Decorating on a Budget: 4 Tips and Tricks Pinterest Taught Me

Apartment - full.jpg

It’s a challenge we all face at some point in our lives: making our place of residence feel like home on a tight budget. For me, that reality hit during the fourth and final year of my degree. I was moving out of the three bedroom apartment I had lived in with roommates for two years and into a bachelor apartment alone with little funds to decorate or spruce it up. Needless to say, with beige walls, beige cabinets and parquet flooring the unit didn’t exactly scream personality or feel like home.

About a year prior to the move, I had discovered Pinterest; oh boy, did that get me into trouble. Upon entering the apartment, I began to fantasize about what furniture would look great, how artwork would complement the space and create great focal features. I knew I needed to do something or I would go crazy living there for the next 8 months. I turned to my blogger friends I had found on Pinterest in order to make my student living a personal space I could call home. Here are some of the tips and ideas I came up with.

1. Make What’s Old New Again

I was no stranger to altering something to personalize it. However this was an idea reinforced by numerous Do It Youselfers.

chair-originalWalking down the street one day I came across a set of old patio chairs ready to go to the dump. The seat cushions were ripped and stained, the feet were missing half of their plastic covers, but I didn’t care. I saw potential. Potential for these chairs to become something one might see in a French café lining the streets of Paris. I knew that reupholstering these chairs would be far less expensive than going out and buying a new set, and I already had a table so I had nothing to lose. After selecting the fabric I wanted to use I got to work. Removing the old fabric, thoroughly cleaning the foam cushions, bleaching the wooden seat bases. I thought the tough part was over with… WRONG! Ladies, if you need a good arm workout, nothing works better than trying to use a staple gun to attach fabric to a piece of ply wood. I made it through the agonizing fight without any bloodshed (thankfully! few!) and am quite proud of the finished product. chair-reupholstered

I had a boring cabinet that was now the first thing you saw when you walked into the apartment, but was necessary because the apartment had limited storage. I turned to Pinterest to find a way to refinish the laminate brown woodgrain and wasn’t disappointed. I found a post by Terry M. of Forever Decorating who had a featured post on Home Talk, a house and home blog. She had refinished a dresser using book pages and mod podge. The idea of ripping up a book for decorating did seem appalling considering how much I love my books but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense for the space. I went to the Goodwill around the corner from my apartment in Toronto’s west end and picked up an old book that was falling apart and took to shredding the pages in order to make this ugly cabinet a one of a kind piece of art. A collaged the two doors to the cabinet with the paper books and painted the sides and interior in a glossy black.

To read about the inspiration, click here.

2. Find What You Can At Thrift Stores

I had an empty space in my apartment where I had a few chairs setup which I dubbed my reading nook, however it was missing something, either a side table or small bookcase to store my “to be read” books and place my cup of tea on while I read. All the articles I’d read about finding inexpensive furnishings were lost on me. I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to find anything but made my wreading-nookay to the Goodwill once again and came across a small bookcase that was priced at only $5. I couldn’t believe it. I also found a set of glass customizable coasters and a few picture frames.

I took all this home and the book case fit perfectly in between the two chairs. I filled the frames and coasters with pictures from a few of my trips and the reading nook was complete.

Thrift shopping is something I had read countless times on blogs but had never put into practice. I’m sure glad I decided to have a look at the thrift store. I think my little reading nook looked great!

3. Use The Souvenirs Cluttering Your Closet

I have quite the collection a travel souvenirs cluttering up my closet and drawers from the various trips I’ve taken; boarding passes, show tickets, museum tickets, postcards and keychains, miniature landmarks and themed picture frames. I turned to Pinterest to find something to do with my momentos.  I came across a post on Popsugar: 17 Ideas to Organize and Display Your Travel Souvenirs. I loved everything they had suggested but my favourite was by far the momento shadow boxes as pictured here: 


Image source: Design Aglow via Popsugar.

I took to creating my own version of these shadow boxes. I purchased inexpensive frames from the dollar store and created the backgrounds with the city names using Photoshop and pictures I had taken in the featured city. I then gathered the souvenirs from each of the cities and laid them out esthetically within the frame.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Creative

paper-butterfliesAs every Pinterest addict knows, there are thousands of DIY blogs out there from home renos, to clothing, to decor and furniture. I had left over book pages from my mod podge cabinet collage and decided to get creative myself.

Paper flowers.jpgI got to work cutting out butterfly shapes in different sizes and glued them to a canvas I had painted black in order to create the fluttering butterfly piece pictured here.

With the remaining pages I created paper roses. It took a long time and was quite meticulous curling each petal and shaping it to replicate a blooming rose. Not only was the work tough but my fingers were constantly a victim to burns due to the hot glue gun, however I created the below finished product.

There they are, the tips and tricks I picked up from Pinterest on decorating on a budget. I have read hundreds, maybe even thousands of blog posts not only on decorating but for recipes, healthy habits and exercise and so much more. Pinterest opened up my world to so many sources of information out there I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. What inspiration will you find on the famous pinning site?


Need to decorate? Here are 4 tips and tricks to makeover your space on a budget!


Are you a student low on funds but want to decorate your temporary apartment? Here are 4 tips and tricks I learned from Pinterest about decorating on a budget.

One thought on “Decorating on a Budget: 4 Tips and Tricks Pinterest Taught Me

  1. Alex, this is an idyllic Pinterest space! I particularly love the shadow-boxes full of souvenirs: these seem like a fun, uniqque and inexpensive way of showcasing your personality. After completing one beautiful shadowbox project, I can see being inspired to take on the challenge of the butterfly boxes – very creative! I would absolutely follow your boards! 🙂

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