Monday, March 11, 2013

How to Shop for Decor on a Budget

Our houses shouldn't claim too much of our budget. Experts recommend that your mortgage or rent should be about 25% of your income. A budget for maintenance and home improvement--which I interpret to also include decor--should be somewhere between 2-5% of your total income. The average household income nationally is $50,000, in which case the average homeowner would spend $1,000 to $2,500 per year on home improvement.* 

How do you keep your spending in-line with your budget? Here are a few of my tricks.

1) Picture it
Picture in your mind what you want the completed space to look like. What is your color scheme? What is the "look" you are going for--glamorous, exotic, beachy, mid-century modern? Make a list of what you need to accomplish the look, then shop your house first. Chances are you have something in another room that would work great in your re-design.

2) Set a dollar amount
Few of us have unlimited funds. Only you can really say what you can afford. That's great. I believe that it is important to save more than we spend. And that's great, too. Either way, though, decide an amount and stick to it.

3) Shop 
Online or in person, go looking for the things you need for your space. Having a rough idea of what you want (colors and sizes) tends to be better than trying to replicate an exact image.

4) "Try it on" at home
Once I've found something I like at the store, I take it home to "try  it on". One great, easy way to do this is to take pictures with my camera phone. Besides having a photo of the product, I don't have to write notes about dimensions or price.

Another way to "try it on" is to find a sample. The drapes above were callin' my name the last time I was in World Market. Even though they were on sale and of good quality, I was a little worried about committing to the purchase. The pattern is pretty wild and the price was over $50 for the pair. I ended up finding some table linens in the same pattern, and I purchased just one napkin to take home. It worked in our color scheme so I went back for the drapes the next day.

5) Answer the deal question
Is the item on sale? Can you get a discount? Are there any coupons online or in your local newspaper? That's always a bonus, and it's always something I check for.

A beautiful home & a solid bank account shouldn't be mutually exclusive. What do you think? Any other shopping tips??

*There are a few other ways to calculate how much to save for home improvement projects (ex. based on the square footage of your home, the purchase price, and/or negative factors like age and exposure to elements). Basing it on income, though, gives us a good start and seems most realistic. Figure out what works best for your household. 


  1. Great advice! there are good deals to be had, that's for sure!

    1. So true, especially that Joss & Main rug you found!


Thanks so much for commenting! I love to read what you have to say. ~Carrie


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