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  • Writer's pictureKate Roff

Interior design on a budget

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Sound the alarm! We're talking the B word today people. I can already hear my husband scoffing in the background as I write this because, according to him (and my online shopping carts), I may not be entirely qualified to put budget and interior design in the same sentence. I met his cynicism with optimism (and the middle finger) because if there's a will, there is most certainly a way to deck out your digs on a budget.

Let's get you the look you want for less!

Make a design budget

We're ripping the band-aid off and getting straight to it. I know you don't want to (trust me, I don't want to either), but getting a firm grip on your financial reality will help inform how much you have to play with. If you've discovered you have champagne taste on a beer budget, don't throw all your design desires out the window just yet! It's entirely possible to work with iddy biddy budgets.

Make a list (and check it thrice)

Time to drill down to the specifics people. What do you want to do /add / subtract in your home? Break it down to different rooms and make yourself a list for each space. Is it a new bed cover? Lamp shade or bedside tables with a few anchor items to pull your eye? Once you've made a list - start aligning your budget with each space. Now, this part can feel a little confronting (kind of like the angled mirrors at H&M), particularly if your budget falls short of what you want to achieve. Don't despair, there are some really simple and budget friendly changes you can make without breaking the piggy bank.

A lick of paint goes a long way

Speaking of! Easy and budget friendly - paint goes a long way in changing your spaces and it doesn't require measurements, drilling or any technical know how (hurray because I can't do any of those). Pay a visit to your local Bunnings painting counter and you'll likely be met with someone who is delighted to explain the science of paint to you or someone who shows about as much enthusiasm for life as paint drying. Either way, grab yourself some paint samples and start testing! Hot tip: beiges and neutrals provide a beautiful and calm foundation to build on with accessories, but if colours are more your cup-a-tea, then have at it!

A lick of paint goes a long way: paint roller being dragged across a taped section of wall, with green paint

Design dupes

Love the design but don't have the dollars? Consider buying the dupe version. This can be controversial, but I'm all for it. Will the quality be the same? Unfortunately not, but if you go for display items that don't require high durability, they can usually see you through for a few years.

Designer chair in front of a plain white wall with two empty picture frames

Invest in a few uniquely you pieces

I'm all for budget-friendly furnishing, particularly when you're eye-ball deep in the child wrangling years where sharpies may invade at any moment. However, if you have the patience and penchant to save a few pennies, I highly recommend investing in a few pieces that will stand the test of time. This could be as simple as a piece of art or a lamp shade. Don't confuse investment with expensive though. Some of the most fabulous pieces I've seen have been thrifted.

Re-use or recycle

Like my brows after an intense henna session, it's entirely possible to give some of your furniture a new lease on life. Think repainting an old piece of wooden furniture or re-upholstering a chair. If you have the patience for Marketplace (and you're prepared to be ghosted now and then following rigorous negotiations), this is a fabulous, budget-friendly option to score some unique interior decor.

Thrifted wooden sideboard and wooden chair with woven seat

Embrace hygge

Pronounced hyoo-guh, it's a Danish word that loosely translates to “coziness” or “comfort,” and it’s often used to describe a vibe or feeling that you’d get from snuggling indoors on a cold day. Warm feature lighting can really elevate the look and feel of your home and create cozy and inviting nooks to read that book you said you'd start at the beginning of the year. And the best part? An $8 Kmart lamp will do the trick and leave your budget intact.

Cup of hot chocolate,  a candle and dried flower on a table, representing hygge

Take your time

If you're anything like me, you want it all YESTERDAY! What I've learnt over the years is that honing my personal style and acquiring pieces that I love takes time. If you're an eager beaver, start with the room you really want to make some changes to and stage it out as your budget allows.

Beauty and the budget

Sticking to a budget can be a tricky artform, but with a sprinkle of discipline and squeeze of creativity, you can turn your house into a home and still buy the weekly groceries. And remember, interior design is ever-evolving, so like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there really isn't an end point in this journey. So, dear readers, my humble advice to you is to enjoy the process of cultivating a space for you and your loved ones, but don't rush through it like there's a finish line. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Yours in the messy life,

Kate x

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