So, the room is just about complete, but you've run out of budget for the finishing touches. Don't leave your room hanging in almost-done-limbo. Instead, use these ideas to stretch your dollars to the max: Picture frames: Check the clearance section of your favorite home goods stores (or dollar stores!). I guarantee you will find at least one frame languishing, every single time. Now, it may not always be a great frame, but sometimes that's ok! To make this work, decide on a theme for your frames. (There's very few things more repulsive than a table strewn with mis-matched, unrelated frames.) Let's say you've decided on black frames. Every time you see a black frame super cheap, grab it, until you've accumulated an odd number that fits your space. 3s, 5s, and 7s work best, but you can use more if you have a larger space to fill. Because they have a common theme, they will work together as a single idea, and no one will ever notice that one is a little scratched up, or the other has a bent corner. Even so-so or damaged frames will look beautiful.
You could do the same with polished silver, ornate gold, or matte nickel, just to name a few that work well. Pillows: Ah, my darlings.. I call them "fluffy art." Pillows add instant pattern, punch, and personality, and there's almost no limit to where they can go: on the sofa, the chairs, the bed, stacked or piled on the floor, on shelves, in baskets.. I even use them in bathrooms! As with the picture frames, you can find them almost anywhere, often for next to nothing. So what if there's a little tear in the seam? For 75% off, you can afford to pull out the needle and thread to stitch it up.. or don't, and just turn it so no one can see it.. I won't tell.
Dishes: Everyone has 'em! Make them work for you all the time, not just at meal time! Most people have multiple sets of dishes, some that never see the light of day. Married people have pretty crap they were given as gifts, and never knew what to do with. Maybe you inherited some with great sentimental value, but that you wouldn't have necessarily picked for yourself. Pull it all out! Serving platters make great trays on coffee tables, and centerpieces in the dining room. Prop a plate on a stand. Put glass marbles in the bottom of mismatched wine glasses, and put a votive in each. Create a floral arrangement in a soup bowl or tea cup. Go nuts! (and put nuts in a bowl for easy, healthy snacking!).
Real greenery: I'm not talking fresh floral arrangements here.. unless you happen to be blessed with an abundant garden, then go for it! I'm talking about going out to the yard and scavenging. Can I tell you, there are few things I love more than sticks? They're so.. architectural! One or two large branches in a vase equals instant height and drama. Rocks are beautiful lining a plate (back to the dishes) with a couple of candles. Fill a bowl or basket with pine cones. Put some moss and a couple wildflowers in a jar and make a terrarium.
Books: Books are my favorite decorating tool EVER. They instantly make a room feel warmer and.. smarter. Go to the thrift store and you can probably pick up hardcovers for one or two dollars apiece. Look under their dust jackets for colors that coordinate with your space. Use them to create levels of different heights in your displays. Stack them on the coffee table. Line the shelves with the both standing and stacked. Put them on the back of your toilet. Anywhere is fair game! Hey, they might even get read.
Candles: This is only an option if you're either not going to burn them, or you promise to replace them frequently (which sort of defeats the budget-friendly part of this). Used candles are just gross looking. UNused candles are lovely! Line up votives or tea lights for a clean, contemporary look. Group pillars of different heights for warmth and drama. Put them in a clear glass or crystal holder for instant elegance. The more you use, the more magical the effect!. Don't necessarily believe that dollars are the only way to equal drama (although they can help). You're only limited by your imagination! Can't seem to find your own diamonds in the rough?