When most people think about a decorating project, they picture the beautiful new room of their dreams quickly followed by a lot of dollar signs.

However, with a little bit of work and creativity, you can take advantage of some great ways to save some money on your next project. I am going to tell you a few places you can shop to keep your costs down.

The first and most obvious is yard sales. I know you are thinking that you never find anything good there. But keep in mind that you do not have to keep the furniture in the same condition you find it in at the yard sale. You can refinish or paint wood pieces, and dining room chairs are usually very easy to reupholster even if you have never done it before.

Don’t buy sofas or chairs that you plan to have professionally reupholstered. That can be more costly than buying new.

The next place to consider is the Internet. A few of my favorite sites include eBay (of course) and also, which is an Internet version of the classified ads. Each major city has its own craigslist site. I also love I have found some really amazing sinks and furniture on their Web site.

Most furniture stores have floor-sample sales at least once a year. This is a great way to get the furniture you have had your eye on without paying full price. To be certain you find out about these events, make friends with one of the store’s sales people. Be sure they understand you intend to buy when the price is right. Another way is to call the store — often. This is especially true of boutique furniture shops. Sometimes an owner will simply grow tired of a piece and want it gone immediately. Don’t be shy about trying to negotiate the price. People do it all the time and often it can result in greater savings for you.

Don’t forget about store-clearance centers. Many of the big names like Jordan’s and Bob’s have clearance centers where they ship their floor samples and damaged goods. Remember, what is damaged to them might not be to you, so it is worth a trip.

Another favorite of mine is stores that sell unfinished wood furniture. You can get great quality desks, bookcases, dining rooms sets and more all unfinished. This is a great opportunity for you to save some money as well as to really customize the look you are getting.

Consignment shops are also a great way to save money. The stores screen the merchandise before it is put on the floor so you can be sure it is in good condition. You can find everything from dishes to sofas at these shops at a fraction of the price you would pay for new.

I also lump the Salvation Army in the category of consignment shops, even though it really is not. I love the Salvation Army and go there often for myself and my clients. I have found crystal candlesticks and hurricanes, entire sets of formal, gold-trimmed dishes, beautiful dining-room sets, and even monogrammed pieces that matched the initials of a client. Going can be a real hit-or-miss experience, so plan on going a couple of times before you find anything great.

So the next time you are seeing stars from the expense of your decorating project, remember these tips and start saving yourself some money.

Julie Chrissis is a professional home stager and interior decorator based in Nashua and Malden, Mass. She can reached at