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chris carroll tlc interiors adairs leopard print cushion on bed in white bedroom

7 Fool-Proof Ways to Style a Bedroom on a Budget

Want to know how to style a bedroom on a budget? Like, an actual budget!? Well, I’m going to tell you right here, right now.

Here’s the thing about words like ‘budget’ and ‘affordable’: they mean different things to different people. What Kim and Kanye deem affordable is, I’m guessing, vastly different from what I deem to be affordable.

That said, I want to come at this little advice column from a real-world perspective. The reality is, I don’t want you to have a bedroom full of tat that’ll fall about in six months. But take it from me: you also don’t have to sink wads of money into high-price items.

Truthfully, it’s all about having a clever eye and following my skimp-meets-splurge design philosophy. Once you get your head around what that means, you’ll start to look at decorating rooms in a totally different way. And while I do intend on sharing budget advice for every room, I want to start with the bedroom first. Because we all need a gorgeous bedroom to retreat to, right?!

Below I’m going to share some ways to save money when styling your bedroom on a budget. What I’ll also do though is be honest about where you can splurge. Like a healthy diet, it’s all about balance. Please note: I’m so bad at a balanced diet (step away from the pizza and champagne, Chris!). So while you should never take nutritional advice from me, there’s nothing about decorating I don’t know 😉

master bedroom with olive polka dot wallpaper and black armchair in corner from metricon

1. Invest in the Shell of the Room

Honestly, if the shell of the room has depth to it, cheaper items won’t seem as cheap. An all-white room with white melamine furniture can have a cheap gloss to it. But if the walls were painted a darker neutral (here are some great ideas), or even a stronger colour, the room will feel more expensive.

And here’s the biggest hack: wallpaper. It’s not as scary, or as expensive, as you think. In fact, I did a large wallpaper feature wall in a client home just the other week and the paper itself only cost $360. Installation was about $800. But seriously, under $1200 for an en masse sense of drama is really good pricing.

If the shell of the room is soaring, the cheap stuff wont be boring. Learn it, live it and love it! The image above from my mates at Metricon is absolute bedroom wallpaper goals. And it demonstrates just how much impact installing wallpaper can have on the feel of a space.

I’d apply the same rules to carpet. Spend a little more on this. Don’t go for the cheap crunchy stuff. You walk on it every day, so you want it to be plush!

fantastic furniture modena queen bed frame in grey teenage girls bedroom

2. Hunt out a Cheap Bed Frame

Bed frames can really do damage to your bank account. So when you’re thinking about how to style your bedroom on a budget, avoid the pricey brands.

Case in point: the gorgeous bedroom above, styled and snapped by the amazing Oh Eight Oh Nine, features the Modena queen bed from Fantastic Furniture. And the bed sells for $359. Let that sink in for a moment. For less than 400 bucks you can have a stunning on-trend bed. And if you get savvy with your styling, nobody will know if it was a bargain buy or a boutique buy.

If you want to up the spend a bit on the bed, go for it. But I wouldn’t go about the $1000 mark if you’re trying to style your bedroom on a budget. There’s so many other pieces you’ll need to buy to make the room feel complete.

Two other options, which I love are the Megan bed from Brosa ($794 at time of publish, pictured below) and the Andes bed from West Elm ($779 at time of publish). I actually own the Andes and he is a stunner.


3. Low-Cost Mattresses can be Amazing

Trust me, I’ve invested in what I thought were big kahuna quality mattresses and they have failed me. Right now I have the IKEA Hokkasen mattress and it’s divine. It’s a wonderful mattress that isn’t too hard or too soft. If you want to see me road test it and others in the IKEA Complete Sleep Studio, click here to watch the video.

The moral of the story is this: when styling a bedroom on a budget, don’t get caught up in the notion that a more expensive mattress guarantees better quality, because it doesn’t. The IKEA one I own only costs $899. Which, for a queen mattress, is amazing.

Considering the mattress I had before it cost a couple of grand and started drooping after two years, I’ve converted to the notion that cheap can be cheerful. Also, don’t be afraid to explore memory foam mattresses. Here is my review of a variety of memory foam mattresses on the market right now. I’ve put many in client homes and have had no complaints.

coastal bedroom in st kilda apartment with adairs bed linen in beige and grey

4. Side Tables as Bedsides = Savings

If you look at the ‘beside table’ section of a store’s website, the items are likely to be loads more expensive than if you look at the ‘side table’ tab. That’s usually because there are more materials in a two-drawer bedside, for example, than there are in a round side table for your living room. But here’s the news just in: side tables can look amazing as bedsides.

The added bonus of a side table, outside of the lower price, is that they’re great for small spaces. Round side tables are especially handy in tight bedrooms, but even no-drawer square tables work a treat. Because there are less hard materials used, they give the illusion of more air and space in a room.

The reality is that most of us just cram junk into our bedside table drawers anyway. Honestly, my beside drawers contain an old Santa hat from 2017. And a pack of IKEA tea-light candles. 25 random blue pencils. Cat toys. A chocolate lip balm I’ve never used. And I’m pretty sure there’s also coloured blu-tac in there, for reasons unknown.

The moral of the story: save yourself some cash (and hold onto less junk) by purchasing side tables over bedside tables. Here’s a roundup of my favourites.

chris carroll tlc interiors styling lorraine lea conor quilt cover

5. Don’t get Caught in the Thread Count Trap

Honestly, there’s no other way to say this: people are sucked in by the thread count myth. We’ve all fallen prey to it; thinking our bedding is low-cost and poor quality because it’s not 4000-thread-count Egyptian cotton.

Well, I’m here to tell you that the days of snobbery over sheets and quilt cover sets are over. I give you full permission to go into a store and rub up the bedding. Does it feel amazing against your skin? If the answer is yes, you need to take that baby to the register immediately and swipe that credit card.

If you want to splurge on bamboo or organic linen, go for it. I even have some divine bamboo linen from this brand in my own bedroom. But I also have super affordable buys from Kmart and Lorraine Lea too. As I said at the start of this post, it’s all about balance. So go cheaper on the bedding if you need to.

If you’re decorating a guest bedroom that only gets used every few months, it seems insane to me to purchase expensive bedding.

hamptons style master bedroom with white bedside tables and mirror above bed

6. Don’t Spend Loads on Lighting

Truthfully, when I’m specifying lighting for clients, I don’t spend much money. Even some large-scale feature lighting over dining tables can be really affordable. And when considering how to style a bedroom on a budget, I follow the approach that cheap lighting can be phenomenal.

Of course, if you’re choosing pendant lights or wall sconces (over table lamps) you’ll likely spend a bit more because there will be an installation cost involved. But even wall-mounted or ceiling-hung lights don’t have to cost much. I tend to shop at Beacon Lighting or Lighting Lighting Lighting if I’m bargain hunting.

If I’m splurging for clients, I’ve been known to get lost in the wonderful pages of lighting from Canvas and Sasson. But they don’t sell direct to the public, so telling you that is just me being a big tease 😉

jersey sheet set from lorraine lea in grey and beige bedroom

7. Have One Art Moment, then go Cheap Elsewhere

Lastly, wall art can make or break a room – and a budget! But you don’t have to sell your first-born child to afford it. Styling a bedroom on a budget is all about choosing where to go all in and where to pull back.

When it comes to art, I like to do a combo. I’ll usually choose one art moment and sink a little bit of money into it. Because every rooms needs a focal point, or a wow moment. As so often art is that moment. And it can’t be a wow moment if it’s too small, or cheap-looking. So pick one art piece you love and invest.

Here’s my no-regret guide to buying art for your home if you need it.

Then, around the rest of the room, stack some cheap photo frames or an affordable mirror. That way, all your walls are filled but you haven’t sunk big bucks into every single piece. For affordable art I tend to look to Urban Road or The Print Emporium.

hamptons style bedroom with white bedside tables and art deco wallpaper

Now you Know How to Style a Bedroom on a Budget

See, I told you it just takes a little bit of balancing. Invest in some pieces, like art and wallpaper, and you can go cheap with the other design elements.

I do this every day for my design clients and they are constantly surprised (pleasantly) at home much I can achieve without throwing all their money away.

Got any questions for my about styling your bedroom on a budget? Drop me a comment below and I can help you out.

Happy decorating at your place!


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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