November 18, 2016

The Look for Less| How we saved in our formal living room makeover

It's no surprise I love to save money wherever possible. Sure, I like the occasional splurge (like my favorite Anthropologie curtains) but I can't afford to buy from there allll the time.  So, when it came to decorating our living room for the One Room Challenge I knew the budget was pretty tight.  With some serious deal digging and a little shoppers luck I was able to save so much money!

Here are some tips on how you can save when decorating too!

tips for staying on budget when decorating a room using coupon codes DIY, clearance items, and thrift stores.

Tip #1: Craigslist/Local Yard Sales/Thrift Stores Are Your Friend

I know this isn't rocket science advice, but honestly when I first start thinking about furniture or decor for a room this is the first place I look.  There are tons of diamonds in the rough just looking to be brought back to life and for a fraction of the cost of new.  Looking through thrift stores is one of my favorite things to do! I look for books, frames, furniture, decor, name it! For the books-look beyond the dust jacket.  You can always remove it as a fun way to bring color and height to end tables, bookcases, and console tables.  Here are a few I picked up along the way throughout this project and most for $1 to $2. I try to find titles that are interesting but sometimes if the spine speaks to me I don't care what the book is about!

I think bought about 15 books to fill my shelf for about $30 - $40 total.  

tons of tips on decorating a room on a budget using coupon codes, clearance sections, and price comparing

Furniture for a new space can really add up. So I knew my ol pal Craiglist would come to the rescue. And boy did he! Only of my favorites find were my accent chairs.  I actually spotted them weeks apart but knew they would look fantastic together! I payed $20/chair which isn't too shabby.  I knew they needed some love but nothing a can of glossy black spray paint couldn't fix! 

tons of tips on decorating a room on a budget using coupon codes, clearance sections, and price comparing

tons of tips on decorating a room on a budget using coupon codes, clearance sections, and price comparing

Now, here's where things can get a bit pricey in the 'ol upholstery department.  I bought the chairs with the intent to have my sweet mom upholster them, however, this task proved to be a bit more challenging than she had expected. So, I did have to hire this part out and it cost me about $40/cushion from a local upholster.  He did an amazing job and I'm thrilled with the results but I wasn't planning on the $120 price tag when I bought the chairs.  However, $160 for 2 accent chairs isn't bad at all! They are the perfect size and shape for our space so I have no regrets. But, just be cautious when you buy anything needing to be can really add on to the price! 

Some other items I scored from the thrift store were these gold candlesticks for $1!

tons of tips on decorating a room on a budget using coupon codes, clearance sections, and price comparing

I also found some deals in the most unexpected places. Ever peruse instagram and see "items for sale" from another instagram friend? Oh, and that item happens to be the perfect compliment to your upcoming room makeover? No? Well, that happened to me! I scored my blue bird designer pillows for $35/pair all with a click of paypal from the comfort of my phone.  Turns out after a reader reached out to me to ask where they were from, I realized they were $120 EACH originally! Whoa Baby! 

tons of tips on decorating a room on a budget using coupon codes, clearance sections, and price comparing

They sure are pretty though...

So, my tip here is start looking in unexpected places. Sometimes with a little TLC you can turn that run-down piece into something fantastic.  Who knows, you may even find an item that is perfect just the way it those candlesticks! Of course when buying from unfamiliar people, safety first.  Always go with a friend and trust your gut instinct. No piece is worth compromising that.  

Tip #2: Shop Around and Use Coupon Codes!

I don't know about you but I'm a huge online shopper. I love being able to click purchase all from my PJ's and I believe I save more money this way.  I know I know, crazy talk.  It's very rare that I pay shipping (especially if you're an Amazon prime member like myself) and I can almost always find a coupon code.  Plus, by virtually shopping I'm able to compare items from different stores to get the best deal.  Here's an example of this for our new space.

My husband is crazy particular about curtain rods.  Whats that you say? A preference on rod type? Yes my friends, that's right.  He only wants rods where the bracket goes all the way around the rod not the half moon type. This is easier to explain in picture form:

There are very few places that sells rods with bracket like this. So far my only option has been West Elm or JC Penny. When it came to purchasing the rod for our living room I went to West Elm, took a deep breathe, and almost hit 'check out' and just dealt with the $95 price tag for the sake of husband-happiness.  But, I took one more virtual look around and discovered an almost identical rod at Bed Bath and Beyond! For ...get this....$40! (Originally $50 but I had a 20% off coupon AND free shipping).  The best part was the brackets were exactly like the west elm version. Here's a side by side:

west elm curtain rod gold and bed bath and beyond umbra curtain rod gold

Sure the Bed Bath and Beyond one is a little more brushed gold but overall they are strikingly similar. My husband installed it and felt it was very sturdy so it passed his test! And I'm very thrilled with my $55 savings on something that just hangs on a wall.  Take away tip here is to 'shop around' and always look for email coupon codes and discount codes. One of my favorite places to look for discount codes is Current Codes but I heard from John (from the Young House Love Podcast) that there is a search engine that automatically searches for coupon codes for you! I haven't tried it myself but if you use the Chrome browser it's a free extension called honey.  Apparently when you hit the 'honey' button at check out it automatically applies any available discounts. I've got it installed and ready to do some test runs on it just in time for Christmas online shopping! I'll keep you posted!

Another item made possible with the use of coupon codes were my lamps from ATG Stores. Now Im not going to lie, most all of my lamps have come from Target but when I was pricing them out this time I realized that after paying arround $40/base and then another $20/shade I was looking at $120 for two lamps and that just seemed crazy to me.  Plus, my selection was much more limited at Target. So when ATG Stores sent out a code for $100 off $200 I swooped in and got the lamps of my dreams for $100 and free shipping.  

Since the code I used expired, ATG Stores has created a new code for you guys to get in on some sweet deals! So, use code GIFT100 for $100 off an order of $249 or more! (Expires 1/31/16). Surely there's something you've been eyeing...

Tip #3 : When Possible DIY!

I know not everyone is crafty or wants to get their hands dirty so to speak.  But with a little elbow grease and some creativity the cost savings can't be beat! 
The shining star of the room no doubt is the Built In Bookcases.  

tons of tips on decorating a room on a budget using coupon codes, clearance sections, and price comparing

This was the mecca of all DIY's.  With some Ikea Billy bookcases and a whole lot of lumber we turned a boring wall into a showstopper.  We paid about $300 in lumber, $50 in paint, and $300 for the Ikea bookcases so roughly $650 for the built in wall.  I can't even imagine how much it would have cost to hire this out but my guess is in the thousands.  Now, if it weren't for my handy husband I don't know what I would have done because I know I couldn't have built it! But, if you or someone in your family or circle of friends is handy and willing to tackle something like this the cost savings are huge! You may have to sway them with good food...

Another DIY we did for the room was our Anthropologic Knock Off Curtains. I'm working on the full tutorial for that to have ready for you next week, but the original curtain was $150 panel (on sale) for the size I needed. $300 for the pair was a bit steep for me on this project...

tons of tips on decorating a room on a budget using coupon codes, clearance sections, and price comparing

So with a little help from my friend over at Zengs Lace and More I was given 14 yards of lace to complete the Anthro look. So with that, some $35 ikea curtain panels, and a little Rit Dye my knock off version turned out gorgeous and ended up costing around $100 for the pair! That's a $200 savings I was happy to take home to the bank.  

tons of tips on decorating a room on a budget using coupon codes, clearance sections, and price comparing

I can't wait to share with you how easy it was! 

Tip #4: Shop The Clearance Rack

I can't tell you how many items on my bookshelf came from the end caps of Target.  I would pick up frames, decorative items, and fabrics with each trip with a savings of 30%-40% on each item.  Purchasing these items slowly over time fit my overall budget but it does require a certain patience! Target's bullseye can definitely tempt you with alllllll the things but sneak to the back on the aisle you'll find some great deals!

tons of tips on decorating a room on a budget using coupon codes, clearance sections, and price comparing

So there you have some tips on how you can create a styled space while maintaining a budget.  I'll be back next week with you Anthropologie DIY Curtains! 

I'd love to hear what some of your favorite tips are for staying on budget! 


  1. Looks like you've scored some really good deals. I've heard about upholstering costing a bit more than expected. I'm learning to accept that decorating a home takes a while and shopping around to find great deals has always been something I love doing. Online is even better!!

    1. you're right really does take time! I felt like I collected items for months and months before putting it all together!

  2. I love your tips Colette and even more so your room turned out. My favorite place to find things are definitely yard sales and craigslist. With a little diy you can make everything look pretty! Thanks for sharing your great tips!

  3. Great tips Colette!! I'm amazed at how budget friendly your whole makeover was - it looks straight out of a magazine! Those accent chairs really went through such a transformation and evening paying someone for the upholstery kept them in budget!

  4. Oh wow, I honestly wouldn't have thought that you stayed on a budget with this makeover - it just looks so perfect! Straight out of a magazine, like Sarah said.
    Thank you so much for showing us some details about the makeover and how you saved on $$.
    XO! Vanessa

  5. You made some BEAUTIFUL choices. I think $40 a cushion is awesome!! It makes me seriously re-consider some craigslist/thrift purchases that I've passed up. Books are always so helpful in decorating shelves, and you found some beauties. Lastly, that curtain rod is a great deal!! I scoured the internet for gold rods when we did our bedroom and the affordable options are few and far between.

  6. These are all great ideas! I bought two very comfy chairs last spring at a garage sale for $10. The fabric is this hideous yellow and I have the intent of upholstering them myself (with my mom's help too, aren't moms the best?). I am hoping it doesn't prove to be too challenging! But you are so right, $160 for two chairs is not bad at all!


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