Roam old towns with odd shops to find interesting items that will remind you of your trip.
I saw a painting similar to this one at http://www.ballarddesigns.com/. It was a little more than I would spend so what's a girl to do but make one herself! Lucky for me, I had a leftover canvas from a painting class. It's also sentimental because my Dad helped me stretch it.
Hand-me-downs are great for adding character! My grandmother gave me this china cabinet (along with most of the china). One of the reasons I loved the home we bought is because it has a niche in the dining area that fits this piece perfectly! I can display everything and since it's slightly tucked into the walls, it doesn't get bumped into by little people.
Costco gets a two-thumbs up for decorating on a budget! Bill and I bought this wine cabinet after we were first married. The clock came from my Mom who knows my decorating style perfectly (and most of my decor IS from her as Christmas or birthday gifts). My Aunt gave us the huge Michelangelo book and I love it's tattered and worn charm. The flower arrangement was made by my friend's step-mom for my Mom after my Dad passed away.
Decorating doesn't have to be expensive. Little touches of character can turn a bland home into a fun and friendly atmosphere. I'm no designer, but I do like to experiment on my own home:)