Decorating on a Budget

Reader Contribution by Amanda Thompson
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As a soon-to-be college graduate with no extra income to spend on beautiful decorations, I’ve started looking for ways to decorate my digs in ways I can afford–and that means for free.

I take a ton of pictures and like to display them around my room. Instead of dropping cash for new frames for every picture, I’ve started framing them my own way.

Any time I see brightly colored or patterned paper (or even chipboard), I save it. From gift bags to flyers, it’s not hard to find and can serve as a perfect backing for your favorite photos.

Leave an inch (or two, or three) of space on each side of the paper after mounting a picture to it with a little glue. Cut it out, and you’ve got a decorative, makeshift matting effect for your photos. With a bright, fun background to your favorite photos, a frame isn’t even necessary. For a more edgy feel, only back one corner of the photo with paper or cut paper backings into different, asymmetrical shapes. Hang them up alone or in groupings to display your memories in a unique (and free!) way. 

An old greeting card serves as the background to a high school photo of my best friend and me. No frame necessary! Photo Courtesy Amanda Thompson.

I also love little decorative boxes. I keep earrings in them, coins in them, and some, I admit, sit empty in my room just because I think they look nice. And I can never seem to have enough.

To feed my need for tiny storage options, I’ve started making my own. Empty tin Sucrets Lozenges boxes from when I had a sore throat are cute and functional when covered in old wrapping or tissue paper. Even shoe boxes can serve as decorative storage options when covered with paper or stickers you have lying around.

This tin box that used to house Sucrets throat lozenges now stores loose change. A little tissue paper and glue covers the name and adds a touch of color to my desk. Photo Courtesy Amanda Thompson.

I also like to save different glass bottles and jars to serve as vases. You can decorate them yourself or leave them plain. A vintage looking Coca-Cola bottle with a single flower in it provides for an unconventional, funky, recycled centerpiece.

More budget-friendly decorating tips:

• Plastic bottles can be up-cycled into funky lighting pieces.

• Check out your local thrift store for affordable, unique decorations.