How to Tackle Common Decorating Dilemmas on a Budget

When decorating your home, sometimes you’ll run into things that you want to change but can’t. This could be because of budget constraints, not having the time for major construction, or perhaps you’re a renter and simply aren’t allowed to modify certain things.

While this can be frustrating (who doesn’t wish they could have no limitations on design?) it doesn’t mean you can’t still personalize those “issues” and make them look chic. I’ve come across many design dilemmas that seemed impossible to get around. In my experience, there is always a stylish fix when you’re willing to get creative.

How To Tackle Common Decorating Dilemmas on a Budget | #decoratingdilemmas #interiordecorating #budgetdecorating |

Here are some of the most common decorating dilemmas and easy ways to solve them:

Fixes to Common Decorating Dilemmas

If your cabinets are the wrong color, outdated, or just plain, it can drag the whole space down. After all, they kind of take up a lot of space! Thankfully, there are some simple ways to update them without going for a complete and costly remodel.

Paint ─ One of the most transformative things you can do is paint your cabinets. A nice white will always freshen them up, but you can also go with another neutral or, if you’re feeling bold, a color. Consult with a paint specialist at the paint or hardware store to find out what type of paint you should use for your cabinet’s specific finish and what prep will be required. Then, test out a few colors directly on the cabinets to see how they pair with your countertops and backsplash, as well as how they react with the lighting in the kitchen at different times throughout the day before making a final decision.

Change the hardware ─ A quick fix for cabinets that can be done in an afternoon is to switch out the hardware. You’ll be amazed by how much of a difference new door and drawer handles will make on the overall style of the cabinets. You can choose to go with something streamlined and modern or opt for something a little more unique to give them some character.

Update with trim moldings ─ If your cabinets are not currently finished off with molding, consider adding some to the top and/or bottom of your cabinets to give them a more upgraded look. Here’s a great tutorial from DIY Network on how to install crown molding in your kitchen.

Add glass to the doors ─ Cutting out the middle of some of the solid cabinet doors and replacing them with glass inserts can give you kitchen a more customized, upgraded look. Here’s a great tutorial from HGTV on how to do this DIY project yourself.

Remove the doors for open shelving ─ You can skip the glass and take the doors off entirely for an open shelving look. While this isn’t ideal for everyone (there is some extra dusting involved and you’ll want to streamline the items inside so it doesn’t look cluttered), it can bring some unique character to a kitchen.

The countertops can make a huge difference in a kitchen or bathroom, but swapping them out entirely can be costly, even if you opt for an affordable option. Here are some ideas to help you work with the ones you have.

Paint ─ Paint is a magical tool! Believe it or not, there are actually specialty paints on the market now made specifically for countertops. Consult a paint specialist at your local paint or hardware store to find out if this is an applicable option for your countertops.

Hide them ─ Some beautiful, strategically placed trays or large wood cutting boards can help hide countertops you aren’t a big fan of. While you don’t want to go overboard with this trick because it could start looking cluttered, they are great for drawing your eye away from the surface and to something more decorative.

Draw attention away with accessories ─ An open cookbook on a stand, vases full of flowers, and apothecary jars filled with textural decor can all help distract the eye from the countertops.

Whether your floors are outdated, damaged, or simply not your taste, they can be a huge eye sore.

Two words: area rugs ─ They are the easiest and most effective way to cover up unsightly flooring. It’s even okay to layer area rugs over carpet. The trick is in choosing colors and patterns that compliment the main flooring. For example: If you have ugly blue carpeting, consider using pretty, neutral area rugs on top of it. However, if your flooring is neutral, you could be a little more bold and incorporate some color into the rugs. There are a variety of materials to choose from, too, from natural fiber to oriental carpets. It all depends on the look and vibe you desire to capture in your home.

Are some oddly shaped or oddly placed windows cramping your style?

Unify them ─ If your windows are various sizes that make the space look awkward, make them appear to be the same size by hanging rods that are the same height and width. This will create the illusion that they are all uniform.

Lighting is one of the most important elements in design. It can greatly affect everything from the mood to the colors to the size of the space.

Lighter paint colors ─ To brighten up a dark space, use lighter paint colors on the walls. This will immediately lift the space even without a light source, and reflect more light when there is one.
Use mirrors to reflect light ─ Mirrors are a great trick for bouncing light in a space. You can also use mirrored furniture (if you like the look of it) to achieve the same effect.

Proper lighting ─ Of course, proper artificial lighting is key. Make sure the bulbs you choose cast the right kind of lighting that you are after and have plenty of sources of light available depending on the size of the space.

Avoid the wrong fabrics on windows  ─ Heavy, dark curtains will pull down a space and make it feel smaller. Stick with light colors and breezy fabrics to help lighten up the room.

If you have collected secondhand furniture that isn’t exactly your style or capturing the look you want, there are some easy ways to make use of them without buying all new pieces.

Mismatched furniture ─ Mismatched furniture can quickly cause discord in your decor. Paint pieces that clash with each other in the same color to unify them and create a cohesive look in the space.

Slipcovers ─ Use slipcovers to hide outdated patterns or stains on sofas and chairs. There are a variety of styles to choose from and, as a bonus, they are very easy to keep clean.

Tablecloth or runner ─ If your dining room table isn’t your style, consider hiding it with a chic tablecloth or runner.

Elbow grease ─ Some pieces may have great style but just need a little care. Clean and polish these older pieces to give them a new lease on life.

I hope these ideas have inspired you to look at your decorating dilemmas as opportunities to do something creative in your home. They don’t have to stand in your way from having a space you love.

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I’ll be expanding on these topics (especially tips for renters) in future posts. In the meantime…

Leave me a comment:

What is your biggest decorating dilemma that you haven’t been able to find a solution for yet?


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  1. Hello! So glad I found you! My issue is 8′ walls/low ceilings. I SO want high ceilings but can’t afford a new house? Also my spouse bought a huge dark brown sectional. It’s comfortable, but not very stylish. How can I work with one big “L” shaped sofa when the room probably should have 2 smaller scale sofas facing each other. One more question ? Why are TV’s always perpendicular to the sofa in ALL pictures of dens?
    Love this site!!!!

    1. Hi Valerie! Thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate it when my readers share their decorating issues with me, because I can then focus my blog posts on topics that will really help them. As for the TVs, there could be several reasons. The room may have been set up like that just for the photo shoot, the TV could be on an articulating arm, the homeowner likes to lie down while watching TV, etc. Good question, though. It shows you’re noticing details in the rooms you’re looking at. I’m very happy you are enjoying the site. You’re going to be seeing a lot more happening here starting next week. I hope to hear from you again! 🙂

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