Decorating On A Budget: Prioritizing Projects and Purchases

Moving into a new place is an exciting experience, but it can also be overwhelming. If you’re like me, then it’s easy to look around and start thinking about how you can make the space more “you.” You may envision wallpaper in the guest bedroom, new mirrors in the bathroom and curtains for every window. Before you know it you’ve spiraled out of control dreaming and have no idea where to start. Plus, there’s the object of money. While you may have funds for necessary home purchases, it’s probably not feasible that you can complete decorate every inch of your new house right away. Decorating on a budget doesn’t necessarily mean not spending a lot of money on your home decor. Decorating on a budget means prioritizing your home purchases and projects according to importance, your available funds and function. When we first moved into our previous house we sat down and created a “master list.” This was a list of all of the updates that needed to be made and the ones that we wanted to make. Over time that list evolved, but having a reference point and a place to start made all the difference.

Decorating on a Budget – How We Budget and Prioritize Our Home Purchases

During our first week in our new house, Jesse and I sat down to create our preliminary “master list.” I handwrote our home projects list initially, but eventually turned it into a spreadsheet that we both have access to. When decorating on a budget it’s important to prioritize your purchases, so include all big and little projects on your list. Jesse and I both have equal input when deciding where to spend our money. So while he may not care about what the new curtains for the bedroom look like, he does care about their function and price. Every week (or 2-3 weeks) we look over our home projects list and pick our top 3 purchases. We prioritize those items and then we take a look at our budget. We have a specific T-Account for home purchases that shows us how much we have available to spend. (You can learn more about T-Accounts and how we save money in my budgeting posts.) This is our strategy for decorating on a budget. Let’s take a look at our current home projects and see what purchases we want to make, or have already made. *Keep in mind that Covid has affected a lot of these purchases due to delays in shipping and our reluctance to unnecessarily shop in person.*

decorating on a budget

Our first priority upon moving into our house was buying blinds for all of the windows. That was a purchase that Jesse and I both agreed on and made sure we had the money saved prior to moving in. We opted to order custom blinds for the downstairs windows (minus the playroom) and cordless blinds from Home Depot for the windows upstairs and the playroom. We decided this because the blinds in the bedrooms stay closed most of the time. Plus, the kids frequently play in their rooms, and obviously the playroom, so we didn’t want them breaking the more expensive custom blinds. Our next priority was upgrading Jesse’s desk. His desk in our previous house was small because it was in our bedroom. Now that he is exclusively working from home it was important that he have a larger desk and workspace. A larger desk for him meant that I got his old desk, so that purchase actually knocked two items off the list. I love it when that happens!

Decorating on a budget is also important because you never know when priorities are going to shift. Certain purchases may become urgent in order to improve how you live day-to-day, so it’s important to have that budget set aside. For us, this purchase was the kitchen stools. Buying stools was not anywhere near high priority for us, until the kids started playing chase around the kitchen island all the time. Jesse and I became so nervous that they were going to get hurt that we decided we needed stools ASAP. Due to my lingering hip/back problems (thanks childbirth!) we knew that the stools would be upholstered with backs, so they would block the counter overhang on the island. We picked the stools and decided to pay a rush delivery fee to get them in quickly. The stools solved our safety issue because they create a barrier, physically and visually, from the counter. Now the kids give them a wide berth and their little heads are safe. Plus, sitting at the counter has become my favorite seat in the house. I can see everything from there!

We obviously still have a LOT of purchases to make in order to truly decorate and make this house reflect us, but each priority purchase helps us to relax and enjoy our home more.

Decorating On a Budget – Make Your Own Priority Home Projects List

Let’s go through the steps of decorating on a budget again. Remember, this doesn’t mean making cheaper home purchases, just prioritized ones!

  1. Start setting aside money for home purchases within your regular household budget. (If you don’t have a budget, check out my budgeting series. It includes a download of the actual budgeting spreadsheet that we use.)
  2. Write down all of the home purchases that you want to make for each room in your house.
  3. Transfer those purchases to a spreadsheet or organized list.
  4. Each week, or month, go through and prioritize 3 home purchases.
  5. Consult your budget and determine which priority purchases to make first.
  6. Make the purchase!
  7. Repeat each week, or month, depending on what your budget allows.

Decorating on a budget is a great way to prioritize your house purchases and projects. It allows you to remove yourself from the constant daydreaming, comparison game that we can get trapped in and actually make forward motion. By decorating on a budget, I’m able to take a deep breath and reassure myself that my time to buy XYZ for my home is coming. And it’s coming in a financially responsible way that won’t add to my stress or result in buyer’s remorse.

To make things easier, I created a printable for you to use to write down all of the home purchases you want to make in the future. decorating on a budget

Also, don’t forget to check out my posts on creating a budget and saving money. There’s a downloadable version of our budget available for my email subscribers as well!

3 thoughts on “Decorating On A Budget: Prioritizing Projects and Purchases”

  • we’ve been decorating our house that we built 3 years ago very, very slowly. I’m impulsive and tend to see things I ‘need right now’ but when it comes to a home, I definitely think slow and steady is fantastic. It gives you a great feel for the home first! I also agree pricey doesn’t equal quality or vice versa. So many affordable finds come together looking awesome!

  • I think it’s amazing that you’ve put this together. Having a plan, sticking with a budget, and making your home your own is so important! I’m glad you’re finding a way to do all that in a practical manner. I can’t wait to see how your home changes over time!

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