Pottery Barn Decorating on a Walmart Budget

[Alternate Title: Free (or Really Cheap) Fall Decorating Ideas]

Happy weekend!

We’re in our second to last weekend of baseball season, so we’ll be at the field times three on Saturday, and then hoping to get some yard work, football watching, and chili eating in afterwards.

Yesterday was the first unofficial day of fall here in North Carolina. We finally had a day where you could throw a sweater or jeans on without sweating! I’m dusting off my Frye’s this weekend and pulling the box of cold weather clothes out of the attic.

I posted this picture of my kids on Instagram yesterday – it was mid 60s and they put on winter gear to go play in the backyard. #Southernerproblems.


Now that it feels like autumn is here I’ve been putting the finishing touches on fall decor around the house. I know it’s not for everyone, but I love decorating seasonally. It makes me so happy to change things up, try something new, or re-arrange what I already have in a new way.


While my favorite autumn style lies between the pages of Pottery Barn Catalog, Autumn Edition, I’ve learned I can pull my home together in a cozy way for about the price of one PB pillow slip cover.

Here are a few things I like to incorporate:

1. Remove Color

I think most of us often forget that the easiest way to change up a space or switch a look is to remove color, not add more. If your space has a lot of bright colors, pastels, or summery shades, just removing as many of those accent colors and pieces as possible gives you an entirely new look for free.

In autumn I take down my bright blue and white drapes in my living room and replace them with neutral taupe and gray ones (I get my drapes at Marshall’s HomeGoods or TJMaxx because they carry the 96″ drapes that drag the floor, which is the look I prefer).

I also remove brightly colored throw pillows, accent foliage, and throw blankets. I replace most of the pictures in the room with sepia or black and white photography (I order B&W prints of my children from Costco – very inexpensive way to decorate!)

Once I have a neutral palette in my main living spaces, it’s so easy for me to choose a few accent pieces that scream autumn and give the impression the room is fully decked out for the season.

2. Shop Your Yard

As the leaves change many trees and bushes produce berries and seeds that dry well and make really pretty accent foliage. I like to cut branches and stick them in water right away, that way they dry out slowly and hold their shape and color for much of autumn.

3. Shop Your House 

I learned this trick years ago from The Nester, and it’s been a life saver for my decor budget. We all have pieces that can be moved around to different rooms to create a fresh look. I switch up vases, lanterns, candlesticks, faux foliage, wreaths, pictures, lamps, accent trays and plants. It’s amazing how something as simple as moving my summer wreath from my front door to over my fireplace in the living room changes the look of my space for a season.

4. Real Pumpkins and Gourds 

Nothing says autumn like a gourd, and thankfully real ones look the best and aren’t expensive. The only thing I changed in the pictures below between a summer and autumn look was adding a few 69-cent mini pumpkins from Trader Joes. I think they look fun and my 2-year-old loves playing with them and putting them back in their places (sometimes).


Myquillan Smith decorates her living room with various edible squashes – butternut, acorn, spaghetti, you name it – and then just takes them back to the kitchen when she’s ready to cook them. It’s a brilliant and cost effective decor idea.

5. Old Books

Smelly old books with yellowed and fraying pages is one of my very favorite ways to decorate during autumn. Joanna Gaines is my Spirit Animal, clearly. You can turn your old books page-facing-out and stick your 69-cent mini pumpkins on top and you’ve got a sweet autumn look, almost for free.


6. Decorate with Smell 

Just as our nose is the key to tasting good food, our olfactory sense first determines how we experience a space. If your home smells like autumn, it’s going to look and feel more like autumn. The smells of the season truly are my favorite way to decorate.

I diffuse various essential oil blends that bring autumn in almost daily. My very favorite blend is Orange oil and the Young Living blend called Christmas Spirit. It smells divine. I also love the blends pictured below.


Real eucalyptus is another favorite fall smell and it dries really beautifully. Trader Joes sells fresh bouquets for $2.99. I like to grab one during a monthly stock up, and then mix it in with fake eucalyptus stems I already have (the IKEA fake eucalyptus is my fav, it looks the most real to me).


Even though I know burning candles is not super healthy, I can’t resist an autumn-scented candle or two. The $3.99 Trader Joe’s (yes I’m addicted to that store) candles have a natural soy wax and lead free wick, so I tell myself it could be worse and stockpile the vanilla pumpkin and honeycrisp apple scents to get me through November.


Lastly I love simmering a pot of water on my back burning with some cranberries, orange slices, some rosemary and cinnamon sticks. It makes the house smell happy and cozy and our family loves it. (BTW when the water runs low we just refill the water and keep simmering – sometimes with the same batch of goodies for more than one day).

7. Shop Clearance for Next Year 

This isn’t a “free” trick but it can be as cheap as shopping at the Dollar Store: shop the after season clearance sales at your favorite decor stores (that would be Michael’s,  Hobby Lobby, World Market, and sometimes Pier1 for me). Michael’s will put it’s fall decor on 70-90% clearance by the end of November. Plan your space for next year and shop the after season sales – maybe you’ll do a happy dance in the clearance aisle like I sometimes do.

Here are two clearance examples from my family room: These berry sprigs were $7.99 each retail, I got them for 80 cents each last Thanksgiving. The candle holder on my ottoman was $29.99 at Hobby Lobby, I got it during post season clearance for $5.24.


Bonus: Front Porch Ideas

My best tips for an inexpensive front porch are first, buying giant carving pumpkins at a store that does 4 for $12 or 3 for $12 specials. In Charlotte, that’s EarthFare grocery store with 4 for $12, or Aldi has them for $2.89 each. I let my kids carve the pumpkins the day before Halloween but I make them only do it on one side of the pumpkin. Then I can turn those bad boys back around and have the porch steps looking festive through Thanksgiving.


[I found these front step pictures of my kids from two Octobers ago and couldn’t resist sharing – I can’t believe how little they all were!  My Gracie Bear was not yet one!]

One of the best deals on huge planters of mums I’ve found is at Costco – they sell four huge mums in a pallet for $11.99.

So those are some of my favorite free and cheap autumn tricks. Please share your autumn decorating ideas, tricks, tips in the comments –  love hearing what other women do to cozy up for fall.

Have an incredible weekend!

XO, Steph

P.S. Linking up with Kelly for 7QT’s.

4 thoughts on “Pottery Barn Decorating on a Walmart Budget

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