Here’s how I styled a living room in cottage boho style on a budget of $1500. or less. Other than a new sofa from IKEA, most of the other furniture and accessories were found at antique stores, auctions or thrift stores!
In my opinion it’s worth spending money on the big pieces like a sofa. Yes I might have turned up a used couch in my trawls, but I knew this style would pull my look together. Choosing a neutral color to work with my color palette was important too. Delivery from IKEA sealed the deal.
The room took about 6 months to come together. Sometimes you have to be patient until those perfect pieces show up!
The pine bookcase was the only piece of furniture I moved in. Oh except for the green and blue pillows you see on the sofa which I already had and set my color scheme.
Have a list in your head of what you think will work.
I started looking everywhere for pieces that would fit, I loved and would give me the look I wanted.
Cottage Decorating Ideas on a Budget
1. START with your Color Palette
Do you have a color you just love? If you’re not sure what your favorite colors are, take a look at your closet. What do you reach for time and again? I love blue and green and you know what? I not only love to wear them but love them in my home too!
What colors do you have to work with? Let’s say you have a large sofa or rug that you want to keep. You can pick out the two main colors and use those for your color palette. When you repeat colors throughout your room something magical happens! So pick two or three colors you love.
In my case I had three pillows to start with. They were blue, green and a greeny-yellow or chartreuse. That’s all I needed for my color palette.
2. SECOND STEP – Pick Your Style
What style feels natural to you? Do you covet farmhouse, boho or country? Or perhaps you crave modern contemporary?
Just because you pick a style doesn’t mean every piece in the room has to match. Definitely not.
In fact it’s trendy to be eclectic. Mix and match modern with rustic. Boho with country. Rustic with contemporary.
Maybe you like a minimalist room, one that’s clutter free and zen like. Or does the idea of lots of pattern and color all mashed into one space appeal to you? That’s maximilist by the way.
Think about your favorite places to relax and have fun. Could it be beach style for you? Or is your idea of a dream getaway a rustic lodge in the woods or a penthouse apartment in a high rise.
Take your style cues from what you love doing. Camper van renegade or boutique hotel fashionista?
3. NEXT STEP: Decide on a Budget.
What are you comfortable spending on this project? Do you want to get it done NOW or are you OK with spreading it out over a period of months. I didn’t start this project with a budget, but I knew I wanted to spend as little as possible while still getting a room I’d be happy living in. Just think about what works for you.
Step by Step Cottage Decorating Ideas for a Boho Look
One of my earliest buys was this vintage card table already painted in a dusty blue color. It worked perfectly with my blue/green color palette. The top actually flips open to reveal a distressed blue green velvet surface, but I chose to keep that closed so I could tuck it in this corner to put the TV on. It was a great buy at a local antique store for only $35. Found a similar size table in blue gray finish at World Market.
I picked up this rusty wrought iron plant stand at a local flea market for $15. It allows me to add another texture, and gives me somewhere to display a small plant. Yes it’s rusty but that’s why I liked it!
This large schefflera plant needed to be re-potted so I bought one of those large terracotta plastic pots. To make it look aged, I dry brushed dark gray paint over the shiny new pot and edges. The saucer still needs the same treatment.
This pair of outdoor wicker chairs were picked up at a local auction for $40. With ugly brown cushions and light tan wicker they weren’t pretty, but the great condition sold me.
I started by brushing a slightly diluted (with water) dark gray chalk paint over the wicker. Before the paint dried I rubbed it off over the legs and arms to age it. But it felt like the dark gray looked too cold and boring. To add in some age and soften it, I decided once the gray was dry to dry brush a very warm cream color over it, wiping it off as I went. With the cream over the gray it lightened the gray; made it look more vintage and dimensional.
To cover the old cushions, I bought two cheap IKEA cushion covers in dark gray, as well as two extra pillow inserts just in case. I thought adding inserts would make the cushions more comfy, but after stuffing them in the cover I didn’t like the look so those came out. I found the small pillow covers at an interior decor store on a day trip. They were marked down so I got both for $20. With a cheap insert bought online, these pulled my gray and blue colors together and I loved the boho print.
The rug hanging over the back was one I already had. Since I didn’t have anywhere to put it I tried it hanging over one of the chairs. My IKEA sheepskin rug is on the seat of the other chair.
A solid pine bookcase makes a great way to anchor the corner of a room. Plus it gives you somewhere to display your photos, storage boxes and finds. A great deal at only $30 I found it at charity thrift store that specialises in furniture. The green vase was picked up for $5. at the same thrift store. the clock is IKEA and the seaweed fan behind it was picked up on a beach and didn’t cost a thing,
I decided to paint the inside of the case to bring some brighter color into the room. This is a Duck Egg Blue. Those small sample pots for less than $3. are a great way to paint furniture or small accessories cheaply.
Picked up this little Indonesian side table at auction for $30. I liked the spindles on the front and the whitewash finish made it work with my boho vibe.
Lamps are always tricky and I had to search all over to find what I wanted. I ended up picking up this simple spindle wooden lamp base along with another at an antique marketplace. The shade was new from a home decor store. I pounced on it because not only was it the right shape and size for the lamp base but the yellow/green color fit my color palette perfectly. I think I spent $30. on both lamp and shade.
Another auction find; 5 prints with nice wooden frames for around $35. for a wall display. I only wanted one of the prints but that often happens in auctions, they bundle items together. I ended up painting the edge of one frame in my dusty blue. I was able to fold and squeeze an old map into one of the other frames and now it’s framed too!
In a pinch this small 30” round table I picked up at the flea market for $30. can be used for dining. It was already over painted in cream on the top. I repainted the pink base to sage green with another sample pot of paint. See how the cream picks up the cream in my rugs on the wicker chairs? 😉
Big splurge was this IKEA Stocksund two seat sofa in Nohalga gray-beige. The two cushion covers on the right are also IKEA. Recognize the Strimspore blue print and Sanela turquoise velvet? The dark chartreuse pillow was a Home Goods find. If you have the room, the 3-seater Stocksund sofa is a better deal. I almost went for the turquoise slip cover but decided neutral for now. With IKEA you can always switch up your slip covers later if you want a change.
My bargain coffee table was purchased from the same place I found my blue TV table. It was pretty rough but the right size and height. I sanded down the top to get rid of some of the nasty bits and painted the legs in my dusty blue chalk paint. Boom. Another $25. find.
Picked up this round wicker tray at the local thrift store for $10. It makes a nice place to display shells, driftwood, stones and a small candle.
You can’t have too many footstools, can you? This is just the right height and was a steal for $30. at the local flea market. I didn’t have to do a thing except clean it up a little.
Glad I spotted this brass pharmacy lamp at the local antique mall. Even though it had a small ding in the base it works perfectly and was a steal at $15. It’s not old but has a vintage look to it. Good enough. I found a similar lamp at World Market in a brushed gold finish and marble base.
I found this 3-tiered side table at the local charity thrift store for $20. Wasn’t sure about the dark blue color at first but after I sanded and distressed it, it had the look I wanted. It still needed a little something extra and when I saw these stencils I knew the table might be the ideal “canvas”.
Just use a regular brush dabbed in some cream paint. Before you dab it on the stencil, make sure you dab off most of the paint on a paper towel or plate first so you just have a smidgeon of paint on the brush. Use a pouncing motion until you’re happy with the effect. Go lighter in areas if you want a distressed or vintage look.
A rug really pulls a room together and even though this 4 x 6′ one is undersized for the room, it provides that dose of blue that ties everything together. Plus I love the faded boho style. You can find similar Safavieh rugs on Overstock for under $200.
Materials Used to Upcycle My Finds:
- dark grey Rustoleum chalk paint in Graphite
- small paint brushes
- sample pot paint in Cream, Duck Egg Blue, Sage Green
- Martha Stewart laser cut stencil “Indigo”
Whatever your style, it’s not hard to create a room you’ll love to come home to. Just pick things you like. Seriously. Actually make that things you LOVE.
Questions to Ask Before Shopping Vintage stores, Online or at Auction.
- Ask yourself if you’ll regret NOT buying it.
- If the answer is yes, then the next step is measure your room to see if it’ll fit. Measure again. Will the sofa fit through the door and in the room?
- Draw a floorplan if you need to visualize where things will go.
- If you’re buying online, see if there’s a store nearby. Buying a sofa is a big deal. Try to sit on it and make sure it’s the one.
- Before you go shopping, snap a photo of your room. It’ll come in handy to visualize and check for color compatibility.
- At auction, decide on your budget and stick to it. Some auctions will allow you to leave an absentee bid. But if it’s something you really love I wouldn’t recommend it. Absentee bid is for those items that you won’t mind if you don’t get!
- Shopping online? Create a Pinterest board of your picks. Put them all up there, step away for a few days and come back. Still love it? Go for it.
Hope this gives you a wealth of cottage decorating ideas and where to find bargains. They’re everywhere once you start looking. It’s not hard to transform your finds to get the look you want!