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Home Decorating on a Budget

I would LOVE to be a millionaire. But I’m not. We are an average family with an average income. 

What I am however, is someone who loves changing the look of her house. And that costs money. I have learned a few lessons over the years when it comes to interior decorating. Today I want to share those lessons with you.

When we bought our first home, many moons ago, I fell into a classic first time home owner trap. I wanted every room to look unique. And everything had to match everything else. So I had a (too) dark blue main bedroom. A green ‘study’ (really just a bedroom doubling as a study). A peach guest room. The bathroom was dusty pink – because that was the only colour that remotely matched the awful tiles – white was too boring. The kitchen was light blue, with a border to match my (very) colourful curtains. The only room that was left white, was the living room. But the curtains was ruby.

No dull and boring house for this girl!

Hubby convinced me that the main bedroom was WAY too dark (apparently he didn’t like that every day started dark blue). So we repainted. Light blue. It did take MANY layers of paint to change that colour! 

Skip ahead to 2008 (more or less). By now I have learned a few lessons. This was five houses later (we moved to the UK, long story). We moved into our second home that we owned – so no landlord to keep you in check. This time I stuck to white for the bedrooms. And the kitchen. And the bathroom. I was however very tempted to try a colour for the living room. Remember I just spend five years living in rentals. Where the only thing you’re allowed to do is hang your own pictures.

Enter the first glimpse of common sense. (Yes, I know. Common sense is not that common after all.)

After testing a small patch of wall behind the couch with MANY colours, of which NONE wanted to go well with our cream leather couches, hubby finally convinced me that white walls are actually ok. I still had colourful curtains though.

This is now 2020 and these are the lessons I have learned. 

Lesson number one:

Stick to white/neutral walls! Why? Because paint is expensive. So unless you have money to repaint every time you feel like a colour change (and remember it takes MANY layers of paint to cover any colour), white/neutral is a good choice. Any painting you hang on the walls stand out.


That blue wall is ABSOLUTELY gorgeous, BUT what happens when you want to change the bedroom? You have to repaint that wall. Twenty layers of white. Before you can slap another colour on there. Imagine how small the room will be by the fourth colour change (that’s a joke by the way). But you get my point.


This on the other hand is a much cheaper choice. If you want to change the colour, just change a view small pieces.

If you really want a feature wall (that is one wall that is painted another colour), make VERY sure that you can live with that colour for a long while.

So to recap – if you are working on a limited budget – stick to white/neutral walls.

Lesson number two:

Curtains are equally (if not more) expensive. If you are going to match your curtains to your colour scheme – expect to stick to that colour.


Again – beautiful. But what happens when you get tired of green? Or just that green?


The better option is neutral curtains. That goes with ANYTHING. When you feel like changing the room – it does not cost an arm and a leg.

Recap: Curtains are expensive. White or neutral curtains are always the cheaper choice. 

Lesson number three:

Choose wisely when it comes to furniture. If you are going to go for bold colours and/or designs, make sure it is something that you LOVE. Or that you can re-upholster for fairly cheap when you are done with that colour. (Watch out for my Extreme Makeover – Trudie Edition post that is coming soon).


Lovely blue couch? I agree. How easy is it to change the upholstery? That’s the question you need to ask BEFORE you buy it. AND how easy is it to clean?


Much more boring, but when you are tired of teal, you just need new scatter cushions ….

To recap: If you’re on a budget, stick to furniture that is easy to clean and re-upholster.

Lesson number four:

Bedding. Yes, I know I’m boring. But again, a good duvet set will set you back quite a lot. So choose wisely. Something that is versatile. That more than one colour goes with.


So what’s wrong here? Well, guess what’s going to happen when you no longer like the colour of your room? You’ve got it, new bedding!


So what make these a better choice? When you are sick and tired of having a blue/green/red/orange or whatever colour room, you change the scatter cushions and a throw and viola! A new bedroom – at a quarter of the cost.

Recap: Choose bedding that will make it easy to change the colour scheme of the room. 

Lesson number five:

Collect things you LOVE. If you have a spare money – not your savings – money that you would have used to treat yourself, ask this question:

“Is it going to matter in five years?”

What do I mean by that? Well, if you are going to spend money on a new hairdo (not a monthly cut. Colour, etc) or getting a manicure or pedicure (that you can give yourself at home – yes it’s not the same, but it is cheaper – remember we are working on a tight budget here) – will that still have value five years from now? 

Real life example. My curly girl haircut costs R300. I actually need to have my hair trimmed, but I choose to use that R300 (that’s in the budget) on new underplates and have a cheaper haircut somewhere else. Why? Because five years from now I will still get joy from it. I paint my own nails, using a cheap colour and good topcoat. Why? For me it’s more important to have a nice house and nice things than to have expensive nails. I still have nice nails, I just need to paint it myself.

I rather have this (yes, this is my scullery) than highlights or a manicure that doesn’t last anyway.

To recap: “Will it matter in five years?”

Lesson six:

If it is old but still working, don’t throw it away – give it a face lift! For example – your fridge does not look great anymore? Well, nowadays you get stickers to cover it and make it look brand new – at a fraction of the cost of a new one. Or paint it.

Recap: Don’t throw it away because it’s old – give it new life!

Lesson seven:

If someone else made it, you can probably make it yourself too. Pinterest is full of great ideas, waiting for you to copy.

Look at these. My dad cut the wooden blocks for us and we got together as a group of girlfriends and made these.

To recap: Make your own decorations for your house – get crafting!

I hope you found some inspirations among these to go and make your world a prettier place.


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