Feathering Your Nest For Pennies


I remember it as if it were yesterday: when my husband and I moved into our first apartment as a married couple. Two twenty-something Air Force sergeants, alas, we had more love than money.

The only place we could afford was a so-called ‘furnished’ one bedroom place. With its ratty-looking couch, equally ratty club chair, flimsy coffee table and paper thin carpet, it was little above a hovel. However, I was confident I could make it work.

Pooling both our military salaries, I shopped at the town’s one department store, There, I bought throws to cover both the couch and chair. Bought a pretty throw rug, an oilcloth table cloth, a bed spread. Two sets of drapes made of floral plastic (yes plastic) rounded out my purchases. With the few personal items we each owned, we created a comfy home.

Yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores, oh my

I’ve always seen the potential in things others didn’t. Yard sales, flea markets and thrift stores carry a bounty of items that can be transformed into something pretty with little to no money. Aside from pinching pennies, for me, discovering new uses for items is a blast. As such, everything is my muse.

“Found” things

Full disclosure, I also have a penchant for ‘found’ things’—you know stuff thrown out by the side of the road. Honestly, the thought of rummaging through other people’s castoffs makes me feel—well— a little dirty. Because, my little hobby mortifies my husband, I have learned to go on these little jaunts by myself.

Below are just a few of the ways you can decorate with, that cost little to no money.


Need artwork for all those naked walls? Flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales could be the answer. Start with yard sale or thrift store frames. Offering a plethora of frames with or without matting, these can be had for a dollar or less. Furniture polish and/or spray paint, can spruce up even the most battered looking frames. Decoupage (a paper and paste treatment) can add a more decorative element.

For the ’pictures’ why not use that pretty card that you received for the holidays or other occasions?   Or marry the frames with glossy ads from “high dollar” decorating magazines (often found at thrift stores for less than a dollar). Calendar pages and. graphic wrapping paper also makes wonderful art work.  Try grouping three or more small pictures together for high impact.

Bed Linens

Sheets of all sizes can be purchased for $2.00 or less at your local Thrift Store. Often they are brand new. And don’t be afraid to mix stripes and flowers in coordinated colors. Do the same with pillow cases. To further save money and refresh your linens, simply add a new set of pillowcases.

Prefer brand new sheets? Purchase sheet sets when they are on sale. Also, consider buying bed sheets in colors that can be mixed and matched to stretch your budget. By mixing two sets of sheets, you can get four different sets.

House Plants

Need plants? Ask friends for clippings. For planters, why not punch drainage holes in a coffee can, or aluminum can– with labels intact? These can be especially attractive in kitchens. Both may be spray painted for use in other rooms of the house. Use a frozen or microwaveable pie plate as saucers to catch water. Cost of plants, pots, and saucers? Free!

Decorating trends come and go. Saving money while feathering your nest, does not. My decorating mantra? You don’t have to actually live in a palace, to create a home that looks like you do.

Carol GeeCarol Gee, M.A., Blogger, Columnist, Freelance Writer and Speaker, is author of the repurposing, ‘upcycling’ book, Gilded Pearls (Vibrant Thoughts, Tips and Tidbits For A Full Life) and others. You can find her at, and Twitter #Venus Chronicles

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