1. Used furniture is your best friend
Most of us twenty-somethings don’t have the money to afford the world’s most amazing Pottery Barn table, despite the fact that we covet it on a daily basis. However, used furniture can really be your best friend – especially when you’re trying to save money. Do you have any friends or relatives moving? Maybe you can snag their bedroom set, dining table and chairs, or office desk. Even better, become a Craigslist expert or a estate sale maven and get the pieces that really stand out to you on the cheap. I just bought a mirror for $40 from an antique store, Wayfair sells them for $150.
2. Use your resources
Chances are good that you have a friend or family member who dabbles in art, photography, sculpture, woodworking, or another creative trade. Use your resources! Find someone who’s willing to lend you a few photo prints to put up on your walls or help you create a beautiful piece of furniture. It makes your home feel warm and even more personal.
3. Display photos creatively
If you just had a wedding (or if you’ve just been in a lot of weddings), you probably have a ton of friend and family photos to display. While it’s easy to just buy a standard frame collage from Target, you can take it one step further and display your photos creatively. Design an original photo collage including other keepsakes, with different size and shape frames all in the same color, for instance. Or if you want to get really crafty, take the Pinterest route. I store all my loose photos in an old cigar box. (See below).
4. Add unexpected pieces
Ceramic artichokes? Giant jax bookends? Yeah, I didn’t expect to have them in my house either. But they look awesome and they are great conversation starters. We have built-ins that I obsessed over for months on how to decorate but I slowly just started buying pieces that I really loved.
5. Take it one Pin at a time
Pinterest is both the best and worst thing that’s ever happened to a budding Do-It-Yourself blogger. Start small by taking one project that you love on Pinterest and making it on your own. Oh, and Easy Ikea Hacks usually take about five times as long to complete as you think they will. Stupid Allen wrenches…
6. Paint everything
Here’s where Pinterest wins the Internet: painting everything. I live for spray paint, glass paint, acrylic paint… you name it, I’ve painted it. Whether it’s a bookshelf or a $3 frame, everything looks better with a fresh coat of paint to match your color scheme (or adding a pop of color, but we’ll get to that later).
7. Decorate your front door
Remember that old wreath that your grandparents used to hang on their front door? While it was probably pretty cheesy and a little outdated, decorating your front door is one of the easiest ways to make your house feel welcoming to guests.
8. Frame it
When in doubt, frame it. Target always has frames on clearance, and I like to refer to Ikea as the mecca of frames, often for those that cost $10 or less. Garage and estate sales are also amazing places to rifle through boxes of old picture frames. I’ve framed photos, thank you cards, magazine ads, scrapbook paper, posters, and more – everything looks better in a frame, including our giant mirror in the bathroom. Molding can also “frame” a lot in your house to give you those clean lines.
9. Start from scratch
There’s something extremely rewarding about starting a project completely from scratch. It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be fun and so fulfilling to have a finished product to enjoy.
10. Add color. Everywhere.
When decorating, so many designers use white in their color schemes. I personally don’t like white (or black for that matter) as a main color on which I base any design or decorating scheme. I’m not an interior designer, but I love a good pop of color like a bright area rug or even a bright colored accent wall. Color, especially in accents like curtains, art, and pillows, can warm up a room and make you feel right at home.
11. You’ll make mistakes
This is the most important DIY tip of all time. You will probably hate some of the projects that you create. You might destroy something mid-process that was kind of expensive. You might end up throwing a hammer into a bookshelf, or setting off the smoke alarm when trying to remove a mirror from the wall . Either way, DIY is a creative process: there’s ups and downs, so don’t be afraid to take the leap and take the time to see it through. Because you might be able to salvage even the worst of creations.