The Real Cost to Decorate and Furnish Your Home
A few weeks ago on Instagram, I went on a bit of a rant. Well, maybe rant is a strong word, but I did talk about something that does tend to annoy me every now and again – and that’s the unrealistic view some people have about how much it costs to decorate and furnish their home.
I’ll often hear from people who want to makeover an entire room for pennies – like, buying five pieces of furniture, a rug, accessories, and decor for $200. Thrifting and DIY’ing can help tremendously to save on costs, but at the end of the day, if you want to create a home with quality pieces that will last a long time, you need to invest a bit of money here and there.
It’s All About Priorities
For me, my home is my priority. Not only is it my business, but I work from home and spend the majority of my time here with my family. I want to invest in this place where I spend so many hours, therefore I’m okay with spending money on quality pieces that will make me love my home even more.
It’s disheartening when I hear from someone who balks at the idea of spending $150 on a rug for their living room but instead can easily go to Target and buy random crap they probably don’t need for that same price in one afternoon. It all comes down to priorities.
I’m not a big clothing shopper, so instead of buying another top for $50, I would rather buy a pillow for my couch. Personally, I will always choose to invest in a piece for my home, that I’ll use daily, instead of another pair of jeans or sweater that I might wear a handful of times a season.
I realize not everyone feels the same way that I do and some people love investing in their wardrobes, instead of their homes. That’s totally okay! But if you’re furnishing and decorating a home, it’s wise to set aside a budget to create a quality look that will last you for years!
Imagine doing one less Target run a week, visiting Starbucks fewer times every week, and paring down on the amount of clothing you buy each season. If you do those things, you can easily save a few hundred dollars that you can then use to buy some amazing pieces for your home!
The Real Cost to Decorate your Home
Here’s the thing – everyone has a different financial situation. I can’t throw out random numbers because there is no universal budget that magically fits everyone’s situation. I can’t say you should save $2,000 to furnish and decorate a living room, because it’s totally dependent on the space, your finances, the pieces you already own, etc. But, I can dive into the areas where you should splurge a bit and other areas where I recommend cutting costs.
Where to Splurge
I always say if you’re coming into contact with this piece every single day, then you should spend a few more dollars on it to make sure it’s quality. Typically, those are furniture pieces your butt is going to touch, like a bed, couch, chairs, etc., as well as textiles that you’re going to use daily, like sheets, a duvet, towels, blankets, etc.
For example, our couch wasn’t cheap… at all. But we lay on it every single night and it was important for us to upgrade to a super durable fabric. I also always recommend splurging on nicer bedding. Right now, we have this duvet from Boll and Branch, but I’ve also loved this white duvet cover from West Elm in the past. Some people complain about the price tag of quality bedding, but these are items you’re literally using every single night! I certainly don’t want to sleep with a duvet cover that costs $20. Eek!
- Bedding & Blankets (These are the sheets we use.)
- Towels (The Company Store has quality towels.)
- Chairs (The ones you use constantly, like dining chairs, kitchen stools, office chair)
- Bedroom Dresser (If you open and close it every single day, you want it to function well!)
Where to Save
On the opposite end of the spectrum are items that you don’t come into contact with every single day. These are items like side tables, coffee tables, and TV consoles. You can definitely go cheaper on these pieces, because the quality doesn’t need to be as high if that piece is not going to see constant wear and tear from being handled regularly.
For example, I get so many questions about the nightstand in our old guest bedroom. I found it at a flea market for $4. I painted it; I stained it, and added new hardware! I had it for seven years and it looked amazing all that time. Also, the side table in our living room is a total DIY project. You can find the tutorial here, but for just a few bucks I made a piece that functions perfectly well in our home.
And the biggest area where I save…ACCESSORIES! I primarily find all of my home decor at HomeGoods, Target, thrift stores, and flea markets. I like to change things out so frequently that it just doesn’t make sense for me to spend hundreds of dollars on a vase. If there’s one area where you can really save, it’s definitely decor.
- Side Tables
- Coffee Tables
- TV Consoles
- Entryway Consoles
- Guest Room Nightstand and Dresser
- Accessories and Decor
Save or Splurge?
There are other home categories where I go back and forth between spending and saving. Art is a great example. I have plenty of free-to-me pieces around my home (like the newspaper clippings I framed or my free DIY canvas art), but I also see the value in spending money on special art for your space. I will say that if you are going with free or inexpensive art, be sure to spend a little extra on a nice mat and frame. (This post has details on how to do it the right way.) It will make a huge difference in the look of the piece! This post is chock full of inexpensive art ideas.
Rugs are another category where I toggle between the two. The rugs by my doors are all super cheap jute ones from HomeGoods that cost no more than $20-$30. However, I have nicer rugs in our living room, bedroom, and Rory’s nursery because they ground the space and make those spaces feel special. (You can find more rug shopping tips here!)
- Window Treatments
Tips to Save Money When Shopping
Now that you have a better idea of where you should spend your money when it comes to your home, let’s chat about shopping. I consider myself to be a pretty savvy shopper. Here are a few things I do regularly…
- Shop Furniture Outlets: Here in the Chicago area, we have a Crate and Barrel outlet, Pottery Barn Outlet, and two Restoration Hardware Outlets. I found some amazing pieces of furniture for half off when I shopped at these stores. You do have to figure out how to get the pieces home, but it’s well worth it to save over 50% off retail.
- Try Floor Samples: If you don’t have an outlet near you, head into a store and inquire about floor samples. You can sometimes get killer deals on furniture that is lightly used.
- Use Coupons & Promo Codes: When online shopping, I always take five extra minutes before checking out to search for a coupon or promo code and I usually end up saving a few bucks.
- Check Out eBay: While I’ve never done this myself, I have heard of buying coupons from people off of eBay. Spending a few dollars on a coupon that could save you hundreds is a worthwhile idea! Just make sure the seller emails it to you right away instead of mailing it.
- Flea Markets, Antique Stores, & Thrift Stores: I think the best homes have a mix of old and new, so I’m all about incorporating old treasures into each space. While shopping vintage furniture may not save you tons of money, you can find high-quality pieces that they just don’t make these days.
- Try Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace: This post has all of my best tips for shopping on Craigslist and I’ve had a lot of success selling on Facebook Marketplace, but haven’t bought anything just yet.
- DIY It Up: Of course I have to mention that you can save big bucks with a do-it-yourself attitude! Find an old piece and give it some TLC with a coat of paint and new hardware. Or take something cheap from the thrift store and give it a new life, like these vases I spray painted to create a high-end look.
- Shop your House: If you’re in need of new decor, walk around your house and change things up. It’s crazy how much more I can appreciate an item when I bring it from one room to another.
Take Your Time
The best way to save money when it comes to decorating your home is to go slow. The biggest mistake I see people make is moving and buying tons of stuff immediately, just to fill up every space. Creating a home is a process and you really should live somewhere for a while before you invest in tons of furniture and decor.
Don’t look at each room and think, “I need to save up $2,000 and then I’ll decorate this space all at once!” Instead, find items that you truly love and bring them in slowly. That way you’re not spending tons of cash upfront and you’re building a home that is intentional. Of course, I want every room in my house to look amazing right now but that’s just not realistic. I would rather go slow and have fun with it.
If you take anything away from this post I hope it’s the idea that your home matters and there is no magical number or specific cost to decorate and furnish a space. Home is where we spend so much of our lives, especially these days, so surround yourself with items you love, whether they are expensive or not-so-expensive.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. I know it can be a bit controversial, but let me know in the comments below!
More Home Decorating Posts
- Bedroom Decorating 101
- Living Room Decorating 101
- Kitchen Decorating 101
- Dining Room Decorating 101
- Bathroom Decorating 101
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.