sets of things there and the prices are fantastic! It’s a great way to go if you don’t like to buy used items, but don’t want to PAY new prices!

Home Goods is another store to check. While often slightly more costly than a thrift store, they provide designer brands and looks at a fraction of the price. They often sell companies’ overstocked items…leading to savings on the looks you’re aiming to create!

Go for simplicity

One thing that can make a home’s interior too busy is having too much. For a more stream-lined look, try not to decorate with too many knick-knacks or things can easily start to look or feel cluttered.

This can be a tricky one to stick to when so frequently, well-meaning friends and family members give knick-knacks as gifts. If you feel badly not displaying them in your home, find two or three places in each room for plaques, figurines, etc and rotate those that you use so that you are able to showcase each one.

Just as too many knick-knacks can make a home look too busy, so can too many smiling faces. If you have lots of family pictures that you typically use to decorate your walls, consider making smaller prints and placing them in a collage. You might also consider putting smaller prints in an album (or series of albums) that go into a basket for easy access. This way you can still share your memories without adorning your walls with photos of each one.

Pick a color scheme or theme and stick with it

Elegance is often about having everything in its place and having a nice uniform look. Pick a theme (such as country, shabby chic, modern, traditional, vintage, etc.) or two or three colors you are going for in the rooms you are decorating and don’t deviate from it. When shopping thrift stores, this could take a while, but you will be so happy with the outcome if you keep it simple.

When picking your theme or color scheme, one simple way to go about it is to pick two neutral colors and one color that will pop. An example would be black, beige, and burgundy red (or gray, white, and red is pretty too). As you shop at discount and thrift stores for home décor, you’re likely to find oodles of things in black and beige and a few in your perfect shade of red. Buying decoration pieces to match that vision will help to keep your house looking updated and elegant without having to take swatches of color with you everywhere you go.

Choosing a single popping color also makes it simple to adjust your scheme down the road. If you find yourself getting tired of red, but have purchased black and beige furniture pieces, changing out throw pillows and other accent pieces can change the look of your room without having to start from scratch, thus saving you more down the road.

Keeping the neutral colors and changing your accents is a cost effective way to help your home reflect the newest color trends.

Check out craft stores

More and more, places like Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann fabrics and Michael’s have really amped up their home décor sections. You would be amazed at how these items can be bought for low costs, especially if you wait until there is a sale or check out the clearance sections of each store. Michael’s usually has a 40% off one item coupon in every week’s newspaper. The savings can really add up!

Craft stores are great for mirrors, framed art, and décor pieces…but also for furniture! While you may not find your perfect couch or dresser there, many craft stores do have accent furniture such as tables, storage benches, large plants, trees, and more. Craft stores can be the perfect place to help you find those décor pieces at a great price!

An idea before you go from store to store is to go on their websites to take a look at examples of what you might find. While many craft stores do offer things that may be perfect for your home, not all have such items available. Rather than spending time going from one store to the next, doing an online search before you go, will help ensure that the stores you have in mind are going to have the kind of décor that you are looking for.

Update old furniture

Sometimes, you may find a piece of furniture at a yard sale or thrift store that is an amazing bargain, but the color isn’t right or it is missing some knobs. The best thing about this situation is that it’s easily fixed with some paint or stain and a trip to the home improvement store.

There are plenty of ways that you can make changes to your furniture so that it matches the elegant vision that you have in mind. Watching quick tutorial videos on YouTube will help you learn the ins and outs of sanding down wooden furniture to get it ready to be stained or painted your color.

When I was a reseller, I would often times find things like bedroom sets or dining tables and paint them black or white and use a coat of polyurethane on top and they looked like they were straight from the factory! No one knew. I literally had to tell them (to be honest and fair). But I made quite good money that way. Sometimes I’d get furniture for free or for very cheap, like $20-$30, repaint it and sell it for $200! I did all the furniture at one time in batches, so it was less time consuming and it was fun seeing the before and after.

You could also watch videos on how to reupholster outdated chairs. I’ve done this as well and it’s very easy, even if you don’t know how to sew!

If you aren’t feeling that you want to do a DIY update to older furniture, it may be time to replace some pieces. Waiting until the right time of year that are typical for furniture store sales (Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc.) will help you to take advantage of the greatest savings. Buying furniture pieces that are timeless and neutral, that are also good quality, will help you to not need to replace them every few years as trends change. Spending a bit more initially for better quality will help you save money in the long run.

Check online for deals

Many people don’t want to look online because of shipping costs, but I can tell you right now, I haven’t paid shipping costs in years outside of my essential oils that I buy monthly. There are a myriad of ways to save on shipping costs.

A couple examples are:

  • Disney Store has a few days a year where they offer free shipping.
  • Each year, for one day, almost every site participates in Free Shipping Day and shipping is free.
  • Staples has free shipping for rewards cards members.
  • Amazon offers free shipping if you spend $35+ or free 2-day shipping on $50+ for business accounts, which is what I have. Currently, Amazon Prime is free for 6 months for college students with an .edu email and Amazon Prime is free for 30 days for moms giving you free shipping! In fact, I wrote a whole article on all the secret ways of saving money on Amazon here.
  • Many eBay sellers offer free shipping (I’m one of them).

You can also shop a store that has a local brick and mortar store in your area and see if they offer free site-to-store shipping or look at your local craigslist and see if anyone is selling something you can use for your theme in your area. No shipping needed!

Pick décor that will last

When you’re choosing how to decorate your home so that it reflects the elegant vision you have in mind, try to choose décor that will pass the test of time. Steering clear of the most trendy fashions or colors will help your choices to be in style years down the road.

Bright, bold colors may be what you see all over the covers of some home magazines right now, but that may not mean that painting your living room those colors is the way to achieve the look that you’re going for. Instead, choose small splashes of those colors, that can easily be changed as your tastes (and current trends) do.

Try to aim to have the more expensive pieces in your home (typically furniture, rugs, flooring, etc.) serve as constants in your rooms…the things that won’t need changing. That way the lesser expensive pieces, such as wall art, décor, and pillows can be what you plan to change from one trend to the next.

Decorating your home can be a fun venture. If you plan ahead and go into it with a vision in mind, you can have the elegant home that you’re looking for while staying within the amount of money you want to pay.

You don't have to spend a fortune to get the look you want, and I prove it with real examples! Here's how to create an elegant home on less than you thought.

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  1. I have a hard time sticking with the same theme and colors because there are so many different styles I like! 🙂 I do strive for an elegant home, though. Thanks for the tips!

  2. The site you linked to with an article to figure out what style you like is awesome! I’m so glad you included that. I just wanted to add that not every room has to be in the same style. Although, some common colors are really helpful. Plus, some of the styles are close together. I’m more of a cottage or farmhouse style.
    ~ Christie

  3. I love home goods and we finally got one close to me last year. My style is kind of country or what is referred to as Farmhouse Style. That is what I grew up with, so that just feels homey to me. Thanks for sharing your tips!