Well, this list got me thinking about the variety of ways one can substitute decorating items; not so much in a sense that it's a quick fix, but rather, in the realm of finding a more unique decorating option.
As a result, I've composed a list of substitution ideas that will hopefully open the door of possibilities when it comes to choosing items for your decor. It's all about trial and error, but when it works, it's a great feeling. This list does not cover all possible options, but rather, is a stepping stone for your own creativity. I hope that it will broaden your conception of decorating as a whole and give you some great inspiration.
For a coffee or end table use a steamer trunk; a stack of antique suite cases; nesting tables; two or three colourful cube ottomans; a distressed workbench; a large upholstered ottoman; a stack of large, heavy books. Table bases to use with glass tops: garden pillars; garden urns; inverted sturdy wicker baskets; large clay pots. Table tops: old window with panes; a distressed door; reinforced, framed lattice.
For a curtain rod use a fishing rod; a hockey stick; a golf club; a long-handled garden tool; driftwood; a boat oar; a ski pole; copper or PVC piping painted or covered in fabric; a fireplace poker; 3/4-inch dowel.
Instead of buying curtains, try making them yourself out of bed sheets (the hem can be used as a rod-pocket panel opening); a tablecloth; T-towels (for cafe curtains). For use as toppers: handkerchiefs; lace doilies; cloth napkins turned on an angle; decorative, vintage handbags. Unique fabrics: boat sail material; artist's canvas; painter's drop cloth; infant's or doll clothing (like fancy dresses hung on hangers and displayed as a window topper); colourful artist's felt; colourful shawls or scarves.
Instead of an area rug, paint a canvas floor cloth; paint a faux carpet onto wooden floors; use carpet sample pieces taped together underneath for a checkerboard effect; sew wicker place mats together; use a sea grass window blind on the floor in a porch.
For a more interesting headboard, use bi-fold, louvered doors or bi-fold mirrored doors; use picket fencing complete with a birdhouse or two; create a willow headboard; hang luxurious fabric from ceiling to floor at the head of the bed; paint a faux window on the wall over the bed and add a real windowbox with flowers; hang a window frame (with panes) to create a similar effect; use an old distressed door; frame a large piece of cork board on which to attach photos, posters or letters.
I hope I have started your creative juices flowing. If you've used something unique as a substitution for something ordinary, I'd love to hear about it.