We spend so much time developing our closets, that the rest of our home is often neglected.  Here’s some tips on how to furnishing your home for less.

* Do your homework. Spend the time to think about what you want your home to say about you and plan how to effectively use your space. Buy a room planning kit from (Home Depot or Lowe’s have affordable versions. Or download one online at Schneidermans. After planning in depth, you will have a better idea of spacing constraints.

* Start with the walls and the floors. A new coat of paint or a new rug can completely change a room. Painting is relatively easy and can be fun. Throw a painting party by inviting over a couple of friends to help. For the cost of pizza and drinks, you get *free* help painting your room.

* Lighting is key. Adding a couple of lamps, or even changing a few bulbs, can completely alter a room with minimal cash. Add a floor lamp to a hidden corner or head to stores like Marshalls to find ornate table lamps to grace the nightstands of a bedroom. Also try stores like Ikea and Target, who have a wide selection of cool lighting options for well under $30.

* Use your resources. The best deals on furniture can be found during the the moving season, i.e. the summer months, but many home retailers have sales during the month of May, when many people are conducting spring cleaning. Also don’t be afraid to shop for furniture online. Overstock.com is a good resource for one-off products. Recently the website had sleek modern barstools that were the exact copy of barstools I had seen in New York City, at for a fraction of the price. Delivery charges are usually very reasonable—currently Overstock.com is only charging a flat $1 delivery fee.

* Going the Distance. If you live along the east coast, you should travel to North Carolina to check out the furniture outlets. If you need to furnish your entire home, you can save 50-80% at these outlets near Hickory and Highpoint. If you can’t travel that far, have no fear,: you can buy online, by phone or through websites. There is no tax (depending on where you live), and delivery rates can be comparable to what you would pay to at your local furniture shop. The book, Shopping the North Carolina Furniture Outlets, is a great resource.  If you don’t live on the east coast, check out the outlet stores of major furniture retailers like Pier 1, Levitz, Ethan Allen, ABC Carpet and Home, etc.  The Budget Fashionista purchased a mahogany—stained, four-post queen bed from the outlet store of Bombay Company for $199. Also stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Ross have heavily discounted designer furniture.

* Used = Unique = Cool. Check out the local thrift shops and flea markets. Scope out your neighbor’s castaways, or head to posh neighborhoods on trash day. Don’t throw out your furniture too hastily-think about re-upholstering for a whole new look.

* Be creative. For artwork—if you can’t buy the original, why not a print? Pick up a great art book from a discount bookstore (online or other) and frame a print of your favorite photograph, painting, etc.

* DIY. Check out the many do-it-yourself TV shoes. Your favorite home TV shows also include easy-to-use websites. Check out: HGTV.com, TLC’s shows, and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” for home styling inspiration.