Cheap Inspiration for Your Space

So you’ve moved in. The boxes are unpacked. Your bed is made. Your computer is connected to the Internet, and your walls are completely bare. Now all you need is a space that you’re happy to see when you wake up in the morning and a place you’re comfortable coming home to at the end of the day.

You dig around in that box of photos you put under your bed thinking you can do something with them, but you have no other ideas and very little spare cash. You want something non-conventional—none of that overdone Martha Stewart stuff.

Whether you just moved or you just need a new look, here are some funky looks that will spice up your space without hurting your checkbook.

Under $5

The origami mobile

Go to the library and find a book with step-by-step directions for making origami. Then buy some colored paper. Sit down to watch your favorite movie and fold away. Though you can buy actual origami paper in a kit, you can cut any paper to size and probably save a few bucks. You can get hooks and fishing wire for less than $3 to hang your creation from the ceiling.

Under $10

Umbrella light fixture

An umbrella light fixture is unique enough, so for those who don’t want to be too different, just buy a simple, solid color. Those looking for some punch for their room should definitely go for the patterned umbrella. Toy stores often have cute little umbrellas that would spice up a young child’s room. Also, don’t forget to consider parasols or Asian umbrellas as colorful options ($5 at World Market). Use a saw or bolt cutter to cut off the long handle. Be sure that you can still keep it open after you cut it off. Small hooks and a little fishing wire ($3) will once again finish off this look.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

You know those cheap square mirrors that people use underneath centerpieces at wedding receptions? Great wall art. You can find them at IKEA for $5 for four (or at Michael’s for $10 for four, if you don’t have an IKEA in your area). Then, you can arrange them in whatever pattern you would like—leaving a margin, lining them up at the edge or putting them at different heights. Get as many mirrors as you want. They’re a great way to not only fill up an empty wall, but to make your space look bigger than it really is.

Under $20

Bamboo shade photo holder

Back to that box of photos. Picture a bamboo-window shade hanging on the wall with photos attached to the sticks with paper clips. That’s what we’re going for. You can buy a small slated-bamboo window shade at a Pier 1 or World Market for under $10. Once you get it home, cut off the fixtures for hanging it on the window and re-tie the end. You may need to cut the shade to the size you want it. If you want to, you can buy extra sticks of bamboo for $.99 a stick and frame the outside by tying them to the shade. Then attach up to 20 of your favorite photos or mementos using paper clips.

Globe mobile

Do you like traveling, places and culture? Express it by hanging a globe ($15 plus $3 for hooks) from your ceiling. For a cheaper version, look for an inflatable beach ball globe and put it in your bathroom. Your new international addition will serve as a great geography lesson as well as a visual reminder of people and places to visit.

Canning jar table lamp

Call your mom and ask her if she has any unused canning jars lying around the house or look at your local grocery store. Go to a craft store to find a screw-on light fixture. It will come with a cord ($8). Fill the jar with whatever you heart desires. Be creative. You could paint a scene on the outside or fill the inside with anything from water to rocks, beads, or pennies. A small lampshade will ring up at around $10.

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