Little money doesn't have to equal little style if you follow my instructions for a great looking room. Here is how it's done:
1. Look for bargains at your local thrift store, or using an online source, such as craiglist.com. Be sure your purchases have a good framework if you are purchaing furniture. You don't want to buy something that has stuffing coming out of it, large rips, or huge stains. Fading or dirty fabrics can be revivied using an upholstry cleaner (about $5.00 per bottle at the grocery store) , and scratches can be hidden with a scratch remover (about $3.75 at your local grocery store in the cleaning aisle). You don't want to buy anything that is broken beyond easy repair (such as a broken couch leg) because it would cost you more to repair it than the item is usually worth, and we are trying to keep cost down.
2. Sign up to become a member of a local trade/ recycling group. My favorite is Freecycle, an online Yahoo group that allows memebers to post things they want to give away and things they are looking for. It's completely free, and they have good things on there. (Lat week, someone was giving away a hot tub they didn't want anymore!).
3. Check your local paper for "Store Closing" sales. It's sad when any store closes, but it could be a good thing for you. Stores often slash prices to rock-bottom when they have to get rid of inventory.
4. Discount stores are your friend, especially for the finishing touches. For example, if you have a shabby end table with a scratched top, go to a dollar store and get a pretty scarf to drape over the top of it. The scarf will add your own personal touch and style to the room, whiile effectively hiding the scratched top of the table. You can also find pretty vases (for the wildflowers you pick for free), cheap candles, and even cute decorative items such as glass bowls for potpourri that will finish your room nicely. I even "redid" my kitchen in my apartment using stick- on, Peel-off wallpaper that I got at the Dollar Days for only $1.
5. Last but not least, don't forget to use your nose as well your eyes when looking at your room. No one wants to walk into a room that smells bad, but eveyrone wants to hang around in a room that smells good. Think about a kitchen full of the smell of apple pie fresh from the oven. Wouldn't you want to stay there awhile? You don't need to bake constantly, try some candles or potpourri. They are both availiable cheap at bargain stores. You can even make your own if you are enterprising. a quick fix for smell would also be putting a glass of water and cinnamon in the microwave for about 2 minutes. The smell is welcoming and homey, creating just the right added touch to make your home perfect. (Other scents could include some vanilla extract, lemon juice, or even just brewing some coffee).
Last but not least, use your imagination. You know what looks nice to you and what doesn't. If you think something will look nice, try it. You never know what might work. I once saw a beautiful neon pink flamingo!