How To Get The Look You Want On A Budget


Words + Photos by: Ashley Mayes

I’m sure we all know what a budget is. My budget, at times, has been very small. At other times, much larger. But no matter what size of budget you have, there’s always going to be something that you want or is PERFECT for your space yet you can’t afford. Or at least, that happens to me with every space that I’ve worked on.

So, what do you do when that happens? Do you find a replacement at a cheaper price point? Do you scratch off that piece in general? Or do you think outside the box to cut costs in a different way?

To be honest, I’ve done all of those things but I usually think “outside the box to cut costs.” I save money by DIYing to get the look that I want at a price point that I can afford.

Sometimes, the DIY project is temporary. A temporary DIY updates what you have currently, but will only be around for awhile.

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Here’s an example of a temporary DIY project and the backstory...

Our house is a traditional split-level with a circle staircase and lots of iron railing. Some homeowners would love the detailed scrollwork on the iron railing; but, for us, it just wasn’t working with our style. After having different quotes come in, all around $7-12K, to replace and modernize the railing, I knew it would be a long time before we could afford that.

That didn’t mean that I wanted to live with the railing until I could afford having them redone though. So, my hubby and I got creative and decided to try cutting off the scrollwork ourselves. We painted the railing to help modernize it and the space that it fit into.

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It worked and turned out well. We chose to spray paint the railing. I knew that spray paint would eventually chip, so this was a DIY project that was temporary. It will eventually need to be sanded and powdercoated; but, you know what, that railing isn’t an eyesore to us anymore. So, even though this project was a “stop-gap” or “temporary” project until we could afford the real deal… I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

The best DIY projects are the projects that aren’t the temporary stop-gap projects. When you can DIY and it turns out just as amazing as the real deal whether that be making a light or putting in tile… it’s amazing and usually saves so much money.

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Here’s an example of a DIY project that we’ve done, saved money on and loved...

I participated in a challenge last year to update my bathroom nook within a month and for under $100. $100 isn’t much when you are trying to update a space, but you’d be surprised how much you can accomplish when you really put your mind to it and stick to a budget.

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I planned the idea of what I wanted the space to look like. I bought a few things and then I got stuck because I had my heart set on a specific style of light. Well, I couldn’t find any lights in the style that I wanted for under $45 (which was all I had left out of my budget to spend). So, I decided to build my own. If you’ve ever changed light fixtures out in a home or electrical sockets, then you know how wires are connected. If you’ve ever rewired a lamp, then you know what’s inside. Because of electrical changes that we’ve done in our house over the past few years, I felt comfortable tackling a DIY light. And you know what?! It wasn’t hard and gave me the look I wanted very inexpensively!

So, whether your DIY project is temporary or something you want forever… think outside the box on how to achieve it.


To see more of Ashley’s design style follow her on Instagram @biggerthanthethreeofus or check out her blog.