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10 Ways to Decorate for Less

Check out our top cheap decorating tips.

1. HEAD FOR BARNES AND NOBLE

Those cozy armchairs are beckoning, so grab an armful of decorating books and take a load off your feet. Flip through for ideas -- you don't need to buy the expensive stuff, but you may get some more cheap decorating tips on color and placement.

2. ANTIQUES (OR ALMOST ANTIQUES)

You can find great stuff at flea markets, antique shops, and thrift stores if you keep your eyes open. Flea markets can be treasure troves for large furniture, while some thrift shops have kitchen sections. You can even find collectibles if you look hard. A shelf of bright Fiestaware will make your kitchen sparkle, even if you got it on the cheap.

Tip: Shop late in the day at flea markets, when vendors are willing to make deals so they won't have to cart stuff home. Don't be shy about bargaining -- everyone does it.

3. CAST AN EYE ON CAST-OFFS

Mom and Dad probably have a boatload of stuff they'd love to give you. Some of it may be horrid (like those orange ’70s plastic stools) but some items may have retro cool (like those orange ’70s plastic stools). Don't be shy -- ask to raid the 'rents' cast-offs.

Tip: Once you decide what to keep, offer to organize a yard sale for Mom and Dad. They'll probably be so grateful to dump their junk that they'll let you keep the proceeds. Use the money to buy a dining room table or other big-ticket item.

4. IKEA, IKEA, IKEA

Swedish modern at affordable prices. Need we say more?

5. BUY TRANSITIONAL PIECES

Use a patio set in your dining room and move it outside when you buy the real thing. A futon can fill in for a living room sofa; later, move it to a guest room or office.

6. LABOR FOR GOODS

If you're renting a house or apartment, offer to trade labor for a break on your rent. If you want to refinish the floors or require more electrical outlets for your technology needs, try to make a deal with your landlord.

7. COLOR ME BEAUTIFUL

Paint is the cheapest decorating tool, and you can even do it yourself. Nothing brightens a room like a fresh coat of enamel -- choosing something besides white is a definite plus.

8. ART ON THE CHEAP

Want to display great works of art but don't have enough dough? Old maps and botanical books are great sources of wall art. Some stores specialize in old art prints; you can also find old prints in antique stores or even junk stores. Once they're framed, they look mighty pricey -- you'll be the only one who knows they cost $5.

9. COVER IT UP

If you have a functioning couch but hate the upholstery, cover it up. Slipcovers are cheap alternatives to reupholstering, which can cost hundreds of dollars. If you can sew, do it yourself; otherwise, ask Mom, Grandma, or another skilled tailor or seamstress to help you make classy covers for your déclassé furniture.

10. PUT YOUR GIFTS TO WORK

Remember that stuff you registered for? If you've got it, flaunt it! Break out those crystal candlesticks -- even if it's just dinner for two.

Photo Credit: Mark Lund

Get more design ideas by visiting our gallery.

-- Michelle Nellett

See More: Painting & DIY