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Budget Decorating Ideas For The Great Room

By Jessica Ackerman

Budget decorating offers more challenges, but those who are hooked on it capture a lot of happy memories. Are you in need of a few ideas for decorating your great room cheaply and stylishly? Here are some tips for bargain hunting decorators.

Prepare a floor plan.

The key to stylish decorating on a budget is to make a plan before you start buying things. Draw a scale floor plan of your great room on 1/4-inch graph paper. 1/4-inch on the graph should equal one foot on a tape measure. Be sure to indicate where doors and windows are.

Transfer your plan to white felt by purchasing a transfer pencil at the local fabric store and tracing the plan on the backside. By ironing the plan, you'll transfer the markings to the felt. You can go over the lines with a permanent marker. Now, use colored felt to represent all the pieces of furniture you already own. (Use a 1/4" to 1' scale here as well.) You can play with different layouts on your floor plan.

Choose a style that works for you.

If you don't settle on your own personal style, your great room will end up looking cluttered instead of decorated. Your goal is to put a look together that doesn't look like you picked your furniture up at the dumpster. Take pictures of what you already own.sofas, chairs, lamps, paintings. Put them in a carry-along photo album.

You can find fantastic bargains at thrift shops and furniture discount outlets, but no buy is a bargain if it doesn't work when you reach home. Don't depend on your memory.

Always carry a tape measure.

Now that you know what size your great room is, and how your existing furniture fits in the space, you can make wise decisions about pieces you want to add. Carry your picture album and your felt floor plan with you whenever you go shopping. Does that end table look like just the piece you need? Whip out the tape measure. Check the measurements against the available space on your floor plan. If you really like the piece, you might find that a new furniture arrangement pulls the look off!

Make a place for everything.

If you enjoy books, you need a place for books. If you enjoy DVDs, you need a place to organize them neatly. Take a serious look at all the things you expect your great room to do. Then keep an eye out for bargains that help your great room accomplish those tasks attractively.

Don't overlook the potential.

Try to look at older pieces of furniture in a new way. An old hutch buffet could be turned into attractive video storage. Check the depth of the drawers. What would happen if you added paint? Is there real wood buried under all that paint? Look at style lines and overall quality.

An old set of louvered closet doors could be turned into an attractive room screen that creates a focal point in the room. Or those same doors could hide a wall of video storage or display this year's Christmas cards attractively.

Be patient!

The most important budget decorating idea to remember is this. Be patient. Savor the fun of looking for just the right pieces to pull off your goal. Don't settle for, "I guess this will work until ." You'll end up wasting money, and you won't be happy with the results.

Targeting "do-it-yourselfers", Jessica Ackerman writes regularly for, offering simple illustrations of large outdoor wall clocks and tree of life wall art.

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