Emily Henderson Header Image Emily Henderson

How Low Can You Go?

One Bedroom, Three TINY Budgets

Budget-Bedroom-GIF

Welcome to another budget (and budget-er … and the budgety-est) room design post – aka my new favorite child. I’m OBSESSED with how we can make a room look good for as cheap as possible. A lot of you commented on the sofas for under $1k roundup that maybe the sofas might not be that high quality, and that saving for a better, more quality version would be better, which I think we all agree on. But listen, when you are staring at your empty (or depressing) living room, you have very little extra in the bank, and you have no time to properly thrift to find the perfect non-disgusting used sofa then yes, a post that rounds up mid to low quality but highly stylish and affordable sofa options is not only valuable, but your only real solution. That sounded super defensive and I totally didn’t mean it to be. I just remember being that broke and when people said “save for quality” I was like, BUT WHAT DO I SIT ON RIGHT NOW?? Remember you can’t have fast, cheap, and good (and stylish) so these, my friends are fast, cheap, and stylish but no, I can’t guarantee they will last for 15 years, nor can I guarantee that they were manufactured in America (although did you hear about West Elm’s new commitment to fair wages and safe working conditions? KUDOS). Furthermore, vintage is the best option if you are on a budget (or really, just ever) but awesome affordable vintage isn’t widely or easily available for everyone and all these pieces are.

So without further ado (and no more weird defensive lectures) here is a really budget friendly, stylish bedroom that you can purchase from anywhere. BudgetBedroomUnder5k

Bedside Lamps | Side Table | Hardware | Bedframe | Rug | Duvet | Throw Blanket | Patterned Pillow | Yellow Pillow | Green Pillow | Framed Art | Dresser | Basket | Accent Chair

I know what you are thinking, $5k isn’t a budget bedroom, but it is. Shit just adds up. I liked it a lot when Mel showed it to me, and I think she thought that it couldn’t really get cheaper, but then Brady (who is scrappy, like me) got his cheap little mits on it and made it even cheaper:

BudgetBedroomUnder25V2

Bedside Lamps | Side Table | Headboard | Rug | Duvet | Throw Blanket | Patterned Pillow | Yellow Pillow | Green Pillow | Framed Art | Dresser | Basket | Accent Chair

I think that still looks pretty darn great for $2300 (plant not included). But we got greedy (opposite) and that wasn’t cheap enough for us, so we pushed to get it down another one thousand dollars. I feel like I could be a game show host right now I’m so excited. It’s the same look, but a REALLY inexpensive version of it. In the PR world I’m taught to never say the word cheap. I say “affordable” and “inexpensive” but nary does the word “cheap” escape my spokesperson lips. However, sometimes it just fits. For instance – me every weekend: “lets go grab some cheap tacos, ” or Brian: “let’s pickup some cheap beer.” It doesn’t mean bad, it just means easy, inexpensive, and stress-free.

Like this room:

BudgetBedroomUnder1kV2

Bedside Lamps | Side Table | Headboard | Rug | Duvet | Throw Blanket | Patterned Pillow | Yellow Pillow | Green Pillow | Framed Art | DresserBasket | Accent Chair

That’s pretty darn cheap, folks. Mel and Brady, you are making me really proud. I think next I’ll assign “Modern Farmhouse Living Room” and see how low can we go. I secretly want it to be an all-office challenge but ever since Design Star, I refuse to make anyone compete against anyone else design-wise ever.

But go real cheap and I’ll secretly name you the winner.

So, which is your favorite? And I’m curious if you guys are more into cheap and fun/fast or high quality and timeless? I, myself, am a little bit of both …

Need more bedroom inspiration? Check these out: 15 Bedrooms I’ve Designed Over The Years, 32 Beds That I Almost Bought For My Bedroom, The Master Bedroom – Where We Are Now.

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  1. I love these posts. Reminds me… One of my favorite HGTV shows (besides Secrets from a Stylist, of course) was the Hi Low Project with Sabrina Soto. She walked you through a swank designer room, added it up, and then took on the challenge to do it on the CHEAP (there, I said it too). It put me in a trance-like state! Bring both shows back!!!

    1. Eeee! I loved Hi Lo Project, too!
      How Low Can You Go is my new obsession. It’s astonishing how stylish you people can get with the tiniest budget for A WHOLE FREAKING ROOM. Brava, Emily!

  2. I love this series! Not to be greedy since you already gave all sources, but…what kind of plant is that?

    1. It’s a New Zealand Laurel 🙂

  3. My husband always laughs when my request for dinner is “something cheap and cheerful.”

    All these rooms are awesome! I really love the bed in option 1!

  4. This is perfect timing for me! I was talking to my husband last night about sprucing up our beige and boring room and this is exactly what I am going for. Beautiful rugs and beds (and everything else!).

  5. As a stay at home mom, my budget priorities are not expensive custom pieces as much as family fun and groceries, ha! That being said I love for my home to look stylish and put together so I really appreciate posts like these and your sofa round up. Even if I could spend $2000 on a sofa I wouldn’t, because that’s like three family vacations!!

  6. Emily, you did not sound defensive or weird at all. It’s really amazing that you put together these kinds of posts. I think people have tried to successfully do this for years, but you have the team and resources to do it well.

    To be frank, I read your blog and lots of other higher end design blogs and I love the styles I see. My budget is normally in the vicinity of like… $0-$150 for just about anything. So a whole bedroom for less than $2k gives my heart hope. Thanks.

  7. Yes, this: “But listen, when you are staring at your empty (or depressing) living room, you have very little extra in the bank, and you have no time to properly thrift to find the perfect non-disgusting used sofa then yes, a post that rounds up mid to low quality but highly stylish and affordable sofa options is not only valuable, but your only real solution.” You totally get it Emily. Thank you.

    1. Plus if you have small children (as I do) and can’t/don’t want to deal with slipcovers maybe you just want something that will look decent until they’re old enough to not get bodily fluids all over the furniture on a regular basis. We even tried leather (against my better judgement) because everyone said it was great with animals. As it turns out cat claws and leather do not mix and I have the scratches all over the arms of my couch (from the cat just jumping up) to prove it.

      1. This exactly. I like nice things, but I have two boys – almost 5 and 8.5 months – and I am well aware of the grossness they bring to the house. I want them to be comfortable in our house, and definitely don’t want to have anything too precious for them to interact with. So, when they are grown, then I’ll get my dreamy couch and side chairs with fabric that I love. Until then, they need to be cheap, good looking and there to be used. This is why I love these posts.

  8. As a young, renter on a very low income, I love these posts. At this rate I won’t be able to afford a really high quality sofa for another decade so I appreciate seeing that it is possible to have a stylish room for cheap. Right now I’ve got all mismatched (not in a good way) hand-me-down leftover furniture that people have generously donated, but I dream of the day when I can have a well designed room and these posts make it feel within my reach, even when my monthly house design budget is like $20 month…

  9. I am totally obsessed with this line of blog post. Thank you!

  10. I LOVE this new series! I share your non-greedy excitement in finding bargain steals so I am totally eating this up. Can’t wait for more!

  11. Sometimes, ‘cheap’ absolutely has it’s place.

    I have a country farmhouse, with an Ektorp Ikea couch in front of the woodstove. Why? Because it was under 500$ DELIVERED, and because I have children and babies (poo, puke, pee, juice, random bits of crackers), pets (hairballs, fur, varied grossness), live in the country (mud, omfg), and have a woodstove (occasional ashes). Having an inexpensive couch with 2 washable slipcovers is absolutely necessary for this point in my life.

    Also, frankly: I’m in my early 30s with a house and kids. While I might LIKE to be able to spend 15K on gorgeous bedroom decor, I do not have 15K to use for that purpose. The money is just not there. And maybe in 15 years it will be, but in the meantime, well… we still gotta live in that bedroom.

    And, quite frankly: if we saved up 15K, we’d put it in savings/towards paying off our mortgage/assume that would buy our next car with zero payments/etc. I appreciate people who are willing to spend that much, I really do. But I cannot justify it. So: cheaper options (VINTAGE) are much appreciated.

    1. Hear, hear! Also early 30s with kids, also happy Ektorp owner. It was my very comfy napping couch for my last 2 pregnancies and has been great. I’d like to think I’m moving toward saving up for higher quality as I get older, but 5 years ago this was the best option, and so it has proved still to be.

      I LOVE these posts; keep ’em coming!

  12. Yes! You are totally on point. Buying high end high quality furnishings would be great, but let’s be serious, most of us can’t do that (not even saving up because we’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed). So, these posts are uber-helpful. Just because I can’t afford high end furniture, it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to create a beautiful home for my family.

  13. Yessss! I love these posts. I am a huge fan of vintage and thrifting as well but sometimes you just really need a piece of furniture. Hence my tufted pale blue velvet sofa from Macy’s. Which I love even if it is not the highest quality (it may be that after 3 years those cushions are a little less supportive!). I love these posts; it is so nice to see them mixed with the high end…one more reason I really appreciate you and your blog! Also can we just talk about how I found that rattan Target barcart on sale for $38?!?! I had been stalking it for months but couldn’t justify $129! So glad I waited!

  14. Thank you so much for this post! This is so real! Yes, I want to save for good quality goods but that’s just not possible up front a lot of the time. Sometimes you just need something beautiful for now, that will last you for five years or through a few crappy apartments until you can get somewhere where you can afford to get that artisan crafted, small batch, eco friendly, upcycled, recycled whatever. Sometimes you just want to look good on a not so awesome salary and still have a beautiful place to come home to. So thank you for this post, and thank you for all the time and effort you and your team put into it. I find it very inspiring and incredibly helpful, and just so damn real. We don’t all have thousands of dollars for a space. Sometimes we’re eating cheap tacos just so we can afford a cheap rug that looks halfway decent.

    Side note: I got this couch as a wedding present and it is amazing. I love it so much and it regularly goes on sale. I think this might be a good candidate for your couches under 1 k posts. Macy’s, who knew??

    http://www1.macys.com/shop/product/braylei-track-arm-sofa?ID=2138578

    It comes with three pillows so all you have to do is either a) buy some cute pillow cases b) leave it how it is or if you’re really crafty c) make some pillow cases and done. 🙂

    1. I have a Macy’s couch that I bought when I got my first job. It has held up extremely well for 9 years to 3 dogs. I bought a significantly more expensive American Leather sleeper sofa at Crate and Barrell…it’s now covered by a white slipcover because the dogs kill the upholstery.

  15. Emily – I’m obsessed with these posts! We’re in a house that we know we’ll only be in for a short time and these budget designs are amazing inspiration for making it feel homey without breaking the bank.

    I might be alone here, but my husband DEMANDED a Cal King bed. Fine. But now I’m hard pressed to find ANY stylish beds/headboards – regardless of budget. I would love to see a round up of Cal King beds (if they exist), so that we can get rid of my failed attempt at a DIY upholstered headboard.

    1. I’m in Cal King land too. After MUCH online searching, we bought this one from R&B (in the grey leather) a few years ago, just after getting married: http://www.roomandboard.com/catalog/bedroom/beds/wyatt-leather-bed

      It was a splurge item for us (I had ever only purchased headboards previously due to budget constraints) but we LOVE it. It has aged beautifully and is great for sitting up and reading in bed but is simple enough to not be trendy. Also, it’s so nice having a full-on bedframe that feels totally solid and sturdy. My two cents…

  16. I love posts like this. Just because I’m poor doesn’t mean I can’t have style!

  17. What blows my mind is that for the price of the BED from the first version you can get the whole BEDROOM in the last version. Add in a bit of DIY/vintage and you could go even lower – esp. on the dresser, nightstands, and throw pillows. This series is so fun! Please keep it up!

  18. I LOVE this. I don’t care if you are showing me quality products on the cheap or not- It’s just nice to see affordable items. Plus, the bed I bought when I graduated college (so 10 years ago!) has moved across the country with me twice and still works great, even though I spent about $200 for it. And pillows and lamps? They should absolutely be bought in an affordable way because they look just as good and then you can change them up more often! The only thing I try to spend more money on is actually rugs. I have owned several inexpensive rugs over the years and the constant shedding, absorbent pile and refusal to stay in one place (with a rug pad!) will drive you to insanity. Now I splurge on nice floor coverings because having to vacuum shedding rugs every day is a life-ruiner. Great post though! More please!

    -Stefanie
    http://www. thestylesafari.com

  19. Love this, thank you! You certainly provide us with plenty of high quality design/sources/tips on a more than regular basis. These posts are great for those of us who don’t have that kind of money, or just need a temporary option. LISTEN, I would LOVE to shop for beautiful vintage finds, but I live in Medford, OR. MEDFORD! You try shopping there for anything stylish, much less non-disgusting vintage. Portland is 5 hours away and I have two babies and no truck. I’m just saying…thanks for giving us some other options 🙂

  20. Love this post! And I agree with your defense on the sofa roundup. I don’t know about everyone else, but once every couple of years, I start to hate all of my furniture and want all new stuff. That means that a comfortable $800 sofa works for me so that I don’t feel bad in 2 years when I sell it for $250 and go buy myself another $800-$1k sofa. I could afford a $3k sofa, but I would feel really bad when I didn’t love it anymore. Question about being cheap…we are doing a master bathroom remodel because of major mold behind the 1991 shower and we got quotes for glass enclosure and door and they are all over $2k. To me, that seems crazy since I could have a new couch and loveseat for that money! Since a shower curtain isn’t really an option in our master (because it’s a 3.5 by 5.5 shower in a corner, is there any way I can save on the glass besides doing 2 panels and no door?? I heard the no door option feels drafty 🙁 Thanks for all of your posts!!

  21. I LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Yay! Thank you so much! I was inspired to update my bedroom based on past posts, and now I can wrap it up with some suggestions here!

  23. Love these — i think it also really helps me decide where I want to spend my money. Like, i’d totally spend more on the chair, but less on the dresser b/c I hate dressers as a general rule.

    Keep ’em coming!

  24. One of the best things about being a textile designer is being a little part of other people’s visions. Thank you so much for including our Prana pillow in this cool post!

    As a sidenote…as an artist, I have to say, seeing alternatives to mix/match in terms of high and low end is MUCH appreciated. : )

  25. I used to watch Design on a Dime and be like “$1,000? But I only have $50!”. Anyway, I like this post. It’s fun to see the options.

  26. Posts like this one are great! Brady’s rental kitchen redeux and the recent budget living room post were also gold. I’m so happy that you include content that is approachable for a 20-something’s budget and renter-friendly design advice, along side your amazing client makeovers and high end design content. Everything you give is so good!

  27. Both! I love quality but we are on a budget and have a baby on the way. More of this please!

  28. This post made my day. I don’t need a bedroom makeover (all thanks to the blue and coral target bedroom you did a while back) but I love this!!

  29. I guess I like the most expensive option best, minus the bedside tables, which I do not like (I prefer a low, sturdy bedside table). The $399 chair is my favorite piece.

  30. I love these series, keep them coming, I think it caters to a diverse audience to offer afford a options along with the high end. You could also mix and match options from the 3 choices. For instance, the high end dresser is my least favorite of the dressers and offers the least storage. I miss the hi low project show too!

  31. This is such a terrific post series, keep them coming!

    I love the headboard in the first staging (the one from West Elm) it’s so close to the simple tufted leather headboard I’ve been hunting for – but here’s the twist – I need a king and it’s only produced in a queen size! Any suggestions?

    A headboard round up would be amaaaazing. (hint, hint!)

    1. I thought the same thing!

  32. Emily, thank you thank you thank you! I just moved in with my boyfriend and we have an entirely blank canvas to work with (aside from a navy couch and white bookcase). He doesn’t at all get that spending $1000 on a coffee table, two side tables, and a media console is barely within reason. I am ALL ABOUT the modern farmhouse living room and can’t wait to see it!!!

  33. I like posts about both budget friendly and high quality. These are so fun!

  34. I am all about the cheap! I’m that person who tours people through her house and gleefully announces all things that are from the thrift store, garage sales, etc. It’s a point of pride for me to have a home that looks nice but is super affordable. I would never, ever spend $90 on a pillow like the one in the first two options! Glad to see it go in Option 3 for fellow frugal people like me. 🙂

  35. I love the how cheap can you go posts! But I would *really* love to see some of these posts with a different style and color scheme. The first two just haven’t been me at all.

  36. Emily, I loooooove these posts! Please keep them in the rotation regularly! I know it probably pains you to do these posts because you love using vintage items so much, but these budget-friendly options are so useful!

    1. I’m technically in the 1% and while I could probably afford super expensive home goods more than many people, I have student debt to pay off and kids to feed and a mortgage and college savings and retirement funds and a whole lot of things that get prioritized over high-end furnishings. I think that sentiment probably applies to a lot of other people as well. And not too long ago I was filling my grad school apartment with craigslist finds and DIY “art”, many of which I still own. I think it’s wonderful to have a designer provide good tips on budget shopping and decorating! Thank you for mixing it up!

  37. I’m always on a super-tight budget, and love these get-it-for-less type posts. We live in a time when we can find pretty + cheap, which I used to think was wonderful.

    The more I learn about sweatshops and how that affects individuals and families, health and life, the more I want to sit on the floor, like they have to, rather than sit on something they are killing themselves to make.

  38. I really like the last bedroom (the cheapest) the most. That rug is cool!

  39. As a 26 year old on a budget and no room to really save for quality furniture right now (savings is happening, but other things are prioritized), I LOVE these posts! Please keep them coming 🙂

  40. I found that I liked some of the “cheaper” pieces better than the pricey ones. I’m really loving this series! I can’t wait to see what you come up with for the Farmhouse Living room!

  41. Great post! I also am a little bit of both like you, Emily.
    XO
    Anna From Italy

    https://pineapplemakeup.wordpress.com/

  42. These posts are my new favorites 🙂

    I like them all, but I like them best in order of most expensive to least expensive. Typical! All of them have great elements though. That green dresser is my fave though! And would be so easy to DIY. I may just have to get on that…

  43. you are a girl after my own heart! I love this series, my favorite ever!

  44. Kudos to the team. I like them all. Like the cheap chair the best but the less cheap rug better. Also like the cheaper headboard.

    1. After reading the other comments, one of a set of matching reupholstered vintage slipper chairs got ripped by our visiting kitty. I moved it out and replaced it with a thrift store chair Igot for seven and a half bucks on markdown. I cleaned it up and fluffed the sagging cushions with extra fiberfill (yes, you can do that) and it looks like new. This I don’t care if it gets ripped to shreds. This is beyond cheapest, just above roadside find.

    2. It looks like the rug in options 1 & 2 is currently cheaper than the one in option 3! Must have gone on sale 🙂

  45. I love these posts! I also love finding the cutest stuff for the best price. Sure, I like quality but I rarely want to live with anything for all that long. I change my mind far too often! Thanks for the fun posts! I love to see what you are up to! (Oh and I love to see that adorable, sweet baby girl of yours!

    🙂

  46. I just moved into a new house (rental) and am furnishing the living room and a nursery. I LOVE these posts! My one question to you since you have an “in” at Target. Why is everything always out of stock / not available for shipping? Why can’t they get their manufacturing up to speed?? It’s soooo frustrating!!! I amazingly scored 2 end tables yesterday in the store and felt like I hit the jackpot.

  47. I remember those days of small apartment life when cheap was absolutely a selling point! I’m with you on that.

    I think that the point of having cheap cool furniture, even if it doesn’t last, is to be able to START a cohesive, well-designed room. Hand-me-downs are often the only other option. The people need to know that they can say no to that totally wrong free lamp. Instead, get a cheap one that works with your style. Get a cheap sofa that works with the colors and feel you love, then you have the option and time to collect and replace it with something better.

  48. I liked your budgeted bedrooms but, I literally don’t need each and everything. I liked some of the pieces such as duvet, plant and white dresser, and it would be a good idea to give a new look to the room with the addition of these few things.

  49. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this series! So much fun to show how you can get the same look for different price points. A lot of people don’t realize this. And I totally get your comments to save for quality but you have to sit on something in the mean time!

  50. This is so great! You just designed my whole guest bedroom and I didn’t even have to pay for a consultation. Suckers! I kid, I kid. But, seriously
    NEVER. STOP. DOING. THESE.

    Can you please do a dining room next?

  51. I am fresh out of grad school cirling the black hole of student loans… so the idea of a couch being OVER $1000 is something I can’t comprehend. I usually follow your posts simply to admire, but I am now excited because these “budget friendly” & design lovely posts are showing me design is attainable for those who aren’t on a million dollar budget! I typically shop at IKEA and Rooms to Go Outlet… so cheap is my middle name! Thank you for respecting all budgets!!

  52. Please please please do modern farmhouse living room ASAP! We may be moving and that’s my style for the new place :).

  53. Love these posts! Laughing out loud at your comments. It’s a nice alternative to lusting over things I can’t afford or vintage gems Emily & co can find. I still use my craigslist ikea furniture, family hand-me-downs, and free finds in my home. I like to think that the next time I move will be the time to upgrade, but in the meantime I’m saving for grad school and can’t stomach the spending. Thrift store and student art (from the non-profit where I work) make it beautiful and cozy–good enough for now!

  54. Hi,

    I LOVE these posts!! I was hoping to see where the white box-spring in the last two budgets is from. I can’t determine if it was part of the budgets.

    Thanks so much!!!
    Emily.

  55. Yes!!! Preach! We lost 5 houses before getting this one, and are having a baby (early too!) so with the furniture from a one bedroom cross country move making our new home look dinky, we need something! Decorate as you can but also don’t save forever! You’ll never start then!!

  56. I love these posts. Yes we would all love to spend and get amazing quality but sometimes it is not practical or possible. Honestly I swore to only buy cheap disposable couches after my “investment” piece did not wear well. And I love the low stress of it. I can let my kids and dogs near the furniture and not freak. If I get bored and want a different style, who cares I didn’t spend that much, it’s allowable.
    I’d rather go cheaper and get a room done then live with it unstyled and unsettled for years saving up money to do it. And then build in the good pieces slowly.

  57. Nice article. Think so new form of features have included in your article. Waiting for your next article.

  58. Thank you so much! Really rich content and very useful information..

  59. Your blog is really interesting and inspiration to many. I’ll be looking forward for more of your posts. Keep it up! I will follow you ..

  60. This series sorta reminds me of copycatchic.com

    Always fun to read these types of posts!

  61. wow the bed is excercise for cheap prize … best quantity

  62. can get my your blog … top

  63. wow … i like your concept, this best for you emily

  64. you are my golden sky, i like your concept

  65. I love everything about this post. Thank you for this!

  66. YES! Keep doing these posts – love them! And I also loved your couches under 1k post. We are young homeowners/students/and parents of two kids – Ikea is the best quality we can afford lol

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  68. I love your comment on the cheap sofa situation! My boyfriend and I are both 24 and have entry level jobs that still leave us in a very low tax bracket. We started off looking on Craigslist for a used Ikea sofa (pathetic, I know) but there wasn’t anything clean enough to bring to the house. Finally, we decided to pay a little more and ordered the Eddy from West Elm on super sale ($600) and we are waiting for it to arrive. We definitely stretched our budget on that one–it’s the most expensive thing that I’ve ever put on my credit card–even though a lot of your readers would think it was a very cheap sofa. We are totally thrilled to stop sitting on fold up lawn chairs while we drink our coffee in the morning.

    What I want to say is thank you for remembering and defending the poor twenty-somethings that love and adore your blog. You spend a lot of time talking about when you were in our shoes and I so, so appreciate it.

  69. I really love these posts! It helps make a total budget, and a broken down budget (key!!) and a shopping list. I feel like when I try to buy pieces for a deal – you never have a total budget in mind and then it adds up anyway.
    Thank you!

  70. Ps. I am more timeless high quality (save up for) purchases. But I do like seeing how you can make a total room fun and fast. Complete a room or your home – Because even with high quality furniture, my rooms are still not styled. And that doesn’t really seem like it im doing my furniture any justice.
    And it deserves better.

    Example I have a beatiful teal cotton couch – but the rest of the room is not styled – mostly out of fear of over spending.
    These posts take that fear away.

  71. As a stay at home mom, my budget priorities are not expensive custom pieces as much as family fun and groceries, ha! That being said I love for my home to look stylish and put together so I really appreciate posts like these and your sofa round up. Even if I could spend $2000 on a sofa I wouldn’t, because that’s like three family vacations!!

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