DIY. Either it fills you with glee…or dread. For me, it’s a creative outlet and I can’t seem to get enough. Aside from our new home, we have used DIY on five other houses in the last 15 years. You could say we’ve become pretty good at making things look great on a budget.
I’d like to share some of the things I have learned in all this time. Enter DIY on a budget! You can read about my first step: Paint.
Second step: decor!
- Peel and stick wallpaper. This is not your Mother’s gluey mess that anyone with a house built pre-1999 just spent laboriously stripping out of every room. Today’s peel and stick wallpaper is simple to use, makes a big design statement, and removes easily once you’re tired of it. And it’s not just for walls. Cover shelving, dressers, do a faux tile backsplash — I have even covered an eyesore pantry fridge to make it funky and fun. I’d also like to note that “they” make a really great stainless steel peel and stick paper that has saved me lots of money by making appliances “match”!
- Family heirloom furniture pieces. If you have family heirlooms that you’ve been struggling to find a “real” use for, consider painting or otherwise changing them up to be useful to you. Assuming you don’t have mint-condition, museum-quality pieces, the real value in them is family sentiment and you might as well actually get to use that piece of furniture or it’s a wasted stored piece that your own kids will have NO memory of, and will have no sentimental attachment to once you’re gone. Use the piece! I recently turned my Gege’s old dresser into a coffee station and it brings me so much joy, I wonder why I struggled with dresser drawers that wouldn’t open for so long!
- Thrift stores. Don’t forget about these treasure troves when planning your decor. Inexpensive picture frames, vases, even pillows that can be disinfected and used to stuff covers are easily found here on a serious budget. Look at the item’s potential, and see my next point…
- Never underestimate the usefulness of spray paint. If you happened to catch my last DIY on a Budget post about paint, you know I already said this, but I think it belongs here too. Spray paint old picture frames, door hardware, even appliances. Most items just need a good primer and will hold up really well spray painted. There are plenty of tutorials on painting certain items (even a KitchenAid mixer) on YouTube, so you don’t even have to wing it.
- Utilize your printer. Looking for a cute saying you can’t find in the right size or design? Design it and print it yourself, put it in a picture frame, and voilà, decor complete. You can buy some really great already-made designs on sites like Etsy and print them at home too if you’re not the creative type. Either way, spending a few dollars to print and recycling an old picture frame and STILL getting just what you want sans a Hobby Lobby trip is a good feeling!
- Hanging decor. There are several great ways to hang decor pieces without damaging walls (for instance, 3M velcro strips), but some pieces just need a solid nail to support them. There are also lots of good “no tool” options like a product I recently found called “High and Mighty” wall hangers. You push them into the wall and hang your picture, and that’s it. A really easy way to get your picture hanger in the right place is by using just a bit of the wall color paint or even a tiny bit of caulk and putting it on the hook on the back of the decor. If there are two hooks, put a dab on both. Hold it about where you want it on the wall (if you have just one piece to hang, the general rule is to hang it about face high), level it up (I use about a finger-size one I found at Walmart), and then press it against the wall. You now have a handy guide to place your nail/screw/hanger exactly where it will hit the picture hook.
- Making collage walls. If you want to make a wall collage of several items, I suggest looking at friends’ posts, Pinterest or even through a Pottery Barn or other Home Magazine to get an idea of what is visually pleasing to you. Once you have that, collect your items. I usually then tape off the size of the wall area on my table or floor and rearrange the decor until I am happy with it. Then, use that same measurement to tape off the wall. Place your biggest pieces first and go from there.
- Decor trends. It’s really fun to have the trendiest house around, unless that trend is white everything and you have kids, and pets…and in my case, baby livestock joining you in the house frequently for one reason or another. So here’s my best piece of advice from 20 years of DIY-ing my decor: decorate with what YOU like and what works for your family. If it’s the trend, go for it. If it’s complete and utter usefulness, go for it. No one else lives in your house or has your schedule, so don’t feel shamed by an Instagram or Facebook picture of someone’s “perfect” house. Decorate YOUR perfect house!