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Comfort and Style on a Cheapskate’s Budget

by Tiffany in A Green Home

Cheapskate comfort and styleThis is part three of my cheapskate series…showing you how to be kind to our planet and pinch your pennies at the same time. Sometimes I think many natural moms get discouraged by all of the great green gadgets and home products available that are priced beyond reach. Not everyone can afford all of the nuances that style magazines say one should have. But having a green home that is stylish and comfortable is more accessible than you think.

Here are a few ideas for decorating on a budget:

Visit your local Goodwill and thrift stores. People give away items that still have the price tags attached and unsold estate sale items are often donated here to you can find some antique treasures. Pricier pieces can be purchased for next to nothing here. I go into my community Goodwill once of month to look for vintage Pyrex serving dishes and bowls. I am  in love with Pyrex and they often have some at the Goodwill.

Shop in your own home! Take a second look at the things you have stored away. Those curtains that you no longer want might make excellent coverings for throw pillows. That vest could make a really cool lampshade. Use your imagination and recycle what you already have!

Change the color. No VOC paint is relatively cheap. To make a huge impact with little money, simply paint your room. If you stick with the same color palette as your existing furniture, you can give your room a face-lift without spending a fortune.

An alternative to interior painting is wall decorating. Add a shelf or two to the corners in the room and display framed family photos or candles. This is cheap and it creates a very comfortable and relaxing atmosphere.

Don’t love your sofa? Slipcover it. Seriously, any piece of furniture can get a whole new look affordably (and you can hide stains) with a slipcover. Look for a discount fabric or upholstry warehouse for material.

Need rugs? Why not try making your own rag rugs? When anyone in your family wears out articles of clothing or towels you can strip them into pieces and use them for rag rugs This is the ultimate recycling project and I just adore the look of rag rugs. I recommend the book Making Rag Rugs: 15 Step-by-Step Projects for instructions on how to do this project and others.

My last tip is by far my favorite…shop at yard sales, estate sales, and garage sales! They are a treasure trove of decorating finds. Because the prices are reasonable, if something catches your eye that is not on your list, you can purchase it anyway.

I just read a wonderful book about this topic called Garage Sale America by Bruce Littlefield. I knew I would love this book the second I picked it up. The cover is decorated with various vintage garage sale finds and it brought back so many memories of garage sale shopping with my mother and grandmother during my summer vacations in Ohio. At the time I think I was mostly interested in finding cheap audio cassettes, Barbies, and stuffed animals. My little brother was on the lookout for matchbox cars. My mother had an eye for antiques.

One of the first pages in Garage Sale America made me want to kiss Bruce Littlefield. It was a whole page photo of Littlefield’s Pyrex collection! Did I mention that I adore Pyrex? They are the best for storing leftovers so that plastic bags and tupperware need not enter the house. Altough we have some of the same pieces, his collection does put mine to shame so it has spurred some garage sale plans for me over the next few weeks.

Garage Sale America follows Littlefield across the country going from one garage sale to the next, meeting knew people, and adding to his various collections. It is a very funny read too. I adored all of the stories he collected and all the people he met.

The best part of the book was the last section where you tour Littlefield’s home and see pictures of his Catskills’ farmhouse that he decorated with garage sale finds. It is very stylish and comfortable and definately looks like a well lived in home. His home is proof positive that it is possible to decorate your home on a budget. AND buying used items gives them a new life and purpose. Reusing items keeps them out of landfills and is the ultimate way to recycle and be kind to our planet.

So what is you favorite way to decorate on a budget? Or perhaps you have a garage sale memory to share?


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  • Those are some great finds!

  • Julie

    I’ll have to check out the book. Sounds like a good one! And about the Pyrex … we have an old Pyrex bowl my husband received out of his Grandmother’s belongings when she passed away. It’ll always be one of our favorite bowls.

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  • Great article!

    I did want to let you know that your both your links to the baby article and the one to the beauty article both point to the baby article. . . .

  • Thanks Jenn! Got that link issue fixed. :)

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  • That was a fantastic article. I liked the idea of creating slipcovers and other such things from old curtains. Shopping at home was such a great way of putting it – I’m sure we all have some old stuff that actually deserves a second chance. It just needs to be used efficiently, or for something else. Great idea!
    There’s nothing wrong with cheapskates. In fact, often cheapskating can bring wonderful results. People think you’re so original etc. with your purchases, but they don’t realise that you bought it at a garage sale! Great points!

  • art oil portraits

    Your ideas are really great! You never fail to impress us. I really wish that all moms or future moms will think like you.

    By the way, I hope you can add photos or images of the decorations or stuff you’re mentioning in your post sometimes. Although the descriptions are clear enough but I think the images will add more to the clarity of your suggestions or tips.

  • lovemybostons

    Here is a website that complements your great ideas
    I love finding treasures and creative decorating ideas. Thanks for your blog.

  • Deb

    I cannot say enough about good thrift stores!  I am very stylishly dressed and have worn entire outfits (except underwear and socks) purchased at thrift stores.  I get more designer brands from thrift stores, and I never purchase designer otherwise!  I have gotten many different sizes of stainless steel bowls also!  I have added onto my 1980 Pfaltzgraff dinnerware very inexpensively!  My next idea is using fabric as a background and thrift store picture frames.  You can have a stylish pic for every season!  Woo hoo!