From Drab to Fab: Spruce Up Your Home with These 5 DIY Decor Ideas

An example of easy DIY room decor: nail string art in the shape of The Penny Hoarder's logo.
A DIY nail string art project. Tina Russell/ The Penny Hoarder

Moving is a huge drag but it does have a silver lining: You get to decorate your new digs.

Unfortunately, after moving expenses plus first and last month’s rent or a new mortgage payment, you probably don’t have a lot of scratch left over to devote to your decor.

But if you’re willing to get creative and put in a little elbow grease, there are lots of inexpensive ways to decorate your place on a shoestring budget.

5 DIY Decor Ideas to Make Your Place Look Cool

Here are five cool ways to dress up your walls, all for less than $15 each.

1. Popsicle Stick Hexagon Wall Shelf

Diy decor

A DIY popsicle stick hexagon wall shelf. Tina Russell/ The Penny Hoarder

Remember making birdhouses and wooden trivets out of popsicle sticks at summer camp?

Yeah, forget it. This is so not that.

This rad popsicle stick hexagon wall shelf idea from Make & Do Crew is made out of distressed popsicle sticks for a delightfully hipster freezer-to-wall look.

Also, it’s hexagon-shaped so it’s a perfect gift for the biochemist in your life.

Hang one to feature a single item, or stack several together in a honeycomb design to display a collection of trinkets (or attract a swarm of bees).

The shelf is dead simple to make and you get to eat a bunch of popsicles along the way (or skip the brain freeze and just get a bag of sticks at the craft store).

What to Buy:

What You Already Have:

  • Paintbrush

How to Make It:

1. Glue the sticks together using the handy template provided by Make & Do Crew.

2. Paint the sticks with stain, then let dry.

3. Hang it on the wall.

4. Put something cute in it.

5. Marvel at your handiwork.

Total Cost: $11.15

2. Framed Fabric Wall Art

Diy decor

Framed fabric wall art. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Ever walk through a fabric store and think, “Wow, that pattern would make a great shirt” and then realize wearing said shirt would look like Scarlett O’Hara’s fainting couch fell on you?

Sometimes fabrics look best in small doses — say, framed and tacked to the wall.

This DIY project is super easy and infinitely customizable to your living space.

Small fabric samples run you about a buck at the fabric store. Picture frames at the dollar store are, well, a dollar.

To go zero-cost on this project, ask your friends to give you sections of fabric, old bedspreads or unused shirts that you can cut down to the size you need.

Or shop yard sales and thrift stores for picture frames and fabric until you find the colors and patterns that fit your room best.  

(Cheap picture frames have a way of breaking apart at the corners during a strong breeze, so rickety or broken ones are pretty easy to find and repair yourself.)

What to Buy:

  • 3 fabric swatches – $3
  • 3 picture frames – $3

What You Already Have:

  • Scissors

How to Make It:

1. Remove the back of the frame and place it on the fabric.

2. Cut out the fabric using the back of the frame as a template, leaving half of the extra fabric on all sides.

3. Place the fabric in the frame.

4. Replace the back of the frame to hold the fabric in place.

Total Cost: $6.00

3. Nail String Art

Diy decor

A DIY nail string art project. Tina Russell/ The Penny Hoarder

Whenever I make nail string art, I don a pair of bell-bottom jeans, burn a little incense and put on some Simon & Garfunkel.

It puts me in the mood to tackle the hippiest DIY project since the invention of flower crowns.

Unlike the stuff I made back in 19-… uh, back in the day, today’s nail string art actually looks cool.

This project is a little more involved than slapping a few popsicle sticks together, but it’s well worth the time it takes to make.

What to Buy:

  • Bag of nails – $1.24

What You Already Have:

  • Hammer

How to Make It:

1. Trace the design pattern onto the wood.

2. Evenly hammer small nails into the wood to form the outline of your pattern.

3. Wind string around the nails to create your design.

Total Cost: $10.11

4. Color-Blocked Cork Clock

Diy decor

A DIY color blocked cork clock that cost $12.45 to make. Tina Russell/ The Penny Hoarder

What time is it? It’s time to make a clock.

Why buy a generic wall clock when you can make one that matches your decor, personality or even your eye color, if that’s how you roll.

This color-blocked cork clock is so easy to make, you’ll want to put one in every room.

What to Buy:

What You Already Have:

  • Power drill
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint brushes

How to Make It:

1. Choose contrasting colors for the trivet and clock hands

2. Drill a hole in the center of the trivet.

3. Use the tape to create a pattern on the trivet.

4. Paint the trivet and let it dry.

5. Remove the tape.

6. Attach the clock face to the trivet according to the kit’s package instructions.

7. Hang it on the wall.

8. Realize it’s time for tacos.

Total cost = $12.45

5. Cork Board Message Center

Diy decor

Cork board message center that’s great for hanging photos on or Post-it notes. Tina Russell/ The Penny Hoarder

I don’t know about you but I love to make lists. Shopping lists, bucket lists, to-do lists, song lists, lists of my lists.

This cork board message center is the perfect place to corral them all.

It’s also great for pinning all those odd bits of paper in my pockets that would otherwise end up a tiny, soggy ball at the bottom of my washing machine.

You can get really creative with this craft and use leftover fabric (from your fabric wall art project!), or keep it simple and decorate the cork trivets with paint or even markers.

What to Buy:

  • Four cork trivets – $8.36 ($2.09 each)
  • 2 colors of acrylic paint – $1.58 (2 colors at 79 cents each)
  • One strip of fabric from Joann’s $1 Sale Section – $1

What You Already Have:

  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Paintbrush

How to Make It:

1. Cut fabric to fit the trivet, leaving two extra inches around the trivet’s perimeter.

2. Trim off corners of the fabric to form a rough circle.

3. Cut slits all around the edges of the fabric.

4. Center the trivet on the fabric

5. Fold fabric onto the trivet, and secure it with staples

6. Repeat the steps with second trivet

7. Paint the two remaining trivets and let them dry.

8. Hang trivets grouped together on your wall.

Total cost = $10.94

Your turn: What’s your favorite inexpensive DIY home decor project?

Disclosure: You wouldn’t believe how much coffee The Penny Hoarder team goes through. This post contains affiliate links so we can keep the grinds stocked!

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She may have written this article but Intern Jacquelyn Pica deserves all the credit for making each DIY project look so good.