Sharing affordable DIY home decorating ideas from a giant pinboard I created for the Calgary Home Show! From ways to upcycle, how to make a space instantly cozy and more!
Last month I was invited to speak at the Calgary Fall Home Show. I shared a bit of a recap right here, but one of the things I was able to do while I was there was create this giant pinboard of affordable DIY home decorating ideas.
I’ve been blogging here for more than 10 years now and over that time I’ve shared a TON of ideas and room makeovers and I’ve definitely found a few strategies to be my favourites when it comes to home decorating and renovating.
It was so much fun to pull those and put them into this pinboard feature for attendees of the home show to walk by and take a peek at. Today I’m excited to share those tips here for you! Each tip is backed with more than one example of what this could look like in your home.
Before I get into the tips though… Let’s take a look at this 20 foot pinboard!
It’s actually the back of my DIY Room Features that I designed for the home show. I painted the simple graphic mural with neutral tones and when it was dry I added printed photos and hand wrote the tips and arrows using a paint marker.
I LOVE creating murals and this one was a fun combination of mural and DIY ideas… really, two of my favourite things!
Alright… on to the DIY home decorating tips!
1. A headboard moulding wall
A picture frame moulding is classic & allows a bedroom to feel finished… even without picking the ‘perfect’ piece of art. I’ve used a similar picture frame moulding (see tutorial here) in several bedrooms I’ve designed over the years.
When I shared the tutorial and how to do the math to create your own moulding wall, I made the mistake of sharing how much the project cost us. Here’s the thing… material costs have gone WAY up. And quickly.
But we also use material very carefully. You can make sure you aren’t wasting material to help stretch those dollars (and materials!) by using a free cut optimizer tool (like this one) to make the most of each piece of material & save $$!
2. Try Dark bedroom Walls
Bedrooms are a great place to go dark for a cozy retreat. In fact… it’s a major part of my go-to formula for bedroom design. Dark walls instantly make a space feel so cozy. Like a retreat. I love how calming it is to walk into a dark bedroom.
If you’re nervous about dark walls- you can always balance those dark walls with bright white bedding, white trim, ceiling and doors, and white window coverings. If you want to take the dark and really run with it, paint the trim and ceiling too!
I have so many examples of this one, but you can see it definitely is a vibe. And paint is an easy change. If you live with it for a few months and it’s not your style… you can change it back! Paint has come a long way and painting even a light colour over a dark colour is easy to do now.
3. Built in desks for a functional floor plan
When you’re renovating a home, you’re often working with some awkward spaces. It’s a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity.
I love a built in moment to make the most of kind of a weird space. We have three built-in desks in our home. You can build it exactly to the space where otherwise a piece of furniture wouldn’t fit.
See my son’s built in desks using IKEA drawers here. This is the same desk that’s in both of my boys’ bedrooms.
Then in my office, I have a long but very narrow room. To make the most of it, I built in a wall to wall desk using live edge boards. You can see the tutorial here. It makes it feel so spacious instead of cramped!
Speaking of built ins… this bathroom had such a small space for a vanity… so we built our own vanity! Even better, it cost hardly anything!
4. try built in storage to maximize floor space
Speaking of built ins… DIY built MDF in shelving can pack a huge punch of storage without splurging on custom book cases!
Here in my office, we were working with narrow rooms but needed a lot of storage for all of my supplies. To take space out the room for a piece of furniture would have been difficult.
Instead, I built these built-in shelves and a barn door to separate the rooms. Building them ourselves saved us over getting custom shelving for the space. Plus… they’re gorgeous, I’m in love with them! See the tutorial for these built in shelves here.
5. Cover Eye Sores for an Instant Feature
Okay, if your yard has a retaining wall that’s totally an eye sore, this is for you. This goes with the previous one- where you’re making the most of an awkward feature. Those challenges in your home that you’re making over can also be an opportunity for a feature!
This old concrete retaining wall went from totally ugly to the biggest feature in your yard with this DIY wall cover! Instant charm!
Speaking of the ‘cover it’ mentality… check out this ottoman we love! We covered this with some salvaged leather we got (free) for a $0 ottoman that we’ve been using for almost 10 years now!
6. Make the most of a Cramped entryway
We’ve always had a cramped entryway. In our first apartment, it was a hallway. In our next house (above), it was an entry on the landing of a staircase. In this house it’s right up against our staircase. And in our Tux Suite, it’s a hallway too. Here’s some ideas to make the most of it!
Add bead board & hooks to a long skinny hall to make it functional! This is great to protect the walls as well, it keeps the drywall from getting damaged as you carry in bags.
You can go one step further and actually build storage into the walls. In our last home, we added drawers to the landing by taking space out of the basement- hidden shoe storage, right when you walk in!
7. save on home decor with DIY art
This is my very fave way to save on home decor. Almost every piece of wall art you see on this wall? DIY.
I love this because you can make it exactly what you want, the size you need… in the budget you have leftover! I typically make art to suit my space. Need something large? Tiny with lots of texture? Neutral? Bold? You can make it exactly like that.
I know art lovers will buy a piece of art and design their room around that. I love that for them… but for me, this is a total win! You can see more DIY wall decor ideas right here.
8. Use Free Printables for Art
Don’t feel like an artist? If DIY art feels out of your abilities, frame up a free printable instead! You can see some awesome free printables right here!
I personally love printing these out for the season, it’s such an easy swap to update my decor seasonally without adding clutter.
9. Basement space on a tight budget?
Here’s a recipe for an affordable sitting area. We’ve used this in our current basement before we transformed it into a playroom and in our tux basement suite.
A hand painted mural using your stash of wall paint paired with affordable outdoor chairs = a fun, cozy corner.
It’s pretty fool proof and outdoor furniture can be so affordable! The macrame chairs were only ~$60 each!
If painting a mural sounds scary… I have a post with tons of tips to paint your own mural right here.
10. Cozy up a room with these 2 Elements
If your room is feeling a bit cold or unfinished, try adding window coverings & rugs. Both of these add texture, add warmth and some pattern. They fill space without feeling ‘busy’.
Specifically, for window coverings, I love to layer natural finishes like bamboo blinds & affordable textured curtains for an instant upgrade. See more about my window coverings here.
For rugs, I like to stick to a neutral. If you want something more bold- go for it! But if you’re unsure… I’m confident that a neutral rug with a subtle texture or pattern will be a great choice.
11. Price it out: DIY, Buy or Custom?
A budget can help you make decisions– sometimes DIY will save you big, other times- buying is the way to go! & sometimes? Custom comes in even more affordable than both!
I always thought of custom being the most expensive and DIY being the cheapest.
But that’s not always the case. Do yourself a favour and price out the options! Here’s some examples.
Above, this DIY live edge dining table saved us hundreds over a store bought table! Even an affordable, big box store table runs a few hundred dollars. We got solid wood in a style we totally love by DIYing the table top and ordering a custom base. See more about that DIY live edge table here.
In our last home, we DIYed a railing using a hardware store posts and railing. You can see all about that here.
In this house, I really wanted a more modern look but assumed a custom metal railing would be out of my budget. To help myself get over that pricy dream… I priced it out. To my surprise… This custom railing worked out to less than a hardware store build-yourself-option!
Speaking of custom coming in more affordable… Both of these custom mirrors were a total steal compared to new!
We had old mirrors with chipped corners that could be repurposed, saving us the cost of new glass. Ask glass shops if they can cut old mirrors you have laying around to save big. You might be surprised! We also had one cut for our main bathroom!
12. Pair New with old for character
Wood furniture can add so much charm to a space. While it can be cost prohibitive to buy solid wood furniture new, they are often available for a steal second hand! Check marketplace, re-stores and Craigs List for a piece with the shape or style you love.
You can always paint, or sand and re-stain. Most of the time… with a little sanding & love these pieces can look new again!
We used this strategy a TON in Tux House since we were aiming for a classic vibe and had a tight budget.
Mixing those older pieces with new pieces can help a space feel interesting, collected and still up-to–date. In the living room (above) we mixed a new sofa with thrifted coffee table ($10!).
In this checker floor kitchen, we refinished a thrifted table & paired it with new Windsor style chairs. I love the warmth the wood adds to the space.
Wood tones can be mixed and matched too- so even if you already have something wood (like the floors or trim in the living room!), just make sure you have more than one of a similar wood tone to tie it in and make it feel intentional.
13. Get creative for expensive furniture needs
Speaking of thrifting wood furniture. You can also get creative to check some of the bigger items off of your list without breaking the bank.
A vanity is such an expensive part of a bathroom remodel. It wasn’t in our budget to replace the vanity in the Tux House remodel… but I really wanted to update the pressboard off-white vanity that was in there.
Here we thrifted a dresser for $60 & converted it to a unique vanity to match with new fixtures & tile in this bathroom remodel. The sink insert was under $40 from Home Depot and we ordered a beautiful faucet from Amazon to bring the entire piece in under $150. Less than half what a cost conscious vanity would cost new! AND it looks much more fabulous.
Another example of this is dining room chairs. When we bought our first full house and renovated it, we were working on such a budget! We found a second hand bench for $10 to use instead of buying chairs for one side of the dining table.
It was perfect for the kids and looked really nice as well. I don’t have a blog post featuring this, but you can see it in this old Instagram post here.
14. A DIY Kitchen Facelift
When you’re ready to makeover your kitchen, new cabinets or even new cabinet doors can be a huge line item in the budget. If custom cabinets are just not in the budget, here’s a recipe you can use to give your kitchen a DIY facelift.
Try removing some uppers cabinets & painting the cabinets you have. Both the kitchens above we did that same thing. Removing some uppers helps open up the kitchen and make it feel bigger. Using your open shelving for storage means you’re not losing anything for storage. Just choose your prettiest dishes to store there! Here’s some tips to style open shelving in your kitchen.
If it’s in the budget… Add fresh countertops for a totally new kitchen look. In the blue kitchen, we used affordable IKEA countertops and in the green kitchen, the homeowner used a countertop resurfacing kit to give them a fresh look.
This would also work so well in a bathroom!
15. Semi-Custom Furniture
Since we’ve talked about painting cabinets and furniture… It’s worth mentioning that you can paint new furniture too!
I know it seems like a risk to paint something that’s new. But if this helps you get exactly what you’re looking for IN your budget… go for it!
We did that in our own bathroom remodel. This vanity was a budget option in a colour we didn’t love… nothing enamel paint can’t handle! It’s been 4 years and it’s holding up great! There’s not a single chip off of this baby and my kids use this bathroom daily.
We did the same in my son’s bedroom. We painted the desk drawers to match his feature wall and it looks totally custom now. But it’s IKEA. You can add custom details to pre-fab furniture to get a look that perfectly suits you.
We did this in our playroom as well… which leads me to my last point!
16. Mismatch furniture?
If you have a collection of hand-me-down, collected or just overall mismatch furniture that you’re finding doesn’t feel cohesive, this could be the perfect hack. Try painting it all a neutral colour to instantly upgrade your space & help everything feel calm & cohesive.
We did this in our playroom and our boys’ bedroom. The crib was white and the bed was an oak colour. By painting it all a muddy grey, the room feels instantly less busy/cluttered and feels intentional.
In our playroom, we took this one step further and added legs to the IKEA pieces to give them an elevated look after painting them all to match. Mismatch no more!
Alright! So those are the affordable DIY home decorating ideas and tips that I shared on my giant pinboard feature at the Calgary Home Show. I’ve added more details and examples here for you… I just couldn’t help myself ;). I truly hope you found it helpful and got the wheels turning, giving you ideas of your own to work with!
I have one more post to go as I finish up my recap from the Home Show. It’s my presentation about planning a room makeover. I can’t wait to share!