How I Budget for Home Decor: Part One – The 70/30 Rule

I’m bananas for home design. No, seriously. I’ll splurge on a piece of Bitossi pottery over a great pair of shoes any day of the week. If I had to nail down our home’s style in a couple of words I’d call it 60’s vagabond surfer meets mid-century modern. I love to mix airy curtains, colorful, quirky accessories & art with warm, dark woods and furniture that is more masculine in shape.

In my perfect world our home would be furnished entirely with vintage furniture, original artwork, kilim rugs & plush linens. Alas, I live in this world and my budget is tiny.

I’ve found that the key to creating a well-styled home on a tiny budget is knowing where to spend, where to scrimp and where to shop.

In each room of our home, we use the 70/30 rule; we take 60-70% of our budget and spend it on items that will fill about 30-40% of our space. Take a large chunk of your budget and spend it on high-quality foundational furniture like a couch, dresser, china hutch or coffee table. Take your time and choose wisely. These are the pieces that you’ll own for a long time; you want them to be comfortable, an appropriate size for your room and to fit your style. Next select a few unique pieces that you love, think art, small accent furniture and lighting. Now use the rest of your budget (30-40%) to fill in the gaps and make your space feel homier with plants, frames, candles and textiles. Start by selecting mostly neutral accessories, in solid colors or classic patterns, avoid trendy prints. Ask yourself – can I use this in a different room if I grow tired of it in this one? Don’t forget to have a little fun! This is also your chance to purchase accessories for your room that reflect the current design trends. By creating a foundation with high-quality pieces that reflect your personal style and then filling in with trendy accessories, you extend the life of your room design. Because you didn’t break the bank buying that super trendy fill in the blank, you won’t feel bad trading it out for something new next season.

So, that’s how I budget for home decor. First, I invest in high-quality furniture, art & a few unique accessories. Then, I fill-in the gaps with neutral & trendy pieces that can easily be switched out with the season. I buy new, used & vintage. I shop at antique shops, big-box stores, local boutiques, thrift stores, on Craigslist & online.

This rule of budgeting has really helped me to be a smarter shopper. Now, I keep a list of items that I need to complete the various rooms I’m working on. If I find something on the list and it’s in the budget, I can buy it. If it’s not on the list, well then it has to be amazing. Remember, sometimes rules are meant to be broken!

In future posts, I’ll show you how I used the 70/30 rule in our living room and share what I buy when I shop at big-box stores.

What about you, how do you budget for home decor? Feel free to let me know below in the comments.

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7 Responses to “How I Budget for Home Decor: Part One – The 70/30 Rule”

  1. Scott says:

    Good call with the dark woods it is my preference to.

    • thewildernessgirls says:

      Thanks Scott. Generally dark woods seem to be more forgiving of wear & tear; which is definitely budget friendly as it extends the life of your furniture. <3Christina

  2. Christy Snedeker says:

    I love the “neutral” advice. You are so right. Then you can change the colors of your accent pieces at any time. Although I do like a pattern here and there to add interest!

    Great Article.

    Aunt Dee

    • thewildernessgirls says:

      There is definitely room for pattern; just be sure that it’s a classic pattern that won’t grow tired of. If it’s only here for a season make sure you buy it cheap! <3christina

  3. JustKaryce says:

    I’m a girl that has bachelor pad decorating genes. {Minus the beer in the fridge!} If I find something that is bright red or has an Angels baseball logo on it, the item screams, “Purchase me NOW!”. I really have to think about the item & the price.

    I like your tips and tricks, I really need to adopt them!

    Love you & miss you!

  4. thewildernessgirls says:

    I’m available for consulting. For you, I give good price. 😉 <3christina

  5. Kimberly Jackson says:

    Once again you have some great ideas. Are you available for the Utah area any time soon? Ha!

    Seriously, loved reading about what can be done on a budget!


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