10 Inexpensive Ways to Decorate and get the Fixer Upper Farmhouse Look


10 easy and inexpensive ways to get the fixer upper farmhouse look on a budget. Or just use what you have and here's how. Vintage American Home blog.

Now we don’t all have a husband who will just tear down walls, expose long forgotten shiplap, paint everything, install new kitchens and take care of the kids while we decorate at night!  But even if we do, here are some easy ideas to get the fixer upper look on a dime one room at a time.

10 easy and inexpensive ways to get the fixer upper farmhouse look on a budget. Or just use what you have and here's how. Vintage American Home blog.

So even though my house is very traditional I still love the new look.  I think we can also call the fixer upper look “new country”.  Or let’s also call it Rustic Farmhouse Style.  The style is unique.  It is a little bit country with a touch of shabby chic and a touch of French Country with Traditional roots.
Get the Farmhouse look! 10 Easy steps to rustic farmhouse style at Vintage American Home.com


Now most of us are not starting from scratch with a tear down or totally renovated old fixer upper, but if you love the look and want to try it, start with one room.  Since most of my house is very traditional with dark stained furnishings, I started with my showroom, which room would be easiest for you to start with?

Here are My 10 ideas to get the Farmhouse Look without breaking the bank.

1. First!  Think COOL!   Gather all of the colorful accessories in your room and move them out.  Go around your house and see what items you might have that could be moved into your Farmhouse Room.  Look for items with cool colors: grey, white, pale teal, greyish green, off white and natural wood.  Try to get rid of reds, yellow, oranges and other warm or bright colors.Get the Farmhouse look without moving to Texas! Products for sale on Vintage American Home online.

2. Paint your walls one of the  preferred paint colors for the fixer upper look.  Be sure your trim is white or off white. And if for some lucky reason you have “shiplap” walls, expose them!!

Best paint colors to get the Fixer Upper Look.

Watery is my favorite color.


3. Thirdly, eliminate some of your traditionally brown stained furniture and add in some painted pieces.  Consider painting some of your least favorite, outdated or damaged furnishings.  See my article on painting furniture here.  Painting your pieces white, off white and grey will bring in the “Look” to your room. Naturally distressed, artificially distressed or perfectly painted pieces are equally as charming.  To save money, think about updating your light fixtures and chandeliers by spray painting them white or a metallic color. I use Rustoleum all the time.  Mainly Rustoleum Heirloom white.Before & After Painted Furniture from Vintage American Home.com

4. Next, add in some metal furnishings, and accent pieces if you can.  The natural look of metal as well the eclectic feel will add a little fixer upper Farmhouse appeal to your room.  Light grey metal, black metal,  bronze/brown metal and painted end tables, accent tables, shelf units, bistro chairs and wall shelves will accomplish this.10 Ways to get the Farmhouse Look!

Here is a shelf similar to the one in the photo
Metal wall shelf - part of the plan to get the fixer upper look.
5. The most awesome way to get the look is to repurpose something in the most amazing ways.   Take old window frames and hang them on a wall.  A rusty old bike becomes a focal point on a wall.  A discarded metal gate hangs above a sofa or console table with a wreath in the center.  Antique shutters with amazing patina can be the centerpiece of a room.  Hang an old painted frame on a wall and place another item in side of it.  Hang letters on the walls too.  Any architectural item can be reconsidered as a charming and eclectic piece of wall art.How to get fixer upper style in your own home on a budget from Vintage American Home Use an empty antique window frame on the wall as an architectural piece in Rustic Farmhouse Decorating.

6. Storage is always a necessary thing for any room.   Creative ways are used to add storage.  Old wooden drawers hold desk items.  Galvanized metal farm bins and zinc hardware caddies become table top entertaining pieces.  Wood boxes are screwed into the walls.  Ladders are propped against a wall to hang magazines and throw blankets.   A metal wire frame is used as a bulletin board.  What unique architectural piece is in your attic or garage or local vintage shop that you can repurpose for storage?

Fantastic large antique wall cubby - divided storage. Vintage French caned chair Vintage American Home.com7. If your kitchen cabinets are dark dated oak, consider painting them white or off white.  The farmhouse  look uses white cabinets with farm sinks.  But remember if painting kitchen cabinets,  you really have to sand them or degrease them.  The way I paint furniture without sanding first, may not be best for kitchen cabinets which will get a lot of wear and may have built up grease on them.  See my article on tips to update your kitchen to the farmhouse style.  10 Tips to Update your Kitchen to Farmhouse Stlye

White slip covers
.  If you can’t invest in new upholstered furniture consider a white slip cover.  I have a sofa with a white slip cover and it has worked out pretty well.  I have taken it off and washed it numerous times and it came out nicely.  The trick is to enforce the “NO eating on the couch” rule.  Then after you wash it -only partially air dry it.  Put it back on the sofa when it is still damp.

Here are some places to buy white slipcovers for your sofas or loveseats.

 also there is Patriot White Sofa Slipcovers

White slip covers can be bought at this store ready made or custom made. Essential for your own fixer upper if you want the farmhouse look.

I found this other company which has ready made or custom slipcovers for sofas and wing chairs etc.  Their prices seem pretty good. I like the “natural” cotton fabric.

8. b.  Lighting choices can enhance the farmhouse look too. Another product I just found after a long search is a really cool outdoor lantern which my daughter Emily is going to use on her new house.

I will add another post all about Emily and Brooke’s house transformation with real pictures of the lanterns asap.  Stay tuned for that.

Best outdoor lantern for the money

Best outdoor lantern for the money

Get the Farmhouse look with 10 easy ideas from Vintage American Home

9. Hang your artwork, mirrors and architectural pieces at a woman’s eye level.   Keep it within 15 ” of the piece of furniture that it is relating too.  This way the wall art and the sofa or table below it will have a one piece look.  Think of the wall art as the top of a hutch (the display part).  Consider propping artwork, shutters, old windows or frames etc. on your mantel or buffet instead of hanging them.Vintage American Home.com 10 Ideas for Farmhouse Decorating.

10. Lastly, wood tables, accent pieces, mantels or floating shelves with natural wood tones help with the Farmhouse Look.  Weathered wood or the look of weathered is probably the most popularWhere do I get the products they use on the shows ? Vintage American Home.com

Good luck and have fun!

PS: I have a selection of accessories, new vintage and antique that give you the Farmhouse look in case you want to buy something new!  SHOP HERE.

***Or see this article on where to get the most popular Fixer Upper Style products for a great price.

Upholstered Linen chair from Vintage American Home

If you are fixing up your fixer or you want to redecorate in the urban or rustic farmhouse style, check out these items for sale.Do you love the new Rustic Farmhouse look on TV? Do you want to renovate your own Fixer? Are your rooms mainly traditional? Here is how I changed my traditional look room to a new style Farmhouse look without starting from scratch! Get the fixer upper look.


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  1. Laurie s June 30, 2015 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    i need to v
    Cover my couch and two chairs and a half…..where do I purchase slip overs that r rustic shabby chic without breaking the bank.

    • Janice July 1, 2015 at 8:30 am - Reply

      HI Laurie, There are a bunch of places that sell slip covers online. There seem to be alot more places to sell them now. Try this place – the prices seem reasonable. They have custom and ready made. Slipcovershop. It seems to be a lot cheaper to cover the existing sofas. Then the next time you get spills and dirt from kids, pets and (us) you can atleast take it off and wash the whole thing or just the spot.
      Thanks for the questions and good luck. Janice

      • Marcie January 24, 2016 at 8:28 pm - Reply

        Burlap is a great way to get the rustic look, and it is cheap also. I am using it to make curtains. It looks great as furniture covers too.

        • Janice January 26, 2016 at 6:39 pm - Reply

          Hi Marcie,
          Great ideas! My friend has long burlap panels and they look great. When you say furniture covers do you mean you can make a slipcover with burlap?

        • Dee June 11, 2016 at 6:00 pm - Reply

          I love burlap and use it frequently, but as a FYI some people are allergic to it .

  2. Robin Duke July 2, 2015 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    I got painter’s dropclothes at Lowes and covered my couches. I couldn’t find one that I was happy with for our recliner, so I ordered a slipcover from Surefit. It’s a good way to get the neutral color pallete in a cheaper way, until I can get new furniture.

    • Janice July 2, 2015 at 5:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Robin, This was a great idea to get that sailcloth feel for less money. Did you sew it at all or just tuck it in? My daughter Emily bought a slip covered sofa from Ikea and is happy with it. The price was good but she doesn’t have kids jumping around on it. Another place for slipcovers that is similar but different than Surefit is Slipcovershop

    • Pat January 12, 2016 at 11:21 pm - Reply

      I use the drop cloths behind my drapes, as a tablecloth, and bedspread. Love the look and the price.

  3. Jennifer W-M July 11, 2015 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    We just recently purchased the Ikea rolled arm sectional sofa with the slip cover and I am in love with the couch! It is comfortable and durable. I have 5 children, 2 boys & 3 girls, ages 4 – 16 yrs old. Plus a cat and a dog. We have the no eating on the couch rule, it helps. My husband was very leary of ordering the couch that needed to be assembled. It is very sturdy and the covers are thick, plus an additional cover is only $99.00, about what you would pay for a new slip cover. I ordered the Tygelsjo Beige color, it is really off white. For our family it works really well.

    • Janice July 12, 2015 at 10:48 am - Reply

      That’s great to know Jennifer. Thanks for sharing. I was wondering how it held up with kids. The no eating rule helps -it is good to start them with that rule when they are young. But it always needs reinforcing (with my 15 year old son)! I just like the idea that you can wash the cover. I never had too much luck with upholstery cleaners on my other sofas.

  4. Elizabeth July 11, 2015 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    What color do you recommend painting existing kitchen cabinets? Is it a true white or an off white?

    • Janice July 12, 2015 at 10:56 am - Reply

      Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for asking. I like both but I lean toward the warmer whites mostly. I have used “Navajo white”- both Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams make it. But I think the Ben Moore color is a little whiter so I like that. I also like “Gull” from Martha Stewart – Home Depot -Behr. It has a little grey in it which makes it go well with blues. I think the important thing also is that you get enough contrast between your cabinets and the wall color. If you are going with lighter colored walls you might want the white painter because there will be more of a contrast. Hope this helps. Either way once you decide to paint you could try a couple colors. (Use the extra for inside the cabinets)

  5. Teresa August 14, 2015 at 2:45 am - Reply

    Hi, I bought my drop cloths from Harbor Freight, much cheaper ! I use them for curtains as well. My favorite wall color is called “French Beige” …think it is by Behr …from Home Depot. It is such a great neutral beige, looks great with white trim.

    • Janice August 14, 2015 at 7:41 am - Reply

      Thanks Teresa,
      What a great idea. Was that a local store or did you buy online? I did find this one place to buy slipcovers online. I like the natural color. Slipcover store.

  6. Tracee August 24, 2015 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    i love your ideas and breaking them down is helpful considering how much stuff I have! I am making a bookcase for my art room and purchased some cool unfinished pine boxes we are going to glue and nail together. I want some casters so I can move it easily…but I’ve hit a roadblock when it comes to finishing the piece! Paint or stain…or both? The cases are about waist high so I have room for all my stuff on top while leaving plenty of wall space to hang my artwork.

    I live in an old farmhouse and my floor in that room is highly distressed hardwoods. I’m painting one wall in a color close to your Watery, but can’t decide what to use for the other walls and ceiling! Our trim is 120 year old oak and I just can’t seem to bring myself to paint it!

    Based on the above, and suggestions??



    • Janice August 27, 2015 at 8:46 am - Reply

      HI Tracee, Wow it sounds like your farmhouse is going to be so cute. I think the watery is a good choice for the walls because although it would look good next to white trim I can see why you can’t paint the antique wood. However blue does go with brown so it is a good choice for the walls. IF you don’t want to continue with the blue on the walls I would make them white and choose the same white for the ceiling. There is a picture of the eating area in my kitchen in this blog post : http://www.vintageamericanhome.com/vintage-furnishings/using-traditional-furniture-modern-home/

      I was perplexed about what to do because the cabinets are brown (not in the picture) but I wanted something different than white walls so I used the blue (actually it is Wedgewood grey) and it turned out really well. (The trim is “Gull” by Martha Stewart). I will try to get a photo with my cabinets on the blog.

      As far as the bookcases I think you should look on Pinterest and really decide do you want to go more cottagey or more traditional. If you can’t decide you could stain and than paint over if you don’t like it. (Though you would probably have to put a lot of mineral spirits on it before you painted. ) I know this is crazy but I often have to do things twice because of this very reason.

      Send me some photos!

  7. Susanne August 29, 2015 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    You wrote a fantastic article here. Everything you said was right on the spot. Thanks so much! I will be copying so many of your ideas. The hardest part is getting rid of my bright colored pieces but I am already thinning them out!. Love the farmhouse look!
    Thanks again.

    • Janice August 30, 2015 at 8:33 am - Reply

      Thanks alot Susanne! I really appreciate the feedback. I know the problem about getting rid of things you love but that don’t go with the kind of look you are trying to achieve which is why I tried to create the “rustic farmhouse look” in just one room. When I used to do home staging I would go around and try to get all of the brass items in one room, all of the red accents in another etc, this kind of helped organize the colors. We all have the tendency to decorate with the “last place available” method. So sometimes I have to pretend it’s after Christmas and I forget where I had previously had a decoration and try to start over. This helps me look at things with a fresh eye (especially when it is my own home). Then I can rearrange things. But it is really hard to move the things we love and are used to even if we could afford to just start from scratch and money was unlimited!

      Let me know how you make out.

  8. yvonne October 6, 2015 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    What is the dark blue color on the paint can lid. I love it. Thanks, beautiful work.

    • Janice October 6, 2015 at 6:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Yvonne, Thanks so much for the compliment! I can’t figure out which paint lid. Do you mean on that image with the paint brushes? Thanks Janice

  9. Glenda October 14, 2015 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Love your article. Who makes the paint color “Watery”?

    • Janice October 14, 2015 at 7:21 pm - Reply

      Hi Glenda,
      Sherwin Williams makes Watery and I can attest to it being such a great color, changes in different lights but is really wonderful. Good luck!

  10. Jo November 2, 2015 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    When you purchased the dropcloths at Harbor Frieght, did you just stuff the couch or did you sew? I have nice couches but they are red and want to get the farmhouse look but ones I ordered from Overstock were way too big, even though I measured. Thanks for any help!

    • Janice November 3, 2015 at 1:58 pm - Reply

      Hi Jo, I’m not sure what the girl who did that did actually. I think you might have to sew them but the drop cloth idea she had was good because they are bigger and wider than fabric from the store. Maybe she will respond. – Janice

  11. Lynn November 21, 2015 at 10:10 am - Reply

    I love your website! We just bought a piece of property in Tennessee with a cute little guest house and an old farmhouse that needs to be completely remodeled and I’m really getting great decorating ideas from your posts!

    Will you please share the paint color used for the little dresser in number 3 above? I’m painting a desk for my daughter and this looks like the perfect color. Her room will be Palladian Blue but the dresser seems a bit brighter/lighter.

  12. Ginny January 3, 2016 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Love your site. Just took down all the Christmas decorations and want to do something different with the mantle. House was built in 1903…big old victorian, my mantle is the whole wall and we have 10 foot ceilings….it has always been difficult for me to decorate…any ideas? We have wallpaper right now and cannot afford to change…paper is kind of sage green with a mauve roses (sounds ugly, but it isn’t, the pattern is small)

    • Janice January 4, 2016 at 7:09 am - Reply

      HI Ginny, Your home sounds beautiful! I guess I like some taller items on the ends of a mantel. But its fun to think of different items to use. Anything put on a pedestal or a pile of books will look taller. But the easiest to use are lanterns, tall candlesticks, sconces or topiaries. I have a few that I use but then I fill in the rest with different items for the season. Of course a painting, a mirror or an architectural piece makes a great central item on the wall. Did you see my post on the mantel I did with the plates? Here it is : http://www.vintageamericanhome.com/decorating-ideas/christmas-fireplace-mantel-re/ You can go on my home page and click the hour glass button and type in mantel for a few more posts. Good luck

  13. Sarah Johnson January 10, 2016 at 1:46 am - Reply

    I also love the color “watery”, I find myself drawn to the color, so calm and relaxing. 🙂

    • Janice January 11, 2016 at 7:14 am - Reply

      Thanks for the comment Sarah. Yes it seems to change colors at all times of the day. Goes with everything.

  14. Michelle S. January 17, 2016 at 8:10 am - Reply

    Hi! I love your site! Great ideas! My family and I just moved in to a house that needs some TLC. I have been enjoying updating it and I LOVE the vintage farmhouse look. Question for you… I am going to paint the old brown oak kitchen cabinets white. I can’t decide which color to paint the walls. The floors are dark hardwood. I have narrowed it down to two colors. Either Revere Pewter or Silver Strand. Any thoughts? Thanks so much!

    • Janice January 17, 2016 at 1:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Michelle, I love both. I have something close to silver strand and I also have Revere Pewter. It is so hard to decide. I guess the blue is a little brighter and warmer. The grey is cooler. But either one will look great especially with dark floors!

  15. Michelle January 24, 2016 at 5:13 am - Reply

    Another inexpensive option is to paint the fabric on side chairs with chalk paint!
    I recently painted a dark mission style rocker a light gray, and the cushion old white. I love the results!

    • Janice January 24, 2016 at 6:41 am - Reply

      HI Michelle, Thanks for this. How did the cushion hold up with the chalk paint? There was a customer here at my open house last week who painted an entire sofa with chalk paint. She said she has a brush attachment for her drill and really buffs the wax that you use after the paint is dry. Has anyone else painted upholstery with chalk paint?

  16. U January 24, 2016 at 10:05 am - Reply

    So. I can’t believe some of the posts, great ideas
    I prefer the dArk floors with white white. Cabinet’s. May e the watery let, su light in, good luck happy declaring you

    • Janice January 24, 2016 at 2:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks alot!!

  17. Kaye February 8, 2016 at 1:21 am - Reply

    Love all the great ideas. Going to Harbor Freight tomorrow for drop cloths. I painted my kitchen cabinets white white, have wood floors , painted walls country blue then painted a lattice board over that with greenery painted on top of that. Love it. Not really sure that’s a farmhouse look but it works.

    • Janice February 9, 2016 at 1:09 pm - Reply

      Wow that sounds wonderful! I also found this other company to get reasonably priced slipcovers. Slipcovershop

  18. Dior February 10, 2016 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    Hey! What do you call the saint/religous looking artwork board that you have in 2 pictures on here… the one with the shutters behind it.. Trying to find one of those for my home and not sure where to look for one or what they are even called, I love them.

  19. Nancy H February 24, 2016 at 7:53 am - Reply

    I love the color of the shutters in the first picture. Could you please tell me the name and who makes it. You site has wonderful tips and ideas. Thanks , Nancy

    • Janice February 26, 2016 at 1:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Nancy, I think you mean the shutters that are open? I don’t know that color exactly plus it is worn. Maybe Palladian Blue by Ben Moore would be close?

  20. Maria April 3, 2016 at 10:47 am - Reply

    I found some great tips for my home in this post, I really appreciate these cheap solutions, thanks for sharing

    • Janice April 3, 2016 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      That’s great! Thanks alot.

  21. Edna Johnson June 13, 2016 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing the details along with the shopping information. I am going to check out Harbor Freight for the drop cloths.

    Thank you all. I plan to paint my ceilings Watery in my FL home.

  22. Cindy October 8, 2016 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    This is a great site for the amateur decorator…me! Thank you! I am trying to bring my traditional style around to a bit (not full fledge) rustic farmhouse and need all the help I can get.

    Where can I find a three tier metal plate shelf like the one pictured?? Love it.

  23. Elizabeth Logan October 28, 2016 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    HELP! I love the farmhouse look but I have dark oak cabinets and trim and Hubby will not agree to paint them. Do you have any suggestions as to how to pull of the look and work around that? I’m thinking of doing some shiplap on the backside of our large kitchen island and paint it an off white.

    Also I have purchased some metal shelf brackets and plan to put up some open shelves using stained wood shelves. Now I’m stumped as to what color to paint the walls to match the dark cabinets.

    Thank you for all of your great tips in your article.

    • Janice November 8, 2016 at 6:29 am - Reply

      HI Elizabeth,
      Well do you want me to give you some of the secret tips about changing your husband’s mind that I have learned over the years? LOL!!

      No – I don’t think I had better get involved in that. My kitchen cabinets are dark and I painted the wassls Wedgewood Grey by Benjamin Moore with white woodwork trim. It really did update the room. Good luck !

  24. Jennifer December 19, 2016 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    We just recently moved into a new house, my goal for decor is the farmhouse style. I’m having fun finding things that I want to incorporate into our home. I found many ideas off of your site. Thank you for all the ideas.

    • Janice February 3, 2017 at 1:51 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jennifer! Good luck!

  25. Michelle February 1, 2017 at 12:05 am - Reply

    Where did the red N/E/S/W come from? I’m not sure what those are called, but I want one!!!

  26. Kim Sirmans September 23, 2017 at 6:09 am - Reply

    Thanks for the tips…… I love the Rustic Farmhouse look….. and I love to repurpose. I love to shop at the resale stores and my imagination goes wild. I have a few benches placed around my home that I repurposed out of headboards and coffeetables or old dressers…… I make a few pillows to match the room and toss on a throw blanket and there you go………I took your picture of the half windmill and made one out of old ceiling fan blades and a fireplace vent for the center….. a little faux painting to make it look rusty and its my favorite piece in my bedroom I have started adding shiplap look to my bathrooms using 1/4″ finished plywood, a nickel for spacing and a brad gun……. Love the look……. We have received lots of complments to our interior decor since I started following…. Thanks so much for the insuration to think outside the box……….

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