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10 Ways To Decorate Your Temporary House For Free: For Renters, Slow Travelers And Digital Nomads

Updated: May 27

While I have my own house that's decorated with expensive furniture and the choices of decor from around the world, I've been living a nomadic life for some time now. Even though I like the thrill and flexibility of living in several places, I missed having a place that felt like me. The guest houses, the Airbnbs and those short term rentals can feel impersonal, but at the same time you don't feel like investing too much time, efforts or money into them given your unpredictable stay time. But no matter how long you're going to stay in your house, it's your home for how much ever long and it should feel like one with your own style, personality and preferences woven into it. At the same time you don't want to invest in expensive or non-removable decor which will make you feel bad about having decorate to begin with.

Since I've lived in a few short-term places the last one year and also done a bunch of low budget home makeovers along the way I've picked up some tricks and hacks to do home decor on a zero to low budget. All it takes is some effort, a disconcerting eye, a sense of style and some creativity.

So here's a few ways to decorate a temporary house on a zero to low budget!

1. Plants as decor

use plants to decorate your house for free

Let's get the most obvious out of the way. Plants are not only the most amazing "decor", they also liven up any place with positivity and good vibes. Now, you might say that plants ain't free or even cheap, but I don't mean go to the fancy nursery and pickup a 12-year old Bonsai! You can create plants from literally thin air by picking up some cuttings, propagating them in water until they root and planting them in waste containers and just watching them grow bigger. Some plants, like the money plant don't even need to be planted in soil and can be kept forever in water. If you wanna save on the planters too, then any use containers, paint buckets, coconut husks, shells etc can double up as containers and free planters.

2. Fruit baskets as decor

use wicker baskets to decorate your house for free

In the boho aesthetics, cane and wickers baskets are a legit decoration item. Except, to ring true for this article, I'm talking about those free cane baskets discarded after their use as a fruit carrier or a gift basket has been utilized. Channel your dumpster diver here and pick up the discarded wicker baskets you see around and arrange them on a big wall. Note that this only works if the rest of your house has a boho aesthetic otherwise the baskets will just end up looking dowdy and rough

3. Pinecones as decor

use pinecones to decorate your house for free

From my trip to Manali last year, I learnt one decor hack. Pinecones! Literally found on the roads in most hilly places where there's pine trees (duh), you can scoop up these beautifully shaped pinecones by the dozens and use them endlessly. You can paint them and make hangings out of them or simply gather them in a pot or basket as a display piece like I have done here.

4. Feather, wood and shell hangings as decor

use feather and shell hangings for decor

The good dreamcatchers can be pretty expensive and justifiably so, but it's possible to make your own using materials from nature like shells, wood, feathers and of course pinecones. Here's a simple one Ive made form some loose sticks and bird feathers. You can even do Macrame, rope and pinecones.

5. Books as decor

Books are great cuz not only are they great travel companions, they also make for great decor items once you're done or before reading them. Since I'm always reading multiple books at a time and have more in my reading pipeline, books form a major part of my household aesthetics. If you want them exclusively for decor, then look for hard-bound coffee table books.

6. Stools made from cement

This is one of those items I've made and improvised over endlessly. I'd first seen this hack on a vine years ago and then tried my own versions. Very impressed with the first one, I tried a mosaic version which was even better. All you need for this amazingly versatile stool is some concrete ( cement and sand) a bucket, 3 dovels or legs and some broken ceramic pieces if you want to make a mosaic stool.

Stools made from cement DIY

7. Crockery doubling up as decor

crockery as home decor

I'm all for pieces that serve multiple functions than just utility or decor alone. I'm big on pottery, ceramics and stonewares that look as good displayed as they do eaten from!

So if you don't want to spend on just decor, get yourself a few standout pieces like a nice platter, a bowl, and a plate to double up as decor pieces

8. Textured art frames and wall murals as decor

Hand painted art and wall murals
That's my friend making a mixed media 3D painting

If you've been gifted with the gift of art, the world including your temporary house is your canvas. However, art may be free but painting supplies ain't. So if you don't want to spend on conventional art supplies like acrylic paints and brushes, use materials like charcoal, coffee and other forms of painting like vegetable painting and toothbrush-spray painting to make simple or themed designs on your wall. If you have no painting talent, here's some ideas for wall art on a budget.

9. Bedsheets and mandala tapestries as decor

Some bed spread, especially the one with mandala and other beautiful motifs can actually make a great wall tapestry. Take a leaf from these cafes in Dharamkot which have expertly used beautiful mandala bedsheets as wall decor. The best part about using sheets as decor is they're light weight, they cover a huge area, and when needed you can quickly take them off the wall and put them to use as a bedsheet!

10. Lamps made from jute and driftwood as decor

And last but not least, this is one of my favourite pieces of DIY decor I've done. A whole floor lamp made from scrap including the base, the stick, and the jute (which was used in a packaging)

So hope you get your creative juices flowing and get some DIY going to decorate your temporary house for absolutely free or at minimal costs!


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 I (Monica) am a lifelong traveler, (40 countries), sustainability and veganism advocate, and a marketer by profession. I'm old school in that I still like to blog and document rather than shoot and post.

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