Decorating on a Budget

Nate Berkus offers inexpensive ways to dress up your home.

Designing for Your Home

Decorating on a Budget

Inexpensive ways to dress up your home, from Oprah’s go-to decorating guy

-Nate Berkus, interior designer

Oprah and Nate

Bettys probably know Nate Berkus as the design expert on Oprah’s show, and you may have heard him hosting his own show on Oprah radio. Nate’s also the head of his own design firm, so he’s designed for all kinds of clients and budgets.

Here, he passes along simple and stylish ways to decorate on a budget.

Coffee table: People tend to put three things in their living room, a TV, a couch and a coffee table. It’s time we bust out of that mold. You’d be surprised how much furniture you can fit into a space, without making it feel crowded. The end result is always a room that has more seating, more places to put that drink down, more to offer to the guests that come over to visit.

I’m not saying that the TV, the sofa or the coffee table have to go. Believe me, they’re there for a reason. But, opposite the couch, add two extra chairs to turn the space into a room that serves more purposes than watching TV. Pick up an inexpensive table at the flea market. At the end of the day, you’ll have a room that invites friends to sit and stay for a bit without having gone over budget.

Tablescape Image: Decorate side tables with vases, frames and little objects from flea markets or the garage sales.

decorative frames

Frames: I’m a firm believer that any home, regardless of the particular style, can be layered with accessories of all influence. There really isn’t a rule that says if you love traditional you can’t add a batik textile to the back of the sofa. Or, if your home is shabby chic, you can’t add an African woven rug to the space. It’s all about scale and editing the right items into the room. Nothing makes your room truly your own like photos of your family and friends.

Stack of Towels: Anyone who’s ever attempted to redo their bath knows that it’s a costly room to overhaul. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make some changes that are small on cost but big on impact. The first place to start is your towels. Towels make an impact the moment you put them out. Don’t shy away from a deep or vibrant colors. Deep colors look great when put with a crisp new white shower curtain that brightens the entire space.

Also, Make sure to take your tattered and worn towels to the charity bin. Homeless shelters and animal rescue organizations are always on the look out for towels.

decorative pillows

Pillows: One of my best tips to totally transform your room on a budget is to paint the walls a fresh crisp white or a pale gray. You can do it yourself and the cost is minimal. But, you do have to have the gumption to haul all the furniture out, throw down the tarps and spend a weekend painting. If time, or energy, isn’t there for a paint party, try brightening the room with color by putting out new pillows or a throw. You’d be surprised how that one pop of color can liven up the entire space and give your couch a face-lift.

Nate’s home collection, featuring some of the items pictured, is available on

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0 thoughts on “Decorating on a Budget

  1. I like these ideas — I get overwhelmed when I think about a major overhaul, but I think I can manage some frames and towels! (Especially since you can find really cute ones at places like Marshals and, yes, even Target.)

  2. These tips do seem doable, but whenever I see him on Oprah, I do always wonder why she is such a fan -his rooms and the stuff in them is so masculine

  3. love the towel tip. I rolled up some fresh white wash cloths I found at TJ Maxx and put them in a glass bowl (also from good old TJs!) and placed them on the counter next to my sink. I feel like I’m in a luxury hotel bathroom now, and it cost all of $8!

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