RENO 9-1-1 is a new segment that I’m going to start writing weekly. We all want our studio and 1-BR apartments to look pretty and semi-civilized, right? But we’re all broke and owe our salaries to rent, food, and Sallie Mae. We’re broke and we know it, no need to clap our hands. My goal here is to provide simple and cheap ideas for decorating and beautifying our hobbit hole living spaces. Trust me, I’ve watched enough HGTV to be qualified for this, I swear.

Lesson 1: Dollar Store Decor

The dollar store seems like the last place we would want to look for home decor options. Walmart would be a better option than this. I am here to tell you and inform you that you can make dollar store decor look classy and tasteful. You have to believe in the power of the dollar store and your own skills (and my advice) for this to work. There is magic beyond those automatic doors of the Dollar Tree, trust me.

About two years ago, when I finished school and no longer could afford Target without coupons, I discovered the beauty of the dollar store. I’d always snubbed my nose at them, thinking I was too good for shopping there. And then I stepped inside, and was changed forever.

Let’s start with a shopping list, shall we?

  • Seasonal decorations (you can make a trip for each holiday/season!)
  • Glassware
  • Faux flowers
  • Vases
  • Candles
  • Stones or glass beads

Below are some SUPER EASY ways to transform dollar store deals into impeccable home décor.

“Stained-Glass” Vases:

What You’ll Need: Elmer’s Glue, Paint Brush, Food Coloring, Cheap Vase


  1. Mix food coloring and Elmer’s glue together
  2. Paint mixture onto vase
  3. Let dry
  4. Insert faux (or real, if you choose) flowers.
  5. Voila!



**You can do this to dollar-store wine glasses too. At your next dinner party or girls’ night, your glasses will certainly be a topic of conversation.

Decorative Candle Arrangements

What You’ll Need: Tea Lights or Votive Candles, Stones or Glass beads, glassware of your choosing


  1. Choose glassware
  2. Place stones/beads inside until the container is nearly full
  3. Place candles into stones (make sure the tea lights are taken out of the metal casing!)
  4. Light candles


**If you want to really impress your guest, floating candles are always classy. Just put enough stones/beads to cover the bottom, fill ¾ of glass with water, place candles in water. Light candles.


These two very simple, very easy décor elements are seriously so affordable and so damn classy that you literally have no excuse to say “no” to doing it. All of this cost me less than $10. Dollar Store Décor is going to be a new series here at FTS, so if you have any ideas or want to see something done, reply on the articles or tweet me @SamanthaG2012. Happy decorating!


A born-and-raised Jersey girl with a chronic case of wanderlust, Samantha spends her days reading, writing, and planning adventures. She currently teaches classes at the community college while living at home with her parents, trying and failing to become a part of the proverbial real world. Her dream is for someone to pay her for writing and traveling, but in reality she'll probably be teaching forever. Follow her mundane musings on Twitter @SamanthaG2012, and check out her personal blog,

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