Decorating your new home on a budget - the Do's and Don'ts - a Modest&Co. decor blog that covers all the basics you need to know when you first decorate your new home or apartment!

Decorating your new home on a budget - the do's and don'ts

Are you moving into a new home and want to start decorating? Maybe it’s your first apartment and has no idea where to begin! Getting overwhelmed on a tight budget is no fun. That said, home decorating should be! 

Although we aren’t design professionals, I was raised in a DIY home by a furniture designing dad. Through his years of working on our fixxer upper, I learned a great deal on design and especially, design on a budget! Here at Modest&Co we thrive on low budgets and have created some beautiful spaces on shoestring amounts! Check out our low-budget decor tips below!

Don’t: Jump the gun without a plan

When we first moved into our home, I fell down the Pinterest rabbit hole hard. I totally jumped the gun. And honestly? That’s so normal! You’re excited about your new home, you want to get acclimated to your life, maybe throw a housewarming party, so you look at decor ideas right away! 

So… you go out, and want to start buying things here and there…. 

You may want to, but trust us…. Refrain from this temptation!! 

Do: Start with the basics - a blank slate

What you want to do, instead, is…. begin decorating with a blank slate. 

If you have furniture necessities that you need to buy and can’t wait to move in, that’s fine, however, when you are ready to actually decorate, get ready to move that furniture out of the space it’s in. 

Reason being? You want to avoid an identity crisis and you can’t fully determine the best way to layout a room unless it’s blank. 

So… what do you do instead? 

Great question! 

When your home is empty, walkthrough with an in-depth questionnaire. I asked myself the following questions: 

  • What does my interior look like before I make changes? Does it have any weird spots I really need to change before I decorate? 
  • How’s the lighting? Do I like the lighting?
    •  (If not, make changes before you paint/wallpaper!)
    • You may not be able to change the fixture, but change bulbs if that’s your desire.
  • What’s the tone of my exterior? Is it a modern exterior? Cottage? Mission?
    • Do you want your exterior to match your interior? 
    • Exterior work can be expensive - so make sure you’re comfortable with your interior/exterior styles before you finalize your interior style!
  • Which portions of the home do I love? 
    • Those areas that you love may not necessarily be the top priority of work in your home! Later, it may be beneficial to highlight your favorite areas in your house, too! 
  • Do I already have furniture that I don’t want to part with? 
    • (This may help you narrow down your home decor style later down the road.) 

Once you get yourself acclimated to those basic questions, you can then move on to choosing your home decor style(s). 

Do: pick your decor style

We suggest first beginning decorating by choosing your home style. 

This is where the home styling department can get a little tricky. If you’re anything like me, you spend way too long on Pinterest looking up decor inspo. 

That is all well and good, but once again, we want to avoid an identity crisis! That’s where narrowing down our look is very important! 

If you’re an eclectic home decorator, then here’s what we suggest…

Get out a notepad and go through your Pinterest/mood board/ideas. At the top of your page, write down the primary decor trends you see Mid-Century Modern, Classic Boho, California Coastal, Art Deco, etc. 

Below the trends make columns. Take a tally each time you see each decor trend. This will help you narrow down your preferred styles. The styles that get the most tallies should be the primary style you choose!

Don't: choose too many styles!

We suggest no more than one majority look with  2-3 minor trends accenting to create a distinct look. 

  • Hot tip! - Combining “like-minded,” styles is much easier than choosing different looks! Try sticking to styles that complement each other. For instance, Mid Century Modern & Art Deco are decor choices that fit together in a loud, vibrant way. 

Now that we have our home style, we can move on to the fun part….. Styling and decorating your home!

Styling & decorating your new home 

This is when the vision starts to come together. We suggest trying to achieve the basic wall interior color first before decorating. Reason being? Painting/wallpapering a room after you’ve moved in can be tricky and time-consuming. So let’s dive in!

Do: start off w/walls in a blank slate

First of all, I do understand that painting may not be a financial possibility when first moving in. Your budget may not allow for the new interior. If you don’t have the funds to “re-do,” the entire home, we suggest either choosing the main space first or re-doing the area that you really can’t stand. Those two options are our suggested priorities. If you don’t have the funds to even do that, we suggest decorating in the hopes of what your interior color will be.

As we continue on the paint and wallpaper subject, we’ll assume you do have the funds and work on the color of the interior first. 

Narrowing down interior style

Paint and wallpaper are very subjective! You can also do so much more than just paint! Crown molding, unique wall trim ideas, textured walls, all the options! Ya, they’re cool, but they can also overwhelm you. Plus, there’s the cost!

Take a look at your decor style list and Pinboard from above. Compare and contrast your primary style to colors/patterns you like to create your own version of your interior. Ask yourself the following: 

  • Do I see crown molding often in my decor trends? 
  • Is texture used frequently in my decor trends? 
  • Are patterns used often in this style? 
  • Is there a certain color that continues to be seen? 
  • Does the color/pattern fit my primary home style? 

Prepare your interior list around those questions. Although you may not be able to achieve that overall look right away, you can still prepare for when you can afford it. This will help you properly match your items to your future look seamlessly. 

Even if you may not have the money to buy that cream paint, floral wallpaper, etc., you can still choose the swatch color of what you want and match your furniture to that future swatch color!

The reason we suggest this is… a lot of style trends in home decor feature common, repeating, concepts. Decor trends are in their category for a reason, right? If you note what previous designers have done in the past, you’ll see some basics staying fairly consistent. 

In Cottagecore-based homes, for instance, you’ll see decorators often utilizing cream tones, white billowy curtains, floor trim, and sometimes materials like brick and/or floral wallpaper for effect. 

Do: get your swatches

Now that you have narrowed down the types of materials, colors, and trims that are utilized commonly in your decor style preference, you can begin choosing your paint, wallpaper, etc. Try and keep these colors/styles in line with the notes that you’ve taken on your decor concepts. Stay in line with your theme.  

Pick up some swatches! Hardware stores sell them in pints for cheap and many wallpaper companies offer samples. 

Make sure, while comparing your samples that you’re using the same lighting that you’ll use in the future! Colors can change under certain conditions! 

To be honest, choosing the color swatch itself, is entirely up to you, and can be the hardest part of decorating your home!!

That said, we once again suggest keeping color tones in line with the primary design trend you chose. You want to match the overall aesthetic if you do different colored rooms. 

What decor pieces should you buy first for your new home? 

Large, primary, items first! Furniture pieces like sofas, dining tables, entry tables, and of course…. Your bed! 

When you do buy these larger items, keep in mind their significance in your home. These pieces are sometimes expensive and harder to replace. They also set the foundation for your style! Because of its importance, you want to make sure that the color, design, and material of each piece, either contrast or complement your overall vision. 

Here are some suggestions for decorating with large, primary furniture!

For larger furniture that stamps the space, like sofas, for instance, we suggest keeping to a timeless look. This also means a timeless look that matches your colors and decor style!

Although you may be tempted to make your sofa your, “statement piece,” that statement may become a fad that quickly fades… 

Sticking to traditional pieces that coincide with your design choices creates a base. The secondary items are that flair! This prevents the fading of the fad from ruining your entire home. You don’t want to be stuck with a piece you can’t replace! Especially when you just moved into your new home! (Insert floral, cloth sofas of the 90’s. 

Questions to ask yourself when shopping for decor items: 

Decorating your new home on a budget can be simple with the do's and don'ts list provided in this decor blog! Check out Modest&Co for more information!


  • Does this piece really fit my overall vision? 
  • If this piece does fit the look, which area would you place it in? 
    • Have you measured this space before? 
      • (If not - maybe see if you can place the item on hold) 
      • (If you can’t place the item on hold and want to take the risk, do so, but try and plan ahead of time on a rough estimated place.) 
  • Will this match the colors of my home already and what I plan to achieve
    • This includes walls, flooring, large furniture pieces, etc. 
  • Know that it’s totally fine to match different styled pieces together! 
    • As long as you’re keeping your pieces in line with the overall vision, mixing, matching, and grouping different style items together, it totally works! 

Decorating with secondary home pieces

These pieces are less necessary to live, but add vibrancy to your space. This can include items like mirrors, armchairs, side tables, entry tables, lighting, etc. 

What we love about these secondary home pieces is they add finesse to a space. Here you can include your secondary styles to add a bit more of an eclectic style if you’d like. For instance, our armchair in my nook is Victorian with a boho rug. This allows for my space to be seen as the modern hippie den that I was going for. 

How to decorate your new home with smaller pieces

Smaller pieces for home decoration are the Modest&Co claim to fame. This can range from shoe racks, side tables, wall art, tchotchkes like candles, pillows, coasters, picture frames, etc. you get the point. 

This process takes time - and even more on a budget, however, it is achievable. If your space is smaller, of course, it’s a bit easier. 

We suggest sticking with your three original decor trends for inspiration and mixing and matching your secondary styles a bit stronger in this region. 

This means….. You have more freedom and much more time! We suggest that with smaller items, you only purchase what really strikes your heart. The reason is, if your decor accessory doesn’t truly fit your overall style, it won’t create that authenticity. Your identity crisis will begin. So, in order to save yourself only get the decor accessory that really resonates with who you are. 

Decor accessory layout tips

Keep in mind too that smaller pieces often look amazing when bunched together in groups of three or even 2:1 ratios. These types of layouts with items like wall art, books/bookends, candles, and more create the final touches to your new home. 

Save money & create an authentic look in your new home 

Ever been curious about how these interior decorators achieve a “magazine,” looking style? A lot of times, they’re looking through options you wouldn’t expect! They have to go on, “the hunt,” and find these unique pieces that you wouldn’t normally find on Amazon/Wayfair. 

So… where do you find amazing eclectic decor pieces? 

These are only a few of the options that we have used to find statement and decor pieces for our home. We always keep our eyes open for pieces that will coincide with our overall vision when doing so. 

 Decorating your new home on a budget can be simple with the do's and don'ts list provided in this decor blog! Check out Modest&Co for more information!

Facebook Marketplace 

One of our favorite decor shopping options to use is Facebook Marketplace. This is especially the case with larger, accent pieces. You can use the filter bar to better trim down your search, and honestly, it’s super specific when you want it to be. 

Facebook Marketplace is even a wonderful tool to find architectural salvage items! I’ve found old fencing, reclaimed wood, antique tables, etc that truly stand out - some of which are near impossible to find elsewhere! 

Keep in mind that you should always inform someone of where you go and bring a buddy if possible. There can be many shady people online so make sure you aren’t setting yourself up to be in a bad situation! 

Shopping Small

Many small retail boutiques carry totally unique items that you’d be surprised to see! These are typically handmade goods or even repurposed furniture. With salvage retailers, you can find pieces that bring a touch of magic. 

Check out local Facebook groups too - as these can be places where these salvage retailers re-post their goods! Local Facebook groups and even Instagram searches are great ways to find these retailers that you may have issues finding otherwise. 


This one seems obvious. There are some thrift stores, however that are better than others. For instance, we’ve found that certain stores focus on specific types of goods. For instance, many of these stores sell vintage clothing, mostly. For this purpose, you may once again refer back to your Facebook groups and Instagram searches. Finding these thrift stores are sometimes found easier there than on Google. 

Architectural Salvage Stores

Seriously, if you just google, “Architectural Salvage Stores,” you may be surprised at what you find. These awesome, little nuggets have some wonderful pieces - some of which were used in high-end, commercial real estate. If you do have one near you, they’re a great option for striking, design features. 

Flea Markets/Swap Meets

We got a ton of our largest, most unique decor pieces at swap meets and flea markets. True, vintage doors, antique ladders, etc. Many people sell their antique wares and don’t mind selling them at a steep discount. 

Oftentimes, these are community college or even city events. You have to be willing to dig through the aisles to find the secret gems, but if we’ve found them, so can you. 

Night Markets! 

Awesome vendors create incredible items that you can sometimes only find at night markets. These markets include variety of goods from handmade to upcycled! When shopping with your family, keep an eye out for hand-made goods. I mean, that's where a lot of local Riverside residents first met us! 


Moving into your first new home can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! We hope this blog covered the primary basics of what you were looking for to help decorate and nail down your decor style.

If you’re willing to take a little time to nail down your decor style, go on the hunt for unique decor items, and are organized with your home vision, you can create a beautiful home transformation all at a much cheaper price! 

Lastly, if you’re curious on the looks we’ve created and want more inspo, follow our Instagram for daily decor inspiration and tips! You can also take a look at our Pinterest here too!! 

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