Decorating for Fall on a Frugal Budget


I can’t help it!  Decorating for fall gets me every time. I’m a sucker for those lovely magazine covers that show a home or front porch decorated perfectly for fall.  I just get sucked in and want my home to exude the warmth and coziness of those homes on the cover.

But in all reality, I really don’t want to drop a huge chunk of change on fall décor by purchasing items I use just 2-3 months of the year. (Okay, okay…I really DO want to spend it, but I CHOOSE not to.) But, that doesn’t mean that decorating for fall is impossible — I just use frugal decorating techniques to achieve the warm and welcoming look of autumn.

Decorating my home is probably the hardest area for me to keep my budget in check. I take a lot of pride in my home. Creating a home where my family is comfortable and enjoys spending time is important to me so I am always willing to make home furnishings a priority in the budget.

Over the years though, I have learned some frugal decorating tricks that save money so this “luxury” of mine doesn’t negatively impact our budget.  It’s important to keep tabs on all of your home furnishings so that you don’t accumulate more than you need.

I am sometimes guilty of forgetting what I already have so each season I go through my home decor collection and pull out what I don’t like and don’t use anymore.

Another tip is to change things up — don’t get in a rut with your décor items.  Just because you put an item somewhere last year doesn’t mean you are committed to that spot forever.  By changing how and where you use your décor items, you will spend zero dollars, yet still have a new, fresh look.  The secret is to be creative and resourceful.

I have always loved the idea of hosting a “Tag Sale” with my friends where everyone would bring seasonal or home décor items to essentially trade.  What a great way to refresh your home, save money, recycle items and have a reason to have a party with friends.  Isn’t that a great idea?  One of these days, I want to try it.

It’s a delight to hit a thrift store or two in order to find some fun seasonal items, decorator pillows, wall décor, mirrors, silk plant arrangements, and lots of other items for home and garden.   If you haven’t been to Real Deals on Mullan Road, you are missing out.  I love that place and I love their prices.  That has been my go-to store for pulling together the interior of my house for very little money!

Places like JoAn Fabrics and Michael’s are also places I depend on for great seasonal décor, greenery and inexpensive fabric for re-covering a pillow for the season.  (Recovering pillows is a super easy way to change up the environment in your rooms for VERY little money—and once they’re made you can reuse them each year.)

Places like Shopko and Target are awesome places to find steals on seasonal items, throws, tablecloths, bedding, etc. at the end of each season.  I picked up some super warm, cozy throws for our family room at Shopko for 75% off at the end of winter.  They add a layer of warmth — not only on anyone snuggled on the sofa but to the entire room with their rich fall/winter colors.

And don’t forget scents — the smell of your home is essential in creating a welcoming atmosphere. Candles work wonders. You can find seasonal-scented candles at Shopko and Target on sale right now.  My favorite fall scents are Pumpkin Spice or Apple Pie.  Talk about warm, cozy, and inviting!

SAVINGS TIP: Right now would be a great time to snag some great patio and garden items for next summer at these stores.  Remember that one of the best ways to saving money is to always be thinking several seasons ahead. Buy at the end of a season to get deep discounts on items you’ll enjoy the next time that season rolls around.

Here is my biggest secret to the best décor items for absolutely free: the great outdoors. This is especially true during this wonderful season of fall.  I love walking around my yard and collecting things to bring inside during the fall. Pinecones, wheat, leaves, dried grasses, apples, grapes, seedpods, branches, dried rose hips, pumpkins, gourds, and sunflowers are my favorites.

These no cost decorating items from nature create a rustic, but real, feeling of home.  I sprinkle these items throughout the house.  A bowl of pinecones here, a vase of red twigs there and a smattering of tiny pumpkins makes our feel the season.  If you don’t have a yard full of these things, take a nature walk anywhere around Missoula and you’ll find a whole array of items to embellish your home.

Where to decorate for the season? Start at the front door.  Your front door or porch is the fundamental element for creating a warm, welcoming home.  Using your free, natural décor items mixed in with some good thrift store finds, is the perfect way to fashion a front entrance that says, “All are welcome, come in and make yourself at home.”  Having a front porch on our house was critical for me and I’m delighted to have this space to decorate.  To me, our porch is another room in the house.

If home is important to you and your family, then create a space that warms hearts and souls. Just don’t take out a second mortgage  to do it.  Frugal decorating can still give you that lavish and warm look you desire.

With some help from Mother Nature, a few good thrift store finds, a couple of end-of-the season sales, a little imagination, and a dash of inspiration, you will have a home that reflects the season and invites all to come and enjoy the blessings of family and home.

Enjoy this blog?  You might also like Erin’s previous posts on Blessing Bags of Love for Missoula’s Homeless,  Back to School Budget Meal Planning, or  Back to School Shopping on a Budget.   AND, be sure to check out the “Missoula Save it Club”  on the home page of (See the Daily Missoula Fix buttons in the left navigation bar) for savings updates throughout the week!

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Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian.  Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques and trying to maintain a well-run, happy and organized home for her family.