When we arrived in Leverkusen about 6 months ago, we only had our suitcases to fill the empty apartment with. There were white walls and 2 working light fixtures. Let’s just say we had candle-lit dinners for the first couple of months. We were also both unemployed at the time, so money was pretty tight (and still is). But, we still wanted to turn our first home away from home into a place that would feel cozy and welcoming. Moving to a new environment is stressful to say the least. We needed out little nest to feel like a true home.
Six months in, we’re still not even near having this place “done”, but there’s already so much I’ve learned about decorating on a budget. Above all else, I’ve learned that it’s a process, and that there really are a lot of ways to save money when you’re smart about it. It’s definitely not the fastest way to a finished home, but I’m sure we will appreciate the outcome all the more.
The only decor item I just had to take with me from Estonia are the DIY wooden letters
we used in our wedding decor.
Here are 5 ways I’ve found to build our home on a budget:
1. Ask around. People have stuff they don’t need anymore, so ask around, and you might be surprised what you can get. We’ve had so much help from friends and complete strangers. When Rein first arrived, a friend of a friend gave us a ton of stuff she didn’t need anymore. This stuff became the backbone of our new home. We had pots to cook in, plates to eat off of, and a couch to sit on. At the time, that was huge.
2. Thrift. Go to flea markets or look at your equivalent of a Graig’s List. For the first month, the E-bay Kleinanzeigen was the first site I opened in the morning, and the last one I closed at night. As a result, we found a closet and our kitchen table for an amazing price. You can find just slightly used things at great prices this way.
Also, in Germany, people put there unwanted furniture on the street at certain dates, and anyone can take what they want. I don’t know if there’s anything similar to that in your country, but here, it’s worth it keep your eyes open. We actually found 2 pieces of furniture just today.
3. Prioritize. As sad as it is, you can’t have it all – at least not at once. We still don’t have a bed for example because for us, having a place to hang our clothes, a place to sit down and eat, and a corner for me to craft in were more important. We’re still on the look-out for the perfect bed with the perfect price, but it doesn’t need to happen today.
At the beginning, I was so excited to decorate the whole apartment in full as soon as possible. But, as time went by, I realized that was pretty unrealistic. At least on our budget. So, we discussed it and made a mental list of things we would need and prioritized it. Of course, sometimes we find things that are further down the line, but we only get them if they are either free or super affordable. Having a list in place has really helped us make smart money decisions.
4. Do it yourself. You knew I couldn’t leave that out, now could I? DIY is my lifestyle! I love adding handmade touches to my wardrobe and my home. The good thing is, you can find DIYs that are really low-budget, and even use upcycled materials. My own struggle with finding budget-friendly DIY ideas was what led me to create my e-book in the first place (insert shameless self-promotion). There’s a lot that you can do with the materials you have at hand. Also, DIY is a great way to add those small decor items to your home that add to the cozy and pretty factor, but that you could otherwise not justify buying given your budget.
Here’s a list of DIY projects you can spot in this post:
DIY sewing table
Restyled magazine folders
DIY wooden letters
Upcycled flower vases
And a couple from the book as well: a felt coffee cozy, restyled table mats, geometric coasters, restyled memory boards.
5. Have a plan and patience. Decorating on a budget is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. You need to have a plan in place, because otherwise you’ll just end up buying random things and in the end, your home will also look random. Rather than going for the instant gratification of buying something that’s ok now, have the patience to look for the one that you’ll love for years to come. When we started, I said to myself that I was only going to buy stuff that we both loved. Sure, we’ll have to make compromises along the way, but I still want this home to be a place we both love to spend time in.
I hope this was helpful and inspiring to those of you trying to decorate a home on a budget. I’m cheering you on! And I can’t wait to share our home with you, hopefully in the near future.
To give you even more inspiration and ideas, I’m having a 20% off sale for my crafty e-book “Hanna’s Little Book of Nesting” all throughout the weekend. You’ll be able to snag it for just 7.90$!
Get your book here!