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Spend vs. Save: Why Buy It When You Can DIY It?

Nov 30, 2020

Spend vs. Save: Why Buy It When You Can DIY It?

Nov 30, 2020

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a tiny commission, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure here.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a tiny commission, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure here.

Happy holiday season! I hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving and are staying safe and healthy. I took a break from the blog last week and enjoyed the time off with my kids. I’m glad this season of burrowing into our homes has come while my kids still believe in Santa, because we’re getting a lot of mileage out of that fantasy. Bring on the cocoa and lights and garland!

ladder and stain

Speaking of holiday decor, my latest round of spend vs. save has been cracking me up all weekend. This post was inspired by a friend who sent me a link to one of the items below. At first, I thought it was a joke, especially for the price, and it definitely got me thinking about DIY-friendly decor trends. Why buy some of these decor pieces when you can make them for so much less? If your wallet is feeling lighter after Black Friday sales, here is inspiration to DIY the latest trends in home decor.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here. Thanks for your support!

Spend vs. Save: Seasonal Decor


You might not believe it, but Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn are both selling hanging evergreen branches. True. If this is a legit trend, the good news is that you don’t need to drop $100+ to DIY your own!

DIY VERSION – Grab (or borrow) loppers, hit your local pine tree, and add some lights and rope. Ta-da! Also, you can usually find free or cheap branch cuttings at a local Christmas tree lot. Or buy an artificial branch.

*I have tried a few fairy light strands and have two favorites. These fairy lights have a much smaller battery pack and come with extra disc batteries. I strung them along our fiddle leaf fig. I also like these waterproof fairy lights because they come with a remote, although you’ll need 3 AAA batteries per strand. Both work great, so far.


Next up: antlers. If you’re into antlers, apparently you can buy them… These start at $400. EACH.

DIY VERSION – call a hunter.

(I guess anyone willing to spend $400 per antler might not actually know a hunter… but it’s worth checking your contacts.)


Birch branches. These are cute, and they don’t break the bank, but what if you have a friend with a birch or aspen tree that needs a little trimming? Just grab a hacksaw. This is an easy spend vs. save!


Who doesn’t love a good blanket ladder? I don’t have one because my children would inevitably climb it (and crash to the floor), but they look so cute in other homes. I’m not sure what makes this lovely ladder worth $600, but it would be simple to DIY your own.

DIY VERSION – sand off the finish on a wood ladder and dip it in black stain.

ladder and black stain
> ladders | stain <

Spend vs. Save: Decorative Objects

What’s most shocking to me about some of these spend vs. save items is the price tag. How is one decorative blanket ladder $600? An antler for $400? An antler? I guess I’m sealing my fate by calling out some of these merchants, but someone has to do it. I mean, come on now.

Here are some truly inspirational decorative objects. And by inspirational, I mean, I hope you feel inspired to DIY your own version!


Wooden bead garlands are all the rage, and you can certainly find them for less than this beautiful $99 garland. How about making one? This is the perfect craft to do with kids, as anyone who had a kindergarten teacher in the 1980’s knows.

DIY VERSION – string wood beads on twine and add tassles.


Make this clay knot with air-dry modeling clay. Display it on your coffee table and boom! You’re on trend.


Who doesn’t love a good geode? Rather than splurging on the spendy decor, just order this fun set of 10 geodes and grab a hammer. Or let your child do the work and then display the “science lesson.”


I will admit, these planters really puzzle me. Is this something people actually buy? I’m pretty sure you could pay an elderly neighbor $10 to take a mildewed planter off her hands. Or use a sponge and some craft paint to recreate the look on a thrift store urn or this planter from Amazon?? Someone, please explain this one to me.

Spend vs. Save: Bathroom Decor


This fun $400 (!) nautical mirror could inspire your next DIY project.

DIY VERSION – All you need is a round mirror, some rope, and a glue gun.


While I love the style of home goods from Food52, I can’t justify spending $145 on this tub shelf. This would be easy DIY project!

We have a circular saw for simple cuts, but if you don’t, Home Depot and Lowes each have a cut station in their stores. Either way, you’ll need four 30″ lengths of wood, attached underneath with two wood strips, and then sealed.

Spend vs. Save: Artwork

I’m saving the best for last in this spend vs. save post. Of course, art is in the eye of the beholder, and I’m not trying to disparage these artists. However, if you’re on a budget and really want high-dollar artwork, these pieces might spark an idea for your own project.


A few years ago, Wyatt and I visited a friend in New York and we hit the MoMA. I want to appreciate art in all of its forms, but sometimes it seems like modern artists just want to see what they can get away with. More power to them! The price tags on these paintings blow my mind.

If you love modern art, but don’t have the budget to buy it, turn this inspiration into your own masterpiece. Order a giant canvas and some acrylic paint in your favorite colors. Another cheap DIY is to buy a large canvas art piece at a thrift store and paint over it.


Saving the best for last… here is a beautiful reproduction of an 1883 map of Paris for a cool $3,745!

1883 map of paris
> map <

Don’t worry, you can DIY your own with this $285 print of the same map. Figure out how to frame it – the real challenge – and you’ll still come out ahead. Voila! Someday, I want to make this.

spend vs. save map of paris
> map <

I hope you feel inspired to DIY your way to affordable home updates or gifts. Have fun!

Recent Posts from List in Progress

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1 – The Ultimate DIYer’s Gift Guide
2 – Tips to Install and Stain a New Front Door
3 – Christmas Decor to Grab Before It’s Gone
4 – Winterize Your Life + Mental Health

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Hi! I’m Erin, a Colorado-based home improvement blogger and lover of all things DIY. I aim to inspire creative folks to tackle home improvement with confidence and style. READ MORE

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3 years ago

I used to walk in the woods and gather greens for decorating every year. I should have become a designer for Pottery Barn. The moldy planters? I wouldn’t buy them: I think I’ve thrown out a few like that.

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