So you have finally purchased your own condo or house after years of saving. Even if you did so using bank financing, you surely have shelled out a huge amount of money for the down-payment, buying costs, and other fees. And then you need to spend more to decorate or at least buy some stuff. If this is the case, the last thing you want to do is to ramp up your debt on fitting your new place.

But furnishing your new home doesn’t need to cost you a leg. Great ideas are all around us—all you need is a bit of resourcefulness and a dash of innovation, and you can give your new home much-needed style and warmth.

Here’s a list of 7 ideas for furnishing a home on a shoestring budget:

1. Ditch the Decorating Books and Magazines

home design books

The problem with these things is that they are designed to sell a dream, and we common folks certainly do not dwell in it. Most of us have full-time jobs, kids, pets, dirty dishes, and dust. Magazines and books are fun to look at, but they do not represent what happens in real life, and it’s pointless to try to make your home look like what you saw in Home and Garden because it will sooner or later get dirty and disorganized and cluttered. Accept it and move on.

2. Organize, Organize, Organize

organized shelf

Given our inclination toward cramped, space-challenged city apartments, the importance of an impeccably organized home cannot be overstated. A beautiful home is quickly marred by lack of order and neatness. Smart storage spaces, such as bookcases and storage chests that can double as coffee tables, reduce chaos in a busy household. If you’ve got a great deal of books, then consider building shelves across a wall and incorporating the windows into the design.

3. Recognize What Makes an Item a Good Value for Your Money

expensive vs cheap

A glass flower vase will always be a glass flower vase, whether you got it for Php100 or Php1,000, so it won’t make much sense spending a good deal of money on one. However, it’s a different case for, say, a topnotch butcher knife or a good potato peeler, as these items’ utility depends very much on how they’re made. The key here is to recognize how useful an item will be for you, then decide how much money you want to spend on it. If you cook a lot, then you’ll probably need high-quality kitchen tools and it’s worthwhile investing on good ones. However, there isn’t much sense getting an expensive Persian rug or a shower curtain as they don’t serve much purpose.

4. Hit the Garage Sales

Garage Sale

Garage sales and thrift stores can be treasure troves for decorators on a budget. However, there are a few important things that every frugal decorator must keep in mind. First, do not get your expectations too high—garage sales sell stuff that other people don’t need, so it might be a bit ambitious to snap a topnotch waffle maker. And second, do not focus on an item’s current state and instead visualize how it will turn out to be with a bit of paint job or new cushions. Look for items that have simple designs that can be reinterpreted to fit with any style.

5. Play with Paint


A smart use of paint can fool the eye. And if you do it yourself, it can also be cheap. For instance, by playing with optical illusions a room can be made more spacious. Rooms with a low ceiling, for example, can be remedied by using vertical stripes to get rid of that claustrophobic feel. Also, nothing creates a better illusion of space as does the color white. However, if you feel that this color makes your space look dull, you can play with a few colors, such as light sea green or light blue, which brighten and add color without darkening your room.

6. Recycle and Reuse

Recycled Seats

Perhaps you don’t need to buy anything at all. Take a look at everyday objects in your house and see if any of them can be refashioned or reused. Called upcycling, this is the art of turning the tired old objects you might usually throw away into beautiful and useful pieces for the home. There are plenty of websites out there where you can get inspiration on how to transform drab objects into something interesting. One of which is Upcycle That (<, which will show you, for example, how to make a tray stand out of a toy dinosaur.

7. Be Willing to Wait


This is probably the hardest but arguably the most important. Everybody wants a nice home, but most of us want it now. Remember that a home is a work in progress — it doesn’t just spring up overnight. Start with the most basic. A couch, perhaps, and a coffee table. But keep your eye open about what’s available out there—that lamp you’re keeping an eye on might go on sale anytime soon. As with life, delayed gratification is a useful thing in home decorating. Most especially so when budget is concerned.

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