Designer extraordinaire, Miss Michaela Noelle, is no stranger to pretty things. In fact, she may just be the best purveyor of pretty I’ve ever known. And with the abundance of fancy design inspiration at our fingertips these days, infusing said pretty into our own homes on a budget can prove difficult. But not today. Because sweet Michaela is here sharing three awesome ways to deck out your home, without breaking the bank!

From Michaela Noelle DesignsGirls around the country are drooling over fabulous decorating ideas, room designs and gorgeous home tours in the pages of print and online magazines (oh, and how could we forget Pinterest?!) The reality, though? We can’t all afford to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to pretty up our abodes. While obtaining my bachelor’s degree in interior design over the last four years, I lived in four different apartments and one house, all of which I was forced to decorate on a college gal’s budget. It’s safe to say I’ve learned a few things about how to save money when decorating and still create a space you genuinely love to call home. Hopefully these three tips will inspire some beautiful spaces!

No 1. DIY Designer Curtains: Curtains are one of my favorite ways to spruce up your space, because they draw your eye up and create the illusion of taller ceilings. If you want beautiful designer curtains but can’t drop the cash, try buying one yard of your favorite designer fabric and some simple white curtains from a less expensive store. Sew 18” strips on the bottom (or top) of each curtain panel to add a pop of color and pattern. Immediately, you’ve given a designer touch to what were once plain curtains. If you have left over fabric, sew a pillow cover or a strip of fabric to a plain pillow to tie everything together.

No 2. Goodwill & Consignment Shops: I’m not sure about you, but I love some unique and vintage pieces of furniture. What I love even more is finding them on the cheap. I’m not normally a bargain or thrift store junkie, but there’s something about finding a piece of furniture with good bones to then take home and repaint, that really makes me smile. I found this buffet for $13 at Goodwill (amazing, I know!) and refinished it for under $50. Once you find the perfect dresser, buffet, nightstand, or dining table, follow these instructions to refinish your furniture…

Step 1: Remove all hardware and sand the piece of furniture, then wipe down with a damp cloth to get all the dust off.
Step 2: Prime. I used a spray primer. Cover Stain Oil Base Primer is the best primer, so I’ve heard.
Step 3: Paint. I used Annie Sloan’s chalk paint for a farmhouse look. This paint is so great—you can even write directly on it with chalk if you want. I mix Floetrol in my paint which helps to prevent visible brush strokes on the furniture.
Step 4: Seal it. You can choose to seal it with Polycrylic or a wax if you used this chalk paint.
Step 5: Hardware. Everyone loves a cute pair of knobs! You can find these at World Market, Anthropologie, or charming antique stores.

No. 3 Work with What You’ve Got: Sometimes you need to work with what you already have, and when it comes to accessorizing, there’s no better way to do it. Styling your shelves can be daunting, but it’s actually really fun when you have a few tried and true simple steps to achieve a well-styled bookcase.

Step 1: Remove everything and start fresh.
Step 2: Gather your favorite things. Find all your favorite books (of all sizes), sculptures, jewelry boxes, plants, framed prints, and treasures of sentimental value.
Step 3: Start by loading the shelves with the biggest items first, then set the smaller accent pieces in place.

I’ve styled one bookcase two ways to give you some inspiration. Here’s what I did:

Shelf Display #1 
– Begin with books turned pages facing out. This is a unique way to display books and especially good if the spines don’t all go together.
– Framed print on a different shelf to offer balance to the top half of the bookcase.
– Add some larger books stacked horizontally to bring in some color.
– A turquoise jewelry box for balance and visual space.
– Finish off with a small plant, seashell and glass timer. (Tip: a low stack of books as seen in shelf display #1 usually needs an object on top of them to ground it and finish off the look.)

Shelf Display #2
– Begin with a whole row of books, some turned vertically and some placed horizontally at the end. On the second shelf, place books turned horizontally to give it visual interest and balance.
– To add more texture, place an abstract painting at the top and layer with your metal initial.
– Finish off with a sculpture, small gold frame, and a plant. Every shelf needs some life and succulent plants is one of the best ways to bring life to a shelf, because they are hard to kill!

Photography: Nicole Dianne | Design & Styling: Michaela Noelle Designs