5 Ways to Add Style on a Budget

I’m always trying to help clients add style on a budget.  Beautiful rooms do not have to cost a fortune.

Here are 5 ways to add style and a character on a budget.

1. Add crown molding.


Crown molding adds character and richness.  Professionally installed, it’s in the ballpark of $10 a foot.   But, a diy version can be as low as $2 a foot, depending on the material and design of the molding.


If you want to save even more money, you can do a faux version like in the image above, by using some thin molding and paint. Paint the molding before you install it, then simply hang it either a few inches down from the existing crown molding to beef it up or install just the thin molding both at the ceiling and a few inches below that. Paint the remaining space between the two moldings the same color as the molding to trick the eye into thinking it is all one piece. Simple and inexpensive.

2. Mix and match pieces in the room.

Rather than buy a complete furniture set, mix and match pieces. In fact, the trend right now is not to match.  This method draws its energy from contrast. Just be sure to find enough similarities to make a space gel.


Notice that the furniture above is not a complete matching set, yet the general style is contemporary, vintage, rustic and minimal.  Mixing and matching gives the room more depth and character.  And, the image below is also not matching, yet it is cohesive.


So, it is alright to pick up one piece off of Craigslist and another from a big box store.  This allows you to mix inexpensive pieces with more high end items.


3. Group art together to make one large piece.

Large pieces of art can get expensive, so why not use what you have on hand and group smaller frames together to create a large piece?  Group like frames, colors or styles to create a cohesive look or mix it up for a bohemian feel. Use your photography, art from books, maps, and even fabrics or wall paper to fill the frames.



4. Use fabric to add style.

Nothing softens a space with a lot of hard surfaces like fabric.  The addition of fun and contemporary patterns on fabric can also add style.

One way to use fabric is through curtains.  Curtains are the number one way to polish off a space.


Be sure to hang them high and wide. This makes the windows seem larger.  A general rule of thumb is to hang them within 6 inches of the ceiling and up to 18 inches beyond the sides of the windows.

Another way to use fabric in a room is by adding throw pillows to a sofa.

Invest in large throw pillows constructed in quality fabric, if possible.

Source:  Tina Eastman Interiors

A great place to get long enough, yet inexpensive curtains is IKEA.  They come in lengths up to 118 inches.

Throw pillows that are 18 inches or less can read store bought. Store bought is not always bad, but to make a space a little more stylish, go bigger. Search etsy.com for larger pillows or request that a shop makes them in a larger 20 inch size. It will create a higher end look fast.

Be sure to choose quality fabric that complements your room’s design.


If you purchase 20 inch pillow covers, buy slightly larger 22 inch pillow inserts to put inside them. This gives the pillow a nice robust feel.

5. Use vintage items.

Let Craigslist, antique malls, thrift stores, and your grandma’s attic be your best friends. Through these venues, you can find unique pieces at great prices. Vintage pieces add such character when sprinkled throughout a room. They provide a sense of history and a feeling that the space has been collected and grown over time.

I personally subscribe to the notion that no room is complete without something old.

Below are photos from Cheryl Crow’s home. She used vintage items for most of her accessories, as well as some furniture items (tables) and lighting.


Source: Architectural Digest. Cheryl Crow’s home.

As you are out searching for vintage items, be sure to check out furniture. Painting an old piece of furniture that appears outdated can breathe new life into it and give contemporary look.



Look for solid wood pieces with interesting detail. See past the wood finish.

For no sanding and priming, use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. It’s the quickest way to redo furniture and fantastic for a slightly aged or distressed look. If you prefer more of a glossy finish, consider first sanding and then using a semi-gloss latex paint. Wax over the paint when done for a good seal that protects your hard work.

How do you add style to your space on a budget?



  1. I definitely agree with all your tips. I am so glad that mix and matching is on trend these days! And I am dying to try out the Annie Sloan paint.

  2. Great ideas….thanks for sharing. I love the tip of mixing up furniture in a room…so much more interesting and budget friendly!

  3. Great post and such beautiful (and inspirational) pictures.

  4. I shop at antique stores and second-hand shops frequently. I also like to purchase artwork without the frame, and then frame it myself. It saves you tons of money, and it allows you to choose a frame to match your decor. I even blow up digital prints in black and white for a real personal display. Those are just a few things I do.

  5. Love this post Kristy! Great ideas & tips. I wonder if Cheryl Crow was dating Lance Armstrong at the time that photo was taken, sweet touch. I couldn’t help but notice the bicycle above her fireplace mantle.

  6. Awesome post Kristy! Great tips & photos and yes, Ikea is also my secret weapon for window treatments! I also love to buy their fabric and frame it for inexpensive Staging artwork.

  7. Definitely LOVE the tip about combining smaller pieces to great one large statement! I’m hoping to do that in our living room soon!

    I wish I could do crown in our bedrooms, but I feel like wood crown would be too much wood and white wouldn’t match the trim… :\

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