Perhaps it’s my Dutch heritage coming through, or maybe it’s a byproduct of growing up in awe of how the Lord always provided for us supernaturally, but when it comes to decorating, I rebel against spending much on material things that, while they may beautify a home in this life, they have no value in the next. It seems imprudent to invest in things that moth and rust will destroy. This life is but a vapor, and even in this quick breath of earthly existence, stuff gets “dated,” color trends are just that – trends, and patterns and textures go in and out of favor.
Nevertheless, I love beauty. Everybody loves beauty; we are meant to. God loves beauty. He created beautiful things for His glory and He delights when we delight in what He has made. It is a good thing to make time for beauty and order in our homes. Aside from it being a reflection of God’s character, it also tell those who live there that their personal comfort is important to us.
It’s an interesting dichotomy, and the balance – it’s hard to achieve, isn’t it? For the most part, I’ve found that decorating our home with free or frugal things helps me not grow attached to perishables. If it’s easily replaceable and has no real monetary value, there’s no need to stress over the “thing” being broken.
This is why I love an edited farmhouse style look. The less things there are around, the less there is that can get wrecked. Clutter-free homes are naturally more peaceful; minimizing decor minimizes home management and maximizes relaxation. The farmhouse decor that is on display is already characterized by beautiful imperfections; chippy paint, rusty metal, weathered wood – if these things get bumped and banged, they increase in their appeal! I am certain it was a mother that popularized modern farmhouse style. Oh wait! It was. Her name is Joanna Gaines.
Here is where to find free or frugal farmhouse decor so you can help your house become a home without breaking the bank.
1. When you’re hunting for a particular piece of decor, always check the thrift store first. I was searching for a Spring wreath to display on our mantel in the living room, but I couldn’t justify spending $25 (plus shipping) on a boxwood wreath from Amazon. Instead, I found a pink and yellow pastel egg wreath at a thrift store for $2.99. It was not my style at all (other than peony bouquets from the garden in June, there is no pink decor in our house!), but a few coats of leftover white paint, a couple splatters of grey with an old tooth brush, and sphagnum moss remnants from another project strategically inserted and glued into the gaps, resulted in a fresh, farmhouse-y wreath that works just as well as the more expensive kind.
Thrift stores are also great places to find inexpensive baskets…
…headboards and night tables (I found bought our oldest son’s headboard for $3, and his night table for $7)…
…and vintage artwork, like the gold-framed herb prints above.
2. (Professional decorators, this is the part where you look away and move onto the next blog.) I must confess, the Dollar Store is one of my favorite places to look for home decor. You can’t find huge, ornate statement pieces there, but you can find lovely little treasures that when group together, can create a big impact on a small budget. The black frames that hold our botanical prints in the kitchen and our family photos in the living room (above), are cheap-o Dollar Store purchases. Hung together, they create a minimalist, symmetrical focal point on the wall. For pennies, prints and photographs can easily be switched out to create a new look.
Faux florals is another favorite Dollar Store purchase of mine. Some of it can look pretty fake, but every once in a while, I’m delighted to find rather realistic looking boxwood balls (and bowls to put them in)…
….forsythia and pussy willow twigs,
The Dollar Store also sells vases…
…stainless steel bowls…
…even wooden cutting boards!
3. The side of the road is my absolute favorite place to find farmhouse decor. There is such a thrill in finding your own treasure, absolutely free, in someone else’s trash! I am incredibly incentivized to get my exercise the night before, or the morning of Big Garbage Day. A walk around the block has yielded (among other things): an outdoor patio set, a wooden rocking chair, Christmas trees, a sleigh, 2 bar stools, outdoor planters and urns, a baby carrier, brand new sheets of plywood and melamine boards, a blanket ladder, an old window frame, and a scooter.
Since I loathe clutter, I sell most of our junkin’ finds, but every once in a while, I keep a piece that is perfectly suited to a space in our house. Then I smile every time I walk by it, thinking of how kind the Lord is to allow us the enjoyment of simple gifts that remind us of His area of expertise: turning ashes into beauty.
4. Build it yourself. Neither my husband nor I are professional carpenters at all, but building projects together is a hobby we both find relaxing. It’s productive, quality chat time, and we’ve saved hundreds of dollars this way. Plus, there’s great satisfaction in using something you’ve made yourself. Nothing we’ve made is perfect, but that’s lovely thing about farmhouse decor, am I right? Flaws add character!
We built our large (it seats 10-12 people) farmhouse dining table and bench using preformed deck posts and pine boards. The total cost came to $300 – a far cry from purchasing one brand new!
I built our headboard for a total of $9.17, using leftover fencing boards we had sitting in the garage and nails from another project. All I had to purchase was the tiny can of light blue-grey stain, “Mussel Shell” by Cabot.
Most of the signs in our house were made for pennies using scrap wood from the neighbor’s trash, wood glue, nails, stencils, and leftover paint.
5. Sew it yourself. Our table runner took minutes and just a few dollars to make using tea towel material from the fabric store, and our old living room pillows stay fresh and clean with washable covers made from drop cloth and leftover paint.
6. Look online. I found our set of coffee tables on Kijiji (Canada’s Craigslist) for a steal. They needed some love, but a weekend later, they were looking beautiful and we didn’t break the bank. I’ve also found a few things on local Facebook Buy/Sell pages.
The botanical prints in our kitchen are free downloads from the Biodiversity Library (you can read more about how I hung them here)….
…and the vintage egg prints in our bedroom are freebies from The Graphics Fairy.
And of course, Amazon has loads of farmhouse decor, some of it very cute and inexpensive, but that’s a dangerous place to hang out, yes?
7. Captain Obvious here, but farms are great places to find cheap farmhouse decor! My parents live on one, and it’s a win-win for both of us when I declutter some weathered boards, windows, milk cans, metal troughs or wooden crates from their shed. Have a farmer friend? Ask him (or her) if he’d like some help cleaning up his barn!
Do you love the farmhouse style, too? Tell me your favorite free or frugal places to collect decor for your home!