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Tips and Guides

We’re Loving This Mom’s Budget-Friendly Decorating Ideas

Would you believe her couch only costs P1,200?

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Original Article: Sunshine Selga Funa Photography: Dairy Darilag Pictorial Direction: Dagny Madamba and Paula de Guzman

Amber Smith Folkman always watches her budget, but this doesn’t show at all in her airy, sun-drenched family home in Manila. This mom and blogger (follow her adventures on amommabroad) makes it a point to shop sensibly, and if possible, DIY it.

READ:  A Colorful House Filled With DIY Projects And Kid-Friendly Décor

“Most of the stuff in my home are either used, bought on sale, or handmade,” says Amber, who has two sewing machines in her workshop. She also has a vinyl cutter to cut out numbers and words to teach her kids—and she uses the numbers to decorate her staircase afterwards.

Each room of her home has a spot that is cozy enough for both children and grownups. “I used to have this philosophy that children shouldn’t take over our homes. But then later on, I figured, if they’re going to be spilling over our house, they can have spots down here, too, but it has to look somewhat pleasant.” She shares here her beautiful but budget-friendly decorating secrets:

Your children are your masterpieces


If you can’t afford expensive art, display the photos of your beautiful children instead. “I just brought our digital photos to print shops, had them blown up, and framed them in store-bought frames,” says Amber of her photo wall.


Amber also had these photos of her children printed in black and white for an artsy look. The dining chairs, Amber admits, are from IKEA’s “’as is section’—the defective pile!”

Paint a basic bunk in a funky color


A furniture maker in Paranaque made her sons’ bunk bed. She had it painted in emerald green to update it.

No headboard, no problem


The same furniture maker built the bed in the master bedroom. The beds in the house were made mostly from reclaimed wood from a shipping yard. To make their “headboard,” Amber bought a wire rack from Dapitan and hung indoor plants on it.

READ: The Ultimate Dapitan Arcade Shopping Guide

Frame your keepsakes


Amber framed priceless keepsakes from when her children were babies—a bonnet, baby shoes, a pin. The delicate, white frames make these look like Victorian memorabilia.

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Maps can be art


Various maps—framed or not—can be found all over the house, and are treated like artwork. These can be easily bought at any bookstore for only a few hundred pesos.


A friend gave Amber this map for her birthday (you can find a similar one in Kultura). “I love this map because my kids and I can scratch off all the places we’ve been to in the Philippines. Other wall decorations: baskets and a humble bilao.

Source locally


The Folkmans have a collection of papier mache décor—Taka horses, a man and a woman, a carabao—that they bought straight from the source in Paete, Laguna. The same items would have cost double in Metro Manila malls.

Buy from online selling groups


On one side of Amber’s workstation is this rattan couch, which only cost her P1,200 through a Facebook selling group. To dress the couch up, Amber bought cushions from budget furniture store Mandaue Foam and covered them with excess fabric lying around the house. The embroidered artwork on the wall is a piece of fabric cut from a Mexican dress once owned by Amber's mother. 

READ: Save Money – Buy From These Online Furniture Groups

Make a Washi mural


Different colors of Washi tape are easy materials you can use to jazz up a bare wall. You can also involve the kids in decorating!

READ: Washi Tape Decorating Ideas

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