Whether you're a recent grad taking on the "real world" with a cash-strapped budget, or you just love the thrill of a steal, there are plenty of easy ways to add character to your home for literally zero dollars (and in some cases, almost zero dollars). Read on for thrifting hacks, DIYs, and things you can get for free in nature or online.
1. Use a Sharpie to create DIY "wallpaper."
If you've got a knack for drawing, try a floral motif, like the above. Otherwise, with a ruler you can create all sorts of geometric designs — even subway tile! Just make sure, if you're in a rental, to paint over your design before you move. See our complete list of Sharpie DIY wall ideas here.
2. Use fabric samples as coasters.
Don't want to spend money on a set of coasters? Simply order a few fabric samples from your favorite retailer (they usually cost nothing), remove the cardboard backing, and boom: coffee spot.
3. Make floating shelves for a few bucks.
Cheap-o shelf brackets from IKEA + scrap wood from the lumber yard = DIY for less than $10.
4. Reuse bottles as vases and decor.
Next time you get your fancy juice or "adult juice," consider keeping the bottle around — it can look great just holding flowers, or try an easy DIY with twine or paint.
5. Find some driftwood.
If you live in a coastal region, or are planning a visit to the beach anytime soon, keep an eye out for driftwood. A single piece can look great mounted on a wall, or you can create an artful display with a few branches.
6. Keep your eyes peeled on Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, and Craigslist for literally free stuff.
All three platforms have "free" sections. Granted, you're probably not going to find a vintage Eames chair there — more like IKEA discards — but if you're willing to put in some elbow grease, you can totally find usable pieces.
7. Find a free piano and paint it.
It may at first seem unlikely, but there are SO many people trying to offload free upright pianos. If you want one simply for the decor and not for a quality musical instrument, you can absolutely find a free one and paint it a fun color. The only thing is ... you gotta handle the logistics of moving it!
8. Turn a log into a usable surface.
Give a log a coat of paint and you'll transform it into a fashionable side table or stool.
9. Find dried foliage to decorate with.
When the season turns, head outside to find bunches of leaves to hang, or even a single leaf you can press between two panes of glass.
10. Turn wallpaper samples into easy accent art.
Got some empty frames lying around? Try ordering some fancy wallpaper samples to fill them up. An alternative: Cut a piece of cardboard to size and enclose it in snazzy gift wrap.
11. Turn old bouquets into a hanging display.
Dry out your grocery store bouquets over time until you have enough to make this beautiful display.
12. Create a display out of hats.
Hat person? Don't keep them locked up in a closet — put them up on your wall for an arrangement that feels slightly bohemian.
Leonora Epstein is Hunker's Senior Director of Content. She has previously served as Executive Editor at HelloGiggles and as BuzzFeed's Deputy Editorial Director. She is the co-author of "X vs. Y: A Culture War, a Love Story" (Abrams, 2014). Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.