{renovate} decorating a large space on a tiny budget

Happy Monday friends!

As promised I'm back for one more post about the church basement I recently helped reorganize and decorate. You can catch up with befores here and afters here. Today, I thought I'd share the lessons I learned from this project - both for decorating a large space and decorating on a budget. I try to work within a budget on our home, but the insanely tiny budget ($500!) for this room really forced us to get creative!

Lessons on decorating a large space:

- Create "rooms" within a room. Within this space, we create four separate rooms: the cafe, the living room, the mini living room and the kids area. Creating rooms makes the space more manageable, more comfortable and not nearly as overwhelming for people walking into the room.

- Pull the furniture away from the wall. I know, you hear this all the time, but it's true and worth repeating. For awhile we had the mini living room up against the wall and it was weird. As soon as we moved it away from the wall, it completely worked. In a large space moving the furniture away from the wall helps fill up space - one of the reasons we were so excited about the barrels that live in the middle of the room.

- Hang large pieces of art. The church has an amazing artist who'd created large paintings to hang around the church. We raided the upstairs and brought a few down and immediately the space felt more colorful and intimate. 

- Leave enough walking space. The thing about decorating a large space is that you want to fill it! But, be cautious of leaving enough room to move. A large space means you can have large walkways and space around the outside of the room to help it feel airy and open.

Lessons on decorating on a budget:

- Start by cleaning it all out. There was so much stored in this basement - both out in the open and in the two closets - and we started by taking EVERYTHING out of the room. We donated the majority of it, but this was such an important step because it allowed us to shop with what we already had.
- Use what you have. An extension of cleaning out, and important to keep an open mind when doing. Most people have things they can already use, they just need an open mind and a little creativity. In this case we were able to use tables, chairs and a large room divider.
- Repurpose what you have, if needed. Get creative about how you look at what you currently have and how you can use it in your new space. We cut down large rectangular tables into squares and turned a room divider into a chalkboard.

As for this project, I thought you might be interested in what we already had on hand vs. what we bought. 

What we already had/repurposed:
- pews as benches
- cut rectangle tables in to squares
- chairs from basement, spray painted
- scoured our houses for chairs and pillow forms
- room divider with legs cut off = chalkboard
- large table with smaller legs = kids table
- throne chairs with new fabric
- small rug
- ficus plants

What we bought:
- paint (in fact, the BEST paint deal I've ever heard of)
- 3 couches
- 2 chairs
- 2 lamps
- 1 rug
- 12 pillows inserts
- fabric
- supplies for cutting tables - new trim, nails, etc. 

All in all, we spent $475. Under budget! :)  We got lucky and scored some incredible deals. But I can't stress enough that it was repurposing with creativity that allowed us to meet the budget and still make the space stylish.

Thanks for following along with this room reveal! It was super fun project and I am so happy to share it with you guys :)


  1. I really love the use of colour in the space you designed for your church - and especially those pews as benches. You really did such a great job on this project, especially considering your budget. Great tips!

  2. Man, Jenn, what a great job! Loved that you share this project with us. First of all, those barrels as tables...what a great idea! It's a really fun look. I'm curious about this room divider/chalkboard. I suppose you don't have a before pic?? Wish I could see this space in person. It really looks amazing!!

    1. Kat, I don't have a good photo, but you can see them in the back of the second photo in this post : http://ahomeinthemaking.blogspot.com/2013/04/renovate-church-basement.html

      One's blue, the other is white. They were both huge, thick wood on wheels. And, thanks! :)

  3. Oh, this is great! I'm just getting ready to make some curtains for our church basement and struggling with whether to let my own sense of style show through and if so, how much. :)

    Found you through Houzz!

    1. Katie, what perfect timing! I'd love to see what you come up with :) And for what it's worth, I'd definitely let some of your style show through!

  4. Amazing job! So inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Great tips! That is easily the most stylish church I have ever seen. Can't believe you did it all for under $500!! So impressive!

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