Tips & tricks for sustainable home decor on a budget

Here are some handy dandy TBD tips and tricks for upcycling, repurposing and restyling on the cheap. You don't need to break the bank or your back to style your home in crafty, one-of-a-kind awesomeness.

TIP 1: Get the word out

My best scores have been through friends, family and coworkers. A free solid wood dining table with claw feet legs, a stunning silver leaf framed mirror and one of my FAV cabinets for storing fabric.

Once people know you're on the hunt for kewl finds, they want to help you. Instead of giving away a piece of beloved furniture to a stranger, they'd rather gift it to a friend who can restore it and make it awesome again.

This cabinet was awful when it was gifted to me… Unfinished with clunky wood drawer pulls but now… It's got wow factor. It was free and with a bit of staining then an investment of $100 into some stunning brass pulls, it's a real signature piece.

I also received this teak chair that needed a bit of TLC. The wood just needed a bit of sanding and then oil. The major work was reupholstering. Don't let yourself get daunted. A lot of chairs are easy to upholster. This chair went from dull and drab...

To bright and funky.

TIP 2: Thrifting is da bomb

Thrifting is a great way to style your home. Whether you're searching for vintage tchotchkes, a bit of kitsch home decor or signature furnishings, thrifting is the way to go. Design on a budget while bringing less stuff into the world. It's a win-win and you'd be surprised what you can find and how little you spend.

For home decor, I never buy new frames anymore. Or mirrors. Add personality to your walls while spending minimal money and time. This is my 'wall of kewlness' and it's filled with thrift store finds. I've infused the wall with travel photos, vintage pics and repurposed cards with inspiring quotes.

Sometimes you can luck out… When that happens don't stop to think - someone may beat you to that unbelievable score. I bought this teak table for $15 and scooped it up ASAP then walked it home for a few blocks. Talk about commitment! After an hour of light sanding and oiling, it is super pretty.

TIP 3: Adventure to the unconventional spots

So what does unconventional mean? Dumpster diving? Visiting the dump? Yup that's what I mean. Many an upcycler has found themselves scoring the niftiest of treasures in the midst of disaster. Dumpster diving has many levels - maybe you happen upon a free cabinet in your back alley or you literally go to the dump for kewl finds. Depending on where you live, this is a very viable option. I've found chairs at the dump, a dresser at the recycling depot and fabric through an organization diverting fabric waste from the landfills.

Look online to see what is available in your neighbourhood. These days there are people and organizations working to making it easy for people to donate their unwanted materials and share them with those who can use them. By trying the unconventional sources, you can help reuse discarded materials, stick to a very small budget and find the out of the ordinary.

Another option is to see if there's a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in your hood. You can find hardware, tools, paint, home decor and furniture. And you can also donate. For me, I try to keep the goodness going - in order to find good stuff I always try to donate good stuff. You keep the circle of secondhand awesomeness in motion this way.

TIP 4: Go online

Everyone knows about Craigslist and Kijiji. These are great options for free or cheap finds. I've even been sourcing secondhand treasures through groups on Facebook. Online makes it easy for you to check in, see if there's anything that suits your fancy and then arrange a price and pick up.

TIP 5: Close to home

You don't have to go far when looking for neato options. I upcycle a lot from my recycle bin - cereal boxes, Mason jars and egg cartons are FAB to work with. Or look at items that you think have outlived their purpose and rethink or just refresh them. A boring old clipboard can become an amazing item for your wall that houses a card with an inspirational quote. Or a photo filled with memories from a recent adventure.

Or check out local garage sales. Go early before all the killer finds are gone. I've scored some pretty sweet deals in the past. My 1950s Singer sewing machine was $10 and included an initial lesson. It's a total work horse and hasn't let me down yet. All I've done is replace the belt and the plug. Best find EVER.

You can even just look at your garbage or out in nature. Just about anything has the potential to add some funk to your home. Salvaged wood is all the rage right now. I've made tons of salvaged wood organizers with junky drawer pulls, vintage buttons and costume jewelry. Anything is possible!

That's my top 5 for tips and tricks when on the hunt for treasures. The first thing you need to do is just get out there, take the plunge and let your creativity lead you. You'll be surprised just how much fun it can be and how much joy it can bring you.

Happy hunting!

PS... For more tips and tricks, visit the lovely peeps at Invaluable and check out their Top U.S Towns For Summer Antiquing.

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