Budget decorating ideas – 28 savvy ways to update your home for less

These top tips won't break the bank and will refresh your home in an instant

Giving your home a refresh, doesn't mean you have to shell out the big bucks, as these budget decorating ideas prove. We all want to watch our pennies, so easy updates that can ring the changes, but not cost the earth, are at the top of most peoples list!

Small updates, either DIY or decorating, really can make a big difference. All they require is a trip into the loft, a tin of paint and a little love (plus the tiniest bit of bargain hunting).

Even if you're not a dab hand at DIY, many of these ideas just take a bit of careful thinking and a little creativity, to pull off a refresh of your home.

Budget decorating ideas

Nadia McOwan-Hill Wayfair's Resident Style Advisor says, 'Decorating a new house doesn't always require buying all new things. Rather than purchasing new furniture or decor pieces, upgrade the items you already own with stylish new hardware or paint.'

'Drab kitchen cabinets can be transformed by decorative knobs, and grungy walls can come to life after a fresh coat of paint. Accent the inside of dresser drawers with wallpaper, or paint a unique design on the arms of a basic wooden side table – small upgrades like these will make a difference.'

If you're on a tight budget, you're most definitely not alone. That's why we've compiled some really easy, budget decorating ideas to help you improve your home.

1. Stencil drawer fronts

Ikea drawers painted with chevron print and leather handles

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Bespoke a budget chest of drawers from Ikea with a simple chevron stencil. Stipple on furniture paint using a dry, coarse-haired paintbrush. Finish with a clear matt varnish and leather tab handles.

Buy now: Malm chest of six drawers, £120, Ikea

2. Update doors with fluted film

Black cabinet with glass doors and window film added to the fronts

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Use glass film to transform a plain display cabinet into an up-to-date storage piece. The fluted glass film will also help to prevent chips and scratches. Or give it a twist by choosing a stained glass or patterned window film design, for a truly bespoke cabinet.

Be sure not to overcrowd the shelves inside. Use stacks of bowls, piles of books and objects with interesting shapes to create balance in your display.

Buy now: Solyx Reeded Glass adhesive film, from £16.67 for L30xW68.5cm roll, Glass Films.

3. Make a basket lampshade

Dining table and chairs set for a meal with rattan lampshade above and windows in the background

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Remove the handles of an Ikea Snidad basket and spray with black spray paint. Remove a small circle in the base, add an oversized bulb and black cord- and you've got a designer-look lampshade in just a couple of hours!

Buy now: Snidad rattan basket, £29, Ikea

4. Highlight great features with paint

Living room with black painted floor, mint green walls and wooden sideboard.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

A painted border will draw attention to lovely period door frames and deep skirting boards. If you already have colour on the walls, choose a deeper shade. Use a ruler and spirit level to draw a border around 5cm wide and use decorating tape to achieve a crisp edge.

Dining table with red tablecloth, bench seat and chair on wooden floor, dark blue wall in the background with set if floral patterned pictures, framed wallpaper panels.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Frame samples or offcuts of wallpaper in identical frames, using a white mount for a formal effect. Choose simple frames, so the patterns are the focus and use different patterns in a similar colour palette. You could even use offcuts of fabric if you don't have wallpaper to hand.

6. Make your own artwork

Wooden console table below a blue and white picture on a grey wall, blue and white vase with flowers and pink dish.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

You don't need to spend a fortune on artwork to decorate your walls, you can make your own! A piece of fabric, an old duvet cover, a favourite scarf, or even a charity shop sourced dress, can simply be stretched over a canvas and stapled into place. If you have enough fabric left over, make a couple of cushion covers too, to tie the room together.

7. Make a feature of it

A dining table in a dining room with metro tile wall and plates as decor

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

This dining room colour scheme has been instantly updated with the simple addition of a tiled wall. Use a colour that ties in neatly with your scheme for a cohesive effect.

In this case the impact is doubled with a collection of favourite plates, hung randomly, but with a unifying motif. Small additions like downlit wall lights add extra character.

8. Add some greenery

A grey sofa with patterned cushions in a living room with polished concrete floor with a rug. Shelf with house plants and rail with hanging baskets.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Plants breathe life into any living room colour scheme and in a neutral  room like this one they add a gorgeous hit of colour. Not green fingered? Don't worry - this tip doesn't have to pass you by. There are now loads of great fakes available and they look really realistic - try Blooming Artificial for everything from plants to trees.

Nadia says, 'Live plants are an excellent choice for improving air quality and their growth is highly rewarding, although they can be hard to care for when natural light is limited.'

'If you're not much of a green thumb, decorate your studio apartment with artificial plants – their visual impact on your decor will be the same as that of live plants.'

9. Rotate your collections

Framed art on a gallery wall on a picture ledge

(Image credit: The White Company)

Use your living room’s natural focal points as a means of displaying your favourite pieces. If the room doesn’t have a built-in feature such as a fireplace, create a focal point of your own with a striking console table or pair of bookcases.

Rotating your displays regularly provides an instant refresh and prevents a scheme from being too static. Vary height, shape and texture, but stick to a palette of two or three colours for a cohesive look. As well as hanging artwork, trying propping it too for a casual look.

Buy now: Spring Nordic Heart, small £12, large, £35; Gallery wall sets, from £195, all The White Company

10. Add a bookcase

Shelves in a room, storage on a dark blue wall, vases and ceramics on display, and four green plants with a varied leaf shape

(Image credit: Future PLC/Carolyn Barker)

Bookcases needn’t be traditional or built into alcoves. Instead try an asymmetrical approach.

Colour is added through books and accessories. To break up the repetitive nature of a book collection, trying creating ‘breathing space’ in a scheme by using some shelves for decorative accessories, again tying in two or three colours for a unifying effect. This will add texture and depth to a room as well as essential storage.

11. Introduce a coffee table

Wonder Boy coffee table in front of an orange sofa

(Image credit: Loaf)

However small or large your living room, a coffee table adds a decorative and practical note. Opt for one that contains storage, whether it’s an upholstered ottoman or a generous piece with shelving.

Glass options like this one are a good idea because they won’t dominate a compact space. Use it to display books, candles and flowers and place it close to seating. Moving your accessories around every so often will help to switch up the look.

Buy now: Wonder-Boy coffee table, £475, Loaf

12. Update soft furnishings

Living room of pink sofa and colourful cushions plus textured rug and full length curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Updating a rug, cushions or fabrics can all have an uplifting effect. Try changing your cushions with the seasons opting for delicate florals, painterly prints and light graphics as spring approaches and heavier textures and deeper colours in the winter.

Repainting wooden furniture, papering inside bookshelves and adding foliage will all help to freshen up your scheme.

13. Upcycle furniture that's past its best

Upcycled furniture in a shabby chic country style dining room

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

If you're thinking about throwing out a piece of well-worn furniture, stop. Take another look and see if you might be able to upcycle it. This wardrobe has been given a new look with remnants of wallpaper on the glass panels. A coat of paint or varnish, or new upholstery, are other easy ways to give an unloved piece another go.

14. Cosy up with sheepskin

A contemporary style living room in grey and charcoal with sheepskin rugs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brett Charles)

If you don't already have a sheepskin (or faux sheepskin) rug, this tip will involve a tiny trip to the shops. However, John Lewis has natural sheepskins in a choice of four colours, for £35.

Basically, sheepskins make every room look cosier and more luxurious - drape them across seats and beds or place on floors.

15. Change cupboard door handles

Shaker kitchen cupboards with brass handles and decorative floor tiles and metro tile splashback

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

Give kitchen units a cheeky update by swapping drawer and cupboard handles for a new design. Cup handles and simple door knobs work well in a Shaker-style kitchen. Bar handles are also very popular just now and will suit any modern kitchen scheme.

Nadia says, 'Save money by buying inexpensive, neutral furniture pieces (like chest of drawers, headboards and coffee tables), secondhand shopping or by collecting family hand-me-downs – these basic pieces are the perfect canvases for DIY decoration.'

'Make these pieces your own with decorative knobs, patterned wallpaper or paint in your favourite shade.'

16. Put up a shelf

Black console table against a white wall, wooden shelves with ornaments and pottery, plants and a portrait.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Whether you want to keep favourite reads easily to hand or display beautiful trinkets, you cannot go wrong with a simple shelving idea. Shelves are obviously practical, but they also offer the opportunity to add character to your scheme.

17. Mismatch your furniture

Mismatched chairs in an open plan kitchen diner with kitchen island

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Got your eye on a junk shop find, but worried it won't fit in with your existing pieces? Mismatched furniture is far cooler than you think. Kitchen seating is a prime example - different colours or styles can look great. So if you've found a bright red chair and love it, don't feel you have to purchase a whole new set.

18. Neaten up with pretty storage boxes

Blue bedroom with occasional chair and storage boxes

(Image credit: Future PLC/Sussie Bell)

Anyone who loves interiors knows that storage is their friend. Make a feature of your storage with cute trunks or pretty floral cardboard boxes - not only will they give you extra space to store things in a calm and uncluttered way, but they'll look pretty fab, too.

A photo gallery in a living room with lots of natural accents

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Photo gallery wall ideas are creative ways to cover a bare wall or a cheerless corner. Experiment with shapes, sizes and frame designs and put anything from old family photos to children's drawings up there.

'Gallery walls can fill up the large blank wall sitting in your bedroom or living room. If you don’t have a large wall free, you can create gallery walls around features like doorways and windows to add fun detail,' says Nadia.

20. Display fresh flowers

Hydrangea flower in a small vase on a tray with ornaments

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Fresh cut flowers are an easy and affordable way of turning a room round in a flash. They require absolutely no effort and you can go as big or small as you like. Even a single bloom will look great.

21. Repaint your chairs

Kitchen table on a white painted wooden floor with painted wooden chairs and vases of pink and yellow flowers.

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Whether it's your plain dining room chairs or your wooden bar stools, simply dip them in paint for a whole new look. Bright red makes a statement, while white or pale pastels will freshen up your furniture in a more muted way.

22. Create a candle corner

Distressed mirrored tiles with lit candles on a shelf

(Image credit: Future PLC/Mark Scott)

Collect all your candles from around the room and put them together in a corner to create a mixed scent - so much more relaxing than a bright bulb. Or you could take inspiration from these fairy light ideas to create a soft glow, even after the festive season.

23. Get organised

A laundry room with cabinets, drawers and storage boxes

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Give everything a home and declutter as much as you can. With all your belongings back in their official place, you will have tons of spare room and create the illusion of a larger space. These bedroom storage ideas will help you get things looking spick and span.

24. Make a display of your bath towels

Heated towel rail and radiator against a green wood panelled wall with black and white patterned tile floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Bath towels are an essential and are often slung over the back of doors or rolled up in the cupboard. Make a statement with them by displaying the beautiful ones and treating them as your own pieces of bathroom art.

25. Pile up your cushions and blankets

A bedroom with a bed dressed with yellow printed covers and ceiling hanging

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

Get all your cosy bits out of the cupboard and pile up cushions, pillows, blankets and throws on the bed. Not only will you create a relaxing den but it will also look straight out of a boutique hotel room. Win, win!

26. Display your artwork

Gallery wall of artwork hung over a console table on a lilac wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Gather all your artwork out of the loft and finally get round to hanging it! Much like a photo gallery, hanging your artwork or propping it up on top of side tables will keep blank walls busy and give the room a revamp.

Furniture And Choice’s Style Advisor, Rebecca Snowden says, 'Introduce bohemian design to the home for a touch of colour and whimsy. Soothing yet eye-catching, a DIY ombré dip dye wall hanging is a minimal, contemporary take on a traditional macrame piece.'

27. Rearrange your room layout

Light blue living room with coordinating blue sofa and soft furnishings

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Bevan)

Feng shui your room by moving furniture around to welcome in natural sunlight, surround the fireplace or clear the doorway. Furniture can look completely different at a new angle and it doesn't cost a thing. A super easy living room updates you can do in a weekend.

Angela Scanlon, stylist and presenter of Your Home Made Perfect says, 'Moving furniture around is a massive test on how you feel in a room and can make you feel like you've done something quite radical.'

28. Create a focal point

Living room with rug on wooden floor, blue walls, mirror over fireplace, round coffee table with mirror finish and upholstered armchair next to window

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Create a focal point by placing one large mirror, a bright piece of artwork or even a giant lamp centre stage. This will change the dynamic of the scheme and give off the appearance of an entire room renovation.

How can I decorate my house cheaply?

There are lots of ways to decorate your house cheaply and on a budget. Once no-brainer is decorating with items you already own, such as arranging your favourite crockery and glassware or revamp reclaimed chairs and tables. Just take a look at how to paint furniture first.

Instead of buying something new, there are so many creative things you can do, you just have to know where to splurge and save. These tips for decorating on a budget will really help get your creative juices flowing.

It could be as simple as decorating with candles to add cosiness to a space and the soft, dim light will change the whole look of a room. Another budget decorating tip is to introduce plants, fresh flowers (bought or picked form your garden) and display bowls of fruit, which instantly lifts mood and adds scent.

Sometimes all you need to do is declutter a room to give it a new lease of life. Make the most of your existing pieces and move things around so things look fresh. You could add new handles and knobs to furniture to give them a zhuzh. Style bookshelves by arranging books and add art, ornaments and mementos to add character.

How do you set a budget for decorating?

Decorating can be expensive, particularly if you have to revamp a whole room or a whole house all at the same time. Before you do anything, you'll need to think about creating a decorating budget so you don't splash too much cash.

The first thing you should do is to make a wishlist of things you'd love to feature in your home. Make a moodboard or create a Pinterest board to get a feel for what you like and what you don't. For example, will you want to paint or learn how to wallpaper? Or perhaps you fancy a feature wall idea.

Once you've figured out your likes and dislikes, it's time to create a budget for each of the rooms you need to redecorate. Make sure you are totally honest about your expenses and figure out how much you can actually afford to spend.

Creating a decorating plan will help you figure out the actual look of the rooms, working from your wish list. Include everything from what the floor plan will look like and any extras like wallpaper, lighting, and artwork.

Once you've figured out what you want to have, it's a good idea to shop around for the right items to make sure you don't overspend on products you can get cheaper somewhere else. Think about delivery and any other costs associated so everything you're totting up is realistic. Be savvy!

Next you'll probably need to narrow things down further as more than likely, your budget doesn't tally up with your wishlist.

Make sure you think about the practical needs of the rooms first, making adjustments where you can to get the things you need as opposed to want. For example, think about a sofa over decorative accessories like wall art or a mirror. Priorities are very individual so think carefully about what will be needed first and foremost.

How can I decorate my house for free?

There are lots of savvy ways to decorate your house for free. A few simple ways include rearranging your furniture so you get a fresh perspective on the room in question.

There are plenty of winning upcycled furniture ideas that require minimal effort (or talent) like recycling old jars for vases and centrepieces, painting existing furniture or decorating with flowers from your garden.

Another decorating idea that doesn't cost a thing is decluttering. It's amazing the difference a little decluttering makes to a room and it's good for the soul to get rid of things you never use and pop in a charity shop for someone else to love.

Just like fashion swaps, you could organise a decor swap with friends to get rid of things you no longer want and find some new things you'll be thrilled to display. Win-win! Or you could sell any decor you think is worth selling on Gumtree or Ebay and use the money you earn to buy something you love.

You can also usually find lots of free items on places like Gumtree and even Facebook community groups. As they say, one man's rubbish is another man's treasure.