Our Complete Guide To A Custom Home With Frugal Decor

Do you think you need to run out to a fancy shopping mall or designer store to adorn your home with the latest fashions? Much like buying clothes for yourself, your home should not be swapping outfits with the change of every season. I am here to tell you that it IS possible to have a beautifully decorated home on the cheap. Other than actual furniture, there are very few things we have purchased to decorate our home. The art on the walls? I made it. The window treatments? Don’t have any. The bedding? We have a single down-alternative comforter on each bed that serves its purpose 365 days a year. We’re sticklers for not overspending on home decor, while still remaining stylish and artistic. Here, I have laid out our complete guide to frugal home decorations!

Set It And Forget It

Classic styles are great for setting and forgetting. We had a long debate over what kind of flooring we should install on our main floor about 6 months ago. Since our main floor is where all the animals are given free passes to live their lives with reckless abandon, we had to decide what would be best. What we had was vinyl and carpet. What we wanted was something that could withstand the wear and tear of 2 dogs, 2 cats and 1 kid. Whatever we chose, we didn’t want to pay for it a second time.

The Debate

-Hardwood: Beautiful and on the top of many home buyers lists. Does not do well with water or nails (think the kind that protrude from a dog’s paw). We also have a small home and I could already see traffic patterns forming and me calling to have the floors refinished.

-New carpet: Soft and comfortable. Beautiful at first, until the first muddy prints or hairball. Cats have a way of always “making it to the carpet” when they need to heave. *virtual eye roll*

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Tile!

Hardwood/Tile Combo: Since our main floor is a whopping 1300 SF (joking) I really wanted to have a cohesive floor. Hardwood in kitchens is becoming mainstream design and it would look fabulous – but we have 2 big dogs and a small footprint. I could already see myself cleaning up water non-stop after the dogs slopped all around their dishes. What would happen if one would have an accident in the house? Of course this is not something that would typically cross my mind, but I knew that if we installed hardwood, one of them, or both, would have an accident in the house that wouldn’t be noticed until it had hours to soak deep into the wood. Uh huh. The solution would be to do a hardwood/tile combo, which would’ve eliminated the dream of having a cohesive floor.

Tile: Tile would be sustainable with a small footprint and high traffic related to having 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 1 kid. This is what we did. The cost was comparable to a quality hardwood, without ever having to worry about it getting wet or having it refinished. We chose the most cost-effective option for our family. We also chose a sleek modern, yet classic gray tile. Our hope is that it will be in style for as long as we live 🙂 And, I got a cohesive floor throughout the main floor. Score.

Go Without

Granted, Mr. MMM and I are minimalists by nature, so going without window treatments let’s say, isn’t a stretch for us. We have simple clean blinds that cover each glass orifice in our home, and we are completely fine with that. It’s totally minimalistic – making that a word. Other avenues in which we go without include a large home, a formal dining room, area carpets, and knick-knacks.

We have a small home with a single family dining table that serves all purposes. Neither the hallway nor the area under the table have an area carpets. We paid good money for these floors and we prefer to see them! Our table does not have a centerpiece and we have no random shelves holding stuff that collects dust. In case you didn’t know, frugal minimalists don’t like spending all their time dusting and moving knick-knacks around to clean. No thank you.

Make Your Own Furniture

Normally, we do not make our own furniture, however, there are instances when purchasing a specific piece of furniture would break the bank. In these instances, we choose to frugalize our furniture and make it ourselves. This is exactly what we did with our pub table in our family room.

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Custom table #2!

When we realized that purchasing a 10′ long pub table, as seen in our feature image, would cost us thousands of dollars, we decided to make it ourselves. We found a local saw mill and stopped in on a random Saturday. We picked out a piece of live-edge cherry wood, had it planed, and finished it in our garage. Then, we ordered custom steel legs off of Etsy and installed them ourselves. Total cost ~ $800. This is a simple reminder that, where there is a will, there is a way.

We also have another story of do-it-yourself furniture. Our dining table was about 10 years old and had seen much better days. It had a faux stone finish that had dulled and looked terrible. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the original luster back. For years, I considered purchasing a new table until one day when I took various paint cans from the garage and decided to turn it into a Jackson Pollock-style painting. I am extremely happy with the way it came out and it’s the perfect conversation starter.

When we’re not making our own furniture, we’re scouring antique and consignment shops for something that has character and won’t cost us an arm and a leg. We have found some very unique pieces this way.

Paint It Yo’self!

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100-year old piece of wood I stained/painted for a decoration. Boom.

Last year we effectively painted our entire house, except the closets…shhh. We’ll get to them. I just ran out of steam. There isn’t a cheaper way to change your home’s look than opening a can of paint. The catch? I’m glad you asked; as the heading suggests, you must paint it yourself. For < $100, you can completely transform the look of any room in your house. Don’t forget to add accent walls for splashes of color and a unique look! Having a unique look screams CUSTOM.

Don’t just stop at the walls. Paint your own artwork or frame your own pictures. Everyone snaps a frame-worthy picture from time to time. Use it! And who can’t do a pretty cool abstract? I know I have. Everything on our walls was created by…US!

Lights And Switches

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Above our table in front of a red accent wall. Custom.

Installing lights and switches really isn’t all that difficult. Caveat: I’m not saying you should ever do this on your own without a professional. All I’m saying is that, I have 🙂 So far, our house has not burned down. First, I turned off the electric. Then I removed the light or switch and examined the connections. I subsequently took a picture with my super convenient smartphone. After that, I installed the new device. Voila. In a matter of minutes, you can have a new light fixture on a dimmer! Also, I have found that stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot have fixtures that resemble some really expensive designs. Here again, you can get a custom look without dropping a ton of money. Anything that is a step above builder-grade* will make a big difference.

*Not that there’s anything wrong with builder-grade – but this post is about getting a custom look 🙂

Outdoors

When the summer fades into the background and the leaves start to fall, I remove the dying plants from the planters that grace either side of our front door. Then, I go gather some twigs from under our pine trees and proceed to randomly place them in the planters. I must say, it looks pretty darn cool when the outdoor lights are on in the evenings. I just decorated our entryway for 6 months out of the year for FREE.

Don’t get sucked into hiring a landscaper to plant flowers. Do some Internet searching and pick up some of the How-To guides that are free for the taking at your local nursery. You can easily mimic something you like for your own home. Yes, it will take work to plan it and plant it, but when it’s done you’ll have a fat stack of Benjamins in your pocket and custom gardens outside your home.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

I absolutely agree with this statement. However, on the flip side, if it is broke, by all means, FIX IT. You must keep your home in proper working order to keep its value. If it needs paint, paint it. Even something as simple as a burned out light bulb will give someone a poor impression of your home. Cleaning the gutters, mowing the lawn, pulling the weeds, and having an inviting front entryway are all imperative for your home to give off a positive impression. They’re also inexpensive. In this case, DO sweat the small stuff.

And there you have it, our guide to getting a custom home with frugal decor. Never underestimate your abilities!

What sorts of things do you do in your home to decorate without blowing the budget? We’d love to hear your ideas for a customizing your home on a budget!

ember

Mad Money Cat must have a custom home.

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Lisa is the creator and resident writer at Mad Money Monster. She's a mother, scientist, and financial guru on a mission to save Generation X from working until they die!

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8 comments… add one
  • JUsT Us Feb 14, 2017, 9:58 pm

    Plants and flowerbed are easy, if you enlist the free services of your local Ag Extension office and pick the brains of the workers at your local nurseries! There are tons and oodles of ways to perk up your yards that are inexpensive.

    I am a huge fan of perennial plantings. The ones you plant and they come up year after year. Daffodils, crocus, irises, gladiola, roses, honeysuckle, forsythia, jasmine, clematis, there are tons of choices that will serve you well for years or decades before petering out!

    Of everything that I will gain by becoming HomeFree, the one thing I will miss is being able to digggggg in the dirt. I gave away some of my patio plants today, and almost tackled the poor girl as she walked to her car with some of my potted plants… LOL! She made it away, unscathed.

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 14, 2017, 10:34 pm

      Awe! Well, I’m glad she made it to her car unscathed 🙂 I am definitely a perennial girl – I’m all about setting it and forgetting it. I do things as few times as possible. It’s my minimalist nature. Sounds like you’re the same way. Hope that van’s coming along nicely!

      • JUsT Us Feb 14, 2017, 10:54 pm

        It is groovin’ along nicely! Rock will be posting up something shortly about the solar parts and pieces. I have everything figured out and we will begin the installation ASAP… been raining here – what is this stuff falling from the sky?! LOL!

  • MrFireStation Feb 13, 2017, 10:46 am

    We live in a wonderful home and have barely spoken to home decorators over the years. One thing I would warn people about is often these people (even when you are paying them for their time) are getting kickbacks from the blind companies or furniture store. You may end up double-paying for their services!

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 13, 2017, 11:05 am

      Exactly! I wouldn’t even consider hiring someone to do it for me. That wouldn’t even cross my radar. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • Kate Feb 13, 2017, 10:10 am

    I also struggled with the pet/flooring issue back in 2006. I ended up going with a berber carpet throughout my (956 sq ft) house. While it’s held up pretty well through 3 cats, it’s not soft to walk on. Now that I’m down to one cat, I’ll wait until he’s gone and get a more plush carpet.

    I’m intrigued about the tile you installed — which parts of your house is it in? How does it feel in the winter? Did it take long to install?

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 13, 2017, 11:05 am

      Our tile is installed in every square inch of our first floor, that includes our living room kitchen, eating area, hallway, bedrooms, and bathrooms. It took some getting used to, but we absolutely love it. We’re in PA, so we have 4 seasons here. It is definitely on the cold side, but not so much so that I wouldn’t recommend it. We also wear slippers, etc. And we do have area carpets in our living room and in our bedrooms. It took a total of 2 weeks to have it professionally installed. 🙂

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